Taylor Swift’s Midnights; “A Journey Through Terrors & Sweet Dreams”

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Covers of 3 collectable album jackets of Swifts new album; Midnights: Jade Green Edition, Midnights: Blood Moon Edition & Midnights: Mahogany Edition.

Camila Zuloaga, Discoverer Staff Writer

Have you heard the expression, “Music is the window to the soul”? Have you ever been so affected by a song that, despite having been written by someone else, you can’t help but feel that it perfectly captures a really meaningful moment in your life? If you agreed with at least one of the aforementioned statements, you should understand why Taylor Swift’s new album, “Midnights,” become a global sensation.

Midnights is a melancholic yet deeply personal album, that delves deeply into a never-ending, enigmatic rabbit hole of her personal journey, encapsulating her professional hardships, broken relationships, and societal challenges. Or, as Swift puts it, “A journey through terrors and sweet dreams.” Her phenomenal and vulnerable lyricism demonstrates her undeniable talent as a songwriter, as the album captures a range of emotions through visuals and art while perfectly merging slow ballads and upbeat songs.

Swift unexpectedly announced the upcoming release of her 10th studio album, after winning video of the year at the VMAs for her 10-minute  “All Too Well” short film. As soon as the clock struck 12, she took to Instagram to reveal the album’s title, cover art, and track count. She revealed the album was inspired by the stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout her life, and for all we know, it marks a shift to a more personal diaristic subject, after the novelistic approach of her last two records; Folklore and Evermore

The lead single, Anti-hero, has been a fan favorite because it addresses Swift’s insecurities and anxieties in both her public and personal life, discussing the sexualization of youth and innocence, self-deprecation, and intrusive thoughts. As Swift wrote on Instagram, “We all hate things about ourselves, and it’s all of those aspects of the things we dislike and like about ourselves that we have to come to terms with if we’re going to be this person. So, yeah, I like ‘Anti-Hero’ a lot because I think it’s really honest.”

The video for ‘Anti-Hero’ is eccentric and chaotic, but addresses serious issues. In one controversial shot, Swift steps on a scale that says ‘FAT’ through which she alludes to her past eating disorder and body dysmorphia, an issue that many fans can relate to. In other scenes, we see that her fictional sons allude to people in the industry exploiting her for clout, and another scene where a giant-sized version of Swift tries to participate in a dinner party. Yes, this reference to Alice in Wonderland hints the overwhelming presence of her self-sabotaging thoughts, making it both entertaining yet deeply personal.

The production was one aspect that set this album apart from Swift’s previous work. Swift collaborated with Jack Antonoff, an American singer-songwriter and record producer. He enhances Swift’s, vivid storytelling in moodier hues with vocal effects and vintage beats. Midnight Rain, a song that caught fans’ attention in this regard, begins with an ominous voice narrating the differences between a couple who wanted different things. Antonoff’s participation indicated a shift towards pop arrangement and away from folk. The woozy sound of Snow on the Beach, the production in Labyrinth mirroring the ice melting around her heart, the sassiness of Karma, and the murmurs on Vigilante shit demonstrate the album’s versatility in production.

If you’re a fan,  you know Track 5’s holds a special place in our hearts, and You’re on Your Own Kid doesn’t disappoint.  “From sprinkler splashes to fireplace ashes, 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” she sings, silently alluding to her eating disorder and addressing the transition into adulthood and the loneliness that comes with it.

Taylor follows track 5’s slow pace with upbeat songs like Bejeweled, Lavender Haze, and Karma, in which she sings “Cause karma is my boyfriend, karma is a god” and makes fun of sexist jokes made to her in the past. One of the most astounding lyrics from the album say “Did you hear my covert narcissism I disguised as altruism like some kind of congressman,” in which Swift talks about self-sabotage and feeling like everything nice you do is just a ruse to make you look like a good person. Other songs cover a wide range of topics such as fantasizing about vengeance, wondering what might have been, and falling in love. Swift also released 7 bonus tracks in the Midnights album (3 am Edition). My two personal favorites included: The Great War and Would’ve could’ve should’ve which have profound emotional depth and astounding beats. 

The album’s cover art is straightforward yet elegant, featuring a picture of Swift with sparkly blue eyeshadow and her signature red lipstick. She is holding a lighter close to her face, followed by the title in the center and the track list on the left side written in ombre blue lettering. Fans were quick to point out that the original cover and the three additional ones, evoked 70s nostalgia. And eventually through the cover, Swift gives a nod to this musical era by posing in a mid-century modern space and hinting to fans that the album’s style will also be influenced by the era with her attire and retro accessories. She successfully contrasts the 70s album art aesthetic with a sound that combines pop, alternative & R&B making this album insanely distinctive. 

With the release of Midnights, Swift broke over 20 world records, becoming the first artist in the 64-year history of the Billboard Hot 100 song chart to occupy every single spot in the top 10 at the same time. She had a record-breaking week, and the numbers are only going up. The statistics speak for themselves, and this is without a doubt one of Swift’s most cryptic yet memorable albums, which turned the world upside down within minutes of its release. Swift outdid herself once more, demonstrating her versatility and phenomenal capability to navigate and experiment through different genres and eras.