‘Midnights’: an instant pop classic


courtesy of Taylor Swift

‘Midnights’ is Swift’s 12th full-length album and her first pop album since 2019.

Pravar Mukkala, Co-Managing Editor

Everyone thought singer Taylor Swift had found her calling after releasing her alt-pop and folk records folklore and evermore in 2020. As Swift began re-releasing her past albums, fans began to speculate on what her next original album would be like. Would she revisit her old synth-pop fame, her country roots, or continue making music in the same vein as her 2020 albums?

No matter what fans thought, Swift has exceeded and broke all expectations with her new record Midnights, released on Friday, Oct. 21. On its opening day, Midnights shattered dozens of records, gaining more than 184 million streams on Spotify in 24 hours.

According to Swift, the songs on Midnights tell the stories of sleepless nights scattered throughout her life, and are a “journey through terrors and sweet dreams”. Indeed, the album’s tracks range from vengeful and self-hating to shiny and in love. Additionally, in all of the songs, regardless of their topic, Swift’s vocals are the main focus, easily traversing the bounds between breathy falsettos and fast-paced hip-hop inflections.

Midnights is an album where the genre matters very little. While it can be broadly categorized as a pop record, its 20 songs all display a different take on the idea of pop. From one song to another, the synth-dominated production shifts from catchy head-bopping rhythms to downtempo and atmospheric.

The album begins with one of the more catchy pop and borderline-hip-hop songs, “Lavender Haze”. The song starts off the album perfectly, making a statement that conveys the idea that Swift is happy and in love and cares very little about media speculation about her life: “I’m damned if I do give a damn what people say”.

Along with “Lavender Haze”, the seventh track, titled “Question…?”, holds the title for one of the best songs on Midnights. “Question…?”, is about a conversation Swift wants to have with a past lover and all the questions she wants to ask.

“Can I ask you a question?” Swift sings over infectious synth beats. “Did you ever have someone kiss you in a crowded room?” Swift’s voice impressively wraps the cutting and hurtful lyrics in the song under a kind of playful, nonchalant tone.

Another notable track on Midnights is “Anti-Hero”. Starting off with the lyric “I have this thing where I get older but never wiser”, the song is instantly set up as another one of Swift’s sad classics. “Anti-Hero” is about Swift’s anxiety and self-loathing, and in the chorus, Swift croons, “It’s me, hi/I’m the problem, it’s me”.

This kind of self-awareness is new in a Taylor Swift album; while Swift has released songs about her struggles before, never has she been so candid.

More standouts on Midnights are “Bejeweled” and “Paris”. Dichotomous to the depressing themes of “Anti-Hero”, in “Bejeweled”, Swift knows that whenever she walks into a room, she can “make the whole place shimmer”. The entire song is characterized by a steady beat and a mess of sparkly and shiny synths, almost making it sound expensive.

In “Paris”, Swift stumbles down fake alleyways and drinks cheap wine (pretending that it’s champagne) with her lover, pretending that they’re in Paris, the City of Love. The track’s soft-pop beat drops and atmospheric production are reminiscent of music from the mid-2010s. Indeed, the song is about the nostalgia of the beginning of a relationship, and contains themes of escapism.

Ultimately, Midnights builds on the shimmering yet dark pop of Swift’s 1989 (2014), reputation (2017), and Lover (2019), while also showing the newfound, folklore-type maturity of her lyrics. All in all, fans of pop music would greatly enjoy this album. Midnights‘s style of pop falls somewhere between the albums Melodrama by Lorde (especially the lyrics) and E•MO•TION by Carly Rae Jepsen. To listen to albums that are stylistically similar to Midnights, check out Strange Desire by Bleachers and Bloom by Troye Sivan.