Review | Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’ will keep you up all night

Taylor Swift’s 10th original studio album Midnights was released on Oct. 21st. Differing from her recent albums and re-records, Midnights brings back the pop era of Swift with modern, up-tempo beats and middle of the night, thought-filled lyrics.


Nicole Hester / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK

Taylor Swift walks the red carpet at the NSAI Awards at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn., Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022.

Anaka Sanders, Arts Reporter

As the clock struck midnight on Oct. 21 — or 11 p.m on Oct. 20. for Iowans — Taylor Swift’s 10th original studio album Midnights debuted, filled with modern synths and nocturnal, melodramatic sounds.

Swift described the album as a collection of 13 stories from 13 sleepless nights — written from recollections of the nightmares and sweet dreams throughout her life — when she announced it back in August. Unlike her recent albums folklore and evermore, Midnights is for the fans of 1989, Reputation, or Lover.

Album opener, “Lavender Haze” greets listeners with the fitting lyrics, “Meet me at midnight.” The pop beat song is thought to be about the rumors surrounding her six-year relationship with Joe Alwyn, calling to their foundation of ignoring the media with “I’m damned if I do give a damn what people say,” and “The 1950s shit they want from me.”

Her track “Anti-hero” sits third on the album and emulates her vulnerability, her mind saying, “I’m the problem, it’s me.” Released the following morning, the “Anti-hero” music video is a self-deprecating, hilarious take on the upbeat, yet melancholic tune. At one-point, Swift shows up to a house party as a giant version of herself — referencing her 5-foot-11 stature — with the lyrics, “Sometimes I feel like everybody is a sexy baby and I’m a monster on the hill.” This one is for the tall girlies, including myself at 5-foot-10. I have no problem rooting for the anti-hero if it’s Swift.

Swift is known to sample tempos, lyrics, and melodies from herself, and does just that on Midnights. Even during my first listen, I could hear some of my past favorites shining through.

“Midnight Rain” sounds like it follows the same rhythm as “my tears ricochet” from folklore, “Question…?” has the same pop beat as 1989’s “Out of the Woods” which is the song it samples in its intro, and “Lavender Haze” has falsettos eerily similar to “I Think He Knows” on Lover.

My favorite song on the album so far is the airy, sparkly-feeling Lover and 1989 love-child “Question…?”. Swift riddled the song with questions, “Did you ever have someone kiss you in a crowded room?” and “Do you wish you could still touch her?”. Trying to find the answers in her lyrics, fans speculate which past love this track could be about.

Those credited for helping write each song was released before the album itself. On the majority of the tracks, Swift collaborated with longtime friend and producer Jack Antonoff, but on “Sweet Nothing” the song was attributed to William Bowery, Joe Alwyn’s songwriting pseudonym. The adorable, soft piano notes in combination with precious lyrics like “You’re in the kitchen humming” show the enchanting side of Swift’s midnights.

Other Midnights standouts showcasing Swift’s lyrical genius include the familiar Red song “Maroon,” lonely college student anthem “You’re On Your Own, Kid,” and the dark, humorous “Karma.”

Midnights exceeded my expectations, launching me into a new era, but Swift wasn’t done yet. Many fans, myself included, stayed up way past midnight for the 3 a.m. “special very chaotic surprise” she promised on Instagram and TikTok on Oct. 16. Wow, did she keep that promise.

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In the wee hours of the morning, Swift announced seven additional Midnights tracks. She explained that these are not a continuation of Midnights, but songs that helped her get to the 13 originals, thinking of them as “From The Vault” tracks on her re-recorded albums.

Immediately the 3 a.m. edition track that caught fans attention was “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve.” Reminiscent of her Speak Now hit “Dear John,” the heartbreaking song is hypothesized to be about Swift’s ex-boyfriend John Mayer and brings him back to most-hated man status 12 years later. The lyrics, “I damn sure never would’ve danced with the devil at nineteen” and “Memories feel like weapons” were felt deep with long-time fans.

Midnights is the fantastical new album I’ve been looking for. Swift asks the question, “What keeps you up at night?” in her description of Midnights. You, Taylor; you keep me up at night.

Lyrically, Swift wrote Midnights’ songs for revenge, being in love, and that missing feeling. Her combination of up-tempo beats and smooth rhythm makes the album a well-rounded collection of night time songs. I give Midnights 13 out of 13 silver, sparkling stars.