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The Student News Site of Washington International School

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Taylor Swift Breaks Records With ‘Midnights’: Is She A ‘Mastermind’?

Taylor Swift’s “Midnights” was announced on Aug. 29, 2022. The album cover was released at the same time, along with the caption, “Midnights, the stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life, will be out Oct. 21. Meet me at midnight.” (@TaylorSwift/Instagram)

Think of a song that you’ve played recently that feels light, exciting and makes you want to dance. But when you start listening to the lyrics, you realize that the song isn’t as special as you thought it was. Hold that melody in your head. This is how it feels to listen to “Karma,” a hit song from Taylor Swift’s new album “Midnights.” 

The album as a whole fits that characterization: it consists of tracks with catchy music, but can be easily overplayed due to its run-on nature. 

In an Instagram post announcing the album on Aug. 29, Swift explained that the 13 individual songs explore emotions that she experienced on long, sleepless nights. From desiring revenge, to falling in love (and falling apart), to the challenges of being a superstar, life “is emotionally abusive,” per Swift’s song “Snow on the Beach.” 

The general mood of the album is aligned with this vision; most songs have heavy, late-hour excitement or tired beats. Yet there are some songs, like “Karma,” that completely defy the moods set in the previous songs, and are a flash of upbeat energy. 

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Swift, 11-time Grammy winner, including three Albums of the Year (AOTY), worked with Jack Antonoff on “Midnights.” Antonoff is the lead singer of the rock band Beachers and was formerly the drummer and guitarist in the band Fun, mostly playing in the pop/rock style. 

Antonoff has worked with Swift on several albums, including her AOTY-winning “1989” and “Folklore.” Among the songs Antonoff has co-written with Swift are “Out of the Woods,” “I Wish You Would,” “You Are in Love” and “Getaway Car.” 

Additionally, Swift credited her boyfriend of six years, Joe Alwyn, and American actress, singer and model Zoë Kravitz for co-writing three songs on her album.

One of the inspiring aspects of this album is that Swift seems to be reflecting on herself in her lyrics. This change in perception allows the listener to dive deeper into Swift’s life and helps them understand a more well-rounded part of the artist’s identity. 

In the first track of the album, “Lavender Haze,” Swift sings, “The only kind of girl they see / Is one-night or a wife.” It doesn’t take a fan to see that she’s dramatically changed how she’s describing her future since her Romeo and Juliet metaphor in “Love Story” (“Fearless”). Using her songs as a medium, Swift shines a light on one of the major issues in the media world: it is always assumed that a woman will marry. Whenever her relationship with Alwyn is discussed, the constantly looming question is whether a ring is in the picture. Swift brings attention to this and shows listeners how that negatively affects her relationship with her boyfriend.

That being said, this album had issues with its concept. Instead of creating something out of the box, which has given Swift the title of one of the best artists of the 21st century, she and her producers colored strictly within the lines for this album. 

Each song had a concept; for example, “Bejeweled’s” was jewelry. To the listeners, it feels as if Swift came up with the idea for the song and then pulled together all her jewelry-related lines instead of making something spontaneous, which is what fans most want to hear. 

Furthermore, the album feels rushed. The record feels like it was a mass effort to release all of her remaining songs that were set aside or almost discarded throughout the years. The effect of this leaves an almost excess and run-on feeling to her songs that are missing their usual finesse and polished feel. 

Despite the criticisms raised, “Midnights” has a lot of redeeming qualities. The true Antonoff and Swift collaboration was explored in this album, consisting in different sound qualities that fans haven’t heard before. Even though they lacked in their classically creative bridges, they were spot-on with the late-night feel in almost every song by using a technicolored pop sound. 

Specifically, the song “Maroon” masters this. The synced sound, faded drum beats and the tired sound of Swift’s voice in the last chorus all make this song one of the most memorable on the album.

Moreover, Swift demonstrates relatable songwriting prominently in the song “You’re On Your Own, Kid,” where she connected with fans’ feelings of abandonment, insecurity and desire for a better life. Her tactful, and tragic, use of the line “​​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” conveys the theme of unrequited love. 

It is also a demonstration of an epiphany during a party, a pattern occurring across the albums of “Red” and “Folklore.” Finally, the subtle, yet recognizable, addition of optimism in the song when Swift adds the line “you can face this” to the last chorus gives listeners a surge of hope. 

All in all, “Midnights,” despite its faults, is worthy of listeners’ and fans’ time. While there may be controversy as to how much Swift has upheld her lyric quality, there is no doubt the true mastermind in her came out in this album. The synchronized beat paired with the evening feel and mixed with some catchy lyrics make this an album that will keep listeners up ‘til Midnight.

By Olivia Mandelbaum Raz

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Olivia Mandelbaum Raz
Olivia Mandelbaum Raz, WIS News Editor

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