Midnights: An Evaluation by 4 Editors and Taylor Swift Fans

A latest Taylor Swift album isn’t just something to hearken to; it’s a chunk of labor to debate, analyze, and dissect. With its quite a few Easter eggs, it’s ripe for examination, but with relatable, memorable lyrics, it’s also a vehicle for self-reflection. In other words, a latest Swift original doesn’t just stay between you and your headphones; it have to be pored over with others, posted about in excess, and in some extreme cases, embedded into your entire personality. With the arrival of Midnights, Swift’s tenth studio album, all of this was became high gear. The 13 tracks (and 7 bonus songs) are all latest work written about nights throughout her profession, meaning the influences of past eras and even relationships seep through its melodies. It’s rather a lot to absorb.

To assist make sense of all of it, we partnered with our friends at Cosmopolitan and gathered 4 Taylor Swift-loving editors to interrupt down the brand new album intimately: Madison Feller, ELLE.com Senior Author/Editor; Samuel Maude, ELLE Assistant to the Editor-in-Chief; Emma Baty, Cosmopolitan Entertainment Editor; and Tamara Fuentes, Cosmopolitan Associate Entertainment Editor.

Below, they talk through Midnights’ best tracks and hidden messages, in addition to Swift’s growth as an artist and the way she subverts the general public’s perception of her, all with a refreshing humorousness. Take heed to the complete conversation here.


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First Impressions

Emma Baty: I actually enjoyed the album. I believe it’s a extremely nice continuation of what she did with Folklore and Evermore, and sort of blends quite a lot of what we love her for, what she’s done previously. I get flashes of each one in all her albums up until this point.

Tamara Fuentes: It does feel prefer it’s a little bit bit [reminiscent] of past iterations, which I believe is an element of the purpose. She did note that she wrote this throughout different 13 nights throughout her profession. And so we’re seeing glimpses of those moments. For me specifically, it feels a little bit too repetitive from things that we’ve seen before. Perhaps I also had certain expectations like other listeners, where it could be more of a grungy indie vibe. It’s not my favorite album, I’ll definitely say that, but I believe I had just different expectations and so I’m still sort of figuring that out as a listener.

Sam Maude: I like it, actually. I actually enjoyed it. I agree with the indisputable fact that it feels a little bit repetitive in some places. I used to be taking notes as I used to be listening last night. The quantity of times I used to be like, “Oh, this song jogs my memory of this other song in Taylor’s Swift discography,” or “This song jogs my memory of this Jack Antonoff song” was quite rather a lot. And I’ll say, that is such a Jack album to me, and by album I’m talking in regards to the first 13 tracks we got, not the opposite seven that were released at 3 A.M. Nevertheless it’s very Jack Antonoff’s sort of a Taylor Swift song. I believe this album shows how—for my part—wonderful the collaboration between the 2 of them is. I believe it takes one of the best of Jack Antonoff and one of the best of Taylor Swift and really melds it together into this fabulous Taylor Swift album that I’m really sort of obsessive about. But I do think it could actually get repetitive to other Taylor Swift songs previously.

Feller: Sam and I are on the identical page. I’m obsessed. From first listen, I used to be like, “Oh, I believe this might potentially be one in all my favorite albums.” To me it’s like 1989, Fame, and Folklore had a baby all together. I feel like I’m still parsing through. I should tell everybody that I’m reporting from Spain. This got here out at 6 A.M. my time, so I’ve been listening for nearly 12 hours straight. But I haven’t dived as deep into the additional seven. But of the core 13, to me that is potentially a no-skips album, which is possibly controversial.

The Surprise Extra Songs

Baty: Who am I to query Taylor Swift’s release strategies? But I almost do wish she had let the album breathe as its own entity before releasing the additional seven songs. Because I woke up this morning and went straight to the album and was sort of parsing through that, determining how I felt about it. I desired to hearken to it multiple times front to back, after which I used to be like, “Oh my gosh, I actually have these seven other songs I would like to also get through.” I wish she had sort of spaced it out a little bit bit more. I don’t know the way you guys feel about that.

Fuentes: I completely agree. I believe I desired to sort of see the way it is by itself a little bit bit before jumping into the bonus tracks. Though I’ll say this: I believe the “3 A.M.” version sort of modified my opinion of it with among the tracks. So possibly it was just a distinct method to attempt to get some listeners who were a little bit hesitant to see what else she was working with. But I’ve never seen someone do something like this, so it’s definitely very interesting.

