By Ayeza Shaur
Taylor Swift breaks Billboard history with her new album Midnights, covering the entire Billboard Top 10 just one week after release. Midnights, Swift’s 10th album, covers her story across “thirteen sleepless nights”. With thirteen being Swift’s lucky number, fans weren’t surprised to learn that the album would have thirteen tracks. However, on the night of the release, Swift surprised us with 7 additional tracks at 3am, thus releasing a 3am edition of Midnights. Here, however, we will focus on the original thirteen tracks. This album is different as it is the first time Swift has released a new, personal album since the pandemic. Folklore and Evermore, which were released during the pandemic, explored Swift’s talent of storytelling. Although some fans are upset this “era” is over, they are thrilled to get more personal music from her. Fans speculate that this new album is exploring multiple “eras” of her past, and combining the memories of these eras into “thirteen sleepless nights”. Now, let’s dive deeper into each track on Midnights.
Track 1: Lavender Haze
“Lavender Haze” is the first track on the Midnights album, and when speaking about what “Lavender Haze” means, Swift says that it is “a common phrase [that was] used in the 50s where they would just describe being in love”. The song starts with Swift’s description of being in this “Lavender Haze”, which she said feels like an “all encompassing love glow” in a video she posted on Instagram. Swift then goes to list difficult things she has been through, but follows by making note that she could care less about what others say behind her back, as long as she can “stay in that lavender haze”. The second verse captures society’s views on her relationship, as she says, “The only kind of girl they see//is a one night or a wife”. Swift realizes that she will never be able to please society and live up to their standards, but she has stopped worrying about it, as she will simply continue in her lavender haze. In regards to society’s opinions, Swift says, “If the world finds out you are in love with somebody, they are going to weigh in on it”, but she has learned that her love is more important than others’ judgment. This realization marks one sleepless night Swift endured in the process of the Midnights album.
Track 2: Maroon
“Maroon” encapsulates the feeling of losing a loved one you were once close to. Swift uses lyrics such as “like you were my closest friend” and “I chose you//The one I was dancing with in New York” at the start of the song to begin this story of two individuals that cared only for each other in the world. However, as the song progresses, we learn that these individuals are no longer as close as they once were. Swift uses the analogy of “The rust that grew between telephones//The lips I used to call home” in the chorus to encapsulate this falling out of the relationship. Rust between telephones symbolizes how the individuals are no longer on speaking terms. In the second verse, we learn that there was a significant falling out between our lovers, as she says, “sobbing with your head in your hands”. Additionally, she compares their relationship to “carnations you [they] had thought were roses”. Carnations typically symbolize passion while roses symbolize love; this means that they had misinterpreted their passion for love, and thus lost each other. Yet, in the bridge of the song, Swift says, “… I wake with your memory over me”, which goes to show that regardless of the lack of communication, the memories still lie heavily in their minds.
Track 3: Anti-Hero
“Anti-Hero” describes Swift’s personal struggles in regards to her life as she dives deep into her insecurities. She claims that she often “struggles with the idea of not feeling like a person”, and “Anti-Hero” captures these struggles. Swift says at the start of the song that “midnights become [her] afternoons”. Here, Swift points out the regularity of her presence in these midnights, also signaling to the album title. She then says, “I should not be left to my own devices//They come with prices and vices //I end up in crises”. Swift paints the picture of her being stuck in her own thoughts during these midnights and overthinking–also tying back to her sleepless nights that the album was written during. In the chorus, Swift directly points out how she feels with the line, “It’s me//Hi//I’m the problem, it’s me”. Another insecurity of hers is her height, which she mentions in the song by referring to herself as “a monster on the hill”. Although confident in her 5’ 11” height, Swift makes it clear that she has felt excluded due to it as she’s “too big to hang out//slowly lurching toward your favorite city//pierced through the heart but never killed”. Swift also fears that the relationships in her life may be material, and her loved ones only want her for her acquired wealth she has worked hard for. She signifies this fear through a story and says, “I have this dream my daughter-in-law kills me for the money//she thinks I left them in the will”, and goes on to tell the story of her future family. When speaking about “Anti-Hero”, Swift says, “I don’t think I’ve delved this far into my insecurities in this detail before”. This makes it clear that many of the sleepless nights in the writing of Midnights have been a result of Swift’s worrying and insecure mind.
