By Sara Nigro
Grammy award-winning artist Taylor Swift released her highly-anticipated 10th studio album, “Midnights,” on Oct. 21.
Throughout the album, Swift explores themes such as nostalgia, karma, love and loss. Using late-night thoughts as the starting point for all her songs, she writes about anxiety and self-loathing, discovering a safe and secure love, as well as vengeful thoughts regarding people from her past.
Since its release, I have listened to the album from start to finish a few times, and my favorite songs are “You’re On Your Own Kid,” “Labyrinth” and “Mastermind.” Each of these songs differs immensely from each other. Each varies on topics about childhood regrets, new loves and controlling situations to a fault.
“You’re On Your Own Kid” perfectly combines a nostalgic yearning for the past with a struggle between simple love and success. The most memorable lyrics from this song are “From sprinkler splashes to fireplace ashes/I gave my blood, sweat, and tears for this/I hosted parties and starved my body/Like I'd be saved by a perfect kiss.” These verses are a core part of the bridge and perfectfully encapsulate the buildup from the rest of the song up to that point.
One of a few love songs on the album, “Sweet Nothing,” tells the story of a simple love without great expectations. This song incorporates instrumentals so soft and sweet it feels like a lullaby at times. The overall theme of simplicity is represented in the verse, “On the way home/I wrote a poem/You say, "What a mind"/This happens all the time.”
While there is some sophisticated songwriting, some of the songs include cheesy lyrics.
I ranked “Karma” and Bejeweled” as my least favorites because of this. Lyrics such as “karma is a cat/Purring in my lap 'cause it loves me” in “Karma” seemed somewhat juvenile to me, especially in comparison to her previous work.
After coming out of a “folklore” and “evermore” era — both albums known for their impressive lyricism — the highly-anticipated lyrics in “Midnights” fell short.
After the release of “Midnights” at 12 a.m., Swift announced the release of seven more songs at 3 a.m., which created an extended version of the album. After listening to all 20 songs, I find that I favor the songs released at 3 a.m. over the “Midnights” tracks.
“Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” is my favorite song on “Midnights” (3 a.m. version). This song has such a vulnerability and intensity that rivals some of her other well-known hits. Swift tells a story of a romantic regret from when she was nineteen years old, describing a loss of innocence.
During the bridge, Swift sings, “God rest my soul/I miss who I used to be/The tomb won't close/Stained glass windows in my mind/I regret you all the time.” Her lyrics and tone throughout the track create a relatable and emotional experience for the listener.
Since the album comprises a collection of songs Swift wrote during sleepless nights over several years, “Midnights” doesn’t feel as cohesive as some of her previous work. While I normally prefer a cohesive, story-telling structure when listening to albums, I believe that Swift is able to make it work. Working over several years allows for Swift to do what she does best and tell a story over different periods of her life.
Because of this creative process, many of the songs seem to categorize themselves into different time periods. For example, “Lavender Haze” reminds me of certain tracks from “Lover,” such as “I Think He Knows.” Also, “Vigilante Shit” includes many stylistic elements reflected in “Reputation.” The overall music production reminds me of “...Ready For It?” and “I Did Something Bad.”
This created an interesting aspect to the first listen as a Swift fan, as it felt like a puzzle to place the songs into different album eras. Giving listeners a fun experience when listening to her work is a key element in Swift’s success and massive fanbase.
“Midnights” isn’t her most profound piece of work. However, the album represents many aspects of her artistry and makes for an entertaining and moving pop album.