Maude: Yeah, I believe this “3 A.M.” moment felt a little bit too soon. I wanted to take a seat a little bit more in it. And it is also a little bit weird to me that Aaron Dessner [who collaborated with Swift on Folklore and Evermore] was relegated to those seven tracks and wasn’t on the 13 in any respect. I just like the seven extra tracks, but again, I haven’t spent as much time with them and I agree with what everyone’s said there.

Favorite Tracks

Baty: If I’m taking a look at the track list, so as the primary three songs, “Lavender Haze,” “Maroon,” and “Anti-Hero” really work for me. After which I feel like I get a portion of the album that I’m a little bit bit more neutral on. After which once I get back down into “Labyrinth,” “Karma,” and shutting out with “Mastermind,” that basically also works for me. I believe it’s weird how my favorite songs are grouped at the highest and the underside of the album.

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Fuentes: For me, I might say my top three are “Lavender Haze,” “Snow on the Beach,” and “Karma,” that are in some ways very vastly different from one another, which is sort of interesting.

Maude: I’m definitely a fan of “Karma.” I actually love this track 5, “You’re on Your Own, Kid” and it’s been a bit on repeat for me this morning. After which I believe “Anti-Hero” is an important first music video. I don’t know if it’s being branded because the lead single, but I believe it’s an important alternative.

Feller: I also love “You’re on Your Own, Kid.” My first listen through, “Mastermind” was my standout. That’s what I placed on repeat immediately after I listened straight through. And I’ll say that “Sweet Nothing” really did something to me. I don’t think I actually caught every part once I listened through the primary time, but once I went back, I feel prefer it captures a really specific feeling that I relate to extremely hard, despite the fact that she’s sort of talking about it from her perspective of being a celeb, which that part I can’t relate to. But even still, I believe she really communicates a sense in a really effective way that I’ve never really heard before. And I’ll admit that one made me cry. So I feel like that needs to be in my top three. But when it comes to the opposite seven, I feel like “The Great War” and “Paris” are very fun. After which I actually need to dive lyrically into “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve,” which, I don’t know if we would like to take a position, but we expect it’s about John Mayer, right?

Fuentes: That appears to be the final take. Yes.

Feller: Are there some other standouts from the seven for y’all?

Fuentes: “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” was a extremely big standout for me. I actually liked the seven more, I believe, than a lot of the original 13. Like “Greater Than the Whole Sky,” “High infidelity,” [and] “Dear Reader.” I just really loved those tracks and, you recognize what? I’m sort of glad she took it out a little bit bit earlier just so I can get to experience them as well.

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Maude: I’m on the “Great War” and “Paris” train for the last seven. But I will even say “Glitch” is an interesting song to me, and only since the Spotify background is the glitch of “Wildest Dreams.” Like that weird glitch people were speculating about and had this Easter egg, she put it because the background to “Glitch” on Spotify. This was such an “oh my goodness” moment.

Easter Eggs

Feller: I feel like on that note, we must always speak about among the Easter eggs, which, LOL that she put one in her NYU speech. That’s so funny to me. And he or she put one in her first “Midnights Mayhem” TikTok, right? She did the “it’s me, hi.” Are there some other big ones that you’re feeling such as you’ve spotted or seen people speak about?

Baty: I don’t know if I might classify this as an Easter egg, but someone pointed this out on Twitter, so I cannot claim this. But I like that when she used to put in writing all these songs in regards to the previous men she had dated, and there have been obviously all these individuals who were being snarky and being like, “Well she should write a song called ‘I’m The Problem’” or whatever. And he or she principally subverted that for “Anti-Hero,” and I just love that she does stuff like that and he or she just messes with people. I don’t know if I might classify that as an Easter egg, but it surely’s a subtle or not-so-subtle clap back of sorts. And I actually, thoroughly enjoyed it.

Maude: I mean that teaser trailer for all of the visuals was just flooded with Easter eggs for my part. Like her being within the Fame stadium tour outfit, her being in other outfits from her profession, and that was like an “oh my gosh, what will be happening throughout this era of Taylor?” To me, in some ways, this album appears like a service to her fans, really capitalizing on the Easter eggs she’s had for therefore long and really just sort of leaning into her lore and her profession. I believe it’s really an interesting album when it comes to how much her fans are—myself included—obsessing over it and going nuts.

Fuentes: I agree it’s very much a retrospective album. It just astounded me how quickly the fans were in a position to pick every part up. And I believe that’s just a real testament to how much Taylor means rather a lot to them and in addition just how much fun she has with them and so they play along as well.

