Upon listening to Taylor Swift’s new album, Midnights, the cryptic experience leaves fans piecing together lyrical jumbo and sonic flashbacks to past eras.
Visual Album Announcement
During the October 20th Thursday Night Football game between New Orleans Saints vs. Arizona Cardinals, Swift, introduced a teaser trailer for her 10th album. The visual spectacle included various scenes with hazy partying , Marie Antionette-esque costumes, and guitar smashing.
Though fans have pointed out a particular nostalgia from the wardrobe, referencing old eras and music videos. Swift’s pink dress and brown wig is the spitting image of her “Wildest Dreams” character . And the heavy clock in the winter wonderland harks back to the “Enchanted” music video.
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As the end credits rolled, it revealed the projects’ star-studded cast, in alphabetical order: Jack Antonoff, Laith Ashley, Mike Birbiglia, Laura Dern, John Early, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Haim (Alana, Danielle & Este), Pat McGrath, Swift and Dita Von Teese.
It is safe to assume that they are from multiple music videos (possibly for all 13 tracks) from Midnights. And early Friday morning, some visual saw extended play with Swift’s video release of fan-favorite “Anti-Hero”.
Overview of Midnights by Taylor Swift
Midnights, self-described as a collection of “13 sleepless nights,” doesn’t exactly translate into “dark” in the Swiftverse, but rather “complex” and “introspective.”
The album features less of the indie-pop folklore and evermore and more of the synth pop 1989, Reputation, and even echoes of Red. But, strip the production to soft pop with some low bass moments and mysterious poetic lyrics, and you have Midnights.
For her milestone 10th album, Swift is her own mastermind (pun intended) and created new “sister tracks” for past era favorites. Her fans, the Swifties, put their investigative hats on immediately and compiled various playlists that reveal this truth. And truthfully, this trend is so wholesome!
However, since these tracks were written (or recorded) throughout the years, they embody those specific eras. Then, they were re-produced to fit the Midnights experience.
[Taylor Swift released seven bonus tracks a part of “Midnights (3A.M. Edition)”, but that review will be up Friday to close out the week.]
Now, this part is problematic because all the tracks are brilliantly done and a case study of this own (except the sour Reputation-esque “Vigilante Sh*t”). So, the discussion will revolve around some defining album moments.
Let’s be clear: “Maroon” is a byproduct of Red era. It’s literally a darker shade of red. The track is the first standout moment of the album, and probably the favorite of many Swifties. It’s a mixture of tracks “Clean” and “Red”, but where “Red” is a young love story. And the murky and mature “Maroon” allows exploration for the complexities and hard truths.
The slow burn and sizzle leaves the listener with a whole in the heart that wasn’t there before.
2. Snow on the Beach (feat. Lana Del Rey)
Swift shared that the track is about “falling in love with someone unexpectedly at the same time as they start to fall in love with you.” Besides gushing over collaborator Lana Del Rey, the heart-warming lyrics are paired with the duo’s heavenly vocals.
And while Lana only assists on backing vocals, the song broke the record for the biggest single day streams of a female collaboration in Spotify history, with 15 million streams. Previously, “Rain On Me” by Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande held that record.
3. Midnight Rain
“Midnight Rain” and “Maroon” can go back-and-forth for the best Midnights track forever. Mixing light pop, synth sounds and twinkles, Swift ends a relationship to “make a name for herself”.
It ends off with their relationship completely erased– ancient history. To cope, the singer decides they were two opposites (him “Sunshine” and her “Midnight Rain”) destined to never work. They both had different expectations for the relationship, and for Swift, she wanted pain.
It is heavily speculated that this track is about Tom Hiddleston.
The song describes the narrator’s frustration with her lover, who does not value her. In retaliation, takes a night on the town. Despite no rekindling moment, she knows her worth and shimmers.
It is one of the more sonically and lyrically fun track on the record. And with its overt 1989 flare, it is a nice breather before diving into the rest of Midnights. This song appears to reference the 2016 Met Gala, where Taylor was having troubles with then-boyfriend DJ Calvin Harris and had a dance-off with Tom Hiddleston.
On the soft and lush “Labyrinth,” Swift freefalls hard in love, for someone not long after a heartbreak. The chorus’s distorted vocals ring in the anxiety of new love but the singer marvels at her old wounds healing. “Oh no, I’m fallin’ in love again / Oh, I’m fallin’ in love / I thought the plane was goin’ down / How’d you turn it right around?”
Karma is a recurring theme throughout Taylor’s life and discography, between her many infamous feuds fueling 1989 and Reputation or her self-owned re-releases. On “Karma,” Taylor confronts people from her past and gives a warning wrapped up in a mixture of drums, guitar and synth.
To Swift, Karma is longtime friend. “‘Cause karma is my boyfriend / Karma is a god / Karma is the breeze in my hair on the weekend / Karma’s a relaxing thought/ Aren’t you envious that for you it’s not?”