Culture Pick: Taylor Swift meets fans at midnight for the release of new album “Midnights” 

Alyssa Schubert, Staff Reporter

On the eve of Oct. 21, Taylor Swift invited her fans to meet her at midnight for the release of her tenth original studio album, “Midnights.” After the surprise announcement of the new addition to her discography at the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards in September, “Swifties” have been losing sleep over the return of their favorite artist. 

Despite flying under the radar for the past year, Swift has been busy, rerecording her first six studio albums and lending her skills to feature films. Last year, her re-recorded version of Red” topped charts and earned her several submissions for Grammy Awards in 2023.  

While music is her forte, Swift’s directing abilities are also being recognized with her acclaimed project of the “All Too Well: The Short Film,” starring Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien. 

Swift is not new to breaking records, and added a rather impressive one to her legacy when “Midnights” became the most-streamed album in a single day in Spotify history with over 184 million streams. She also became the first artist to occupy the top ten spots on the Billboard Hot 100. 

Two of Swift’s other works have spots on the list, as well, with “Red (Taylor’s Version)” and folklore.” The album also became the number one best-selling album of the year in the United States by pure sales after one day of release, surpassing Harry Styles’ “Harry’s House.” 

“’Midnights’ is a collage of intensity, highs and lows, and ebbs and flows. Life can be dark, starry, cloudy, terrifying, electrifying, hot, cold, romantic or lonely. Just like ‘Midnights,’” Swift said of the inspiration behind the album. 

The standard edition of the album has 13 tracks, which fans were quick to recognize as Swift’s lucky number. After the initial release, Swift surprised listeners with the “3am edition,” which included seven extra songs written and produced by herself and longtime writing partner, Jack Antonoff. Antonoff, awarded producer of the year at the 2022 Grammy Awards, is credited for producing multiple of Swift’s albums, including two albums of the year, “1989” and “folklore.” Antonoff has worked with other award-winning artists, such as Lana Del Rey, who lent her wispy vocals to the wintery “Snow on the Beach.”  

Swift is no stranger to genre shifting; having started her career out as a country singer, she has since dabbled in bubblegum pop as well as finding her indie voice in the folk genre. “Midnights” shifts back to the dazzling sound of pop albums past.  

Melanie Vines, a third-year environmental engineering doctoral student at The University of Alabama, recognized how the popstar’s past eras are reflected in her new album.  

“It’s got the sadness and lyrical depth of albums like ‘folklore’ and ‘evermore’ with the sound of ‘1989,’ over the moon in love off Lover” and the vibe of ‘Reputation,’ all while reflecting her adult maturity. I love it,” Vines said. 

As described by Swift, “Midnights holds the stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout [her] life.” 

 The opener, “Lavender Haze begins with Swift whispering “meet me at midnight.” The track describes an “all-encompassing love” and dives into her thoughts on the scrutiny she faces from the public about her love life, especially focusing on the speculations she and her boyfriend of six years, Joe Alwyn, have faced over the years of their relationship.  

While dismissing “the 1950s shit they want from me,” Swift reveals that the “lavender haze” she wishes to stay in is the beauty of falling in love. Lyrically resembling “Call it What You Want,” the song addresses how, despite negativity, love can still grow.  

The album dives into the deepest parts of Swift’s mind, with intrusive thoughts and childhood dreams meshing to outline the story of her life. In the single, “Anti-Hero,” Swift’s own enemy is herself. She confesses how she sometimes thinks of herself, with lyrics like “Sometimes I feel like everybody is a sexy baby / And I’m a monster on the hill.”  

Her anxieties are vibrantly painted throughout the song, admitting to her struggle with depression and her deepest fears, such as being the reason those she loves might leave her. While it is something critics of Swift have been begging for for years, it was no less surprising when she declared “I’m the problem, it’s me,” in the chorus.  

The rest of the track list sticks to an intimate trail, exploring self-destruction portrayed in “Midnight Rain” and strong vengeance bleeding through fan favorite “Vigilante Shit.  

Swift’s tradition of leaving the track-five spot to her most vulnerable song was held true, with the emotional “You’re on Your Own, Kid.” Here, she holds a conversation with her younger self, explaining all the things that she has tried to keep society on her side, while admitting to having “hosted parties and starving her body” to keep up her image. She also gives advice, saying to “make the friendship bracelets and take the moment and taste it,” handing her belief to a past version of herself.  

After awarding “Midnights” a five-star rating, The Guardian’s Alexis Petridis describes the vibe as “pop rich with self-loathing and stereotype smashing” as well as “misty, atmospheric, and tastefully subdued.”  

Each song is a steppingstone, leading listeners through the life of Swift, even taking them back in time to events laced with familiarity. In the seventh track Question…?,” the beginning starts with a sample from her 2014 single, Out of the Woods.” The song lends hints to an alleged relationship that inspired the original song.  

Swift offers keys to questions fans have been asking for years, while never giving a clear answer. The cryptic lyrical style has long been a part of Swift’s songwriting, but never showcased in the way it is in “Midnights.” Listeners can find themselves latching onto every word and intrigued with her next move. Not only are the clues inviting, the images vibrant, and the producing on-point, but the songs are poised and packed with allusions.  

To continue the excitement, Swift went on Good Morning America to announce her first tour since 2018, which kicks off March 18. “The Eras Tour” is a celebration of Swift’s career, with four albums in her discography having never been performed. Tickets go on sale on Nov. 18 

Taking risks has always been one of Swift’s strong suits and “Midnights” exemplifies that, turning a collection of sleepless nights into pop perfection.