Baty: I believe she sees her fans as like collaborators in a way that other artists definitely don’t.

The “Anti-Hero” Music Video

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Taylor Swift – Anti-Hero (Official Music Video)

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Baty: I believed it was fun. I liked it. I would really like to see more videos and in addition videos that work as a cohesive creative vision. I’m not saying they need to actually directly play off each other, but I’m interested to see if she’s gonna go really hard with music videos for this album, and after hearing her discuss wanting to work much more within the visual medium of her work, I’m excited to see what she comes up with and the massive picture of all of it.

Maude: I saw reports that this was a visible album, which I don’t think has been confirmed, but I might love. I actually loved the music video. I believed it was fun. I believed it was actually interesting commentary. I believed it was relatable in quite a lot of ways. Also, why did she make her children actively horrible in that music video? I believed that was funny. It was giving very Knives Out in that sense, sort of like “you’re not getting the cash,” and I actually enjoyed it.

Swift’s Self-Reflection

Feller: I also thought [the “Anti-Hero” video] was really fun and funny. I actually think the album as a complete is fairly funny, and I sort of love that about Taylor in her thirties. I just feel like she’s far more open to make fun of herself and be self-referential, but in addition own the things about herself than possibly she wouldn’t have talked about before. Like in “Mastermind,” where she says that she’s confessing about how much she really does create and plan and that that’s rooted in these deep insecurities for her. But then parts of the song are also funny. I just feel like, as she’s gotten older, she’s done a extremely great job of having the ability to talk in regards to the things that each one the fans speak about and the media talks about in a way…she’s not putting herself down, but she’s still copping to things that we sort of all know be true about her.

Baty: I believe it’s a way for her to reclaim those narratives about herself. To me it feels very, very like, “Oh, I do know what everybody says about me, and guess what? In some ways you’re not incorrect and I’m just gonna come clean with it and, like, that is who I’m.” And I do feel that with this album as well. It looks as if her really taking a look at what the conversation is or what her public persona is and commenting very intentionally on that. And I believe it really works.

Fuentes: I believe “Dear Reader” stood out to me a little bit bit more possibly since it’s more emotional. Nevertheless it also sort of jogged my memory quite a lot of Paramore’s “Idle Worship,” where the concept of how we sort of put artists on pedestals, where we glance to them to assist us and with most of these needs, but they’re also still very much human. Her speaking about that, I believe, is one of the honest moments we’ve seen from Taylor in a really very long time, which I’m very comfortable to see.

The Lana Del Rey Collab, “Snow on the Beach”

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Feller: I feel like I’ve seen rather a lot on Twitter that folks are upset that [Lana] didn’t get a verse, which obviously I also would’ve wanted her to have a verse, but when she got here in on the chorus, I audibly gasped and I’m sort of obsessive about the way it sounds. But were you all disenchanted that there wasn’t more?

Baty: Yeah, I’m a little bit bit disenchanted. I just like the song, I just wish Lana had a little bit bit more to achieve this it felt more like a real collaboration between the 2 of them. Sort of like when Haim did a feature with Taylor Swift, that felt rather a lot more like two parties coming together to create something cool, that felt a little bit bit more 50/50. That being said, I still just like the song but I wish it had a little bit bit more of Lana’s essence in it.

Fuentes: I believe a part of it has to do with the indisputable fact that, you recognize, you’ve gotten a certain expectation if you see “featuring” on a track name, right? And so that you sort of expect more of, possibly they’ll have their very own verse or something or really work on vocals together and additionally they have their very own shining moment. But that’s more of a conversation when it comes to how royalties work and various things within the streaming age, but I’ll say I’m not entirely too disenchanted. We do hear Lana’s vocals and so they do sound really, really amazing. And just the indisputable fact that we even got a collab between the 2 of them I believe is just something I never would’ve predicted years ago. I hope this opens up some more doors, possibly in Lana’s future project and Taylor making more of an appearance there and seeing what they will do together.

Maude: I actually liked the song, I’ll start by saying that. But, I don’t know, Taylor sort of has this history of when she incorporates a man, they have an inclination to get a full verse, after which when she incorporates a woman, they often are backing vocals. And I believe the one exception literally in her discography to that’s Phoebe Bridgers. But when she’s featured like The Chicks or Maren Morris or Colbie Caillat, all of them are background vocals. To me, I definitely wanted a verse from Lana Del Ray here. And I believe after getting that wonderful verse with Phoebe Bridgers on “Nothing Recent” on Red (Taylor’s Version), I used to be really like, “Okay, we’re gonna have more verses from women in the long run.” After which when it didn’t occur here, I assume I used to be a little bit like [sigh], “back to what it’s been.” I just think it’s a typical occurrence in her discography. I don’t know, it’s just a little bit interesting to me.

