Taylor Swift’s Midnights; bop or flop?

Taylor Swift’s latest album, “Midnights”

Taylor Swift’s latest album, “Midnights”

Logan Swain

To say that Midnights had a successful release would be an immense understatement. At one point, every position on Billboard’s Top 10 songs was occupied by a track from the new album. It smashed Spotify’s record for the most streams in 24 hours. Its number of first-week sales—almost 1.6 million—was the highest since Adele’s 25, a full seven years ago.

Swift’s dominance of the music industry is indisputable at this point. Since her first number-one album, 2008’s Fearless, she’s racked up a record-setting streak of smash hits. I enjoyed listening to Taylor Swift when I was a child. The fact that she’s still dropping chart-toppers over a decade later is a testament to her genius as both a singer and a songwriter.

She owes her enduring success largely to her ability to adapt majestically to the shifting music scene. Swift is no stranger to musical evolution. Nearly every new album she has released contains a noticeable shift in tone and style from her previous project. Midnights, for example, incorporates more synths and studio effects than her stripped-down pandemic-era albums Folklore and Evermore. At the same time, it does not depart radically from her previous work, but rather builds on elements introduced in past projects. The synths are reminiscent of 1989, the darker, more personal lyrical content parallels Reputation, and the same basic theme of romantic relationships that permeates her other compositions is equally present.

With a runtime of just over 44 minutes, Midnights is Swift’s shortest album since her eponymous debut in 2006. That is one of the album’s greatest strengths, preventing it from overstaying its welcome. Swift recorded an additional seven songs, released as surprise bonus tracks on the same day as the album. Her decision not to include them may have been the most brilliant thing about its creation. Too much of a good thing is a real phenomenon, especially when it comes to albums. Midnights nails the balance between quantity and quality in a way that Swift has not achieved for years.

If there’s one downside to the album, it’s the dearth of upbeat moments. Nearly every track paints a bleak picture, making the sonic dreamscape often feel more like a nightmare of melancholy, bitterness, anger and regret.

“That’s exactly what she’s going for,” junior Jaiden Crabtree commented. “It’s supposed to be depressing.”

And now for the tracks. In general, the melodies stay away from being complex, which contributes to the dreamy atmosphere that Midnights oozes. “Lavender Haze” sets the tone for the rest of the album with its ambient-esque production. “Snow on the Beach” is, well, weird but freaking beautiful, as the song says. “You’re on Your Own, Kid” builds gradually from a sparse, gloomy love song to a powerful tune about self-empowerment. The sparkly track “Labyrinth” sounds like it was recorded in a cave made out of crystals. It repeats its chorus four times in a row, a technique that hasn’t graced our ears since 1989‘s excruciating slog “Out of the Woods.” “Mastermind”, possibly the weakest track of the bunch, bizarrely ends the album with a fizzle instead of a bang.

Some highlights of Swift’s figurative language include “Don’t put me in the basement when I want the penthouse of your heart” on “Bejeweled,” and “Karma is a cat, purring in my lap ’cause it loves me” from “Karma.” If these metaphors sound ridiculous, it’s because they are.

All in all, Midnights is a stellar addition to the Taylor Swift canon and firmly cements her reputation as the twentieth century’s preeminent musical artist. Final rating? 8 out of 10.