Track 4: Snow On The Beach (Ft. Lana Del Rey)
The long awaited Lana Del Rey and Taylor Swift collab leaves fans with conflicting feelings. Ever since fans learned of Swift and Rey’s friendship, they have been longing for a collaboration. However, many were disappointed due to the lack of Lana Del Rey’s voice in the song, as she does not have her own verse. On the other hand, some fans claim that Lana Del Rey’s voice is clearly apparent throughout, and her techniques definitely influenced Swift in this song. Regardless, one cannot deny the beauty of the lyrics and concept of the song. Swift describes the song to be about “falling in love with someone at the same time [as] they are falling in love with you”. The song shows how this feeling of falling in love seems so unreal that it can be described by juxtaposing snow and a beach to create this “impossible” effect. In the chorus, Swift says, “You wanting me tonight feels impossible”. The mutual love for eachother in the relationship is so hard for her to grasp, that it seems as surreal as finding “snow at a beach”. Swift also highlights that “it’s fine to fake it ‘til you make it//’til you do//’til it’s true” which shows how even if the situation feels impossible, giving in and pretending to not be astounded by the situation can be a temporary solution until it starts to become reality.
Track 5: You’re On Your Own, Kid
This song follows the story of how Swift’s childhood friendships led to disappointment, leaving her to realize that she is on her own. The song begins with Swift developing her connection with an individual after she says that she “didn’t choose this town” and “dreams of getting out” but still stays because “there’s just one who could make [her] stay”. This shows a strong fondness Swift feels, as she takes priority over her dream of leaving. She says that she was there for said individual “from sprinkler splashes to fireplace ashes” indicating her dedication to supporting the person. However, this only led to disappointment as she learned “that [they] never cared”. In the bridge, Swift says that “[she] gave [her] blood, sweat, and tears for this”; yet, in return, she received no love in response, making her more lonely. She also mentions other struggles she faced, such as how she “hosted parties and starved [her] body”. Up until the end of the song, Swift points out her disappointment by repeating the phrase “you’re on your own, kid”. However, at the end, she provides positive encouragement and makes it clear that even if you are alone, “everything you lose is a step you take”.
Track 6: Midnight Rain
“Midnight Rain” follows the story of one of Swift’s past relationships that ended due to disagreements. Swift begins the song by noting both sides of their dispute by saying, “He wanted it comfortable//I wanted that pain”. Once again, Swift plays with contrasting ideas to emphasize the situation of her relationship. Additionally, she also does this by referring to him as “sunshine” and herself as “midnight rain”. By showing these completely opposite perspectives, she promotes the idea that the relationship wasn’t quite meant to be. However, regardless of the relationship ending due to these different beliefs, she “never thinks of him//except on midnights like this”. Again, this is a reference to her sleepless, album-writing nights, and we thus learn that some of these midnights were spent dwelling upon a relationship she feels responsible for ending.
Track 7: Question…?
This song is about the questions Swift never got to ask a past lover. The song begins by her giving context as we learn there was a “good girl”, most likely her, and a “sad boy”, or her lover. The two lovers had a good relationship as “[he] painted all [her] nights//a color [she’s] searched for since”. This means that she struggled to find a love like theirs. However, unlike the relationship described in the previous track, she blames the end on “situations, circumstances//miscommunications”. With an end of a relationship also comes unspoken words. Swift finally gets to ask this lover these questions that have been urging her into additional sleepless nights.
Track 8: Vigilante Sh**
This track takes on Swift’s sleepless nights spent plotting revenge against men, one of which fans have assumed is Scooter Braun. She begins the song by introducing this idea of revenge, and says, “they say looks can kill and I might try//I don’t dress for women//I don’t dress for men//lately I’ve been dressing for revenge”. Upon making this desire for revenge clear, fans were quick to assume that the song was written about Scooter Braun, who had previously stolen Swift’s first six albums. Due to her not having rights to her own albums, Swift began rerecording her old music– (Taylor’s Version). In the song, Swift says, “She needed cold hard proof so I gave her some”. This indicates that these are not just rumors, but facts that have been proven with evidence to show the greedy nature of the people around Swift that took advantage of her work.
Track 9: Bejeweled
The 9th track in her album, Midnights, is dedicated to a lover who isn’t giving her the treatment she deserves. Swift begins the song by saying, “Didn’t notice you walking all over my peace of mind//in the shoes I gave you as a present”. This shows how he is actually taking advantage of her success, symbolized by her shoes that he uses to walk over her peace of mind. Additionally, she says that “putting someone first only works when you’re in their top 5”, which must be a motto she lives by, thus giving further reason why their relationship is not working. She also exclaims, “Don’t put me in the basement//when I want the penthouse of your heart”, as in she deserves more love than being hidden in his heart. However, regardless of this poor treatment, she seems to be unaffected as she says that she can “still make the whole place shimmer”.
