As Midnight Drops, our Critics Rise to the Occasion

Disclaimer: Each contributing writer is an invested fan of Taylor Swift. Therefore, bias is inherent to each review.

Swift’s new record-breaking album, “Midnights,” released on Oct. 21, 2022, is composed of songs written from various sleepless nights throughout her life. With a theme of introspectivity, her songs expose a ruthless and solemn perspective into her psyche. Her original release at midnight EST consisted of 13 songs; three hours later, she announced a deluxe version of her album entitled “Midnights (3am Edition)” with an additional seven songs. We will review the latter. The songs were divided and reviewed among four Tideline Swifties and are listed in the order in which they appear in the album. 

“Lavender Haze” is a pop bop if I’ve ever heard of one. This song is a compelling opening track that perfectly encompasses the energy and soul put into this album. The phrase “Lavender Haze” is a call back to a common slang term in the ’50s that people would utter when referring to being in love. While some people dislike this song because they think it strays away from her other mellow tracks, I completely disagree. I think this is the hit single people have been looking for in her previous albums, and I was delighted to hear it upon first listen. —B

“Maroon” is an extremely on-brand song for Swift. Nothing says Taylor Swift like a song that mentions her holy trinity: New York, wine and some type of color conveying an emotion. “Maroon” can be seen as the older sister to Swift’s song “Red” as it parallels the conventional ups and downs of romance. According to fan theories, this song likely alludes to Swift’s old romantic partners, which always makes for a fun guessing game. “Maroon” earned my respect as it continues to grow on me the more I listen to it. —E

Let me be quite frank — while I am struggling to get over the slightly cringey chorus, my sister turned me on to the brilliance behind “Anti-Hero. “Anti-Hero” is the stereotypical Taylor Swift lead single that is found in nearly every one of her albums. With a catchy beat and relatable lyrics, it is the crowd-favorite from this album. “Anti-Hero” embodies the “Midnights” theme of introspectivity with a deeper meaning behind its positive overtones. For the overthinkers, self doubters and those who sometimes need a reaffirming glance, “Anti-Hero” delivers. —S

“Snow On The Beach (feat. Lana Del Rey)” is nearly as rare as Lana Del Rey’s voice in this song. Lyrically and musically, I thought this was a great addition. Many people have put this song at the bottom of their ranking, and I have to disagree. The bridge in this song makes me feel like I’m ascending to another planet filled with fairies, Lana Del Rey and Taylor Swift on an endless loop. Although I would love to praise this song, I think that I have to address the elephant in the room. Where was Ms. Lana Del Rey? Did her mic cut out? Did she forget to sing? I was disappointed when I first heard the song and realized there was no Lana. Then I had an epiphany: This is Taylor’s album and she owes no one a Lana verse. In the end, I had to put my sadness away and be grateful for this spunky and eerie track. —B

When I discovered that “You’re On Your Own Kid” was track five on the “Midnights” album, I knew it had large shoes to fill being among Swift’s other track fives, “All Too Well” and “Dear John” — tracks that I, in my humble opinion, would consider two of her best works. My initial listen left me with a mouth wide open and eyes bulging (in the best way possible). I didn’t know what to expect, but surely nothing could have prepared me for this. “You’re On Your Own Kid” is an ode to the outsiders and individualists — a song that accurately describes the triumphs and defeats of doing it all on your own. The bridge was really what put the cherry on top: “Cause there were pages turned with the bridges burned/Everything you lose is a step you take/So make the friendship bracelets/Take the moment and taste it/You’ve got no reason to be afraid.” The song truly unpacks all the feelings and emotions of growing up, especially with the ending lines: “You’re on your own, kid/You always have been.” To put it this way, if songs could kill, I’d be six feet under. —E

“Midnight Rain” brings me an odd satisfaction, like watching someone cut soap. Upon my first listen, her distressed voice and demonic contralto forced my body to freeze, and I was immersed in a starry blaze of torn decisions. I’m a girl who lives for the bridge (which is part of why I love Swift), but “Midnight Rain” forced me to appreciate the chorus, the repetition that engulfs a song. This song is never a skip, and, dare I say, one of the best songs on the album. —K

I’m going to be blunt — when I heard “Question…?” for the first time, I was really questioning Swift’s lyrical techniques. I think this song has a definite purpose being a reflection on her past relationships as she poses a question to her many exes: “Can I ask you a question? Have you ever had someone kiss you in a crowded room?” I strongly dislike all of the ad libs in this song. I think they ruin the flow and the function of it. Compared to her other songs that are lyrically sleek and poise, this song lacks that same level of brevity. This song is quite repetitive and feels very young and underdeveloped. —B

“Vigilante Shit” is the song all “Reputation”-loving Swifties prayed for when they heard Swift was releasing a new album. The definition of a hype song, “Vigilante Shit” reminds its listeners of their bad-bitch status. With lyrics like “I don’t start shit but I can tell you how it ends” and “lately I’ve been dressing for revenge,” Swift inspires her listeners to lead with confidence. The a capella at the beginning of the song and the strong beat throughout it only contributes to this empowerment. Having grown up listening to Swift’s music, I can confidently say that Swift is raising the next generation of badasses through music like “Vigilante Shit.” —S

Best believe “Bejeweled” is yet another Taylor Swift pop hit. A fun-loving hype song in which you are your own number one fan, “Bejeweled” poeticizes the sentiment of feeling like the best version of yourself. It’s rare to be gifted with a love song from Swift that is directed towards herself, and I have to say, I love to hear it. This song is the number one confidence booster and anthem. With a catchy chorus and a beat that makes your head bop, it’s safe to say I have definitely become a fan of track number nine. —E

