Today I am going to be ranking and breaking down Taylor Swift’s new album: Midnights! I did one like this for Evermore, which you can check out here. As of today, her new songs have been out in the world exactly a month. I wanted to give myself enough time to truly resonate with the music, lyrics and overall production of the sounds before putting them into some sort of concrete list. This post will include the bonus track: Hits Different and the 3am Edition. I cannot believe how much my ranking has changed since first listen. With 21 songs to get through, we better get to it!
P.S: My friend Windy on Instagram made the cover image below for me. I love it!
One thing that didn’t change from the first listen was my absolute favourite song from Midnights. The minute I heard the opening chords, I knew this was the track for me. Maroon is described as Red on steroids. It is the much darker, more mature version. It isn’t any surprise that this number is about her relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal. How do I even begin to explain why Maroon is the most superior thing she has ever written? Did you know she references 10 different shades of the colour red in the lyrics? GENIUS. The melody is so haunting and raw. It’s extremely vulnerable. Not to mention, it has a great Jack Antonoff fade. I cannot hear it without being physically affected in the best ways. Do not sleep on this song!
Favourite lyric: “The rust that grew between telephones.”
Karma jumped up to my second spot in a matter of weeks! Not only is this track an absolute bop, it serves some delicious tea. To be perfectly honest, I am not a Karma truther. I believe Taylor gave us this song because Swifties speculated about the alleged lost album for years, not because it actually existed from the beginning. She listened to her fans and boy did she deliver. This is 100% about Scooter Braun. She says, “Spider Boy, King of Thieves.” S.B = Scooter Braun. I love that she took the concept of karma and made it positive. It revolves around the best aspects of her life. She trusts in the universe and knows it will always have her back. Can relate! This is a Reputation song through and through. If you don’t believe me, listen to the opening chords of this song and then do the same for I Did Something Bad. Mind Blown!
Favourite lyric: “Karma’s a relaxing thought, aren’t you envious that for you it’s not?”
I was most excited to listen to Anti-Hero after Taylor described it as the most vulnerable song she’s ever written. It dives deep into her insecurities as a world-famous music artist and human being. If I were to place it in an era, I would say present day + Reputation, when she felt like nobody cared about her. I don’t know how she’s able to deliver such an upbeat track with equally devastating lyrics. I really enjoyed the music video as well, despite the edit that had to be made. It’s extremely relatable. We’ve all felt like the problem at times. I really appreciate her giving us such a raw insight into her inner turmoil. She genuinely doesn’t understand why we would root for her. If that isn’t the saddest, most isolating message, I don’t know what is. Since Midnights was released, Anti-Hero has been ‘Willow-fied’, meaning it has been remixed multiple times. I really like the Bleachers version with Jack Antonoff’s vocals.
Favourite lyric: “Did you hear my covert narcissism, I disguise as altruism, like some kind of congressman?”
4.) High Infidelity
High Infidelity crept up on me like a creature of the night. Evermore remains my favourite album and a lot of that has to do with Aaron Dessner’s production style. I immediately knew he had worked on this track just by listening to it. For the fans that have been dying for more Calvin Harris songs, here it is. Taylor takes us back to the Reputation era (April 29th in particular) which was the release date of This Is What You Came For – a song Taylor wrote for Calvin under the pseudonym Nils Sjöberg. He refused to acknowledge her efforts publicly and a few days later, she was seen dancing with Tom Hiddleston at the Met Gala. In Getaway Car, she expresses: “I wanted to leave him, I needed a reason.” This song is the prequel to those events. However, a lot lead up to their relationship breakdown. I think it’s so clever how she uses a double meaning with the lyric: “I was dancing around it” because she’s being literal and metaphorical at the same time. I’m obsessed with this song!!!
Favourite lyric: “Do I really have to tell you how he brought me back to life?”
5.) Hits Different
Hits Different is a wildly underrated song! It’s a bonus track from the Target Midnights Lavender Edition. I typically love the extra songs better than some of the original set-list. For example: The Lakes on Folklore, Right Where You Left Me on Evermore etc. I also have to mention that not since August, have Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner worked together on a track with Taylor. It’s superior because the dream team made it so! This is an authentic TS masterpiece. It has a brilliant story progression, bridge, shift of melodies, outro and more. It stems from the Lover era. Taylor is lamenting about the delicate nature of the beginning of her relationship with Joe. It had always been easy for her to move on before but just the thought of him with other girls makes her physically sick. Think Cruel Summer and Death by a Thousand Cuts.
