Midnights: A Review and Ranking

My Thoughts on Taylor Swift’s Newest Album


Taylor Swift on the cover of her newest album.

Hanna Grass, Writer

In Taylor Swift’s world, nothing is ever as simple as it seems. Every Instagram post, Tweet, and TikTok has hidden layers that her fans have dedicated themselves to discovering. Swift has become known for her mysterious nature and love for puzzles. Her content is never just announced, promoted, or released. Rather, she scatters breadcrumbs of hazy hints and visual clues amidst her social media channels. Consequently, the buildup to any varying level of music or merchandise are equivalent to real-world crimes for true Swifities. Theories and conspiracies are created in varying veracity and rarely end, even after the content has dropped. 

This phenomenon has certainly occurred with Taylor Swift’s 10th studio album, Midnights. In the weeks leading up to its release, her previous posts were picked apart in search of any hint for what was to come, even down to the eyeshadow color depicted in the album cover. Marquee-name guest, Lana Del Rey, was also to be featured in the album, drawing in fans beyond the Swiftie community. Individuals of all ages were eager to hear what message Swift would convey through Midnights, and what aesthetic it would embody.

When the album dropped at midnight on Oct. 21, Swifites went wild. Not only were 13 new songs now available anywhere you listen to music, but Swift also dropped a whopping SEVEN additional tracks at 3 a.m. that same night.

After taking time to listen to the entirety of Midnights, I have created my final ranking. As any album rank, this is subject to my own personal opinion, which will likely change over time with my mood and music taste.

13. Labyrinth

Listening to the first ten seconds of this track, I was into it — the steady beat and hymnal notes tickling my eardrums. However, once Swift began with her verses, I found myself confused as to what the deeper meaning of the song was. Yes, we get it; you’re falling in love again. But what’s new? The chorus makes up five of the seven verses, which is much too monotonous. As a background song while completing a tedious task, I can see the appeal. However, “Labyrinth” did not meet my lyrical standards with its elementary, rather cliche, phrases.

12. Snow On The Beach (feat. Lana Del Rey)

When first hearing that the iconic Del Rey was collaborating with Swift, I was ecstatic. These two strong feminine artists are some of my absolute favorite women in the media, and having a song where their angelic voices and lyrical masterminds came together as one was a dream. However, after listening to their collaboration, I was disappointed. I found the lyrics of the song to be repetitive, and although the sound and melody were beautiful, Del Rey was not given a single line. I was hoping to hear her unique vocals blend with Swift in a truly duet-like track, not one with Del Rey stuck in the background.

11. Bejeweled

While still on the note of lyrics, “Bejeweled” is an excellent example of Swift’s abilities to manipulate words to her advantage. She incorporates elements of rhyme, figurative language, and wordplay that gripped my attention immediately. Furthermore, this song oozes confidence and girl-power, a common theme all throughout Midnights. Swift harmonizes about realizing one’s power, beauty, and worth in a relationship where you’re not always prioritized. Consequently, the song has an upbeat, extremely pop, sound. As someone who loves a more acoustic sound, this wasn’t my cup of tea. That being said, I absolutely see the appeal, so to those who have “Bejeweled” on the top of their rank, I recognize and accept you.

10. Lavender Haze

“Lavender Haze”: the first track of the album. It is the album’s introductory song, oftentimes the one meant to appeal to the broadest audience. With its eye-catching name, you can’t help but want to give it a listen, and I cannot say it was any bit disappointing. The contrast in high to low notes fit perfectly in the goldilocks zone, and I have seen fans across the media maunder over it. All things considered, I personally did not find a connection with the lyrics. Unlike most of this album, I found myself lacking in relation to the message being conveyed, which automatically dropped its rank. It’s a great song, don’t get me wrong, and I predict it will be one of the most radio-played songs on the album, but it just didn’t resonate with me.

9. Anti-Hero

Ah, yes, finally we have struck some gold. I absolutely love the sound and chorus of this track. I love that it’s one of Swift’s few songs placing herself as the villain rather than a victim; it’s refreshing. Lyrically, her use of rhyme is apparent in the first verse when she sings, 

“I wake up screaming from dreaming

One day I’ll watch as you’re leaving

‘Cause you got tired of my scheming.”

This here is a song that I can sing out and release my own self-loathing and anger. For Swift to extend the message to her fans that these emotions are normal and natural helped me feel less alone. I can already imagine blasting this song at the end of a rough school day or bad track meet, letting her words be my own. It may not be my go-to track on Midnights for every occasion, but I applaud Swift for extending her content beyond the basic feminism or love-struck trope.

8. Midnight Rain

Raindrops falling as a new day begins: what a beautiful thought. Midnight rain is dark, peaceful, bone-chilling, yet mystifying. It leaves a sparkling dew as it subsides, much like this song does for me. If I’m being honest, the genesis of this track gave me a bit of a jump scare. The alteration of Swift’s voice was an uncommon choice, and I am still unsure how I feel about it. However, this song is a romance novel unto itself, telling the story of contrasting characters that love one another but yearn for far different futures. Swift channels the prioritization of personal growth and staying true to yourself, even if that means letting go of something wonderful. Thank you, Swift, for teaching your fans this life lesson through “Midnight Rain.”

7. Question…?

The seventh track on the album, ironically, is rated seventh on my personal ranking. Swift’s voice is clear and crisp in this song, making the lyrics easily heard and memorable. Although it does lack that “wow moment” for me, it is extremely relatable. I myself have been in situations where I simply want to talk, but the other is unwilling. It is frustrating, and that emotion is captured perfectly in the lyrics Swift chooses. “Question…?” is a modern song, for the modern woman, struggling with a modern problem: miscommunication and the mutual struggle between self-control and self-expression. For anyone who has been through a failed relationship, I believe this song is for you. When I listen to it, I feel nostalgia and frustration over the past, which is the main reason I ranked it mediocrely. This reaction is my own heart’s doing, so Swift is not to blame, but nonetheless, “Question…?” stands in the middle of my ranks.

