Taylor Swift enters unapologetic era, releases ‘Midnights’

Sophie Connell, Staff Writer

Contains explicit wording due to the content of “Midnights”

Taylor Swift released her most recent album, “Midnights,” Oct. 21 at 12 a.m. EST. The album consists of 13 songs, amounting to a total length of 44 minutes; she also surprised fans with a “Midnights (3 a.m. Edition)” featuring bonus songs created while working on the album. 

Swift is a vastly controversial artist, as many people either love or hate her music. The facts cannot be ignored, though. According to Spotify, “Midnights” broke the record for the most-streamed album in a single day, as did Swift for the most-streamed artist in a single day. Whether people are listening to Swift to heckle or to praise, she’s got them listening.

In comparison to many other singer/songwriters, Swift is often known for not necessarily having a signature style. She has written 10 original studio albums, ranging from her country era during the “Taylor Swift” album to her pop album “1989” and her somber “Evermore” and “Folklore.” “Midnights” is yet again very different, with one word coming to mind when listening: unapologetic.

“Lavender Haze” kicks off the album with a powerful line in the chorus:  “I’m damned if I do give a damn what people say, no deal, the 1950s shit they want from me.” She goes on to talk about people asking if she’s going to be a man’s wife and saying they can only see her as such. She uses her experiences to call out the prevalence of misogyny in our society; her lyrics convey that she can be seen as a woman in her own respect without having to be with a man.

Another song from the album is “Anti-Hero.” It shows insight into some of Swift’s thinking, with lyrics such as “Hi, I’m the problem, it’s me,” and “It must be exhausting, always rooting for the anti-hero.” It highlights the insecurities Swift has while also making the song widely relatable. Many teens suffer from social anxiety, and since the pandemic, many may be suffering from re-entry anxiety; these lyrics have the ability to make many feel understood and allow them to find comfort through music.

The songs seem to reclaim the moments in Swift’s life, referencing music she composed while living through each respective time. “Midnights” is Swift’s way of saying, “Yeah, I did that. And I’m proud.”

— Sophie Connell, staff writer

“Snow on the Beach” is subject to much frustration, as it includes artist Lana Del Rey — the stage name for Elizabeth Woolridge Grant. A popular indie rock artist, Grant has a Spotify following of 18.3 mil., and fans were excited about a collaboration between the two. Unfortunately, Grant did not appear as much in the song as many had hoped for, leaving them feeling disappointed.

Perhaps the most emotional track on “Midnights” is “You’re On Your Own, Kid.” It is presented as a salute to Swift’s life, as well as advice for those learning how to navigate young friendships and relationships. The catchphrase of the song is, “You’re on your own, kid, you always have been.” Swift writes about young crushes and picking petals (he loves me, he loves me not) in contrast with hosting parties and starving herself so that someone would love her. She says that “everything you lose is a step you take,” which references her re-recordings of her albums, and advises listeners to have fun — to make those friendship bracelets and play in the sprinkler because it will all work out. “You’re on your own, kid, yeah, you can face this.”

A powerful song, “Karma,” stands out. The song addresses those who mistreat others and how everything comes full circle. “Karma’s a relaxing thought. Aren’t you envious that for you, it’s not?” The flaw with this song is that it uses the westernized concept of Karma, which has recently come under criticism. Karma is a concept created within Buddhism and Hinduism, using the sum of a person’s actions in their current and previous existences to determine their fate in their next life. In western culture, instant Karma refers to the idea that when someone does something wrong, they will suffer in the near future and vice versa. Karma is a religious concept and the song’s use of the term may be insensitive to those who practice it in a devout manner. Even when having an important message about treating others well, it is important to be culturally sensitive.

Lastly, Swift released a true anthem, a salute to her “Reputation” album. “Vigilante Shit” is the unapologetic, unforgiving song of the album, opening with “draw the cat eye sharp enough to kill a man.” The song is a message to an ex-partner, referencing the abuse and crimes he’s committed and how Swift and others have moved on. It is also motivational, telling listeners not to try to impress someone but rather to do things for themselves; “I don’t dress for women, I don’t dress for men. Lately I’ve been dressing for revenge.”

Some criticize Swift’s use of lyric repetition, such as the popular “Midnights” Tik Tok sound, a compilation of Swift singing the word midnight in many songs across all her albums. Though it may be seen as a sign of unoriginality, it is actually a sign of strategic planning. Swift is known for planting so-called “easter eggs,” foreshadowing what is coming up in the future for Swift’s music. The reason she has acquired such a large following is that the Taylor Swift enterprise is an experience. Her albums are more than just music; for example, in the music video for “Bejeweled,” a song from “Midnights,” Swift gets into an elevator and presses the 3rd button out of 13. Swift has 12 albums currently, and by pressing the 3rd floor, she hinted at a rerecording of her 3rd album “Speak Now,” coming next.

“Midnights” features many other songs in addition to those discussed, each with a different story. The diversity within the album can be seen as a reflection of many different times in her life; “Maroon,” for example, speaks of a New York romance, which can be connected to the album “1989.” The songs seem to reclaim the moments in Swift’s life, referencing music she composed while living through each respective time. “Midnights” is Swift’s way of saying, “Yeah, I did that. And I’m proud.”

What did you think of “Midnights?” Let us know in the comments below.