Taylor Swift’s “Midnights” Illustrates Emotional Intensity but Delivers Musical Mediocrity

Review of Taylor Swift’s “Midnights”

Swifties have been riled up since the announcement of “Midnights”, Taylor Swift’s 10th studio album. Swift also fueled the excitement with “Midnights Mayhem”, a series spanning across her social media accounts that featured her revealing a new title track out of the 13 songs on her latest project. Now, “Midnights” is here as well as the 3 am version which contains seven more songs chronicling even more stories from the Taylor Swift vault. Swift herself has described the record as a concept album comprised of the adventure of 13 “sleepless nights”. “Midnights” as expected, has broken multiple records, including most streamed album in a day on Spotify and Swift herself now holds the record as the artist most listened to in a single day according to Spotify’s analytics. 

Despite these early accolades, a close listen might reveal “Midnights” to be one of the most overhyped Taylor Swift albums especially in comparison to her recent work on “Folklore” and “Evermore”. “Midnights” , like every Swift album, has its standouts. From the eerie vocals and provocative lyrics of “Snow on The Beach” (featuring the talents of Lana Del Ray), to the reflective indignation embedded into “Anti-Hero” which has quickly become one of the album’s most popular songs. “Mastermind” cheekily deconstructs a relationship and the means one goes through to win someone over, while “Vigilante Sh*t” discusses the glamor of vengeance- a topic Swift writes about all too well(see what I did there). 

While these songs are mostly well crafted lyrically and paint a clear picture of the story Swift is trying to tell, the poppy, bass-boosted beats feel repetitive and derivative. Swift has experimented with multiple genres since her humble country star days from alternative to pop but her pop music has never felt this paralleled to the mainstream. “Midnights” aims to explore specific intense feelings but the rhythms and melodies of each song feel generic and ultimately don’t fully capture the emotional rawness of what’s trying to be conveyed.

Throughout a full listen-through, songs tend to bleed into one another, especially when similar themes of love, revenge, and self-doubt are being mentioned on each track. The convergence of each song ties together the album’s concept but this uniformity sacrifices a unique exploration of these feelings from a musical standpoint. Each song utilizes melancholy vocals alongside a redundant beat that recycles elements from the previous tracks. When in reference to “Folklore”, this album heavily featured similar vocals and a heavy piano presence but each song felt distinguishable while after a couple listens of “Midnights” you still might not be able to tell the difference between tracks that appear next to each other. 

The 3 am edition tracks fall into the category of sameness as well with many more mediocre lyrics that offer context or further elaboration on a particular theme in “Midnights” but serve as just a side dish to the more satisfying meal that only a few “Midnights” main tracks offer. The 3 am tracks have proved to be widely popular with fans however, and Swift expressed in an Instagram post that she’s been, “loving the feeling of sharing more of our creative process with you” which isn’t surprising considering how close the artist has always been with her dedicated fans.

The songs’ compartmentalization of an upbeat and vibrant musical exterior and a layered, passionately conflicted lyrical interior works for the overall atmosphere and allows listeners to once again dissect and pinpoint the individual feelings in each song. This is something that Swift does masterfully with each song and one of the reasons for the longevity of her career despite many insisting on her being just another flashy popstar. Her stories are real. She writes about herself and other celebrities as they are; real people with flaws, which not only invites viewers and listeners to hear about the internal lives of some of the most idolized people in the world, but also works to reinforce that singers and actors are just people like the rest of us, and a sleepless night can too fall upon them.

Pop Culture Press