Favourite lyric: “Bet I could still melt your world, antithetical argumentative dream girl.”
In sixth place, we have Paris. Is this the best song she’s ever written? No! Is it a bop that I want to play on repeat? Hell yeah! This track makes me really happy, and I’ll explain why. If you’re not familiar with the YouTube channel: Chats & Reacts, you absolutely should go check them out. They are two best friends from Queensland, Australia that are obsessed with Taylor Swift. They break down all of her music and albums. When Midnights was announced, Bonny realised she would be in Paris during that time. She was sad that her and Emily wouldn’t be able to listen to it together. However, thanks to their Patreon members (myself included) Emily was able to afford a ticket and join Bonny overseas before Midnights dropped. That was magical in and of itself…and then Taylor announced the 3am Edition, with one of the tracks titled Paris. Needless to say, the girls went crazy! They truly felt like it was fate. I love listening to it now and thinking of their happiness. This is a Reputation era song. It’s very much akin to King of My Heart – her and Joe shutting out the rest of the world as their love blossomed.
Favourite lyric: “Stumbled down pretend alleyways, cheap wine, make believe it’s champagne.”
7.) Midnight Rain
I will admit, Midnight Rain was not a song I immediately warmed to. It grew on me over time. The opening synthesised vocals initially shocked me. I wasn’t expecting them. However, once Taylor launched into the body of the track, I was feeling it. In this song, she describes herself as midnight rain. She’s dark, complex and ever-changing, whilst her former flame was sunshine, happiness and stable. There are many speculations on who this song is about. Some say Tom Hiddleston, some say a boyfriend she had in high school and others, like myself, believe it’s about Taylor Lautner from the Speak Now era. My reasoning behind this is threefold: 1.) she says she broke his heart because he was nice. We all know that she regrets the way she ended things with him in the song Back to December. 2.) she sings “sometimes we all get some kind of haunted.” Haunted is a song on Speak Now and 3.) she says, “he wanted a bride, I was making my own name.” Taylor had already made a name for herself when she met Tom Hiddleston but in the Speak Now era, she was emerging as a globally recognised superstar. Lautner is now engaged to be married and has been described as a romantic, committed partner. What do you think?
Favourite lyric: “My boy was a montage, a slow-motion, love potion, jumping off things in the ocean.”
8.) The Great War
The Great War is another Aaron Dessner track and one that is very personal to me. I love it but find it hard to listen to without crying. It is from the Reputation/Lover era, when Taylor had this idea that Joe had betrayed her, only to realise he was an honest, truthful man all along. She vows that if they can survive that big moment in their relationship, they can overcome anything together. It’s a testament to the strength of their union. She uses metaphors for war throughout the entire song, signifying the battle she fought within herself. Taylor uses songwriting to process her own emotions. I love how she is able to do that and in turn, help others relate to her words.
Favourite lyric: “Always remember, we burn for better. I vow to always be yours because we survived The Great War.”
9.) Would’ve Could’ve Should’ve
Wow, if only we had known this song was coming, we would’ve braced ourselves! Jake Gyllenhaal slept peacefully that night because for the first time since Red TV, he didn’t seem like such a bad guy. This is the adult version of Dear John. It’s Taylor reflecting back on when she was 19 – as a 32-year-old now, which was John Mayer’s age when he dated her – and realising just how awful the experience was. There are lots of religious themes in this track, referencing how she lost her girlhood after dancing with the devil. Oof that lyric hurts. She was technically still a teenager. He should have known better. This links back to Dear John when she sings “I should have known.” As a grown woman, she’s no longer placing that blame on herself, she’s putting it on him. This number exists because her re-recordings are forcing her to relive lots of emotions and experiences that she went through in her younger years. It has a superior bridge that really amplifies the pain in her voice. It’s absolutely worthy of my top ten.
Favourite lyric: “Memories feel like weapons.”
