Sharps and Flats: Musings from a die-hard Swiftie: a love letter to “Midnights”


Oct. 21, 2022, singer/songwriter Taylor Swift released “Midnights,” her tenth studio album. Throughout the album’s thirteen songs, Swift tells the stories of thirteen sleepless nights, backed with a synth-pop style. And despite my dedicated “Swiftie” heart, I did not like the album. 

Let me rewind a little. When the album dropped at midnight (fittingly), I was sitting in my dorm’s lounge, losing a battle to my French paper due the next morning. This was definitely terrible planning on my part; everyone knows that when the Taylor Swift releases a new album, it is almost a crime to not listen to it with 100% dedication. That said, I was in a very bad mood. 

Looking back, it was surely my paper that caused me to dislike a vast majority of the album. Sitting next to a friend, I complained repeatedly that the songs were blending together, that the lyrics were too repetitive and that overall, the album was not as good as Swift’s previous work. I was still in this same sour mindset at 3AM, when Swift surprisingly released “Midnights (3AM Edition),” which includes seven additional tracks. And yes, I was still working on that essay. 

Almost twenty-four hours later, after having slept a majority of the day, I gave Swift’s “Midnights” another listen. This time, it was vastly better (or rather I was vastly better), and I recognized that my “Swiftie” queen has done the impossible, yet again. 

(A quick side note: Taylor Swift, if you are reading this, I would like to formally apologize for any terrible things I said about your album. I am a traitor. However, I would still appreciate some tickets to your Eras Tour, which was announced on Nov. 1, 2022) 

Anyway, it is time for the crux of this article. What are my (new and improved) thoughts on Midnights” tracklist? Let’s dive in. 

Of the thirteen songs on the original album, my favorites are “Anti-Hero,” “Midnight Rain” and “Karma.” Though the album lacks a true lead single, “Anti-Hero” pseudo-fills the role; Swift released a music video for the song at 8 AM on Oct. 22, 2022. And at the time of writing this article, “Anti-Hero” is the only song on “Midnights” to surpass 100 million streams on Spotify. 

There is no denying that “Anti-Hero” is insanely catchy. It has been stuck in my head for days, and I cannot complain. I speak for most “Swifties” when I say that my favorite part of the song is the chorus. 

“It’s me / Hi,” Swift sings. “I’m the problem, it’s me.”

How is that not relatable? 

In fact, it is so relatable that part of me wonders if “Anti-Hero” was intended to be a TikTok trend; it seems to have lots of potential for some entertaining TikToks and, while I generally do not love what I call “TikTok music,” I will make an exception for this song. 

Filled with Swift’s wildest fears and worst-case scenarios (and an obscure, funny reference to the show “30 Rock), “Anti-Hero” is a real trip, and truly deserves to be on repeat. The music video includes Swift smashing a guitar and downing shots and, while listening to this song, I also feel like partaking in both of those activities with a vengeance. 

“Midnight Rain” starts off with jolting background vocals that left me wondering who they belonged to. After a bit of research, it seems that the vocals belong to Swift herself, except pitched lower and synthesized. 

“Rain, he wanted it comfortable,” Swift’s altered voice sings. “I wanted that pain.” 

The electronic backing vocals on “Midnight Rain” remind me of some early 2000s pop tracks, maybe those of singer Justin Timberlake. While they surprised me at first, I really grew to adore them. They are the reason “Midnight Rain” is a stand-out track on the album. Besides, these lines have great duality; I can either rant to them in anger, or tear up slightly while listening to them as I am getting my third Sadler soft serve of the night. Whatever comes first. 

“Karma” embodies summer, sunshine, disco, dance and revenge. Throughout the entire song, there is a feel-good confidence that attracts everyone, no matter what. I imagine that Swift was smirking while recording this song in the studio; before “Midnights,” Swift also focused on the idea of karma in her sixth studio album, “Reputation,” released Nov. 10, 2017. On Reputation, Swift viewed karma negatively. Since then, she has reconsidered. 

“Karma’s a relaxing thought,” Swift sings. “Aren’t you envious that for you it’s not?” 

Whatever happened to bring Swift such joy in “Karma,” I am here for it. I will be blasting this song on repeat (even more so) this next summer. 

On a different note, there is still one song on “Midnights” that I do not love. “Snow On The Beach (feat. Lana Del Rey)” is slightly underwhelming. All I have to say is, where is Lana Del Rey? Realistically, I know she is singing the backing vocals, but I speak for most when I say that Del Rey deserved a killer verse in the song. Hopefully, Swift and Del Rey will collaborate differently in the future.

Throughout “Midnights,” however, Swift paints a wide variety of scenes as well as she always does, but arguably with even more color and nostalgia than before. The retro, 70s style of the album’s cover and photoshoots add to its uniqueness in Swift’s discography. 

Midnights” is stellar. (Unfortunately, the same will not be said about that French paper).


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