Track 10: Labyrinth
“Labyrinth” encapsulates the feeling of falling in love and the stages an individual faces upon realization. Swift begins the song by having doubts in how long the relationship will last. She says “I’ll be getting over you my whole life” to emphasize that it will take her an eternity to move on from this love, if it were to end. She also adds that “it can’t last”, further adding onto her pessimistic thoughts in regards to their future. But after this doubt, she comes to the realization that she is falling in love. She says that she is “falling in love” and begins each phrase with a different expression. At first she says, “Uh oh, I’m falling in love” which shows the initial panic, which is then replaced by “Oh no, I’m falling in love again” which indicates that she is worried, and then ends with “Oh, I’m falling in love”, as she realizes that good can come out of this relationship, and she comes to accept the love. These stages of discovering love make the song unique, as she explores this in one of many sleepless nights.
Track 11: Karma
Track 11 is the long awaited song “Karma”. Fans have waited in anticipation for years in hope of the track to be real. Back in her Lover era, Swift released the music video to “The Man” where fans noticed a wall with previous album titles in graffiti. Upon these titles was the word “Karma”. Following the Kanye West drama that Swift had endured, this title wasn’t shocking to the fans, and thus became speculation of an unreleased album called “Karma.” However, during her “Midnight Mayhem With Me” series on TikTok–where Swift announced track titles to the Midnights album– fans were pleased to learn that “Karma” would be Track 11, and that the speculations were correct. The song begins with Swift saying, “You’re talking sh*t for the hell of it” which seems to be a direct attack towards Kanye West causing all of the drama previously in her career. She also targets him through the lyrics, “Addicted to betrayal, but you’re relevant” and “everyone you burned just to get there”, which are pretty self explanatory. She then goes on to make note that she “keeps [her] side of the street clean” and that he “wouldn’t know what [she] means”. This is her defending herself in the sense that he keeps getting her involved in drama that she has tried to avoid. In the chorus, Swift dedicates karma to a list of everyday things in the sense of foreshadowing all that karma will do. During the bridge, Swift also notes that we should “ask [her] what [she] learned from all those years//ask [her] what [she] earned from all those tears”. This brings to light all of the trouble she had to endure during these years, but yet she persevered and is still one of the most successful in the music industry.
Track 12: Sweet Nothing
Although we are unaware who the song is about, “Sweet Nothing” describes the feeling of finding someone that feels like home. It is about appreciating the little moments in life that end up meaning the most. Some fans believe that Swift wrote the song about her current lover of six years, Joe Alwyn, who has always been supportive of her. Others, however, think it is dedicated to her mother. Either way, this mystery person causes her to feel the best. She says, “they said the end is coming//everyone’s up to something//I find myself running home to your sweet nothings”. This shows that even when it feels like everyone is trying to make the most of their time as the world ends, Swift would gladly run to this person and spend the rest of her time with their “sweet nothings”, because at the end of the day, that is what matters the most. The second verse opens with “On the way home//I wrote a poem//You say, ‘what a mind’//This happens all the time”. This line makes us appreciative of the supportive people Swift has in her life that encourage her work and appreciate her creative mind. Similar to Swift running home to “sweet nothing”, she also makes note that this person also wants nothing more than her own “sweet nothing”.
Track 13: Mastermind
The last track of Midnights is “Mastermind”. In this track, Swift tells the story about how her relationship with a lover began as she credits herself to be a “mastermind”. Swift writes, “and the touch of a hand lit the fuse//of a chain reaction of countermoves//to assess the equation of you//checkmate, I couldn’t lose”. This shows how the original interaction between the two lovers led to many moves ultimately leading to the start of their relationship. Swift credits herself as the mastermind behind everything that fell into place and tells us that “none of it was accidental” and that “nothing was gonna stop [her]”. Swift seems to take pride in this act of winning over this said lover. In the bridge, she explains that, “no one wanted to play with me as a little kid//so I’ve been scheming like a criminal ever since//to make them love me and make it seem effortless”. This explains why she takes such great pride in her act, but it also shows that she is showing the world the effort she actually put into winning to counter her effortless mask she had previously designed for herself. At the end of the song, she says “and then saw a wide smirk//on your face, you knew the entire time//you knew that I’m a mastermind//and now you’re mine”. The ending shows how her lover let her have her moment and take pride in starting the relationship because he knew how much it meant to her while knowing her motives the entire time. It shows how much they are truly in love.