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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’ electrifies fans and shatters records

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Taylor Swift at the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards

After nearly two years, genre-bending artist Taylor Swift released new music with her 10th studio album “Midnights” on Oct. 21. 

The star took on a new release plan and schedule with her newest album. After sister albums “folklore” and “evermore” were each announced and released 12 hours apart, and re-recordings of both “Red” and “Fearless” followed a typical announcement, single, album release format, “Midnights” took a different turn. 

The album was announced in Swift’s acceptance speech for the Video of the Year award at the MTV VMAs on Aug. 28. The pop star announced the tracklist song by song in a series of TikTok videos, and there were no singles leading up to the album’s release two weeks ago. 

In an Instagram post, Swift called the album “the stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life,” leaving fans curious and excited. After its release, fans were frantically analyzing lyrics and easter eggs hidden in music videos to figure out which songs come from which nights. 

The opening track, titled “Lavender Haze,” is the first sign Swift has entered a new era. Producer and main collaborator Jack Antonoff’s hand is recognizable, and as the album moves forward, quite heavy. Heavy synth, distorted vocals and layered lyrics show off the starlet’s mature sound, as well as her craving to stay relevant and new in the ever-changing “pop sound.”

The album as a whole is a mix of the bubblegum, bouncy  “1989,” the intense and raw “reputation” and the ever so delicate and emotional “Lover.” Swift has found a way to push Antonoff’s production to not just match her own lyrical and vocal talent, but to challenge and push it to the best of its ability. 

“Snow On The Beach (feat. Lana Del Rey)” is the album’s only collaboration, and highlights a side of Swift not often seen. It’s soft yet ambitious, and though Del Rey only provides background vocals, her impact and presence on the track shines in the bridge. Her writing style is seen, her production preferences are easily noted and, most of all, Del Rey’s dramatic, tragic sound is heard. 

“Midnights” explores themes and topics spanning love, isolation and inner demons, with Swift focusing heavily on her issues with Scooter Braun. Both “Vigilante Sh*t” and “Karma” seem to hint at the drama, with Swift taunting the producer’s recent divorce and financial lawsuit. Both tracks are heavily indicative of “reputation,” which had the theme of revenge woven into the tracklist. 

As with her last few albums, Swift writes often about her longtime partner Joe Alwyn. Alwyn, an actor who recently starred in Hulu’s “Conversations with Friends,” has been an inspiration for Swift, as well as a co-writer. 

“Sweet Nothing” is a charming piano ballad co-written by Swift and William Bowery, a confirmed alias for Alwyn. The simply-sweet number focuses on the positives of Swift and Alwyn’s private relationship, and how they have fought drama and countless rumors to last as long as they have. 

Alwyn seems to be grounding for Swift, and he most definitely provides clarity for the star. Though tabloids are constantly questioning whether the two are together, married, expecting or a combination of all three, “Sweet Nothing” shows how the pair manages to prioritize each other and the little things that make each day worth it. 

Swift’s first single “Anti-Hero” was paired with a music video, released the morning after the album drop. In the video, Swift is haunted by her ghosts, all of the things that keep her up at night. A scene in the video included Swift stepping on a scale and, instead of a number, the dial simply read “FAT.” 

Swift was pushed to remove the scene from the video after both fans and critics labeled her as fatphobic. Dedicated supporters of the star claimed it was not intended that way, rather that she was showing her own experience with an eating disorder, which Swift discussed in her 2020 documentary “Miss Americana.”

Despite the criticism, on Oct. 31, Billboard Music announced that Swift became the first and only artist to occupy the top 10 spots on the Billboard Hot 100 List, led by lead single “Anti-Hero.”  The album as a whole held the number one spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart with the “biggest release for any release in seven years,” according to the music publication. 

Swift’s “Midnights” is 13 tracks of personal, organic and diverse stories, all of which prove that the star is still finding a way to change the definition of talent, and challenge not only others, but herself to push the boundaries of what is safe and comfortable. As Swift has shown with the success of her newest album, the risk is often well worth the reward.

Follow Emily on Twitter @emilyhbeatty

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About the Contributor
Emily Beatty, Arts & Entertainment Editor | she/they
Emily is a senior English literature and print/web journalism double-major from Canton, Mass. After joining The Journal amidst a pandemic, Emily can be found writing about all things music and pop culture. When not writing, she can be found working, listening to music (probably Taylor Swift) and with a half empty cup of iced coffee in hand. After graduation, Emily hopes to continue to cover music for local publishers in Boston.
Follow Emily on Twitter  @emilyhbeatty

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Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’ electrifies fans and shatters records