10.) You’re On Your Own Kid
There was no way Taylor’s most vulnerable track 5 in history wouldn’t make my top ten. It has a deceiving upbeat melody on first listen. You cannot fully grasp the message until she begins singing the best bridge I’ve ever heard. Some say this hearkens back to Debut era but honestly, this song moves through her entire musical timeline. We are transported back to Nashville, with Taylor reminiscing on her days as an emerging country singer. She dips into the 1989 realm, confessing that she hosted parties and starved her body, to the present, where she accepts that she’s been on her own her entire life but it’s okay because she can face anything. It’s a full circle moment. I cannot believe she referenced lyrics from this number in her doctorate speech for the NYU graduates. You’re On Your Own Kid is an extremely heartbreaking track but it’s also empowering. She’s made peace with everything she’s been through and is comforted by her own strength. How she continues to do outdo herself, I’ll never know.
Favourite lyric: “I looked around in a blood-soaked gown and saw something they can’t take away.”
11.) Lavender Haze
Lavender Haze was originally in my top three in the first week of the album’s release, but it dropped after I fully fathomed the tracks above. This is the opener to Midnights. It’s the moment we all realised what kind of sound we were getting. I love that it’s a dreamy bop. Taylor is referencing the present day with this one. She’s tired of people asking her when she’s going to get married and have children. She just wants to stay in her Lavender Haze and not focus on the societal expectations placed on women. I feel called out here and rightfully so. I can admit I’ve wondered many times if her and Joe are engaged but this number puts me and others like me in our places. It doesn’t matter. They just want to be in love. We need to stop fueling rumours and speculating on something that ultimately isn’t our business.
Favourite lyric: “I’ve been under scrutiny; you’ve handled it beautifully.”
12.) Vigilante Shit
This is Taylor’s only self-written song on the album and the shortest track. She comes in, spills some delicious tea and leaves in a puff of smoke. I love it! It’s 100% from the Reputation era and we, as fans, delighted in hearing how she’s been dressing for revenge. She calls out Scooter Braun, alluding to spilling his white-collar crimes to the FBI and letting his ex-wife know he was being unfaithful to her. However, when she says “I don’t dress for villains, or for innocents” she’s referencing Kanye West. The song Innocent on Speak Now was about him. It’s the ultimate middle finger number. I am obsessed with the production and the way she croons “I’m on that Vigilante Shit again” at the end!
Favourite lyric: “While he was doing lines and crossing all of mine.”
Question is a relatable track. It’s a song about wanting answers long after a relationship has ended. I think we can all agree that this is about Harry Styles. The opening words are “I Remember”, which is sampled from Out of the Woods – a track from 1989 about a snowmobile accident that her and Harry were involved in. I have to admit, Taylor confuses me a little with this one. She insinuates that he’s the one that got away with lyrics like: “I don’t know who I was before you painted all my nights with a colour I’ve searched for since” and “does it feel like everything’s just second best after that meteor strike?” We know she loves Joe and that he’s her everything, but I’ve always felt like Harry is in the back of her mind and why wouldn’t he be? He’s too illegal for words. I also love the production and melody to this one. It’s grown on me so much.
Favourite lyric: “Did you leave her house in the middle of the night? Did you wish you’d put up more of a fight?”
Bejeweled is the definition of a glitter gel pen song. It’s fun, sparkly and full of good vibes. It also has the best music video I’ve ever seen! I believe this track is about her re-recordings and Scott Borchetta. I had never bought a single piece of merch from Taylor’s store until she released her jeweled bracelet. Each gem represents a different album. It’s beautiful. When she says “haven’t you heard, I can reclaim the land” she is talking about taking back her music. The visuals attached to this number further affirm my theory, as the coloured stones fly onto her corset. Some believe it’s also about Calvin Harris and I can see that, but I think this is about her former manager. She misses him but she misses sparkling. With the re-recordings being so successful, Taylor owns her comeback to power.
Favourite lyric: “I can still make the whole place shimmer.”
15.) Dear Reader
Dear Reader is the severely underrated 3am Edition closer. Taylor shares some wisdom she has learned over the years but also urges listeners not to take her advice. She wants her fans to “find another guiding light.” It reminds me of Anti-Hero and her struggles with Impostor Syndrome. The track starts slow but builds into a soulful melody you might find yourself listening to in the early hours of the morning. It’s full of great lyrics that could be made into printable quotes. If I had to place this one in an era, I would probably pick Reputation, when she was at her loneliest.
