A Midnight Take on “Midnights”


At first listen, Midnights is… well Midnights is bland. Every song sounding the same, every high note registering in the same key, repeated vocal hooks, instrumentals rendering absent, shallow lyricism, the list goes on. 

So what happened? Or the better question being: what exactly is Midnights? Announced at the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards on August 28, the not so long awaited tenth studio album by Taylor Swift saw the break of, well midnight on October 21st at twelve a.m. 

Besides delving into the Swift easter eggs of the number 13—embedded in the number of tracks; calls to past songs and eras; the not so inferior 3am Edition and more, I’ll ask again, what is this album?

Following Red (Taylor’s Version) is no small task, and refuting the people’s wishes of a 1989 re-record by instead dropping an entirely new concept of an album, Midnights had some big shoes to fill. No matter which way I look at or listen to this, following a re-record of Red is simply a recipe for disappointment—unless of course another re-record was dropped. 

Midnights just doesn’t feel like a Taylor Swift album. Nobody will ever say that it’s their favorite album. It’s that simple. It’s her worst album, yes, but it’s not bad. It’s what non-listeners would coin as something that sounds like it would be Taylor Swift. 

A mix between folklore and Lover with some nods to Reputation and 1989 softly drizzled in, Midnights is a filler album. Now this is no hot take, the honest reactions of listeners everywhere have been mixed ranging from deep hatred to true love.

Evi Tzortzatos, a head editor of The Eagle’s Cry commented: “I was never a big Taylor Swift fan because it’s just not my genre, but I listened to Midnights out of curiosity and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was honestly surprised considering there’s so many mixed reviews but I really like the record. I’ve heard some tracks from previous albums and I think she’s insanely talented at telling stories through her music, but for some reason I didn’t get that from Midnights. But maybe I’m just not a big enough fan to pick up on certain lyrics.”

Taylor Swift is known for storytelling. So why did the stories, or lack thereof, in Midnights fall so short of fans’ expectations? The story promised by the title of the album itself implied deep emotions, memories, people, and anecdotes that would otherwise have never truly been touched upon. The album just failed to reach or even touch upon these hoped-for topics. 

Dr. Swift is unable (by choice) to perform any of her music that is yet to be re-recorded, and therefore still owned by Scooter Braun. That leaves her with Lover: the first album she retains full ownership of; folklore; evermore; Fearless (Taylor’s Version); Red (Taylor’s Version); and now, Midnights. This is no weak discography by any means, but take out Midnights and she isn’t left with a lot of room to play around with setlists on tour. 

Midnights, in theory, is what Swift needed to go on tour and to make it worthwhile. Until the actually long awaited re-records see the light, something was needed to fill up that empty space.

The concept of Midnights set the bar high: only songs that were written at midnight. Furthermore, this is her first body of new work since the release of evermore in 2020. The album explores the concept and reality of late-night-anxiety and tear-ridden thinking. 

Being relatable helps the album. It’s just not the type of expression of this concept that fans expected. The album is very poppy with lyricism that’s not exactly deep. Following the incredibly poetic folklore set expectations of continued complex syntax and meanings that would have to be explored. 

Everything that Midnights wanted to say is said right there in the lyrics. Nothing has to be unscrambled or pondered or simply figured out. It is not a work of complex poetry like folklore is; it’s not the expected tear jerking, anxiety inducing, emotional mess of an album. It’s tamer compared to her other works. 

It is a solid album… it’s just nothing incredible. It took no risks and therefore feels more like an ep. Midnights is not a bad album, but it’s also never going to be the best work that Taylor Swift has ever put out. The album has no hits with “Anti-Hero” being the closest thing to “radio worthy” that the work has as a whole; and even then the song is only surface level deep.

3am Edition saved the album, but take away the bonus tracks and the album feels like it all mixes together. “Question…?” sounds like it’s missing half the instrumentals in the background, it’s just empty. 

Now as with most albums, listeners will enjoy the songs more as they listen more and get to know the lyrics more. That’s just inevitable. Midnights is nothing to boast about, but it’s also nothing to throw away.