Is Midnights worth the listen?


“The second listen was better”; a common sentiment among listeners of Midnights, Taylor Swift’s tenth and latest studio album.

Swift’s discography has a famously broad range; while her roots began in Nashville with country music, she has transcended genres to become one of the most highly recognized pop singers in history. Her past two new albums, Folklore and Evermore, were filled with soft, indie beats, but her most recent re-recorded albums included both country-centered Fearless and pop-heavy Red. Needless to say, when Swift announced that she was releasing Midnights, fans really had no idea what to expect. I’m personally a huge fan of Swift, so while I wasn’t quite sure what I’d be in for with the new album, I was looking forward to devastatingly relatable lyrics and possibly new favorite songs, whatever genre they might fit into.

In the new album, Swift definitively moves back to pop, but with a twist compared to her previous work. I was excited that the album was pop; while her indie albums are masterpieces, you can only listen to them so many times without feeling the intense need to cry. The first track of Midnights, titled “Lavender Haze”, turns the page on Swift’s indie career. It opens with heavy and steady techno beats, almost as a declarative statement for what listeners can expect to hear from Midnights. Swift along with producer Jack Antonoff use these beats to curate a dark and mature feel to the album. 

I think the two things that really define this album are the subtle call backs to Swift’s previous albums contrasted by the use of techno sounds. For example, “Lavender Haze”, with it’s poppiness and falsetto notes, is extremely reminiscent of “I Think He Knows” from Lover released in 2019, while “Maroon” could easily fit into Red from 2012. However, as much as Midnights feels like past songs, Swift flips them on their side by adding loads of electronic backing sounds to most tracks. I’m personally not a huge fan of that sort of sound, but I did appreciate that there were some songs that stayed away from the techno genre, such as “Sweet Nothing” and “You’re On Your Own Kid”—two of my favorites. In my opinion, the simplicity of those songs makes them feel just enough like old-school Swift, but adds a layer of maturity and wisdom that perfectly ties each of them together.

Technically, I can appreciate how Swift stretched herself in utilizing those technological tools like never before to craft the album. Lyrically, though, despite some great moments, Midnights is not Swift’s best compared to her pandemic-era albums. However, I truly believe that Swift is such a lyrical genius; in twenty years, English teachers could very well assign her songs for students to analyze, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention her best work in this album. Swift has always had a knack for being able to string together words to perfectly capture a specific emotion, and the melodies, backing tracks, and vocals she uses in the album allow the great lyrics to shine through. 

Fan-favorite “Anti-Hero”, which takes listeners on a ride through Swift’s mind and her biggest insecurities, is a lyrical stand-out on the album. In the chorus, she declares, “It’s me / Hi! / I’m the problem, it’s me”. This particular lyric has gone viral, likely because Swift refreshingly encompasses so many of our feelings: that little voice inside our head that tells us how bad we are all the time. Another favorite lyric of mine in “Anti-Hero” goes, “I’ll stare directly at the sun, but never in the mirror”. Of course, an honorable mention has to go to her self-love pop anthem “Bejeweled”, in which she sings, “Familiarity breeds contempt /  don’t me in the basement / when I want the penthouse of your heart.” I have to say, Shakespeare has some competition.

While the album had fantastic highs, it also had some low lows. “Snow on the Beach” was my least favorite song on the record. According to Swift, the metaphor of the song is meant to convey the “cataclysmic, fated moment” of falling in love with someone at the same time they’re falling in love with you. I think the metaphor had a lot of potential, but I wasn’t a huge fan of how it was executed in the song; I didn’t enjoy the soft whisper-singing, and the lyrics began feeling redundant. Many fans have also been disappointed that featured artist Lana Del Ray can barely be heard on the same track. I also wasn’t a huge fan of “Question…?”. I found the lyrics to be very confusing, particularly when Swift sings, “Did you ever have someone kiss you in a crowded room / And every single one of your friends was / Making fun of you / But 15 seconds later they were clapping too?” Maybe I’m just personally unable to relate to that line, but no matter how many times I listen to those lyrics, I can’t seem to decipher it. I also felt that the way Swift organized the lyrics was choppy and hard to grasp melodically. On the other hand, though, my least favorite songs are some listener’s favorites, which proves how versatile Swift’s messaging can be.

Do I think this is Swift’s best album? No. It doesn’t lack anything per say, but it just didn’t blow me away like I was hoping it would. That being said, I believe that for this moment in Swift’s career, it works. It has a sort-of new sound that takes her away from turning into a folk/indie artist, it nicely contrasts upbeat, feel-good songs to darker and moodier ones, and you can definitely tell that the album was carefully crafted.

While it wasn’t an immediate favorite with all the different components to each song, the strong points of Midnights makes that second listen to the album worth it, ushering in a new depth to Swift’s already triumphant career.


The opinions stated in this article do not necessarily reflect the views and beliefs of the Wingspan staff as a whole.