6. Vigilante S***

If I ever have the privilege to see Swift perform this paragon of a song in person, I will fall to my knees and worship without complaint. If you are a Reputation stan, this song is for you. It is a power move for Swift, and once again, embodies the strong-woman trope this album manifests. This is especially true through the lines,

“I don’t dress for women

I don’t dress for men

Lately I’ve been dressing for revenge”

“Vigilante S***” correlates with her song, “Karma”, through a villainous perspective and I absolutely love it. Furthermore, it is diverse from those of a similar theme in Reputation through her more calm and composed tone. She is not angry while singing this song, she is ready to take back her crown and what is rightfully hers.

5. Mastermind

Emerging into my top five is a lyrical masterpiece created by the mastermind herself, Miss Swift. This song is poetic; it is a story so many can relate to; it builds, but leaves you wanting more. It is a near perfect song. Like a novel or a film, it gives the individual singing depth, mystery, and intelligence. It paints a picture of a heroine who is no longer the damsel in distress, but maybe, the mastermind behind the distress itself. It is a plot twist of the century. “Mastermind” gives me courage to seek and strive for what I want, no matter the opinions of others. It makes me feel fierce, powerful, and worthy. It makes me feel like an orchestrator conducting a choir or a chess player commanding their pawns. It makes me feel like I am in control.

4. Karma

Like many of Swift’s songs from Reputation, “Karma” emphasizes the feminine spirit and power. It has a relatable, easily understood, theme of knowing that karma will always be on your side when wronged. Her light and airy voice mixing with a sanguine instrumental can’t help but make one want to jump up and dance. The chorus is unmatched; and I am unashamed to say that it runs repeatedly through my head on the daily. It oozes confidence and pure laughter. It makes you want to put on a pair of heels and runway-walk down your hallway. Something magical is weaved within this song; something that makes me feel independent and flirty. Why is it only ranked fourth? Well, I myself cannot give you a quality answer to that question. My best response would be that I can imagine myself listening to this absolute bop in phases, but not continuously once my initial excitement passes. My top three picks are ones that fit my personality and everyday music taste like a glove; they are the tracks to my life, while “Karma” is a track for certain days and moods.

3. Sweet Nothing

From the moment I pressed play on “Sweet Nothing” — the simplistic piano kicking off and complimenting Swift’s beautifully crafted first verse — I knew it was special. I had to pause the song completely to take it all in when she sang, 

“I spy with my little tired eye

Tiny as a firefly

A pebble that we picked up last July

Down deep inside your pocket

We almost forgot it

Does it ever miss Wicklow sometimes?”

Every verse, every line, every lyric of this track is the epitome of beauty and grace. Swift manages to follow a rhythm that is both similar to and unique from those of her album, Folklore, which to someone who worships a soft, folk-like sound, was a gift from heaven. For some, “Sweet Nothing” may seem a tad dull, or too much like Swift’s previous music. This is understandable, but I will never tire of this divine and blissful genre.

2. You’re On Your Own, Kid

The name of this song says so much unto itself. It represents disappointment, lost-hope, and youthful realization that people aren’t always going to show up. There will always be struggle in growing up, seeing the rawness of life. Yet, like Swift emphasizes, it is important to savor the pure moments when they do fall into our laps. At the end of the day, we are on our own, and it is up to us to create the happiness we deserve. I love “You’re On Your Own, Kid” for so many reasons, but most of all, for the heavy truth behind its libretto.

1. Maroon

Oh Blondie, this song makes me feel everything all at once. Ever since it first dropped, I have listened to it every morning while driving to school, and it has without a doubt made my days better. The melody is perfect for fall, as is the color, maroon. This track is a mixture of all the good in this album: strong femininity, lyrics laced with figurative language, and altogether contemporary aesthetic. There is little more I can say to accurately represent my adoration for this song, so I leave you with this: What is the color of my heart, the hue of yarn in my sweater, the shade of deep blush? What is my number one song on Midnights? The answer for all is and will forever be the same: “Maroon.”

Coming full circle, Midnights is not Swift’s best album, but it did not disappoint with its careful recitation of raw love and flashbacks to past romantic indignities. It marked the return of a more pop-era-Taylor that fans hadn’t had a taste of since her 2019 release, Lover. This shift and drop of Midnights was a momentous event. After nearly two years of waiting, Swift’s release of a 13-song album, and then a drop of seven additional tracks, ended fans’ shortage of original new music from their icon.

Per usual, Swift displayed diaristically pinpointed lyrics in partnership with a melancholic, bumbling sound. She illustrated to listeners, “13 sleepless nights throughout her life,” something we had never seen before. I commend her for trying something new, even if this change was minor, and adding commentary on what it feels like to live as a deeply observed figure, constantly narrativized by others. With nearly 65 million listeners on Spotify and millions more around the world, all eyes were ready and waiting to judge the second the clock ticked midnight on Oct. 21. Of course, some would rave about the album while others booed and denounced its every note; but personally, I love it, even with its imperfections.

On a final note, I encourage you to listen to Midnights and create your own opinions, reviews, and rankings. The seven additional tracks released in Midnights (3am Edition) are all their own and I would love to hear what you think of them as well. Drop a comment about your favorite song, lyric, or moment from the album, I’d love to hear!