Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a fan of Taylor Swift ever since I heard Teardrops On My Guitar on my McDonald’s Happy Meal KidzBop CD and thought she was Carrie Underwood, and I will take every chance I get to flex the fact that I got free tickets to the reputation Stadium Tour, but “Midnights (3am Edition)” was lackluster to say the least. I liken it to an Abercrombie & Fitch store, both in terms of aesthetics and production; Lavender Haze sounds like the inescapable and ever-present smell of cat piss cologne that wafts throughout the store. But no matter how atrocious, you can’t help but return on every spontaneous trip to the mall because the glowing A&F lures you in like a UVM brochure that neglects to mention the cost of housing and school’s consistent refusal to address student issues in any way but a poorly worded PR email. Maybe it’s just because Lavender Haze is what I’d expect to hear in a teen fast-fashion store during my middle/high school era of attempting to conform socially, but the majority of the album is “giving 2018 synth-pop,” as one friend accurately put it. Which isn’t inherently bad, but it does make me wonder if Taylor’s Millennial nature is finally putting her out of touch with her audience. Did anyone else see the preview clips she posted on Spotify explaining why she made the album? Whether she made them out of her own volition or her marketing team pressured her to prove that she isn’t just a cog in the machine of pop music, watching the videos made me want to stand in the way of Taylor’s jet.
Also, Snow On A Beach annoys the hell out of me, not just because I have to have a little separate-the-art-from-the-artist moment with Lana Del Ray and her numerous controversial public stunts (mesh mask, anyone?), but because miss Taylor cannot make up her mind about whether the snow is “at” the beach or “on” the beach. I won’t even get into the hypotheticals of why snow would be in a climate with a beach in the first place, but maybe it’s actually a nuanced political statement about the unpredictability of climate change. How forward thinking of Taylor – but who’s gonna check her flight log?
Lastly, I kinda liked Anti-Hero. It was catchy and unproblematic, and her lyrics just continued to prove her poetic genius. I use past tense because I now cannot listen to the song without thinking of the person who posted “it’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me” on their private story, which violently threw me back to the dark times when I unironically put song lyrics in my Instagram bio. Such gems include Drake’s “I only love my bed and my momma, I’m sorry” and Hamilton’s “Take the bullets out your gun – what? – the bullets out your gun – what?” I cannot unsee this traumatizing flashback. Anti-Hero can never redeem itself to me (and I’m sorry if this association has violated you as well). Overall, I don’t have a problem with “Midnights” and can easily name my top 5 songs in order (Sweet Nothing; Mastermind; You’re On Your Own, Kid; Maroon; Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve). However, I can’t shake the feeling that “Midnights” sounds like it’s trying to be “experimental” like Billie Eilish’s music but has as much legitimacy as Elizabeth Warren claiming to be part Native American. I love Taylor Swift, and I think I’ll always love Taylor Swift, and we have to at least give her some credit for never making music that sounds the same, but this is one of her albums that’s gonna have to grow on me.