By Aakanksha, Vania, and Jocelyn

In case you missed it: Last week, Taylor Swift released her 10th studio album Midnights, breaking multiple records in the process. It didn’t take long for the Write Through the Night team group chat to get in on the hype and start chatting about all of our favorite songs. Rather than gatekeeping the conversation, we decided to write down our takeaways and share them with you!

Please note that in this article, we are focusing on all of the songs from Midnights (3am Edition), but NOT the impact of a certain scene from the “Anti-Hero” music video. We encourage fellow Swifties to reflect on and have conversations about this, something we’re trying our best to do outside this blog.

Aakanksha

(“It’s me! Hi!” Hope you like this low-quality meme I made.) 

But it wasn’t always like this. When I was fourteen, I’d heard songs from Taylor Swift’s debut album but I only really listened to her lyrics when I heard “Crazier” in Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009), which I earnestly sang to my crush at the time. 

After Speak Now, I can’t pinpoint exactly what made me stop listening to her full albums (besides internalized misogyny) but I’m grateful this changed with folklore in 2020. I was initially intimidated by the gatekeepers and their rigid definition of “true fan”, so it took a bit to get caught up on the songs I’d missed. But it became easier to do so once I focused on my connection to the songs and appreciation of Taylor’s poetry. Being continents away from my loved ones and struggling with my mental health, I was a Sad Girl™ who coped with the support of folklore.

Taylor Swift’s growth is evident with each album and is something to behold! I could annotate and discuss her songwriting for hours. I especially appreciate that she not only got me out of my music slump this year but also helped me come to terms with my late ADHD diagnosis—a special shoutout to “Mirrorball” and “The Archer”, which simultaneously wrecked me and provided much-needed catharsis. 

As someone who struggles with focus, it’s hard to listen to albums in one sitting. But this was the first time in over a year that I was able to do it! Here are my top 5 tracks from Midnights (3am Edition):

  1. Anti-Hero 

“It’s me / Hi / I’m the problem, it’s me”

“I should not be left to my own devices / They come with prices and vices, I end up in crisis”

I didn’t think songs about insecurities and mental illness could get better than the aforementioned ones, but I obviously stand corrected. I’m surprised yet pleased by how upbeat this track is, something that tempers the heartbreaking relatability of the lyrics.

CWs for the music video: intrusive thoughts, body image, eating disorders

  1. Labyrinth

“You know how much I hate / That everybody just expects me to bounce back / Just like that”

This song perfectly captures the experience of being hurt and hence scared to fall in love quickly, especially for people who feel emotions very strongly.

Shameless plug: If you’re a Bridgerton fan, check out this Labyrinth x Kanthony edit I made! And/or if you also love Hercules (1997), here’s an edit of Meg, who I’m convinced would listen to this song on repeat.

  1. The Great War 

“You said I have to trust more freely / But diesel is desire, you were playing with fire”

I’ve been invested in one too many complex dystopian stories—especially The Hunger Games trilogy—to not love this song. Much like Jocelyn, I’m anti-war. Having said that, I appreciate the song’s gut-wrenching depiction of war and how it affects people who’ve been through it together (I know it’s more of a relationship metaphor, but I can’t not take it literally). 

  1. Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve 

“Give me back my girlhood, it was mine first” 

I wholeheartedly agree with everyone saying that “Dear John” walked so this new song could run. I don’t think I can fully capture how sad it made me feel. You go, Taylor!

  1. You’re On Your Own, Kid 

‘Cause there were pages turned with the bridges burned / Everything you lose is a step you take

I’m curled up in a corner. You won’t reach me for a few business days. 

***

Honorable mentions whose rankings I can’t decide: “Lavender Haze”, “Maroon”, “Karma”, “Bigger than the Whole Sky”, and “Question…?”

Jocelyn

In 2009 I was just a kid with a boombox and a Fearless CD screaming “Hey Stephen” at the top of my lungs and wondering when I’d have my first kiss. Taylor Swift was such a staple in my life during that time—to this day I have every single song on her first two albums memorized. After that, I just kind of… fell off. It wasn’t just that I didn’t like Taylor Swift anymore; I just stopped listening to music altogether.

Taylor Swift popped back into my radar in 2019 when Lover was released, but I didn’t become a “Swiftie” until folklore and the pandemic. The new, more depressed Taylor was exactly what I wanted. The lyrical complexity combined with the dark sound was the perfect mix for my pandemic-fried, mentally ill brain. After listening to folklore on repeat, I fell headfirst into the fandom that surrounds Taylor, deciphering hidden clues and learning the decades of lore around her songs, her relationships, and the Easter eggs.

I was eager for this album to come out, but on my first listen I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed. The album is very much a mix of reputation, 1989, and Lover, my least favorite albums. The songs are growing on me, but I am not instantly obsessed the way I was with folklore and evermore. Ironically, Taylor’s depressing up-all-night album is not quite depressing enough for my depressing up-all-night personality.

