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The Student News Site of Drake University

The Times-Delphic

The Student News Site of Drake University

The Times-Delphic

Introspection and a new direction: “Midnights” a smashing success

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Grace Altenhofen | EIC

Taylor Swift is the Music Industry. If you haven’t heard that phrase before, I bet you will start to more and more. Taylor Swift released her 10th studio album at midnight on Oct. 21 and it crushed numerous records in just four days. Before Oct. 21 was even over, “Midnights” broke the record for Spotify’s most-streamed album in a day. Swift also broke the record for the top-selling album of 2022 and in vinyl records sold, smashing “Harry’s House’s” record of 182,000 with her 400,000 vinyls sold. On Amazon Music, Swift broke the record for most Alexa requests ever. Basically, “Midnights” has already been a massive success in its first four days.

Moving away from the statistics, there is so much to talk about regarding “Midnights.” Before the album came out, Taylor Swift said that “Midnights” would be “a journey through terrors and sweet dreams.” Swifties expected a brutally honest album expressing Swift’s deepest fears, regrets and secrets, but we were still overwhelmed with what we got. 

Since the title of track one, “Lavender Haze,” was announced, fans began to predict queer undertones. In queer history, lavender has symbolized romantic love between women, but Swift soon said that the song was about the feeling of being in love with her long-time boyfriend Joe Alwyn. 

Fans have found queer symbols and themes in many of Swift’s songs, old and new. While there are countless lyrics and visuals that could have two meanings or that could be subtle nods to queer culture and history, some just have no straight explanation. This continues in “Midnights” in shockingly explicit lyrics that fans can’t seem to heterosexualize. The most explicitly queer lyrics in the song “Maroon” are “The mark you saw on my collarbone… The lips I used to call home so scarlet, it was maroon.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t know of any men that Taylor Swift has dated that have had scarlet lips. Some lyrics from “Question…?” refer to an alleged relationship Swift had with Karlie Kloss. Diamonds attaching themselves to Swift in the “Bejeweled” music video is also an explicit tribute to Kloss. Going into detail about all of the details that suggest queerness could take up an entire article, so I will leave you to investigate further if you wish.

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Many fans have also noticed parallels between songs in “Midnights” and other songs in Swift’s discography, dubbing them “companion songs.” One companionship worth mentioning is “Would’ve Could’ve Should’ve” and “Dear John” because the former gave fans uncomfortable imagery and insight into a toxic and harmful relationship Swift had with a grown man when she was 19. At the beginning of “Question…?” the line “I remember…” from “Out Of The Woods” is heard exactly as it was sung eight years ago, and the lyrics in these songs are shockingly similar. These parallels provide more insight into Taylor Swift’s past, the trauma and hurt she has endured, and how she has coped with and recovered from it.

Track five on “Midnights,” the most vulnerable track on each album, is “You’re on Your Own Kid.” This song references each of her eras in the bridge, making fans go crazy. The first verse in the bridge paints the picture of innocence from her debut era when she was just 16 years old as it mentions “sprinkler splashes to bonfire ashes”. The next line rips fans’ hearts out as they remember the pain Swift went through to fit the “perfect picture” of a young female pop artist as she wrote “Fearless,” “Speak Now,” and “Red.” “I hosted parties and starved my body,” relates to the eating disorder Swift struggled with in the “1989” era, something she has since bravely overcome. Next, Swift brings light to what she was thinking as she took loads of criticism, due to the drama with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, during the “Reputation” era. Then she mentions “Lover” when she met her boyfriend who has been her rock the past six years. She turned pages and burned bridges during “Folklore” and “Evermore” and then started rereleasing her old albums, taking steps to regain what she lost. The final lyric of the bridge represents “Midnights,” telling the audience to savor the moments they have, to let go of the negative past, and to not be afraid because they’ve made it this far, so what do they have to fear?

“Midnights” feels like Swift’s final album because of the way she pays tribute to her former eras and relationships. She comments on topics that have been under discussion and scrutiny by the press for years, and she is showing everyone that she is successful, happy and living the life she wants. She is independent and revolutionary. She isn’t giving anyone “the 1950s shit they want from [her].” 

Overall, this album truly was a deep dive into Taylor Swift’s inner thoughts. Longtime fans and newly-converted Swifties alike can’t seem to stop listening to the album. I think the perfect combination of heart-wrenching, yet relatable lyrics and vibey beats make it hard to turn off the music. Additionally, the more I listen to the album, the more I love it. My favorite Taylor Swift songs have always been the ones with poetic and strangely dark lyrics and that is the entirety of “Midnights.” There is so much to think about regarding this album, from just the lyrics themselves, to what they mean in relation to Swift’s other songs and to the future releases they may be hinting at. 

Taylor Swift constantly keeps her fans on their toes and I for one am hoping for many more years of it

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