Taylor Swift has done it again. His 10th album, “Midnights,” captured how the whole internet feels: depressed. But also much more than that, she was given permission to trade self-love for self-hatred. And frankly, it’s fantastic.
Swift personally featured her album on Spotify on Oct. 21 with the scoop: “The number one thing that kept me up at night and inspired the ‘Midnights’ album was self-hatred.” Iconic. I mean, aren’t we all tired of feeling like we have to love ourselves constantly? If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that the toxic positivity is out. Sometimes I wake up, and I’m not ready to love myself. And sticky notes with “You got that” on my mirror won’t do.
Besides self-loathing, Swift says her other reasons for insomnia include fantasizing about revenge, wondering what could have been, falling in love and falling apart. Of course, a Taylor Swift album wouldn’t be complete without songs about revenge and love, and “Midnights” has plenty to ruminate on. But where I feel this album stands out is in its descriptions of the dirtier side of humanity – not necessarily the true darkness, but rather the messy, dirty, raw, Human things we all go through but don’t always talk about. Swift doesn’t just talk about it; it invites us all to revel in it.
As I type this story in a cafe in New York, listening to the new album on the speakers (being a basic bitch, as usual), the barista says that the songs remind them to be at “the hour of the demon”. Elaborate, please? “You know, when you’re drinking, it’s late, and you’re like ‘f*ck it’ and decide there’s no mistakes – it’s demon time.” The description is up to par. And to me, “Maroon” is the epitome of demon time: “How did we end up on the floor, anyway? / You say, ‘Your roommate’s cheap screwed rosé, / that’s how it is.’ “The lyrics are filled with messy romance, delicious missteps, and invite the worst version of you to have your say.
So how would you describe this album? A A Twitter user says, “Midnights has the unwavering boppiness of 1989, the depth of folklore and still, the heart of Lover and the middle finger of reputation.” Sure, if you want to get technical about it. But also: “Midnights” is a hymn to mental health. Like another tweet“What’s fun about listening to a new taylor swift album with your friends is seeing all the different traumatic reactions.”
This album is for the “goodie-goods” who grew up listening to “Our Song” and “Fifteen” and 15 years later are on Zoloft, bisexual and knee-deep in trauma therapy. OK, maybe I’m just describing myself. But Swift, too, has been actively trying to step out of the “good girl” image for years now, and with songs like “Mastermind,” her approach is a bit more self-aware than it seems. was in his “Reputation” era: “What if I told you none of this was accidental? / And the first night you saw me, I knew I wanted your body? / I laid the groundwork.”
If this album is an essay on mental illness, the lead single, “Anti-Hero,” is our thesis, in which it calls itself on narcissistic behavior — the mental health buzzword of 2022. The chorus perfectly sums up an experience so many of us have had: both knowing that you are the problem and also refusing to deal with it. “It’s me / Hi / I’m the problem, it’s me.” Self-analysis feels like the TikTok self-diagnosis era we’ve found ourselves in lately, and the candor is refreshing.
Got this thing where I get old, but never wiser / Midnights become my afternoons / When my depression runs the quarter graveyard / All the people I ghosted are standing there in the room
The music video for the song appears to address Swift’s history with eating disorders, which she has previously spoken about. The song also has the weirdest lyrics I’ve ever known: “Sometimes I feel like everybody’s a sexy baby / And I’m a freak on the hill / Too big to hang out.” I had to play it twice to make sure I heard it correctly. But “sexy baby” (perhaps a “30 Rock” reference) is a great visual for anyone who feels like they’re “aging” from pop culture, leaving them surrounded by hypersexualized young people (me on the Lower East Side on a Friday night). This also applies to anyone who sometimes feels like they take up too much space.
In track 10, “Labyrinth,” we get a feel-good twist with: “It only hurts so much right now” / That was what I was thinking all the time / Breathe in, breathe in deeply, exhale. What guided meditation doesn’t take the time to remind us that the breath can help us get through a lot of grief? According to lyrics site Genius, Swift teased these lyrics in her New York University commencement speech ahead of the release of “Midnights,” and the transcript of her speech gives additional context: “Hard things will happen to us. , we will recover, we will learn from it, we will become more resilient because of it, and as long as we have the chance to breathe, we will inhale, take deep breaths and exhale.”
In the manner of Swift, “Midnights” takes us on a roller coaster of emotions. And while pop’s brain makes it clear that she just wants to “stay in that lavender haze,” she’s also given us permission to crumble. Because maybe collecting your bullshit is overrated.
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