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Music Minor Music Reviews

November 3, 2022
Ben Griffin

Analyzing Taylor Swift’s “Midnights”

By Ben Griffin

Taylor Swift’s newest album came out October 21, 2022. An album like this has major implications for your social life and conversation in the next month, so let me tell you about it. [1] 

Swift’s top five songs on Spotify right now are “Anti-Hero,” “Lavender Haze,” “Snow On The Beach (feat. Lana Del Rey),” “Maroon,” and “Midnight Rain.” They’ll be our focus today. [2] 

If you’re wondering what qualifies me for music reviews, then you’re an inquisitive person, possibly a Virgo, who should be satiated by the following: I began a music minor last year and am struggling through entry-level music theory as we speak. Additionally, I sing in choir where I’ve been told I have one of those “blendy” voices that almost disappears. Also, I know multiple chords on the banjo. With that out of the way, let’s get to the review.  

Topping out the charts with roughly 95,000,000 listens on Spotify is “Anti-Hero.” [3] The meter of this song feels like it’s 4/4, meaning there are four beats per measure, which seems like a lot of beets to me, cause, honestly, they’re not that good outside of salad.  

With electronic pulsing and a prominent kick drum, the background sounds vaguely like a heartbeat. The quiet guitar in the background is nice, but you have to listen closely to hear it, especially if you’re a bad listener (I’m talking to you, STEM majors). Ssshhh, not close enough.  

Swift has a gift for relatable lyrics. For example, she wrote, “Sometimes I feel like everybody is a sexy baby and I’m a monster on the hill too big to hang out.” [4] Who hasn’t felt that way? She also references a dream where she’s murdered by her daughter-in-law. How does she understand America’s collective experience so well?   

Swift really struck a chord with me when she wrote about ghosting people. Shout out to all the people I’ve ghosted, just know I still care about you. Except for you, Rachel.  

On to “Lavender Haze.” This song is explicit, so don’t share it with kids or educators. [5] A mystery person sings “oh” at the beginning of the song and during instrumentals. It’s like, I’m only here for Swift, so could you get out of my ears, please? 

Beyond her musical capabilities, Swift has literary progressivism I can appreciate. Within the first 40 seconds, Swift revises the English language twice by turning the monosyllabic word “much” into an 8-syllable word, and “melancholia” into a 12-syllable word. [6]   

I’m a tiny bit confused about the lyrics, though... It’s about lavender, right? Comment below if you understand what Swift is saying (pranked, you can’t because this isn’t social media). 

Next on the agenda, “Snow On The Beach (feat. Lana Del Rey).” This is the quietest song we’ve reviewed so far, so if you’re an introvert or have small ears, this is your song. Using my secret music skills honed by the flames of Music Theory 1, I determined this song might be in the key of A major and have 12 octave leaps from A to A.  

Here are some unrelated thoughts on this song: 

  • Near the end, sleigh bells and chimes make a surprise guest appearance, which I guess makes this a Christmas song? Look out, Mariah Carey and Bruce Willis.  
  • Largest words used: unbeknownst, aurora borealis, periphery, Janet. [7] 
  • I almost saw the northern lights on a cruise with my grandpa. Week-long-cruise-ship story short, we didn’t, but at least we didn’t go on any excursions. Sorry, that sounded ungrateful. At least I ate a lot and shared a queen bed with my male cousin! Contact me for the full story.  
  • Are pocketfuls a valid measurement in the south, cause they’re definitely not metric. 
  • Beach is said 14 times. It’s basically a Surfaces song at this point.  
  • “Weird but beautiful” is how I filter searches on dating apps.  
  • Why did Swift put Lana Del Rey’s feet in the song title? [8] That has to be a health-code violation. Or HIPPA or something. 
Artist. Swift and three of her music/production friends sharing a laugh. The perfect songs to listen to while in the car, in class, during a test, saying vows, even at a funeral! Photo from instagram.com.

Fourth is “Maroon.” I think this is rap? Like for a country singer, rhyming at 200 bpm during the chorus is pretty extreme. Additionally, I have to point out that the song is titled “Maroon,” but Swift uses other words for red like burgundy, scarlet, rust, rose, ruby, and blood. [9] Uh, can you stick to one color? Thank you so much! 

Swift sings about dancing barefoot in New York. I was in New York this summer for a choir tour, and I’ll tell you that’s not the kind of place you want your wrigglers exposed to the elements. Unless you are Lana Del Rey, in which case your feet are unblemishable. Side question: is the reference to incense a religious statement? Is Swift trying to break into the spiritual sphere to slowly grow her influence?  

The last song of the bunch, “Midnight Rain,” starts off with a vocal effect that makes the singer sound underwater. In a sense, the whole song is underwater because it’s midnight rain, and rain is water (*feels physical pain after writing pun*).   

 At 2 minutes 54 seconds, this is the shortest of the top 5. [10] Maybe Swift was getting tired, or maybe she couldn’t think of any more words that rhymed. She already rhymed rain, pain, name, fame, same, potion, ocean, holiday, every day, travel, unravel, me, TV. Those are most of the things we sing about!    

Solidifying her literary prowess, Swift unashamedly alliterates throughout this song with P’s: pageant, pretenders, paradise, postcard picture, perfect, peppermint, peered, and portal. [11] My lips are chapped.  

This song is legitimately tragic—Swift and her lover grow apart because they expect different things out of life. It reminds me of my first relationship—and my last relationship, too, honestly. Okay, you caught me, I’ve only had one relationship 🙁 

Thanks for reading, I’ll see you next year when Swift publishes again, hurray! 

 

References

1. Swift, T. (2022, October 21). Midnights. Spotify. https://open.spotify.com/album/151w1FgRZfnKZA9FEcg9Z3

2-11. Ibid. 

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