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Midnights by Taylor Swift

Previously Published Jan. 5, 2023
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On October 20, I woke up with all the energy in the world. I smiled and sang my heart out in front of the mirror with my hairbrush in my hand pretending it was a microphone. For a few moments I felt like I was Taylor Swift, my biggest dream since I was eight. I even put a little bit of makeup on.
 
It turns out, however, that a power nap during eighth period and vending machine caffeine can’t cure a week’s worth of waking up at four o’clock AM to finish homework. As the day went on, I was unable to think straight, and I noticed myself slipping into a dark place. I felt incompetent, aimless, claustrophobic, disappointing, antisocial– truly grey. My mom is usually very strict about me doing my homework before anything else, but I was down enough that my mom made me watch two episodes of our favorite comedy show before I touched my homework.
 
It was around 10:30 and my homework was mostly finished, but my mood only got worse, so I went to spotify. As I was about to open my panic mode playlist (which is literally called ‘PANIC MODE’ and contains fifty-something Taylor Swift songs back to back), I remembered that Taylor Swift was going to release her new album, so I crossed my fingers and typed “midnights” on the spotify search bar.
Surely enough, it was out! I sat in bed with my covers all the way up and my oversized headphones on and listened. It was a miracle, an album about sleepless nights and mental health struggles that helped come closer to terms with my problems.
 
Here are the five most important songs in this album and what they mean to me:
 
Lavender Haze
The first song Lavender Haze is surprisingly upbeat compared with the rest of the album, but it’s the perfect start because it really established the common themes of judgement, alienation, and feminism. The name “Lavender Haze” is truly a feminist anthem, especially the way Taylor Swift frames the sexist, outdated “1950s” ideals she receives. Additionally, she talks about how everybody just keeps asking her if she’s “gonna be [her current partner, Joe Alwyn’s] bride” because they only want to see her as “a one night or a wife.” This reference to how her audience wants to perceive her as a fake persona than a real person is relatable, especially for teenagers. Teenagers are often insecure because they’re always trying to keep up with the social media image. Taylor talks about how she’s not going to take the pressure to live up to the façade the people want from her, when she says, “No deal.” It truly is not a “deal” that women have to deal with such hate. This line reminded me that I wasn’t truly aimless, that I stood for something, and I felt like I was part of something, less alone.
 
Maroon
My favorite song was the second one, ‘Maroon’. It was a heartbreak song, but it wasn’t Taylor Swift’s usual onslaught of hatred and vengeance. It manages to stay romantic the whole time, specifically the chorus. The lines, “And I chose you, the one I was dancing with, in New York, no shoes, I looked up at the sky and was maroon.” Dancing with a stranger without shoes and looking up at the sky, sounds oddly intimate in a hopeful way, and it just struck me because it sounded so dreamy. I really love how innocent this song sounds. It reminds me of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” until Taylor says that maroon is also the color of “the rust that grew between telephones” and “lips [she] used to call home.” But the heartbreak element really adds to the teenage-romance vibe, which is why I like it the most.” Although I have never dated, I do believe that I have experienced heartbreak when I lost my best friend, and this song brought back some of those bittersweet memories.
 
Antihero
This is the song that everybody is talking about (my best friend literally changed her instagram username to “antihero”), and I totally get the hype. It’s about feeling young and immature and sad, but still acting like you’re cool with your issues. Especially the lines, “It’s me, hi! I’m the problem, it’s me.” But I most relate with the line that comes after, “at tea time everybody agrees.” It perfectly embodies high school drama: there is nothing like the feeling of fake friends creating rumors about you behind your back. But the best line is the one in which she says that she feels like everybody seems so attractive, but she feels like she’s “a monster on the hill” because she feels like she’s “too big to hang out.” That line reminded me about how I always hated my face and my body under the lens of the camera and in the mirror because I just always feel bulky, even though my body mass index is almost below average, and how social media is scary for me because every time I post, no matter how attractive my friends tell me I look in the photo, I feel that somebody is going to look at it and tell me how I look like a trainwreck. Frankly, I think this is the most relatable song in the album.
 
Snow on the Beach ft. Lana Del Rey
The moment I saw all the songs in the album, this one jumped out at me because it was my two favorite artists doing a collaboration. The song was fixated on the peculiar idea of snow on the beach, which made it fun in a quirky way. However, I was a little bit disappointed because I barely got to hear Lana Del Rey’s voice, but the whole idea of “snow on the beach” made me feel Lana Del Rey’s presence in the song which was really awesome. My favorite line is the reference to the Rocky Horror Show, “now I’m all for you like Janet” because it added to the whimsical, light hearted, hopeful feel. But the melody of this song was sublime in the Lana Del Rey comforting way that I’d play it on repeat while I’m doing my homework.
 
You’re On Your Own, Kid
“I starved my body and hosted parties.” Taylor puts her struggle with learning to love a healthy body to light in this song. She also talks about her difficulty balancing her desire for popularity with the ideals she was taught in her upbringing: “My friends from home don’t know what to say.” These lines resonate with teenagers in that they address the implicit popularity contest teenagers are stuck in, caught in the predicament of going against the values they grew up with to fit in with their friends. Another line that I’m really obsessed with is “I picked the petals, he loves me not.” It reminds me of the scene in Glee, when Finn, one of the main characters, is picking the petals of a flower and saying “she loves me” or “she loves me not” for every petal that he plucks because he is in love with Rachel, another main character, but he is unsure if Rachel still loves him and he’s leaving it up to chance. It feels like Taylor Swift loves this guy, but she leaves it up to chance if her partner loves her, but luck doesn’t seem to be on her side. It just reinforces the loneliness of the title, “You’re on Your Own, Kid.”
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Sarah Vohra, Staff Writer

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