I’m proud to admit I’m a Swiftie. Taylor’s first album was released when I was a senior in high school, and her songs have been like a soundtrack for my coming-of-age and now adult years. Many of her songs have inspired my own writing, and I’m in awe of her creative mind.
So when she released her 10th album, Midnights, two weeks ago, you can bet it was the first thing I put in my ears that Friday morning. You can bet I’ve heard every song 5,000 times in the past two weeks. And you can bet that I’ve found myself in a dark place of Google search after Google search to find out what and who each song is about.
And all of it has been thrilling.
While I’ve been obsessed with Taylor’s music for half of my life, I haven’t taken the deep dive that the majority of the Swiftiverse has into all the Easter eggs in her songs and music videos and interviews. Swifties exist on many levels, and I’d say I’m on a lower tier but at risk for falling into the deep end. Only recently, probably since the 10-minute version of “All Too Well” came out, have I started reading up on all the theories and whatnot. Most of it I think is ridiculous. And much of it I’m completely fascinated by.
I shared my thoughts on Red (Taylor’s Version) last year and wanted to do the same with Midnights. Here’s what has been on my mind after two weeks of playing the album on repeat (with many more weeks to come).
Hearing the F-word in Taylor’s songs feels as surprising and unnatural as hearing it pop up in my own thoughts. But I’m not mad about it, and it feels naughty and fun to have a reason to sing the F-word once in a while.
I’m drawn to her songs that have lyrics about her “old self.” Is this a mom thing? Do other mom-Swifties gravitate toward those lyrics? This is a big reason why “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” is in my top 5 from the album.
"God rest my soul / I miss who I used to be / The tomb won't close / Stained glass windows in my mind / I regret you all the time"
I can’t resist bringing up “All Too Well” again; these lyrics have always haunted me:
"I'd like to be my old self again, but I'm still trying to find it."
“You’re on Your Own, Kid” is my favorite song on Midnights. This song makes me envision adolescent life in my hometown. It feels like the theme song for a YA novel playing out in my head.
"I didn't choose this town, I dream of getting out There's just one who could make me stay all my days"
Of course I researched what the die-hard Swifties had to say about this track, and the theory is that the lyrics encompass all eras of Taylor Swift. The song resembles some hardships on her path to fame, like friendships, loneliness, eating disorder, etc. I’m torn between thinking this reading into her lyrics as representative of all albums is far-fetched and that it’s genius. I love that she does that, if that’s what she’s doing.
“Mastermind” raises so many questions for me. I’m starting to learn about how Taylor plans her albums/eras three to five years in advance. When I see it pieced together, it blows my mind. One theory I have fallen for is the “Lover” house theory, that, if true, shows a real mastermind at work.
While Taylor has said the song “Mastermind” is about her relationship with Joe, it makes me think about her career. How much of her career trajectory did she plan out and at what age did the madness start?
"No one wanted to play with me as a little kid / So I've been scheming like a criminal ever since / To make them love me and make it seem effortless"
I mean, that part has to be about more than Joe!
Who is “Question…?” about????????
(The Internet is saying Harry Styles. I want to know the whole story.)
I love so many things about the “Anti-Hero” song and video. Seeing Taylor interact with different versions of herself is trippy and cool. Because I’ve grown up with her music and connected with so many of her songs, I feel like I can relate to what she’s experiencing here although of course I cannot relate to thinking that my daughter-in-law will kill me for my money.
But who doesn’t relate to:
"It's me, hi. I'm the problem, it's me."
I’m loving this Midnights book trend happening on Instagram and wish I had 13 books I’ve stayed up late for. I honestly can only think of one in the past 10 years that I stayed up past bedtime to finish reading, and that’s The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. I could perhaps add the “>three Kristin Hannah novels that I completed during midnight feedings when Leo was a newborn.
Leo seems pleased with the new album. When he woke up on the Friday morning that the album was released, I set him in his high chair for breakfast and asked him if he wanted to listen to Taylor’s new album. He might not have totally understood, but his answer to anything related to listening to music is always “yeah.” It was a beautiful moment when he started bopping along to the poppy beat of “Lavender Haze.”
Fun facts: My baby Swiftie’s favorite TS song to dance to is still “Shake It Off,” while “All Too Well” is the key to quieting car seat tantrums. I’m overjoyed when he claps and cheers at the end of a Taylor song.
One of the most inspiring things to me about Taylor Swift is her confidence in owning the work she’s done in her past, even 15 years ago. To re-record albums she wrote when she was 18 and 21 is amazing to me. I think back to adolescent and 20-something Michelle’s writing and rightfully cringe. Taylor takes her old work and gives it new and wiser perspective.
Another theory is that “Would’ve Could’ve Should’ve” from Midnights is Taylor’s 32-year-old version of “Dear John” from her third album, Speak Now, which leaves me in awe.
"I would've stayed on my knees And I damn sure never would've danced with the devil At nineteen And the God's honest truth is that the pain was heaven And now that I'm grown, I'm scared of ghosts Memories feel like weapons And now that I know, I wish you'd left me wondering"
I’m thankful to 13: A Taylor Swift Fan Podcast for being my source for all things Taylor. They centralize all the theories and Taylor quotes and they go deeper into every song. Listening to their discussions has helped me feel closer to the songs and understand the lyrics better. This is where I’m learning some of the theories and all about the re-recordings. I’m excited to hear them break down each song on the Midnights album.
Here’s how I’d rank my top 5 favorite songs on the album, 3am edition:
- You’re On Your Own, Kid
- Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve
Song from the album that I most want to see performed: “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve.” I know I’ve talked about it a lot already, but just listen to it! So much emotion and angst. You just know that’s going to be a hot performance.
My predictions on what’s next for Taylor: Before she made the announcement, I knew she’d do some kind of epic tour covering multiple albums. She has had four albums come out in the last three years (five if you count re-recordings) that she hasn’t been able to perform on tour yet. Alas, she announced the Eras tour that I will do anything to get tickets to. So I need to state the rest of my predictions now.
I think Taylor will spend the next year doing live performances to celebrate her 10 amazing albums, then she’s going to take some time for her personal life. I think she and Joe might get married and try to start a family after this tour. I want to emphasize that I’m not saying I think this is what Taylor should do, but based on her own lyrics, documentaries and interviews, it sounds to me like she does want to have a family, so that’s why I predict this will be the time she goes for it.
Some think that since this tour is covering all the eras and because the “Lover house” is complete, Taylor is saying this is the end of her music career. I don’t think she’ll give up music, but I do think this is a big statement to say she might be ending a chapter and starting a new one.
I could see her turn towards creating movies for a while. You could hear her passion for film in this bitchin’ interview at TIFF a few months ago, and I think she wants to push herself in that medium. The Eras tour is a great way to separate these chapters in her life. She’s a mastermind, so you know she’s got her next chapter in the works.
Have you listened to Midnights?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the new album. Let me know your favorite songs, theories, and videos so far. Will you try to see her on tour next year?