With ‘Midnights’, it’s complicated

Memori Valentin, Staff

Taylor Swift is growing up, and with age she faces the greatest fear of every pop star: irrelevance. 

It’s been two years since her last studio albums, “Folklore” and “Evermore” were released, then seemingly out of nowhere, “Midnights” became available Oct. 21. 

You know what? I’ll take it. 

“Midnights” is an interesting album, to say the least. And, for lack of a better term, it’s complicated. Not bad, per se, just complex. But in order to be able to understand this new album, you need to understand Swift as an artist. 

Swift has passed through phases her entire career. She has done what’s worked to stay in the spotlight and stay relevant. It started with her first albums in 2006-2008 when her stardom was born and her name soon became a household one. 

Swift started as a country musician, there’s no ignoring that, but the second that started to fade, the minute her sales numbers dropped, she came out with her next wave of albums in 2012 where she began to explore beyond her country roots and fall more into mainstream pop, beginning with her fourth studio album “Red”. 

“Red” was like nothing we had seen before in pop culture. How could somebody stray so far from home and still, somehow, belong? She was  a country girl, or was she? It was these questions that brought so much attention toward her, and this was when she became a pop idol. 

Then her album “Reputation” dropped in 2017, and we saw her fall into more of a dark pop genre, getting creative and introspective. 

She next lightened up her darkness by completely contradicting it in her 2019 album “Lover”. There’s not much I can say about that. It was… amusing.

While Swift has always been known for her unparalleled songwriting ability—and for good reason—the thing that made everything she did work so well was that she took something we were all familiar with and added pieces of herself to it. 

With Taylor Swift, you either love her or you hate her. But now, she’s trying to find her own place in the world. She’s in her natural habitat and doing what she wants how she wants it. And you either love or hate that. So I can tell you that it isn’t the songs on “Midnights” that are bad, it’s the genre. 

The album begins by setting the mood with a nostalgic canvas of colors that mix in a palette of pastel purples and deep reds with the songs “Lavender Haze” and “Maroon.” The entirety of the album consists of vivid imagery that enhances its  message. It talks about love, though not from the same perspective we know from Swift. She talks about her failed relationships as if it is her fault for not loving herself completely first. 

She also talks a lot about anxiety and self-image, which is the most vulnerable Taylor has been in her albums. It’s one of the only times we’ve seen her come out from hiding under a protective blanket and finding herself. 

“Midnights” is the perfect album for this self-discovery. While some of the songs are overboard for what we’re used to seeing out of Taylor Swift, she does this as a way of saying that she’s no longer making music because it’s what’s asked of her, she’s doing it because she wants to. The sense of “extra-ness” in all of her songs along with the novelty of the content really emphasizes this sense of individuality she’s so enthusiastically presenting.