After the highly successful 2021 re-release of her album “Red,” Taylor Swift took time to produce her newest album, “Midnights.” Released on Oct. 21, 2022, it quickly smashed Spotify records, sales records and streaming records. Due to the lack of a lead single, listeners were left without any hint as to what the album could sound like. This begs the question, was the album worth the hype?
Swift described the inspiration for each track as “13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life” and the reasons behind her sleeplessness. The songs include her newest hit “Anti-Hero,” “Snow on the Beach” featuring fellow singer Lana Del Rey and the synth-pop track “Bejeweled.” It is a 13 track project with a run time of 44 minutes. The pop record also received a deluxe version as a surprise at 3 a.m., which was appropriately titled “Midnights (3am Edition).”
In “Midnights,” the listeners hear the pop sound that was absent in Taylor’s past “Folklore” and “Evermore.” From the light and bubbly tone of her singing on “Maroon” to the electronic instrumental on “Karma,” I could tell that this album was a reminder that Swift will always be a “main pop girl.” Even as a fan of her acoustic works (i.e. 2020’s “Folklore” and her debut album “Taylor Swift”), I absolutely welcomed this return to pop.
The album opens with the track “Lavender Haze,” a song with pulsing snares and a mellow rhythm. Swift’s voice here absolutely compliments the instrumentation in a way that feels like driving in the night with the windows down. I felt as though I was teleported to this world where everything, fittingly, is a shade of lavender. A couple tracks later, “Anti-Hero” began to grab all my attention. I felt as though I was listening to the album “1989,” where Swift unleashed a force of smash hits with an irresistible formula for success. Her sugar-coated voice made me pay attention to not just the production but also the lyrics. This is where the album falls short.
I could go on for days about how Swift mastered the formula for creating earworms with this album, but the issues with lyricism are glaring on this project. From lackluster lyrics to questionable figurative language, I was not feeling the themes of sleepless nights that Swift emphasized while discussing the album. “Vigilante Shit” was the lowest point in “Midnights” The phrase, “Draw the cat eye sharp enough to kill a man” was almost cringeworthy and didn’t have the impact Swift was hoping to get. Another example of a decline in lyricism is in the song “Question…?.” The lyrics “Did you ever have someone kiss you in a crowded room, and every single one of your friends was making fun of you?” felt like a regression from the story telling that Swift is known for. With a motif of insomnia, I was expecting her to discuss fears, hopes and dreams, but instead I had mediocre metaphors. I even felt as though she was pretentious in the song “Midnight Rain,” where she described her town as “a wasteland full of cages, full of fences, pageant queens, and big pretenders.” This is quite ironic, as Swift was born into a rich family and lived on an 11-acre Christmas tree farm, according to The Cold Wire.
Overall, I would describe Midnights the same way I would describe a piece of cake. Decadent, but lacking substance. It may remind some of her previous albums “1989” and “Reputation” at first listen, but the nostalgia fizzles out upon further listening.