Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’ is a surprisingly vulnerable must-hear

Alyssa DeWig, News Editor

Taylor Swift’s album “Midnights” was released Oct. 21. “Midnights” was Swift’s tenth studio album. (Photo courtesy of Taylor Swift)

Taylor Swift’s newest release and her tenth studio album, “Midnights,” is a stark contrast to her previous albums. Its intensity and vulnerability, paired with the altered vocals and electro-pop instrumentals, come together to create a powerful and well-articulated album only Swift could create. 

The announcement of “Midnights,” came as a surprise to fans Aug. 28 during the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards. As Swift accepted the award for Video of the Year, she told fans she wanted to give them something back in favor of her award. She announced that “Midnights,” a 13-track album, would be released Oct. 21.

Following this announcement, I counted down the months, days and hours for the album release.

As someone who has been an active fan for 12 years, any new content from Swift is my equivalent to winning the lottery. However, throughout my years in the fandom, I had only truly experienced a few album releases. The build-up to “Midnights” was a new and exciting experience for me. 

I became increasingly eager, yet nervous as Oct. 21 approached. I wanted so desperately to fall in love with this album.

When I played the first track “Lavender Haze,” I was instantly thrown off. The vocals were distorted in a way that is commonly used in pop music, but rarely used in Swift’s music. The instrumentals were more playful and varied than what I had been used to in her previous albums.

It was the last thing I had expected. As I listened through “Midnights” for the very first time, I reflected on “folklore” and “evermore,” two of her best lyrically-written albums. I wasn’t hearing the same intensity in her lyrics as I had in the two previous albums.

While it took time to adjust to, I came to appreciate the drastic change in her music. Even though it caught me off guard, it reminded me that Swift is never afraid to switch up her style. She has mastered country, pop and indie, so hearing her conquer pop in an alternative form was intriguing and applaudable.

Once I ran through the album two or three more times, the drastic change in style grew on me, and I began to fall in love with “Midnights.” What immediately stuck out to me was “Anti-Hero,” a song capturing Swift’s deepest insecurities, such as feeling like she is the root of all the issues in her life. I appreciated the sincerity in this song because it covered a range of topics and emotions I never knew she experienced. Hearing arguably one of the biggest stars in the world admit she too has insecurities was a breath of fresh air. It was honest and bold, and I appreciated every second of it.

A line that stuck out to me in “Anti-Hero” was, “I’ll stare directly at the sun but never in the mirror, it must be exhausting when you’re rooting for the anti-hero.” This lyric explains how deeply these thoughts have taken over and how much pain they cause her. It also shows how she feels sympathetic for having so many people praise her for what she deems as mistakes. 

Another part of the lyrics from “Anti-Hero” I loved was, “When my depression works the graveyard shift, all of the people I’ve ghosted stand there in the room.” This was a line that satisfied my craving for her genius storytelling. She articulately explains how she feels guilty for connections lost in the past and how this guilt haunts her in her sleep. Swift proves how she can take a feeling we all experience, such as guilt and “what ifs,” and alter the words in a way that is passionate and breathtakingly beautiful.

Another one of my favorites from “Midnights” is “Vigilante Sh*t,” a song encompassing power and revenge. My favorite lyrics from the song are also my favorite lyrics in the entire album, “I don’t dress for women, I don’t dress for men, lately I’ve been dressing for revenge.” “Vigilante Sh*t” felt reminiscent of Swift’s sixth studio album, “Reputation,” with the lyrics’ vocalizing power and the instrumentals similar to songs off of the album. “Vigilante Sh*t” is intriguing and confident, yet catchy.

While each album and era of Swift’s has its own symbolisms, none of them have ever truly captured the extent of her emotions like “Midnights” does. She discusses physical and emotional insecurities, the fear that she causes all of the problems she encounters in her life and the worry that she is being used by others not truly appreciating her for who she is. 

Swift gives us “Midnights” as a gift to delve into her mind: of the good, the bad and the ugly. She shows us that even she, one of the most successful people in the world, faces insecurities and depression. She shows us our struggles are valid and normal.

“Midnights” covers a variety of styles, lyricisms and sounds. Each song evokes a different emotion and a different vibe. 

Swift has managed to, yet again, leave me amazed. Not only are the lyrics rich with emotion and passion, but her songs have a variety in sound and story-telling. The album cover, an image of Swift holding a lighter, encapsulates the vision of the “sleepless nights” theme of the album, combined with the concept of revenge. 

She created a fun, emotional album that connects with her audience on a deep level. I loved the vulnerability and the drastic change in sound, as well as the lyrics. She has exceeded my expectations once again.