Favourite lyric: “Dear Reader, you don’t have to answer, just ’cause they asked you.”
16.) Sweet Nothing
Sweet Nothing is the only track on Midnights that her and Joe (A.K.A William Bowery) wrote together. When you realise that this song is his response to Peace, you’ll start ugly crying. He doesn’t want anything from her, unlike others in the past. It’s definitely from the Folklore era. They were isolating during the pandemic and truly enjoying one another’s company. She says: “they say the end is coming” and “outside, they’re push and shovin” which gives me COVID vibes. It’s a simple, endearing love song that will warm you from the inside.
Favourite lyric: “I spy with my little tired eye, tiny as a firefly, a pebble that we picked up last July”
Mastermind is the Midnights album closer and a great way for Taylor to sum up what a genius she is. She confesses that she lay the groundwork to win Joe’s heart, and nothing was going to stop their love, but I also think she’s talking to the fans. She says, “I’m only cryptic and Machiavellian because I care.” She puts in all this effort with her Easter Eggs because we love them so much. Everything she does is by design, but she wants it to appear cool and effortless. It’s such a beautifully produced track. Taylor is the only musical artist that gives her followers clues to solve and riddles to decipher. It’s fun being a Swiftie and if you’re not one, you’re missing out! This is one part Reputation and one part present day.
Favourite lyric: “No one wanted to play with me as a little kid, so I’ve been scheming like a criminal ever since.”
18.) Bigger Than The Whole Sky
Confession: I LOVE Bigger Than The Whole Sky but like Ronan and Soon You’ll Get Better, it’s just too hard to listen to. It’s painfully sad. I would place this song in the Folklore era. A lot of listeners believe she is singing about a miscarriage that happened to her friend. It’s her storytelling again and being able to articulate experiences from different perspectives. Either way, it’s a track on the feelings of grief. What a breathy, beautiful and deep number.
Favourite lyric: “And I’ve got a lot to pine about. I’ve got a lot to live without.”
Maybe I need to fathom some more but I haven’t taken to Glitch like a lot of other fans have. It’s not really my style of song. It’s very sexy though – think So It Goes and Dress. She’s addicted to Joe and can’t get enough of him. It’s Reputation through and through. If you don’t believe it’s about her man, she says “it’s been two-thousand one-hundred ninety days of our love blackout.” Do the math and you’ll see that equates to 2016, when they met.
Favourite lyric: “And I’m not even sorry, nights are so starry, blood moonlit.”
20.) Snow On The Beach
I’m so sad that Snow On The Beach is my second least favourite song on the album. I automatically skip it. I’m sorry! I was really excited when Taylor announced it would be a collab with Lana Del Rey but unfortunately Lana is barely featured. She only provides some backing vocals. I really wanted her to get her own verse. You can still feel the essence of her but the track itself isn’t really my thing. I love the outro though. That is the best part. Fun fact: actor and star of the All Too Well short film, Dylan O’Brien, did the drumming for it. Again, this is a Reputation era song. It’s about her and Joe falling in love with one another at the same time and the magic of that concept.
Favourite lyric: “Life is emotionally abusive and time can’t stop me quite like you did.”
In last place (and I don’t see it changing sorry) is Labyrinth. It’s far too slow and stripped back for my liking. I admit I like the production of it. It’s very synthesised but I’m not a fan of what little substance it has. The Labyrinth is her mind and she’s lost in it. She thought her and Joe wouldn’t go anywhere. She was preparing for a lifetime of hurt but he turned it all around. It definitely sits between Reputation and Lover. Like YOYOK, she referenced lyrics in this track during her doctorate speech.I don’t really have more to say about it.
Favourite lyric: “Lost in the Labyrinth of my mind.”
Thank you so much for reading! Please tell me your favourite songs off the album below!
Peace & Love xoxo
Hey Rebecca – glad to see your post on Midnights!
I did the opposite – a quick posting of my favorite track a couple of hours after release!
I know that it’ll probably change, and Maroon is certainly up there.
I need more time to process the album and the mood of the music…
Hi! I really liked your post too! YOYOK is such a great track 5!!