Mackenzie Hughes ’25
On Oct. 21, Taylor Swift released “Midnights,” her first new record since “evermore” in 2021. The album has already sold 800,000 copies, claiming the title of the most streamed-album in a single day on Spotify. Many organizations came together on campus to celebrate the release, asSwift’s songs echoed throughout residence halls. Preceding the release of the album, Swift launched her biggest media campaign, and as a long time fan, I very much appreciated the easter egg hunt rumored to be hinted at in other songs.
The anticipation surrounding this release involved a long, tumultuous situation regarding the ownership of her previous albums. Many fans guessed that this album would be a re-recording of one of those albums, but much to their surprise, Swift produced not only 13 original songs, but an additional seven tracks entitled “Midnights (3 am Edition).” Swift said, “This is a collection of music written in the middle of the night, a journey through terrors and sweet dreams.” How come Taylor is allowed to do this but when I submit the stories from the sleepless nights scattered throughout my life for a paper, my professor calls the counseling center?
Much of this album is in collaboration with Jack Antonoff, a frequent co-writer and co-producer of Swift. In addition, the track “Snow on the Beach” features beloved artist Lana Del Rey. I use the term “features” lightly, as the song barely does justice to Del Rey’s incredible vocals. This ode to falling in love was probably inspired by Swift’s romantic relationship with boyfriend Joe Alwyn, as other tracks on the album are dedicated to him as well.
The idea of the album being “dark, starry, cloudy, terrifying, electrifying, hot, cold, romantic or lonely. Just like Midnights,” is a bit too on the nose for me. These all seem like semantics for self-loathing. Critics praise the album for its lyrical quality; however, the overall impression it gives is a mediocre one. Maybe the album is just not my cup of tea, but I firmly believe the aesthetic of being a Taylor Swift fan and resposting her Instagram pictures on your own story is the only thing sustaining the hype for this album. Some of the songs do demonstrate the best of Swift’s ability to tell a story, such as the lyric, “I’ll stare directly at the sun, but never in the mirror.” However, she tends to recycle many of the same ideas. For example, Taylor sings “When you splashed your wine into me” in “Maroon” the lyrics are a parallel to “I’m spilling wine in the bathtub, you kiss my face and we’re both drunk” on “Dress.” Furthermore, this album reflects similar themes present in her older tracks, most notably “Gold Rush” and “Lover.”
I genuinely think Swift wasted the opportunity to showcase her heart-wrenching reflections on isolation and body image that I know she is capable of. Overall, it’s not controversial to say “Midnights” did not deliver on the music we expect from this pop-legend and is underwhelming.