Feller: Yeah, I also wished that she gave women sort of more to do on her songs, but I believe the rationale that this one specifically didn’t trouble me was because when Lana is available in on the chorus, I suddenly felt like I used to be in a Lana Del Rey song and it really worked for me.

Tear-Jerker Tracks

Feller: When it comes to songs that were more emotional, for me, it’s really “You’re on Your Own, Kid,” “Sweet Nothing,” even “Labyrinth.” Then, after we get into the additional seven, “Greater Than the Whole Sky” and “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve.”

Baty: “Maroon” got me a right off the highest. Literally, I believe inside the first 30 seconds I used to be teary-eyed, and I can’t quite pin down why, but that song really got me. So I hope I’m not alone.

Maude: I’m in agreement on “You’re on Your Own, Kid.” Songs which have at all times had an impact for me are coming-of-age songs or songs that feel like they’re addressing insecurities in your teenage years. I actually have this very vivid memory in my lifetime of driving in Des Moines, Iowa with the windows rolled down listening to Troye Sivan’s “Youth,” and songs that embrace nostalgia. To me, “You’re on Your Own, Kid” really did that. I believe that’s why I’m sort of obsessive about this album, since it really appears like this coming-of-age album that’s really examining Taylor coming to terms with a bunch of things which have happened in her past.

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Feller: Something that’s so interesting to me about “You’re on Your Own, Kid” is, to me, it ends on a hopeful note, despite the fact that it is admittedly emotional and nostalgic. By the tip, you’re sort of rooting for yourself, which I feel like is a rare take for a track 5 on a Taylor Swift album. I also need to return to “Maroon,” Emma. To me, after we’re talking about “self-referential,” that’s such an excellent example. You realize, the “grown up red.” On first listen I used to be like, “Oh, it’s about Jake [Gyllenhaal].” But do we expect it’s about Jake?

Baty: I believe you might definitely make the case. It mentions Recent York, prefer it feels very, very just like what we’ve heard about him via her songs. I believe that’s a fun theory. I just like the song regardless, truthfully.

Feller: To me, it’s like the massive sister to “Red,” and what a difficult thing to do and do well, especially so a few years later.

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Standouts and Takeaways

Fuentes: For me, a standout track is “Hits Different,” but that’s on the Goal edition, so I don’t know the way many individuals have heard it, but I like it and I hope other people test it out since it’s actually really, really wonderful.

Baty: Yeah, it seems unlucky that that one didn’t make it on the essential album. But I used to be just gonna say that I will probably be drinking screw-top rosé all day in honor of Ms. Taylor Swift and her mysterious roommate [as referenced in “Maroon”].

Maude: I read an article about this album that was like, “That is an album for the individuals who [liked], I believe they listed, ‘Wildest Dreams,’ ‘False God,’ ‘Delicate,’” sort of the more subdued pop that Taylor has. I read that before I listened and I used to be just sort of like, oh no, ‘cause it named each one in all my favorite Taylor Swift songs. And I used to be like, “That is going to be bad for me.” And I do feel prefer it is in that vein. I’m gonna call it Wildest Dreams-core, which I’m sort of obsessive about. I’m not gonna rank this album in my Taylor albums, but I do have a sense it’s going to be high up there.

Baty: Wildest Dreams-core could be very spot-on, Sam. I believe you’re right.

Feller: That’s funny, because I’m obsessive about this album, but I cannot inform you the last time I listened to “False God,” and “Delicate” can be wonderful to me. But these 13 really “hit different,” if we’re gonna quote Taylor. In order that’s so interesting. Perhaps I would like to return and do some more self-reflection.

Maude: I actually have a tattoo that’s inspired by “Delicate” and I’ll say it. So this album was I feel like sort of tailored to me.

Feller: Pun intended.

This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Madison is a senior author/editor at ELLE.com, covering news, politics, and culture. When she’s not on the web, you’ll be able to most definitely find her taking a nap or eating banana bread.

Tamara Fuentes is the present Associate Entertainment Editor at Cosmopolitan, where she covers TV, movies, books, celebrities, and more. She will often be present in front of a screen fangirling about something latest. Before joining Cosmopolitan, she was the entertainment editor over at Seventeen. She can be a member of the Television Critics Association and the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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