Taylor Swift Shines in New Album Midnights (Ranking) 

On Friday, October 21st, international superstar Taylor Swift released her long-awaited 10th studio album, Midnights. Midnights illustrates 13 sleepless nights throughout Swift’s life, filled with dark electro-pop synths and Swift’s usual diaristic lyrics, however more cutting and cryptic than ever. After two critically-acclaimed alternative albums released during the pandemic (folklore and evermore) and her first two rerecorded albums, this is Swift’s first pop album since 2019. Seemingly a cross between Swift’s first pop album, 1989 (2014), and the following one, reputation (2017), Swift is pulling similar production, lyrics, and emotions from past albums, but from a more reflective lens. After only four days, Midnights earned the biggest streaming week of the year with 357 million on-demand streams. It is the biggest streaming week for an album by a female artist and is the biggest pop album of all time on Apple Music by first-day streams. The songs on Midnights occupied all ten spots on the Billboard Hot 100 making her the first artist in Billboard’s 64-year history to accomplish this incredible feat. Rolling Stones said it best: “[i]t’s a total Taylor classic.” 

Now, here is a definitive, totally not subjective ranking of every song on Midnights

21. Sweet Nothing

Starting from the bottom, there isn’t particularly anything blatantly wrong with Midnight’s most mellow track, “Sweet Nothing.” However, that seems to be just the issue. Backed by a plucking piano and soft harmonies, the penultimate song of the standard album discusses a topic Swift has expertly illustrated in about 10 other songs. “Sweet Nothing,” co-written with her boyfriend of six years, actor Joe Alwyn, Swift sings about the pleasures of keeping their relationship private from the media. While the lyric “and the voices that implore, ‘you should be doing more’ / to you, I can admit that I’m just too soft for all of it,” is one of the best on the album, the song, is relatively bland in comparison with the other songs on this album.

20. High Infidelity

Only Taylor Swift could make a song about cheating, a sincere explanatory moment of her past feelings. Rumored to be about her past relationship with Calvin Harris who she dated for about a year, the lines “do you really want to know where I was April 29th / do I really have to tell you how he brought me back to life,” give the listener a glimpse into Swift’s complex personal life.

19. Midnight Rain

On “Midnight Rain,” Swift experiments with late-night indie pop vibes and an effect where Swift’s voice is pitched down. This effect is heard throughout the rest of the album in songs like “Labyrinth” and “Dear Reader.” Lyrically, this song is about one of Swift’s past relationships that ended due to the success of her music career. While some were skeptical about the deep voice effect, this was one of many fans’ favorites from the first couple of listens.

18. Vigilante [Censored]

This song follows a woman who seeks revenge after a breakup, presumably on a man who has committed a crime. This song has a similar subject matter to “no body, no crime” featuring HAIM off of evermore (2020), accompanied by similar dark, reverbed synths of reputation (2017). This hard, haunting track is a fun break in the album, however, it is less rewarding on repeated listenings.

17. Bigger Than the Whole Sky

Being one of the saddest songs on the album, “Bigger Than the Whole Sky” describes losing someone close to you even though you only had a short time with them. Swift leaves the kind of loss open to interpretation, making this possibly the most cryptic song on the album. Some standout lyrics are “salt streams out my eyes and into my ears / every single thing I touch becomes sick with sadness” and the chorus in which Swift sings, “I’ve got a lot to pine about / I’ve got a lot to live without / I’m never gonna meet / what could’ve been, would’ve been / what should’ve been you.”

16. Lavender Haze

Regarded as possibly Swift’s best opening track to date (lest we forget Red’s “State of Grace”), “Lavender Haze” details how the media constantly pries into her relationship but she just “isn’t listening.” While this song is perfect for setting the mood of the rest of the album, it’s not one that feels necessary to listen to over and over again.

15. Glitch

While some may think “Glitch” gets lost between the other songs, the unique production makes it stand out from the others around it. Through robot-like synths and lyrical tongue twisters, “Glitch” narrates a “friends to lovers” romance that transformed into a relationship by accident. From Apple Music’s description of the album, Swift “[plays] with language like kids do with gum,” and that is clearly the case in this song.

14. Snow on the Beach ft. Lana del Rey

Perhaps the most anticipated track of this album, “Snow on the Beach” describes the feelings of falling in love with someone at the same time as they are falling in love with you. This track had fans eagerly excited as it was announced that fellow Antonoff collaborator and songwriting prophet Lana del Rey would be featured on this song. However, many were disappointed because Lana solely does backing vocals. This song still features some of the prettiest lyrics on the album such as “flying in a dream, stars by the pocketful” and “this scene feels like what I once saw on a screen / I searched aurora borealis green.”

13. Question…?

Beginning with an interpolation from “Out of the Woods” from another one of Swift’s record-breaking albums, 1989 (2014), “Question…?” catches Swift once again reflecting on a past relationship where she sarcastically asks her ex questions about the downfall of their relationship. This song feels reminiscent of songs from 1989 like “Style,” “All You Had To Do Was Stay,” and “How You Get The Girl.”

12. Hits Different

“Hits Different” is the exclusive track only available to be purchased at Target when fans buy the physical CD. However, if this song was on the original album, it may have had the power to be one of the best. Nevertheless, due to the difficulty of listening to it, it must be lower on this ranking. This track is filled with bubbly pop beats similar to her album Lover (2019). Its soaring chorus with the lyrics “catastrophic blues / movin’ on was always easy for me to do” make this song so infectious.

11. Labyrinth

“Labyrinth” is another one of the few slower songs on Midnights. The bridge is the best part of this song with a repetition of the lyrics “uh oh, I’m falling in love / oh no, I’m falling in love again / oh, I’m falling in love / I thought the plane was going down / how’d you turn it right around” using the pitched down voice effect again.

