Taylor Swift’s Sleepless “Midnights” Shines Bright

On her latest release, Taylor Swift welcomes listeners to her after hours world at an intersection of something new and her classic sound.


Official album art

Mariana Quezada, Staff Writer

Taylor Swift is inevitably always talked about since her debut almost two decades ago. It makes sense, as every release of hers seems to mark a new milestone in music history. Her latest album, the record-breaker “Midnights,” is no exception, as it recently made Swift the first ever artist to occupy the entire Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 . 

The new record comes after a rapid succession of four releases over the past couple of years. The artist’s recent productivity is often highlighted in social media spaces. On Twitter, she was often compared to seemingly dormant singer Lorde, since between her two latest albums Swift released a whopping total of six records.  The latest being her second re-recording release caused by the sale of her masters, that of her fourth album “Red” (2012), which features the fan-favorite power ballad “All Too Well.”

“Midnights” diverts from the sound Swift began exploring after her sixth album “Lover,” released in 2019. During the pandemic, the artist referred to as “The music industry” by Barbara Walters surprised the world with not one but two albums. Indie-inspired sisters “folklore” and “evermore” were Swift testing yet another genre in her shapeshifting career, and proving her mastery in it. In fact, “folklore” even took the title of Album of the Year at the 2021 Grammys. Therefore, following the cottagecore exploration and the nostalgia-inducing re-releases of “Fearless” and “Red,” both in 2021, a brand new album was long awaited.

I must admit, after the first listen of “Midnights” I was not fully convinced. The sound is definitely different from her latest releases, particularly the aforementioned indie sisters of 2020, which is why it might catch the new listener off guard. Moreover, it is not the country pop of yore her adoring fans remembered her for thanks to the re-recordings (all of which are subtitled “Taylor’s Version”— a reminder, or jab, at her recently acquired ownership of them.) However, her 12th record overall (including the re-releases) is definitely something original. While “Midnights” could be, and has been, nicknamed the love child of her most mainstream pop album “1989” (2014) and the layered “reputation” (2017), it is much more than that after a careful listen. 

As all of her releases have been, “Midnights” is in a league of its own. Swift collaborates once again with producer Jack Antonoff, which is evident in the album’s sound. An inside joke among fans is that she keeps him trapped in her basement, letting him out only to record music. To those who aren’t fans of Antonoff’s cornerstone production, the album might not be their cup of tea. Thankfully, Swift keeps it diverse, yet concise and coherent, a difficult feat to achieve without making an album neither incongruous nor repetitive. This is mostly since “Midnights” is, after all, a concept album. The stories in each track are all after-hours ruminations of the artist. Swift herself calls it, “the stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life.”

However, the unexpected “3am Edition” of the album released at 3 a.m. following the first midnight release adds seven more tracks, which reinforce the golden touch of the singer-songwriter. 

The record’s opening track “Lavender Haze” immediately tells you where this is going: it’s synth-pop (Taylor’s Version.) Along with Antonoff’s dreamy production, Swift takes you throughout her inner monologue. The lead single “Anti-Hero” explicitly detailing her insecurities, and the ever-present fear of being perceived with lyrics like “It’s me, hi. I’m the problem, it’s me.” That makes two of us. 

Other tracks are more reminiscent of her “1989” and “reputation” eras, such as “Paris” and “Maroon” respectively. A key element of Swift’s music is her incorporation of a bridge, which is almost lost in the modern era of songs seemingly made for 15 seconds on TikTok. At 32, her writing and voice have both evolved, demonstrated in gut-wrenching songs like “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” where she reflects on her youth, screaming “Give me back my girlhood, it was mine first.” Other songs offer the classic connection with her audience Swift is known for, such as “You’re On Your Own, Kid” the title being a phrase she teased in her NYU commencement speech earlier this year. 

Overall, while it might not seem to the average listener at first, “Midnights” is the singer at her most intrepid. She demonstrates a swift transition from genre to genre, a sturdy trust in her collaborators, such as Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner (who appears in the “3am” tracks), and her ability to craft lyrics, a talent overlooked nowadays. It is no “folklore” nor “1989” because it shouldn’t be, it’s another triumph that will go down in Taylor Swift history. “Midnights” is nothing short of astonishing.

Taylor Swift reinvents herself often, it is what she is known for. At this point in her career– a winner of three Album of the Year awards, each in different genres– she is able to take risks. Let “Midnights” be proof of the strong and brave artist she has become. A 10/10, indeed.