Moody, innovative and dreamy: Taylor Swift’s “Midnights”

Raph_PH, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Taylor Swift has been keeping her fans up at night with the anticipation of her latest album release, “Midnights.” Described as “13 sleepless nights throughout my life” by Swift, the album chronicles her rise to fame and the public scrutiny that has kept her awake.

Swift is known for hiding “easter eggs” throughout her music promotions, beginning in 2006 when, in the lyrics of her CD covers, she would capitalize certain letters in her lyricbooks to create a secret message.

As her fan base continues to grow, Swift has dropped fully into social media promotions and symbolism including cryptic Tik Toks of track title announcements, an animated plane manifest and five different versions of vinyls and CDs, some of which align to create a clock.

On Friday, Oct. 21, “Midnights” was released at midnight, followed by a “special chaotic surprise” from Swift’s social media at 3 a.m. We now know that this chaotic surprise is seven additional tracks to “Midnights,” in a deluxe version titled “Midnights (3am Edition).”

With all the excitement and anticipation, “Midnights” is an album that is moody, innovative and dreamy. It really portrays Swift’s feelings about her publicized life and rollercoaster career. After several listens, it is evident that these songs are not exact recounts of Swift’s life, but rather reflections of events that have taken place.

Many songs can be attributed to styles and themes portrayed in previous albums, and with the “completion” of the house shown in the “ME!” music video, “Midnights” truly feels like the culmination of Swift’s career.

Notable tracks include “Lavender Haze,” a catchy song about staying in the “haze” of love, heavily comparable to “I Think He Knows” from “Lover.” In the track “Anti-Hero,” Swift sings about being “the problem” and how the public agrees. In the song and its accompanying music video, Swift addresses her body image issues, referencing past struggles with an eating disorder.

In “Midnight Rain” Swift talks about her past relationships and the expectations her male partners had for her, saying “He wanted a bride, I was making my own name, chasing that fame, he stayed the same.” These themes are likely to resonate with modern audiences as more and more women prioritize career development and personal growth over settling down.

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In an almost antithesis, “Sweet Nothing” is about her current relationship with Joe Alwyn, admitting how he sees her for her mind and creativity, and that she can be vulnerable and “soft” with him.

“Question..?” is also a call-back to one of Taylor’s previous albums, 1989. At the beginning, the beat and a warped “I remember…” is a sample of the song “Out of the Woods.” The songs “Vigilante Sh*t” and “Karma” call back to Swift’s former conflicts with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, both their strong beats and kitschy lyrics reminiscent of Swift’s “Reputation.”

“Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve,” the most surprising track from the deluxe edition, most likely references her 2009 relationship with John Mayer. Swift fans will notice parallels to Swift’s 2010 track “Dear John,” which opens up about Mayer’s abusive tactics and their imbalanced 13-year age gap.

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Now, with Swift at the same age Mayer during their relationship, she reflects on the impact it had on her, saying “If I was a child, did it matter, if you got to wash your hands,” “I damn sure never would’ve danced with the devil at nineteen,” “give me back my girlhood, it was mine first.”

This follow-up to “Dear John” shows a matured perspective of the relationship, as well as Swift grieving an adolescence that was stolen from her by tabloids and a corrupt industry.

Sophomore political science and history major Julian Ramos said if he could choose one word to describe the album, it would be “nostalgic.”

“‘Vigilante Sh*t’ is my favorite song — it reminds me a lot of the style of the songs on ‘Reputation,’ which is my favorite Taylor album,” Ramos said.

Overall, “Midnights” is an insightful, emotional, fun addition to Swift’s diverse, well-produced discography.