By: Ruhaab Shuja, Contributing Writer (‘25)
At midnight on October 21, 2022, Taylor Swift made her highly anticipated return to the music industry. The show-stopping release of her tenth album, “Midnights,” took the world by storm: it was the most streamed album in the first 24 hours of its release, and made her the first artist to occupy every single spot in the Billboard top 10 at once.
“Midnights” is the ultimate unification of Swift’s career, brought to life by the clever incorporation of elements of her previous music—such as the bold pop quality attributed to “1989,” the charming and romantic traits of “Lover,” and the list continues, just as her success does. Specifically, songs like “Karma,” with their glamorous gloom and subtle implications of vengeance could have belonged on her album “reputation”; “folklore” comes to mind through the impassioned and haunting melodies in “Bigger Than the Whole Sky,” from the 3am edition of the album; and the vivid tales and expressive lyricism of “The Great War,” and “High Infidelity” (both songs from the 3am edition) correspond with “evermore”.
However, that is not to say that “Midnights” isn’t unique; while it is a pop album, it contains more diversity than the category might imply. At times, it comes across as yearning and reflective, particularly through the descriptive lyrics. “Snow on the Beach” featuring Lana Del Ray exemplifies this through its dreamy melody, and combined with the two singers’ satisfying vocals, the track feels otherworldly. “Maroon” and “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” express a more nostalgic aura, of wistfulness tangled with regret. “How the hell did we lose sight of us again? / Sobbing with your head in your hands,” she muses in the former; in the latter, she sings fervently, “Give me back my girlhood, it was mine first […] I regret you all the time.” In “Vigilante Sh*t” and “Karma,” Swift reinforces the idea of power and revenge, referencing fate, consequences, and retribution. The captivating array of moods and sounds adds character to the album, keeping listeners engaged throughout.
All in all, “Midnights” is a carefully blended arrangement, with each song perfectly complementing its companions. It is pure and vulnerable, antagonistic and scheming, nostalgic and sentimental, and everything in between; it is the embodiment of late-night mirages and profound conversations, of seemingly infinite tears contrasting dazzling smiles, of a delicate yet bold quality. It is like the period between night and day, filled with a simultaneous presence of nothing and everything. It is, in its entirety, Midnights.