“Labyrinth” is the type of song I craved to hear upon Swift’s announcement of “Midnights.” This song is for the people who feel too much and fall too hard, who have to contain their emotions and talk themselves down from excitement — a state I have found myself in time and time again. Swift creates a safe space for people to feel, breathe and never apologize for doing so. In a single word, I would say “soft” fits the bill to describe this song. The texture felt while listening  to it is soft: her lyrics are soft and her harmonic blend of instruments are soft. Swift just can’t stop herself from producing unforgettable music. —K

“Karma” is my feminist anthem. Whenever I blast this song in the car, I’m reminded of the brilliance Swift flexes on this album. This song is an allusion to her exes and all the people that have ever done her wrong. My favorite line is “karma is my boyfriend.” As a singleton myself, this lyric makes me feel seen, and it makes me feel powerful. Swift wrote this song for the people who feel like they are constantly losing the race, and she is here to remind us that karma is here to rescue us! —B

The most underrated song on the album and my personal favorite, “Sweet Nothing”, is nothing short of a masterpiece. One of the more mature songs on the album geared toward older listeners to reminisce about romantic ventures, “Sweet Nothing” details the little things that make relationships so special: the exchanged pebble, the compliments, the intimate moments. This song beautifully illustrates the lustful passions experienced while in love, specifically the small things only those truly invested would ever stop to notice. —S

Upon my original listen, I thought “Mastermind” was creepy and began to wonder how a sane person could possibly find it relatable. However, after listening again with a more focused ear, I realized I am that (mostly) sane person that finds it relatable. I knew that I had stumbled across a song that perfectly encapsulates what it means to be a teenage girl. The walking out of your way in the halls to pass a boy, the calculations to see him and make yourself familiar to him, the intense planning to go from friends to something more plucks a deep chord. I thought I was unique in my strategizing and “mastermind” techniques, but Swift’s lyrics once again are relatable to their very core and make me wonder whether any obscurity in my life is truly unique. —S

To be completely honest, having listened to “The Great War” for the first time, I felt transported into some sort of Advanced Placement history class, which is never a thrilling experience. However, upon my second listen, I was able to decode what might be a song about relationships, or perhaps a specific one, and their hardships, and having the perseverance and will to fight through them, hence the title, “The Great War.” With a slightly moody sound and poetic lyrics, this song gained my appreciation. Definitely worth a listen. —E

When I was first accumulating my thoughts about “Bigger Than The Whole Sky,” I thought it was a bad song. I did not fully grasp the weight and passion expressed in the lyrics, and I put it off as another track similar to those from her eighth album “Folklore.” After my second listen, I realized I grossly missed the mark with my first interpretation. This light, airy song tells a beautiful story about her loss. I think she created this song about all kinds of grief and it makes me really happy that many fans are finding this song therapeutic and relatable. —B

I have to say, I am not a fan of this “Midnights (3am Edition)” track. In simple terms, I could definitely tell that this song was written at 3 a.m.. “Paris” reminded me that Swift is in fact a millennial, and the lyrics back it up. Although I love to hear a happy-go-lucky T. Swift song about love, the lyrics unfortunately make me cringe. They were not close in comparison to what Swift produced in the past, and I felt starved of what could have been. I have to say that I was unimpressed by this track and believe that it was best for this song to have been swept under the rug, or in this case, Swift’s bed. —E

“High Infidelity” is an obvious comparison with Swift’s paragon “Illicit Affairs,” featured on her eighth studio album “Folklore,” each discussing the complexity of an unlawful relationship. With allusions to one of her best albums, it felt familiar, like running into your best friend from elementary school. Another immersive quality in this song is the utterance of subtle annoyance, outwardly defying a need for apology. She clearly didn’t write this to create goodwill with anyone, another trademark of Swift. This didn’t require a second listen to become one of my top five favorite songs on the album. —K

Swift hit a glitch in her songwriting prowess when writing “Glitch. While on par with what would be expected from many other songwriters, I expect more from the lyrical genius herself. Swift writes about a casual relationship accidentally gone serious, most likely attempting to hit a chord with the situationship-loving Gen Z. However, I was severely underwhelmed by the static background noise and mediocre lyrics. —S

I first heard “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” while sitting beneath an air conditioning vent on my kitchen floor at 3 a.m.. Despite being relatively upbeat and pop-sort, it brought me to tears and, without a second thought, became my favorite song on this album. Swift continues her legacy of heart-wrenching, masterful and stunningly crafted bridges, taking the cake with “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve.” In this, she embodies repentance and self-loathing, emotions I have yet to live without. But what attached itself to me and compelled me to repeat this song is her admission of regret, so boldly announced without any doubt or apology: “I regret you all the time.” I have yet to hear such a vulnerable emotion owned by an A-list star such as Swift propelling it into my top five Swift songs of all time. —K

“Dear Reader” was so underwhelming that I couldn’t sit through it the first time I tried and so forgettable that, if not for this article, I might never have remembered it existed in the first place. “Dear Reader” reminds me of an “author’s note” 12-year-old Wattpad writer’s place at the beginning of their One Direction fan fiction. Unfortunately, Swift disappoints at almost every level with lyrics, “Dear reader, bend when you can/Snap when you have to.” I’m sorry, allusions to “Legally Blonde” won’t cut it for me when she produced masterpieces such as “August,” “Dear, John,” and “Mirrorball.” She can do better. —K

Overall, “Midnight’s 3 a.m. Edition” is not Swift’s best work in comparison to her previous albums such as “Folklore” and “Red.” We see regression in her writing, possibly due to the varying time periods in which each song was written and a lack of storytelling we all crave. Collectively, this is a low-ranked album for us, found in the bottom five of her 10 released albums. Ms. Cherry disagrees with the majority and rates the album significantly higher.