Recommended Tracks: “Anti-Hero,” “Midnight Rain,” “Karma”
Taylor Swift has mastered the art of reinvention – it’s how she keeps our attention. Since her 2006 debut, she has topped country, pop, and alternative charts, broken countless records, and proven that her only true competition is herself. When she announced TS10, fans wondered what was next for the singer-songwriter; some theorizing that she would release an album sonically similar to folklore and evermore, others believing that she would craft a brand new sound. The pre-Midnights period was filled with old Hollywood glamour-inspired gowns and photoshoots reminiscent of the 1970s, leading fans to believe that Taylor’s 10th album would have a retro feel, its place on the shelf in between your Carole King and Stevie Nicks records.
These theories were incorrect, but fans were far from disappointed. Midnights is a masterfully crafted synth-pop album: the love-child of 1989 and reputation. Taylor worked with long-time collaborator Jack Antonoff, whose production and instrumental techniques are especially recognizable. Besides every Taylor Swift album since 1989, the producer has also worked with Lorde on Melodrama and The 1975 on Being Funny In A Foreign Language. Additional Midnights collaborators include Lana Del Rey on “Snow On The Beach,” William Bowery (Joe Alwyn) on “Sweet Nothing,” and Aaron Dessner on several bonus tracks. (Yes, you read that right. More on these later.)
Throughout the album, Swift revisits 13 sleepless nights from her past, falling in love on tracks like “Lavender Haze” and “Sweet Nothing,” and falling apart on others, like “Maroon” and “Labyrinth.” On track 3, she deems herself the “Anti-Hero,” delving into some of her deepest insecurities. She sings, “I should not be left to my own devices / They come with prices and vices, I end up in crisis,” and admits that maybe she is the problem.
On “Vigilante Shit,” her guard is up. Seeking vengeance, she sings, “Don’t get sad, get even,” adding, “I don’t dress for friends / Lately I’ve been dressin’ for revenge.” She lets loose on “Karma,” a stand-out track. (The Karma lore runs deep in the Taylor Swift cinematic universe – fans once thought there was a “lost” album titled Karma.) So, what is Karma? She finally tells us, singing, “Karma is my boyfriend / Karma is a God / Karma is the breeze in my hair on the weekend / Karma’s a relaxing thought.” The track features the most Taylor Swift lyric ever: “Karma is a cat / Purring in my lap ’cause it loves me.” The album closes with “Mastermind,” during which Taylor admits that the “accident” she refers to on Lover‘s “Paper Rings” wasn’t an accident after all. About the romance, she reveals, “It was all by design.”
Earlier in the week, Taylor announced that following the release of Midnights, there would be a “Special Very Chaotic Surprise” at 3:00 a.m. Naturally, fans began speculating. Would she release a second brand new album, or another rerecording? Perhaps she would announce tour dates, or release a documentary on the making of Midnights. (As usual, I hoped she would release Evermore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions. One day…) Once again, these theories were incorrect. At 3:00 a.m., the singer-songwriter dropped Midnights (3am Edition), which featured 7 bonus tracks. In an announcement, she explained that she has loved sharing more of her creative process with fans, and compared the bonus “3am” tracks to the “From The Vault” tracks. Taylor Swift is, in fact, a mastermind.