Contributing Writer Brady Kim (’25)
On October 21st, Taylor Swift released her highly anticipated 10th studio album, “Midnights.” Taking a break from her re-recordings, this new album caught fans around the world by surprise when she announced it at the VMAs. “Midnights” is undeniably a successful album, with first week sales of 1.578 million, the second in history for a female artist, and the album receiving 186 million Spotify streams in the first day, and 785 million streams first week, shattering both records. Though the success of the album is undeniable, the real “Question…?” is how does it hold up?
The album opens on a highpoint with “Lavender Haze.” The song is a euphoric honeymoon-esque love song about not caring what people think about your relationship and carrying on, staying in that “Lavender Haze.” The song helps set the tone for the album, with the breathy singing, vocal distortion, and liberal use of synths.
The record then moves on to “Maroon,” which by all means is a good, low-key song, but it doesn’t leave a lasting impact as the instrumental is similar to and improved upon in other songs. “Anti-Hero,” Swift’s lead single for this record, provides another good, but very “millennial” song. Lyrics like “It’s me, hi, I’m the problem it’s me,” and “Sometimes I feel like everybody is a sexy baby,” left me confused and cringing. Though there are low points throughout the song, the bigger instrumental in the chorus as well as the slowburn of the bridge provides enough delight to revisit the song.
Following a similar motif of being good but lackluster life the last two songs, “Snow On The Beach (featuring Lana Del Rey)” is a good tune, but it lacks much involvement from Del Rey. The first half of the song is also a little boring, and while there are beautiful instrumentals and vocals throughout the whole song, the beat doesn’t pick up until the two minute mark.
Though most of the songs up to this point were good (if mildly disappointing), “You’re On Your Own Kid” is the pinnacle of “Midnights.” The lyricism is some of Swift’s best on the album and the building and final explosion on the last chorus of the song makes you want to get up and dance. In my opinion, this song could have fit on one of her older albums, “Red.” The main difference between “You’re On Your Own Kid,” and the previous songs is the use of guitar as opposed to synths and piano. Through the whole record, no other tune comes close to “You’re On Your Own Kid’s” shine.
One of the first major duds on the album is “Midnight Rain,” with the first 15 seconds of the song distastefully using vocal distortion. “Midnight Rain” carries out a low-key tune similar to “Maroon,” but does not achieve the lyrical charm or the groove that “Maroon” nails.
The album then picks back up with “Question…?” a sweet tune with a much better use of vocal distortion on the bridge, and a happy applause in the final chorus that may make you cringe on the first listen, but after a few times through works well to mellow out the listener.
Unfortunately, the album takes a huge drop in quality with “Vigilante S**t.” This is by far the worst song on the album, and one of the worst in Swift’s discography. Swift’s lyricism is incredibly poor on this song with the instrumental reminding me of a song so bad that even an early edgy Billie Eilish couldn’t have come up with. Swift tries to be edgy like in her album “Reputation,” but somehow this song is much worse than anything on that album. “Draw the cat eye sharp enough to kill a man” sounds like a 2000s Tumblr lyric that a kid would say on a school bus to their friends to seem edgy. This song is a massive dip in quality to the spotty but overall smooth album up to this point.
Though “Vigilante S**t” is a major drop in quality on the record, Swift picks right back up with three of the best songs on the album, “Karma,” “Labyrinth,” and “Bejeweled.” “Labyrinth” is Swift’s best lyricism on the album, with great use of vocal distortion and a sense of wonder surrounding the song. This song provides a nice reprieve from the other poppy songs with a much more low-key and alternative sound than the rest. “Bejeweled” and “Karma” are two straightforward bops with a beautiful use of synths. Though these two songs are some of the weakest lyrically (particularly “Karma”), they’re undeniably catchy, making it much easier to excuse their small problems.
Sadly, Swift’s best three track run on the album comes to an end with the second worst song on the album, “Sweet Nothing.” Swift collaborates once again here with her boyfriend Joe Alwyn for writing as she did with “exile,” on her 2020 album “folklore.” However, this song doesn’t reach the heights – instrumentally, vocally, or lyrically – that “exile,” managed. The song is nowhere as bad as “Vigilante S**t,” with no major problems, but to put it simply, it’s just a boring song. The vocals are alright, the lyricism is alright, and the instrumental is simple. It’s just a very dull, boring song.
Swift’s album ends with “Mastermind,” a good but technically unfinished song. Swift’s vocals do not blend well with the instrumental behind them, resulting in an unpolished mix on the final song. On all other spectrums, the song is good though, which results in a decent (if lackluster) final song. In this way, “Mastermind” is like a microcosm of the album as a whole: good, but disappointing.
With “Midnights,” Taylor Swift delivers a good yet inconsistent album compared to her last two works. Though I have some specific gripes with the album, it’s still a lot of fun, with the majority being good songs. Songs like “Lavender Haze” and “Karma” provided danceable bops on the record with other songs like “Labyrinth” and “You’re On Your Own Kid,” showing off Swift’s songwriting prowess. Though duds like “Vigilante S**t” did provide dips on the album, Swift’s artistry ultimately shines through.
- You’re On Your Own Kid
- Lavender Haze
- Snow On The Beach
- Midnight Rain
- Sweet Nothing
- Vigilante Sh*t