Taylor Swift Releases Underwhelming and Unnecessary Double Album


Going into “Midnights” by Taylor Swift, I didn’t have high hopes since I am not a Swifty. When I started, I was greeted by “Lavender Haze,” which is a typical pop song with a repetitive course and digital instrumentation; it leaves the listener with a taste of what’s to come, which is awkward auto-tune, unnecessary cursing that feels forced, and uninteresting songs.
On my first listen, I was caught off guard by the jarring opening of “Midnight Rain.” The song begins with an autotuned Swift going from a hyper-ventilating-like sound to a deeper digitized sound. This was an instant red flag as Swift is a good enough singer and doesn’t need to auto-tune. This auto-tune chorus repeats, but the singular portion of raw vocals was by far more pleasing to the ears. “Labyrinth” is another song in which offputting digitization is used to poor effect. Again Swift uses deep autotune to repeat the chorus that is dwarfed by the raw versions. While trying to keep up with current musical trends, Swift adds unappealing noise to her music that would be better off without digital enhancement.

Moving on to unnecessary cursing, the most egregious offender is “Snow on the Beach,” featuring, in the most liberal sense of the word, Lana Del Ray. The delivery of the vulgarities made me cringe as it reminded me of a kid that just learned how to cuss, which persists throughout the album. Another glaring misstep is the collaboration with Lana Del Ray. Throughout the entire song, Del Ray only does backing vocals to the overpowering Swift, which leaves me puzzled as to why Swift even had Del Ray, as she adds nothing to the song. The conclusion I came to was to add another name to the album to attract her fans, and even then, Taylor Swift is such a big name she wouldn’t need the added boost.

When it comes to the songs and their message, it feels like a rehash of the same overused motifs of Swift and pop music. While Swifties I talked to said that the album was a big shift in her style, I noticed little difference in her umpteenth stylistic shift. You have love songs like “Lavender Haze,” break up songs like “Labyrinth,” and songs that reminisce about ex-lovers like “Maroon” and “Midnight Rain.” While none of these themes are bad by themselves, Taylor Swift has been using them for years, just repackaged. The album also is weighed down by the lack of energy. Most, if not all, of the songs, are lower tempo and in a minor key. While individually, these are not bad things, it combines to make the album feel slow and leaves the listener unenthused. This issue persists in the “3 A.M.” version as well, only worsened by the extended run time. Toward the 30-minute mark, it felt like a slog, and by the end, a second listen felt like a herculean task.

After the core album was released unsurprisingly, at midnight, an extended 20-song version was released three hours later, creatively titled “Midnights 3 A.M. Edition.” Upon learning this, I was perplexed as to why you wouldn’t just release the album with all 20 songs at once so as not to waste the listener’s time staying up to hear more subpar tracks. The 3 A.M. version serves as a complete waste of time as it suffers the same affliction as the rest of the album and adds 20 lackluster minutes making the album total 1 hour and nine minutes. One song that caught my attention was “The Great War,” in which she compares a breakup to World War I. This left me holding back a chuckle at the absurdity of comparing such a common occurrence as a breakup to one of the deadliest conflicts in human history. The only saving grace of this extension was “Bigger than the Whole Sky,” which was relatively catchy and had some country guitar which, unlike the majority of this album, I can respect. The thing that frustrates me with the 3 A.M. version is it feels like the time and energy put into those seven songs could be better spent polishing and refining the original thirteen or, in the case of “Bigger Than the Whole Sky,” replacing a song.

Overall the album is a mediocre piece of work that lacks energy and imagination. I would pass this album up unless you’re an avid Swifty or have nothing better to listen to.