The Magic of Taylor Swift’s Midnights


During the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards on August 28th, 2022, Taylor Swift dropped the ball that she would be releasing her tenth album, entitled Midnights, on October 21st. The album is themed around her endearing and thought-provoking moments of insomnia, following thirteen sleepless nights throughout her life. The album came without a lead single, leaving fans without a clue what genre the album would be; whether it would continue the folk-like lyrical brilliance of sister albums folklore and evermore (2020), or continue her famed pop sequence and take off from where Lover (2019) left off. When the album arrived, it was a surprisingly pleasant combination of both genres, even implementing previously unexplored territories for Swift, such as her frequent usage of synth within the album (most explored in “Midnight Rain”). 

The album arrived with thirteen tracks, plus seven bonus songs revealed in the ‘3 A.M. edition’ on October 21st. The album painted a colorful image of multiple different experiences and emotions throughout Swift’s journey as an artist, a celebrity, and most plainly as a person. The album promises long-time invested fans (self-titled “Swifties”) easter eggs referring back to famous moments in her history and discography, including the self-confident track “Karma”, which is most likely a nod to the fanmade theory that Swift had originally written an album by the same name to be her sixth release (before the Kanye West interactions that led to her year-long absence followed by her groundbreaking clapback entitled Reputation). 

At first listen, the album can be a bit of a jumble on the mind. But as you enchant yourself into the world of Midnights, you become more and more allured by the prodigal lyricism and memorable melodies of the record. It is clear that Swift’s history of producing metaphorical and meticulous poetry continues on with the album, producing symbolic phrases such as, “Did you hear my covert narcissism I disguise as altruism like some kind of congressman?” (“Anti-Hero”); “This scene feels like what I once saw on a screen / I search ‘aurora borealis green’ / I’ve never seen someone lit from within / blurring out my periphery” (“Snow on the Beach”); “Romance is not dead if you keep it just yours / levitate above all the messes made” (“Paris”), etc. The album also includes hit-worthy songs such as the ever-so-catchy (although admittedly not as lyrically strong as the other tracks), aforementioned “Karma” (“Karma is a cat / purring in my lap ‘cuz it loves me”) and the perfect song to strut down the runway to, “Bejeweled” (“Best believe I’m still bejeweled / when I walk in the room / I can still make the whole place shimmer”). 

Highlights include “Should’ve Could’ve Would’ve” — a broodingly beautiful recounting of her experience being groomed by country star John Mayer in her late teens (“Living for the thrill of hitting you where it hurts /Give me back my girlhood / It was mine first”), “You’re On Your Own, Kid” — quite possibly a matured recollection in response to a track, entitled “Never Grow Up”, that debuted on Swift’s junior album; the bridge is one of the album’s best, and quite possible one of the best in the artist’s entire discography (“From sprinkler splashes to fireplace ashes / I gave my blood, sweat, and tears for this / I hosted parties and starved my body / like I’d be saved by a perfect kiss”), and the album’s closing track entitled “Mastermind”, a relatable memorial for the effect lack of love had on her as a child and the way this experience led to her long-lasting need to somehow plan and ‘master’ the art of getting people to love you (“No one wanted to play with me as a kid / so I’ve been scheming like a criminal ever since / to make them love me and make it seem effortless”).

But, behind the luxurious display showcased by the entirety of the record, the album somehow shows Taylor Swift at her most vulnerable in a way we hadn’t previously seen to this extent. Swift, having been launched into the spotlight from a young age, has carried the sparkling but draining weight of stardom for nearly two decades. Through this album, Swift goes further in depth to the experiences that both shattered her and somehow made her whole. Through descriptions of love found in darkness, rare but magical moments of self-love, and regrets from her youth with a long-awaited achievement of self-forgiveness, Midnights is a perfect time capsule of Swift as she is — for all of her jokes, for all of her talents, and for all of her humanity.