Swift’s “Midnights” uneven but gratifying


“Midnights” album cover

“Midnights,” Taylor Swift’s 10th studio album, is a reflection of her work as a best selling artist for the past 15 years. Swift has gone through more musical phases than most musicians do in their entire career.

Swift started as a true country singer in her self-titled debut album, but became a pop icon with the release of “1989,” an album that played a role in the childhood of many in our generation.

Taylor Swift then started another era in 2017 with “Reputation,” an angrier album that some have argued is a response to Swift’s conflicts with Kanye West. The album is generally liked and opens the audience up to a side of Swift that they had not seen before.

Through the COVID-19 pandemic, Swift released a pair of albums, “Folklore” and “Evermore,” representing another drastic musical shift, this time to folk music. The lack of pop production and use of fictional narrative once again differentiate these albums from Swift’s prior work.

With the new release of “Midnights,” there is no new era, no distinct aesthetic. Instead, it is a compilation of many of Swift’s past eras and styles.

“Midnights” began as an album of 13 songs, but three hours after the album release, Swift dropped the “3am Edition,” with an additional seven tracks.

“Maroon” and “Bigger than the Whole Sky” sound like they could belong on Swift’s 2021 album “Red,” while the song “Vigilante S***” sounds distinctly like Swift’s “Reputation” era. The tracks that I enjoyed the most, “Would’ve Could’ve Should’ve” and “You’re on your own, Kid,” both sound similar to “Evermore,” and both had the most notable emotional punch to me.

As much as I enjoyed “Midnights,” it lacked some signature features of Swift’s past music. The nostalgia factor that fans love in Swift’s past albums is nowhere to be found in Midnights, leading to little beyond a mainstream pop feel. And, admittedly, “Midnights” may have been too ambiguous in terms of a genre. Most songs are enjoyable individually, but overall it lacks a cohesive atmosphere. That being said, “Midnights” dives deep into insecurities that most would not be so honest about, with powerful lyrics and vocals.

“Anti-Hero” has an impactful line that Swift repeats: “I’ll stare directly at the sun, but never in the mirror.” In the bridge of “You’re on Your Own, Kid,” Swift says, “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,” returning to not only her insecurities about her body, but also a recurring theme of naive love that is present in much of Swift’s music.

“Midnights” is a thought-provoking album about Swift’s journey through life as both a celebrity and as a person navigating human challenges. “Midnights” shows the world who Taylor Swift is, by incorporating her past eras in music and in her life, all into this album. Although the album “Midnights” needs a cohesive genre, it is a worthwhile listen, with memorable tracks and a compelling style.