Another masterpiece from the mastermind

Opinions Editor Lizzie Lively ranks the tracks on Taylor Swift’s latest album, “Midnights.”

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Liz LaHood

Digital illustration of a promotion photo from Taylor Swift’s Instagram page for her tenth studio album, “Midnights.”

“Lavender Haze” – 9/10

“Lavender Haze” is an amazing opening to Taylor Swift’s tenth (not including her re-records) studio album. The instrumentals are fun and poppy, and the synth gives a dreamy vibe to the sweet lyrics which address how Swift feels about rumors circling her and her boyfriend, Joe Alwyn. It is reminiscent of “Delicate” from her album “Reputation,” discussing her public persona and what the media and fans expect of her. The song is about marriage and engagement rumors surrounding Swift and Alwyn’s relationship, which Swift harshly rebukes calling it “1950s sh*t.” The track’s title faced controversy from Swift’s queer audiences with the use of lavender which is historically linked with the sapphic community, but it is clear Swift is referencing slang from the 50s unrelated to lavender’s history. Swift even said herself that the phrase was inspired by the show “Mad Men.” Overall, “Lavender Haze” is a fantastic opening to this album, combining Swift’s pop sound from previous albums with her new more mature sound. 

“Maroon” – 10/10

This track is full of common Swift symbols present all throughout her discography. The track’s title, “Maroon,” is obviously reminiscent of her fourth studio album, “Red,” and the track references many different shades of red like scarlet, blushed cheeks, rubies, roses, burgundy, wine and rust. The track’s lyrics also reference New York, being barefoot, the distance through phone calls, dancing and rosé. The lyrics are classic Swift while the instrumentals have a more mature sound. Overall, this album seems to be returning to Swift’s classic pop sound while maintaining the maturity she presented with “Folklore” and “Evermore.” It is unclear who the song is written about, but clearly they left a mark on Swift. The lyrics are emotional and filled with longing for a relationship that ended. The instrumentals are also very dreamy and wistful, adding to the vibe that Swift misses the relationship.

“Anti-Hero” – 9/10

Before the album was released, Swift described “Anti-Hero” as one of her favorite tracks on the album, and it is clear why; this track is heartbreaking. Swift describes her anxieties which are then visually presented in the music video. She personifies her depression as someone that visits her every night like a job, she describes her anxiety that people will leave her, her fears that she is an ugly monster, the dread of people misreading her kindness and her assumption that she is the problem. The song is full of self-loathing that manages to come off like she is resigned to the fact that she is a bad person. It is fun and relatable while emotional and heartbreaking at the same time, a difficult feat to manage. The instrumental keeps a similar tone as the former two songs with a dreamy synth and catchy beat. 

“Snow On The Beach” (feat. Lana Del Rey) – 7.5/10

The instrumental, while still dreamy and wistful, is a departure from the upbeat poppy sound from the previous three tracks. The vocals and instrumental feel like classic Lana Del Rey, very airy and beautiful. The lyrics match the instrumental, describing falling in love with someone while they also fall in love with you. It sounds like a daydream, soft and pretty. Del Rey, the feature on this track, sings background vocals and while it sounds beautiful, it is disappointing that she did not get her own verse or solo vocal part. 

“You’re On Your Own Kid” – 10/10

Swift’s fifth tracks are notorious for being her most emotional and “You’re On Your Own Kid” is no exception. With Bleachers’ lead vocalist Jack Antonoff being the main collaborator on this album, it is no surprise that the whole album’s production feels like a Bleachers song, but this track in particular is the most reminiscent of their music. Lyrically, the song seems to follow Swift’s growth throughout her career. In the chorus, she mentions the change from “sprinkler splashes” to “fireplace ashes” which seems to reference the changing of seasons. This metaphor follows spring, the beginning of her career to summer, the honeymoon and breakout phase of her career to fall. The shine of her newness falling like autumn leaves to winter, the stabilization and critique of her career. Swift has been in the spotlight since she was sixteen years old, and she explores finding herself in this spotlight with the critique of everyone around her and the increasing pressure from her fans in this song. She describes losing herself, taking the money, looking around in a blood-soaked gown, and giving her blood, sweat and tears for the career she has now. It is an honest and heartbreaking look into Swift’s personal mental state throughout her career and her journey of healing. This track five is one of the most emotional and all-encompassing track fives she has ever written.

“Midnight Rain” – 6/10

A common theme in Swift’s music is centering herself as a victim in relationships, but “Midnight Rain” does the opposite. She sings, “I broke his heart ‘cause he was nice,” describing herself as the problem in the relationship, which seems to be a common theme in the album. Lyrically, this song seems very similar to “The Way I Loved You” from her second studio album, “Fearless.” In both, she describes the comfort she finds in chaos and complicated relationships. In the intro and throughout the song, she uses a strange filter on her voice that sounds out of place. The instrumental is simple and does not seem to add anything to the song. While lyrically strong, the strange vocal filter and simple instrumentation take away from the point of the song. 

