Taylor Swift shares her most personal thoughts on 10th studio album ‘Midnights’ – The Vanderbilt Hustler
Shocking fans with an all-new studio album and seven bonus tracks, Taylor Swift is making an anticipated return to faith-based pop with a 20-track album.
After shocking the world at the 2022 Video Music Awards by announcing that her 10th studio album would be all new and not a re-recorded album as planned, Taylor Swift dropped “Midnights” at midnight on October 21. The original 13 titles represent the stories of the 13 sleepless nights that Swift experienced throughout her life. In honor of the album’s fitting title, we spent a sleepless night eagerly awaiting the album’s release and listening to every perfectly written word.
Leaving a trail of Easter eggs in the weeks leading up to the release date, no one could have predicted exactly what this album would sound like. Less than two years after the sneaky release of sister albums “folklore” and “still” and in the midst of re-recording her first six studio albums, “Midnights” seems secretive. This album is meant to be unboxed at night (as the title suggests) with the lights off and the headphones on. Letting its thoughts seep in and the lyrics seep in, “Midnights” seamlessly blends the pure pop left over from “1989” and “Lover” with the indie-folk of “folklore” and “evermore.”
Opening the album with a dark, amateurish mood, “Lavender Haze” draws inspiration from the 1950s phrase. Coined on the TV show “Mad Men,” the phrase was used to describe the fact to be so in love that you force the “honeymoon” phase as long as possible. Zoë Kravitz collaborated with Swift to write the song and joined a gentle pulse and buzzing undercurrent to detail the scrutiny of a PR. The electric drum beat and Swift’s upper range pushes the steady crescendo until it eventually fades slightly at the end of the song.
What is a color very similar to “red”? “Bordeaux.” In “Red,” Swift describes red as the color of love, but in “Maroon,” it’s a deep love story. Maroon is now blood running down her cheeks, wine splashing a shirt and dancing with a man in New York. Keeping the same fast and upbeat beat found in “Red”, “Maroon” sounds more mature and is the updated product of “1989” and “Reputation” for sure.
“Anti-Hero,” the album’s first official single, passionately sings about Swift’s true self-loathing and deepest insecurities. He dives into his lowest moments like never before. The song opens with a few bars of solid electric drums – a compelling motif on the album reminiscent of Owl City and early 2010s synth-pop. career, Swift mentions depression for the first time in her discography in “Anti-Hero.” The lyrics “Midnights become my afternoons / When my depression works the cemetery change” once again emphasize how the night gives way to deep thoughts to overtake all free space.
Preparing for colder weather, “Snow on the Beach” shares the story of falling in love with someone who simultaneously falls in love with you. Swift’s voice sweeps the lyrics perfectly as a violin plays along. It gives us the impression that the snow is falling lightly and crumpling under your boots as you walk. Lana Del Rey joins in with creamy background vocals to push the melancholy melody and painful beauty of falling in love. As alluring as this painting is, there is a sense of evanescence in the snow metaphor: a seemingly ubiquitous rain of purity that disappears into the waves as the ocean calls it back from its place on the beach. This idea ties into her 2012 Grammy Museum speech, where she acknowledged that relationships that aren’t meant to last forever are “somehow meaningful in that fragility.”
Things take a turn in “You’re On Your Own, Kid,” as Swift reveals the missing pieces that connect “Cruel Summer” and “Paper Rings” from “Lover.” As she tangentially addresses personal issues in her Netflix documentary “Miss Americana,” she candidly shares insights into her personal well-being in the song via lines like, “I threw parties and starved my body.” . Much of the song revolves around the whirlwind romance that ensues during this tumultuous time in her life and career. It elaborates on the exciting, messy and glamorous feeling of chasing someone while keeping them “cold”, an idea present in all of these tracks.
“Vigilante Shit” is inspired by the frenetic pace of Swift’s “Reputation” era. The theatrical refrain and consistent minor chords add up to a lyrical playground that’s sure to have the Swifties digging and speculating for weeks. “Vigilante Shit” comes after “Question…? and obviously targets a specific person, perhaps a former lover or a public enemy. Similarly, “Question…?” asks a series of questions in chorus while singing “Did you leave his house in the middle of the night?” / Did you wish to fight more when she said it was too much? / Would you like to be able to touch her again…? » This situation is definitely a convoluted series of tangles that harkens back to “Out Of The Woods,” especially since the song begins with Swift singing “I Remember,” similar to the repeated vocals on the hit single “1989.”
“Labyrinth” remains with the secret, puzzle-like content of “Question…? and displays the fears of love time and time again, arriving in a mellow landing place provided by the ethereal quality of Swift’s upper register. Simple lyrics like “Oh, I’m falling in love / I thought the plane was going down / How did you turn it around?” share the pain of letting our guard down, only to raise it again, forgetting the lessons we have learned.
“Sweet Nothing” is a song that we may see being overlooked as a favorite in the lineup, but personally it’s one of our top picks. The majority of The Hustler’s media section will send us a loud Slack message for this, but the wispy ballad is reminiscent of a lullaby and might bring you to tears if you try hard enough. It made us incredibly nostalgic and it feels like memories from our childhood. Filled with subtle flute and clarinet melodies, this track is truly sweet and perfectly celebrates escape from the madness of life.
“Mastermind” ends the craziness of this album with an ode to Swift’s insight. She once again presents raw collections of her own life through a techno riff opening and a steady beat throughout. Sighing above cinematic string instruments, Swift sings “Nobody wanted to play with me when I was little / So I’ve been scheming like a criminal ever since.” This bridge struck a chord with me for some reason, but we admire the newfound confidence in her lyrics as she’s not ashamed to share her deeply personal stories.
We grew up religiously watching the reality show “Big Brother,” so “expect the unexpected” rang in our ears when Swift announced her chaotic 3 a.m. surprise: seven more songs. She explained on Instagram that while the original 13 songs form a complete picture of the “mystifying and crazy hour,” there were still more songs to share. Alas, seven other songs were added at the end of the evening.
The country roots she revisited in her re-recorded albums are noticeably absent in “Midnights,” so we assumed we’d hear some on the 3 a.m. edition. But, Swift has once again proven us wrong. She instead relies on her pure-pop “1989” vibes for the seven bonus songs. To put it simply, “Paris” is such a fun song. Recalling a trip to Paris, “Paris” recalls being apart from the outside world while being in love. Through a heart-pounding beat and a vocal reminiscent of “Lover,” Swift confesses her love in a love letter before the song fades away, leaving listeners with a beat that will be stuck in their heads for the rest of the day.
“Would have, could have, should have” tells the painful and familiar story of regret. Looking through more mature eyes, Swift explains how she “regrets dancing with the devil at 19.” This song feels like a Taylor Swift classic to me, leaving us with more questions than we started, while still retaining the pop-story reminiscent of “1989.”
Wishing us more sweet dreams than nightmares, there’s something special about the words of “Midnights.” There’s a reason this album isn’t called “afternoons”; the late-night songwriting has enriched her storytelling and discography. This collection of catchy, classic Swift pop tales is deeply personal for those who tell – keeping our thoughts going in the middle of the night, hoping for clarity to come with a new day.