Nonetheless, here are my top 5 songs on Midnights (3am Edition, because I prefer those songs):

  1. High Infidelity

“You know there’s many different ways that you can kill the one you love /
The slowest way is never loving them enough”

This song is GUTTING. I am gutted. If there’s one song on the album that’s going to make me stay up into the middle of the night staring at the ceiling, wondering if I am making the right decisions in my life, it is this one. When I was in the fifth grade, a girl made fun of me for listening to Taylor Swift, with one of her critiques being that Taylor repeats the same lyrics at the beginning and end of “Love Story”. Ironically, she does it again in this song, and guess what… I still love it!

As my friend put it: If I ever cheat, it will be fully sponsored by Taylor Swift, thanks to this song and “illicit affairs” being my favorites from recent years.

  1. Question… ?

“When she said it was too much? /  Do you wish you could still touch her?”

In order to explain my love for this song I must confess that I am a Taylor Swift is Bi truther. While I believe she’s with Joe Alwyn now, I also believe that she dated Karlie Kloss! And I think that’s what this song is about! The entire sentiment of wanting something that isn’t “suitable” is a really relatable feeling and this song is enough to make me cry.

  1. The Great War

“You said I have to trust more freely / But diesel is desire, you were playing with fire”

I do not condone war. However, I do fully condone Taylor Swift using it as an elaborate metaphor for her relationship. There are so many great lines in this song and overall (although Aakanksha and I did choose the same best line), it makes me feel like I was in the war right along with her. 

  1. Karma

“I don’t dress for women, I don’t dress for men / Lately I’ve been dressing for revenge”

This song is about reclaiming yourself when you’ve been hurt. It’s also probably about Scooter Braun, but who knows! It could also be about Kanye West or anyone else who has wronged Taylor. One thing I do know is that “Karma” as Taylor’s boyfriend and her dressing for revenge are both iconic statements. As a bisexual person, this is my anthem—it’s not for women or men because I’m doing it for myself, thank you very much.

  1. Maroon

“Carnations you had thought were roses, that’s us”

I’ve seen a lot of the internet talking about how maroon is a more mature color than red. I love this song because of the way every single sentence is so chopped. There are random pauses that don’t seem to make sense, yet it works in the context of the broader song. This is definitely the song on the album that has the highest potential of being added to my “tswift for when i’m happy but in a sad way” playlist. 

Vania

Taylor Swift has undoubtedly become an icon in pop culture and people’s lives. I was introduced to her through TikTok edits of my favorite book, Six of Crows—I was surprised by how well her music conveyed the characters’ feelings and their empathy for each other. 

I’ve become a huge fan of her music over time. Although I can’t give myself the honorable title of “Swiftie”, I can certainly admit that I enjoy her music and the way it makes me feel. It’s ironic how much I relate to many of her songs even though they’re really straight. But at the end of the day, trauma is trauma, something I swear I’ve earned a degree in.

When Midnights was announced, I was taking a picture for my BeReal and I could tell that my friends saw my excitement.  I remember listening to the album for the first time while I was dyeing my hair red again (I’m telling you, I’m traumatized). I had really high expectations, especially because of the Lana del Rey collaboration, so I must admit I was a little disappointed. While I enjoyed it a lot, I had an expectation that was not met: I wanted a song so depressing that it would make me cry at 3 AM. I also don’t think the album lived up to the hype it received leading up to its release. Despite all this, I enjoyed listening to it, so below are my top 5 songs from Midnights (3am Edition):

  1. Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve

“And if I was a child, did it matter / If you got to wash your hands?”

People don’t talk enough about the trauma of dating someone much older than you. This love blinds you, so you refuse to see the power this person wields, and how they take away your innocence. This song powerfully portrays the realization of how wrong such relationships are, and the damage they do.

  1. Midnight Rain

“He wanted it comfortable, I wanted that pain”

This song perfectly describes how it feels to date someone who treats you well after you’ve experienced pain in a relationship. You get used to being mistreated, yelled at and dehumanized. When a person treats you the way you know you actually deserve, you feel something new and panic. I love the song’s voice changes and the way it makes you feel like your subconscious is screaming at you.

  1. High Infidelity

“You know there’s many different ways that you can kill the one you love /
The slowest way is never loving them enough”

A few years ago, I fell in love with someone else after feeling worthless in my own relationship. This song feels like it came out of my head, a reflection of what happened to me, and I love that I’m not the only one who’s gone through this. Taylor Swift, are you spying on me?

  1. Paris

“Romance is not dead if you keep it just yours”

I love relationships that are private but not secret. I love telling the world that I love my partner, while at the same time, having her to myself. I just love the rhythm of this song and the way it makes me feel. The song title, aptly named after the City of Love, feels like a sign of the great love Taylor has for Joe Alwyn and the passion in their relationship.

  1. Mastermind

“No one wanted to play with me as a little kid / So I’ve been scheming like a criminal ever since”

I have loved the Descendants movies since the day they came out. When I listened to this song, I envisioned Mal and Ben’s entire relationship. (Spoilers ahead!) When Mal confesses (or rather, accidentally admits) to Ben that she had bewitched him at the beginning of their relationship, he tells her that he already knew. That “I knew, and yet I couldn’t help but fall in love with you” moment made me internally scream. This song reminds me of that scene and many of my favorite books, and I’m living for it.


What are your favorite songs from the album? Which lyrics will keep you up at night?