10. Paris

“Paris” is a song from the 3 AM Edition. It describes how it doesn’t matter where you are physically, but that if you are with someone you love, it can feel like being in Paris. This track features similar pop production not different from her album Lover. The verses of this song have an infectious rhythm that makes this song such an earworm. Some of the most catchy lines from this pop bop are “privacy sign on the door / and on my page and on the whole world / romance is not dead if you keep it just yours,” and, “I wanna brainwash you / into loving me forever.”

9. The Great War

The first track off of the 3 AM Edition, “The Great War” likely describes the aftermath of her long-time feud with Kanye West. The themes of this song are also seen in reputation’s “Call It What You Want” and evermore’s “long story short.” This displays one of the best vocal performances on Midnights, especially on the lines, “it turned into something bigger /somewhere in the haze, got a sense I’d been betrayed” and “we can plant a memory garden / say a solemn prayer, place a poppy in my hair.”

8. Bejeweled

Accompanied by a glittery Cinderella retelling music video and an insanely addicting TikTok dance, “Bejeweled” features possibly the most over-the-top production by Jack Antonoff. Lines like “sapphire tears on my face, sadness became my whole sky” and “familiarity breeds contempt / don’t put me in the basement when I want the penthouse of your heart” illustrate the more melancholy themes throughout the song, however, they are disguised in Antonoff’s glitzy synths.

7. Dear Reader

“Dear Reader,” the final song on Midnights (3 AM Edition) may be the most self-aware song in Swift’s entire career. While this track may also seem to get lost in the mix of all the others, the structure of this song is what makes it stand out. In the verses, Swift gives advice to the listener. These verses are then interrupted by the chorus, which is just the line “never take advice from someone who’s falling apart,” telling the audience to ignore everything she is saying in the verses. Then, in the bridge, Swift shines a light on how her listeners often use her music as guiding posts for their own lives. Connecting to the theme of self-loathing, Swift feels that no one should take her advice in her music because she is so isolated and mistrusting.

6. Anti-Hero

“It’s me. Hi, the sixth-best song on Midnights.” “Anti-Hero”, the album’s lead single, delves deep into Swift’s most intricate insecurities. On Instagram, Swift explains that she “…struggle[s] a lot with the idea that [her] life has become unmanageably sized.” She says that this song shows the complexities of the things we hate and love about ourselves. While the lyrics are some of Swift’s most self-aware songwriting to date (very similar to “The Archer” on Lover), the production does its best to mask the gutting lines with pop beats, creating a fun atmosphere while still being very painful.

5. Karma

Taylor musically explores karma’s role in her very public life (a theme she has been shouting from the rooftops ever since her 2016 Vogue 73 Question Interview) with fun pop melodies and a disco-like production. Since Swift released her music video for the lead single of reputation (2017), “Look What You Made Me Do,” rumors about an unreleased album called “Karma” have been circling ever since. So, you can imagine the excitement, anticipation, and shock felt by Swifties around the world when this song was announced. This track is clearly a fan favorite and one that will be super exciting to hear live during “The Eras Tour” in Spring 2023.

4. Mastermind

 The closing song of the standard edition of Midnights, “Mastermind,” describes how Swift schemed her way into making her partner fall in love with her. The lyrics “what if I told you none of it was accidental / and the first night that you saw me, nothing was gonna stop me?” illustrate this. But later in the song, Swift sings that “you knew that I’m a mastermind / and now you’re mine,” revealing that he knew her plan all along. Some standout lyrics appear again in the bridge, saying, “no one wanted to play with me as a little kid / so I’ve been scheming like a criminal ever since” and “I’m only cryptic and Machiavellian ’cause I care.”

3. You’re on Your Own, Kid

Swift’s infamous Track Fives are always especially depressing and “You’re On Your Own, Kid” is no different. The production is soft and the lyrics cut deep into the audience’s skin. Here, Swift recounts someone who longs for love, affection, and friendship until they eventually realize that they are on their own. However, in the bridge, Swift outlines the struggles she has faced throughout her entire career. She starts with “from sprinkler splashes to fireplace ashes / I gave my blood, sweat, and tears for this” which describes her first three albums. Then, she continues with “I hosted parties and starved my body / like I’d be saved by a perfect kiss,” which describes the height of her uncontrollable fame during the period of her 1989 album. By the end of the song, the listener feels emotionally drained but also somehow invigorated.

2. Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve

“Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” is the “All Too Well” of this album. On this track, Swift uses religious metaphors to angrily reminisce about her relationship with John Mayer who she dated when she was nineteen and he was thirty-two. Throughout the entire song, she says she regrets their relationship because of their very noticeably large age gap and what seems like the emotionally manipulative ways Mayer treated Swift during their relationship. The song, produced by Aaron Dessner whom Swift worked with to produce and co-write her past two records, reaches a crux in its bridge where Swift sings, “living for the thrill of hitting you where it hurts / give me back my girlhood, it was mine first.” This song feels like a grown-up version of “Dear John” off Speak Now (2010) (also rumored to be about Mayer).

1. Maroon

Finally, we have made it to the best song on Midnights, “Maroon.” Similar to her song “Red,” this song illustrates the rollercoaster of emotions felt during a tumultuous relationship all through a metaphor of color. This track is masterfully produced by the king of pop, Jack Antonoff. It is filled with extremely catchy lines like “carnations you had thought were roses, that’s us” and its chorus in which she sings lyrics as fast as she writes them (see her and Antonoff writing the bridge of “Getaway Car”). Perhaps the best part of the song is the ending when she repeats the chorus an octave lower, reminiscent of many songs by Antonoff’s band, Bleachers.