The Daily Gamecock

Review: ‘Midnights (3am Edition)’ marks Taylor Swift's return to pop-artist with introspective lyricism

Album: "Midnights (3am Edition)"

Artist: Taylor Swift

Release Date: Oct. 21, 2022

Duration: 1 hr 9 min

Label: Republic Records

Grade: A+

Taylor Swift released her 10th studio album on Oct. 21 and hit the ground running with over 184 million streams on its first day, breaking the record for most first-day streams on Spotify. In just under two weeks after its release, Swift became the first music artist to hold all 10 spots in Billboard Hot 100’s top 10.  Though Swift experimented with style in her music leading up to "Midnights," the album's success is proof that her lyricism isn’t limited to genre.

Thirteen songs were released at midnight. and in a surprise double release, "Midnights (3am Edition)" hit streaming platforms at 3 a.m. the same night with seven additional songs. 

"Midnights" has the same pop feel as her earlier albums "1989" and "Reputation," but the lyricism is far more complex, similar to "Red (Taylor’s Version)" and "folklore." It was a personal surprise to hear upbeat pop sounds with each song, compared to Swift's description of the album as “the stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life.” The phrase implied a more sad, sorrowful tone, however, the album feels angry and frustrated, which Swift conveyed with aggressive vocal tones and strong bass. 

Swift is a pro in lyricism, with the first song "Lavender Haze" being a dig at society hounding her about the status of her relationship. The upbeat track crashes into a slower "Maroon" that details a night out in New York, easing into the storyline of a hard breakup.

The biggest hit of the album, "Anti-hero," is a pop song for everyone, but with ingenious lyricism discussing her own insecurities. She sings “Did you hear my covert narcissism disguised as altruism / Like some kind of congressman?" The brilliance of the song comes from the sad and complex lyrics combined with the cheery pop beat.

One of the most amazing things about Swift’s lyrics is that although they are written based on her unique experience, they are still broad enough for the average listener to relate to. 

"You’re On Your Own, Kid" is track five, and traditionally, Swift’s track fives are revealingly personal. Similarly, this track hit the mark. It bleeds emotion, emulating a 'main character moment,' but the execution earns it a gold star. Telling her story of trying to climb the social ladder and find friendship in fame, she pleads “I hosted parties and starved my body / Like I’d be saved by a perfect kiss.” It’s like she’s screaming “look at all the things I’ve done, why isn’t it working?”

Track 19, "Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve" again kills it in its vocal delivery. The song is speculated to be about Swift's regrets about being with her former partner, John Mayer, due to the matching of track number and her age at the time of dating then-32-year-old Mayer. In the bridge she cries out “Give me back my girlhood, it was mine first,” with child-like phrasing and a whining tone, alluding to a former innocence that she had since lost. 

"Midnights (3am Edition)" is the marriage of all of Swift's prior albums, with sounds that take you back to the variety of genres and eras throughout her career. The lyrics are sometimes challenging to comprehend, but Swift allows an understanding of them through her vocal delivery. 

The album makes you feel something — whether it is sadness, anger or joy — it’s doing what music should. It contains scream-in-the-car anthems that make you feel like you’re in the tunnel scene of "The Perks of Being a Wallflower."


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