“Question…?” – 8/10

This track begins with an interpolation from “Out Of The Woods” from Swift’s fifth studio album, “1989.” The lyrics also constantly refer to other songs from the same album, with “good girl” and “What’s that I heard, that you’re still with her?” being references to “Style,” “bad city” as a reference to “Welcome To New York,” “I don’t remember who I was” being a reference to the end frame of the “Out Of The Woods” music video and “Did you wish you’d put up more of a fight?” referencing “I Wish You Would.” Even the lyrical style and upbeat pop instrumental are reminiscent of “1989,” suggesting that this song was written about a relationship during that era. The format of the chorus being made up of questions is refreshing, considering the rest of the songs seem to take on more of a storytelling angle. The bubbly instrumental keeps the serious topic of a regretted failed relationship more lighthearted and fun. 

“Vigilante Sh*t” – 5/10

Thematically, this song is very similar to “No Body, No Crime” from Swift’s predecessor to “Midnights,” “Evermore.” Sonically, the track is most similar to “Reputation,” but it is also reminiscent of a song from a different artist: “You Should See Me In A Crown” by Billie Eilish. The song is not a standout track, from the overdone revenge theme to the odd synth instrumentation and the cliché slang of the track’s title. Compared to the other tracks on this album, this song falls very short. 

“Bejeweled” – 10/10

This track is about Swift regaining her confidence after a damaging relationship. She throws petty phrases at her former partner, singing, “Didn’t notice you walkin’ all over my peace of mind in the shoes I gave you as a present.” Swift’s, for lack of a better word, bejeweled boldness drips from every line, and the instrumentals only back that up. Throughout the track, there is a sparkling sound effect that reinforces the jewel metaphor. This song is the ultimate hype anthem, inspiring confidence and self-love. After the failure of the previous track, this song is definitely a standout on this album.

“Labyrinth” – 8/10

This track’s instrumentation and vocals bring back the dreaminess and wistfulness of “Snow On The Beach” with a similar theme. The track’s lyrics describe falling in love with someone new after a particularly hard breakup and finding comfort in someone new after thinking the pain will never end. With the topic of new love already explored in “Snow On The Beach,” this song expands on something that did not really need expanding on. While it has its lyrical strengths, “Snow On The Beach” is packed with beautiful metaphors and stunning harmonization that this track does not compare to, making it fall flat against the rest of the album. It is a beautiful song, just forgettable against the other standout tracks. 

“Karma” – 10/10

Karma has an unexpected sound. While most were expecting it to be darker and more “Reputation” esque, the track is more reminiscent of Swift’s seventh studio album, “Lover.” The lyrics are breezy and fun, comparing karmic energy to relaxing thoughts and weekend breezes. The instrumental brings back the fun synth from earlier tracks, adding to the confident and carefree vibe. It is a jibe to the people who have wronged Swift, and a well-deserved brag of her accomplishments despite the effort people have taken to tear her down. It is a reminder to skip revenge because everything that goes around comes back around again. 

“Sweet Nothing” – 8/10

Swift co-wrote this song with her boyfriend under his pseudonym, William Bowery. Swift and Alwyn also co-wrote several songs on her previous album, “Evermore,” and fans were excited to find out they would collaborate again on “Midnights.” This song is just like its title, sweet. The lyrics describe the pressure Swift feels is placed on her shoulders and finding comfort in her partner who asks of only “sweet nothing” from her. The simple, sweet lyrics are accompanied by a soft piano and beautifully blended harmonies. This song does not stand out like other tracks on the album, but its simplicity is what makes it special. 

“Mastermind” – 10/10

“Mastermind” is a fitting name for the first track introduced in Swift’s TikTok “Midnight Mayhem With Me” series. Swift’s fans have often referred to her as a mastermind due to her calculated easter egg-dropping. In this track, Swift describes orchestrating the perfect set-up for her and Alwyn’s relationship. She references other songs about Alwyn like “Gorgeous” and “Paper Rings,” providing a glimpse into the calculation that lead to the moments those songs described. The lyrics are accompanied by a continually falling and rising synth sound that almost sounds like the theme song of the  Netflix original “Stranger Things.” The crescendos and decrescendos of the instrumentation add to the feeling that we are witnessing Swift’s mastermind plan finally come together. It is a perfect closing track to “Midnights.”

Conclusion and overall album rating – 10/10

Overall, this album seems to be a return to her true self after the departure that “Folklore” and “Evermore” took, and each track brings its own fresh mature spin on her classic pop sound. The album is, no doubt, a masterpiece from the mastermind herself.