Midnights: An Emotional, Compelling Narrative through Taylor Swift’s Life

Midnights: An Emotional, Compelling Narrative through Taylor Swift’s Life

Sasha van Leeuwen, Director of Multimedia

I’m sure by now, everyone has heard of “Midnights” by Taylor Swift. This was her 10th studio album, released on October 21, 2022, and quickly soared to the top of the charts. She released 13 songs at 12 a.m. EST on October 21 but planned a “chaotic surprise” at 3 a.m. to release a second version of the album with an additional 7 songs. Since its release, the album has received high praise, with 10 songs on the album occupying all top 10 spots on the Billboard Hot 100.

After winning 11 Grammys, an Artist of the Decade award from the American Music Association, and having multiple sold-out tours, anticipation was high for “Midnights. In her announcement of the album on Instagram, she described it as “the stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life”. Just after the official release, Spotify experienced crashes and outages due to the number of people trying to stream the album.

Swift immediately pulls listeners in with the catchy, upbeat first track titled “Lavender Haze,” followed by a more emotional track titled “Maroon,” in which she sings about various complexities of a relationship. Track three, “Anti-Hero, is an upbeat pop anthem about self-loathing, which already debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

One thing listeners can appreciate is the versatility of the different songs. “Midnights” is composed of songs all throughout the many different Taylor Swift-Eras, giving listeners a sense of deja vu. “Paris,” is a dreamy melody reminiscent of Swift’s 1989 days, while “Vigilante Shit,” is bold, confident, and calls back to the artist’s sixth album, “Reputation”, which revolved around bad press she received, celebrity feuds (such as the infamous 2016 dispute with Kanye West regarding lyrics in West’s song “Famous”), and other critics in the path of her career. Swift proves over and over again the extent of her talent with upbeat, self-confidence anthems such as “Bejeweled” and “Karma,” while also getting to hear her more raw, emotional side, which she displays in “You’re On Your Own,” “Kid” and “Bigger Than The Whole Sky.”

It’s the sense of humanness that Swift always nails time after time with every new album release that keeps her successful, especially among today’s youth. Even with just one listen, you can understand the pain, fear, frustration, confusion, and joy that she works to display throughout her songs. Her lyrics, clearly written from the heart, are relatable, and often, equally gut-wrenching. Although nothing has been officially confirmed, track 19, titled “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” describes her regrets in her alleged relationship with John Mayer (with the equally as anguishing song “Dear John,” from the singer’s third album, “Speak Now,” also allegedly written about him), which was largely controversial at the time because Swift was 19 and Mayer was 32 during their rumored affairs. She opens up about some of her most traumatic experiences, expressing all of the ways it still haunts her to this day. Swift captures the feeling of feeling taken advantage of and missing the person you used to be, with many on various social media platforms such as “Twitter” quick to discuss its relatability.

One song, however, is notoriously missing from streaming platforms, and it is one of the bonus tracks, “Hits Different.” It is exclusively available on the Target CD release of the album, leaving many fans able to listen if they choose to purchase the CD or stream it illegally online. Although I was unable to listen to it, “Taylor Swift Switzerland” describes it as “a breezy departure from the rest of the ‘Midnights’ album, with sun-kissed California rock guitar and wildly funny lines about why Taylor is your ultimate Argumentative Antithetical Dream Girl.”

Whether you are mourning the loss of a loved one, fresh out of a relationship and feeling confident, falling in love, or even feeling discontent with yourself, there is a song on “Midnights” for you. With her upcoming “The Eras” Tour having just been announced, streaming of the new album is sure to continue to rise, and her team has already added an additional 8 shows to the list in anticipation of stadiums selling out. Many such as myself agree that it is practically impossible to pick a favorite Taylor Swift album, especially when they all have such different moods, but with “Midnights” giving you a little bit of everything, it arguably can take the top spot.