‘midnights’: an album for restless romantics


illustration by katelyn niester

As millions of devout Swifties, casual Taylor Swift connoisseurs and friends who were dragged along to listening parties prepared for Swift’s release of her tenth studio album “Midnights” on Oct. 21, a sparkling shift in Swift’s discography awaited eager listeners. 


Moments before midnight, we collectively held our breath whether we were alone in our rooms clutching our headphones, holding our best friend’s hand or enjoying the excitement with a room full of strangers. That night, we all met Taylor Swift at midnight. 


While stylistically different compared to Swift’s recent sister albums “folklore” and “evermore,” “Midnights” continues to display Swift’s elevated lyrical prowess present in the indie sister albums. “Midnights” details 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout her life, Swift wrote in an Instagram post, offering fans a glimpse into her late-night musings, dreams and insecurities. 


In her classically cryptic fashion, a midnight album drop was not all the 11-time Grammy Award winner had in store. Swift told her fans to stay up until 3 a.m. for a “special very chaotic surprise” following the release of “Midnights,” and after fans recovered from the chill that goes down their spines every time Swift mentions a surprise, they began speculating what the big announcement could be. A re-recording announcement? A world tour? Another sister album? 


In addition to the 13-track “Midnights” album, Swift’s late-night (or rather early-morning) surprise was the debut of “Midnights (3am Edition),” which included seven additional tracks. I’m starting to think Swift never sleeps.


This double debut ushered in a new era for Swift, as she is known for constructing and embodying distinct eras that coincide with each of her albums. Her “Midnights” era style has reflected her undeniable status as a star by embracing elegant metallics, shimmering silvers and a touch of ‘70s rockstar. The start of the “Midnights” era can be traced back to Swift’s sparkling crystal dress by Oscar de la Renta that she wore to the 2022 MTV VMAs. 


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Her arrival at the award show in such a statement outfit sent Swifties spiraling because it signaled that something was afoot. Stylistically, this era represents a major shift in Swift’s style as her past two eras have been defined by cardigans, muted colors and a desire to escape into the woods to cry.  


This time, we’re not running off to the woods (or to “the lakes”) to cry, we’re fixing ourselves old fashioneds and watching our tears smudge our smoked-out eyeliner and glittery eyelids. Swift’s quintessential “Midnights” look came during the VMAs afterparty, where she donned a midnight blue Moschino minidress with silver stars glistening on top of the bodice. Wrapped in a white fur coat, Swift exuded glamour and sophistication, which successfully sent shockwaves through her fanbase with the first two looks of her new era.


Now with “Midnights” officially here for the world to enjoy, it’s already breaking records. On Friday, Spotify announced that “Midnights” has become the most streamed album in a single day in Spotify history without even being out for 24 hours. This record-breaking album has fans dissecting every lyric and sharing theories about what – or who – each song could be about.



The album opens with “Lavender Haze,” a romantically upbeat song about experiencing the honeymoon stage where colors seem brighter, food tastes better and you’re hopelessly in love with someone. You’re seeing the world through rose-colored glasses – or should we say lavender-colored glasses? Reminiscent of many songs on “Lover,” “Lavender Haze” explores Swift’s early relationship with British actor Joe Alwyn. Alwyn even has his own writing credit on the album for “Sweet Nothing” under a pseudonym, William Bowery. 


The first “Midnights” music video goes to “Anti-Hero,” a vulnerable look into Swift’s struggles with depression and anxiety where she concludes: “It’s me, hi. I’m the problem, it’s me.” The contagious beat of “1989” meets the raw emotion and clever storytelling seen on “folklore” and “evermore” to create “Anti-Hero.” 


In the music video, written and directed by Swift, she likens herself to an anti-hero, which is a main character who lacks typical heroic qualities, and shows different versions of herself feeling out of place or othered. “I’ll stare directly at the sun, but never in the mirror,” Swift sings. “It must be exhausting always rooting for the anti-hero.” 


Swift announced today that the second music video from this album goes to “Bejeweled,” which premieres later today. The video will feature her spin on the classic Cinderella story, and Swift teased cameos. We’re ready to see Swift shimmer and claim her title as the diamond of the ball.


One of the most anticipated songs on the album was “Snow On The Beach,” which features Lana Del Rey, a singer whose melancholic music, romantic themes and classic voice has many young hopeless romantics in a chokehold. In an Instagram video, Swift explains that the song chronicles a “cataclysmic, fated moment where you realize someone feels exactly the same way that you feel at the same moment.” Although the song does deliver a dreamy, wistful ode to falling in love, many fans have expressed disappointment with the song because Del Rey does not have a standalone verse. 


Swift has a history of not featuring many female artists, and if they are featured, they often sing backing vocals instead of verses. The band HAIM, composed of the three Haim sisters, was featured on Swift’s “no body, no crime” yet only sang back-up vocals. On “Lover,” Swift featured The Chicks on a heart-wrenching song titled “Soon You’ll Get Better,” and they also only sing backing vocals. 


The most recent exception is Phoebe Bridgers, who sang an entire verse on “Nothing New,” a “from the vault” track tackling aging in the music industry as a woman on Swift’s re-recorded album “Red (Taylor’s Version).”  


If you’re missing Swift’s iconic “reputation” era, “Karma” and “Vigilante Shit” capture that era’s bad bitch energy, except this time, Swift gets to swear. “Vigilante Shit” is almost haunting while simultaneously oozing sex appeal, and Swift mutters a new revenge motto: “Don’t get sad, get even.” Didn’t you miss vengeful Taylor? Where “Vigilante Shit” portrays the dramatic side of revenge, “Karma” is a joyous celebration of someone finally getting what’s coming to them. “Karma is my boyfriend. Karma is a god. Karma is the breeze in my hair on the weekend,” Swift sings.  


As an album, “Midnights” exemplifies the complexity of the human condition: We are not one thing, we are a beautiful mosaic of all of our hopes, dreams, shortcomings and nightmares. It captures those midnight thoughts, and even those 3 a.m. thoughts, that putter around in your mind making you feel like the loneliest person in the world. Swift lays those thoughts out in front of us, forcing us to reconcile with our late-night musings and realize that not only are we not alone in those feelings, but we are not defined by them. 


With Swift’s most glamorous era to date in full swing, “Midnights” allows listeners to reflect on their own sleepless midnights and embrace each version of themselves. Perhaps you’re coming to terms with falling in love again after a difficult breakup (“Labyrinth”), minimizing yourself for others (“Bejeweled”) or simply recognizing you’re with someone who wants different things (“Midnight Rain”) – all these late night thoughts can now be celebrated. 


We’ll always meet you at midnight, Taylor.

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Hi, I’m Catie Pusateri, the Editor-in-Chief of A Magazine. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important and entertaining news from the realms of fashion, beauty and culture. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we receive support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate to A Magazine.