Emerging from the lavender haze: Ranking Taylor Swift’s “Midnights”

When the clock struck midnight on Oct. 21, Taylor Swift released her appropriately-titled 10th studio album, “Midnights.” Immediately upon release, the record crashed Spotify; then, it became the app’s most-streamed album in a single day. 

Now that we’ve had some time to digest “Midnights,” it’s time for a daunting task: ranking the original 13 tracks. 

13. “Snow On The Beach (feat. Lana Del Rey)”

Once, this was the album’s most anticipated track; now, it’s just a letdown. There’s a running joke that Swift never lets female collaborators have their own verses, and “Snow On The Beach” is no different: Del Rey whispers in the background, barely perceptible. And while the metaphor of snow on the beach for mutual attraction is an intriguing one, the best description Swift can think of is “weird, but it was beautiful.” Maybe her signature lyrical prowess took a beach vacation, too.

12. “Bejeweled”

In “Bejeweled,” Swift’s boyfriend takes her for granted, so she reminds him just how sparkly she can be. At one level, it’s a shallow, glittering song (just like its subject matter), which is why it takes 12th place. But it’s an important reminder to know your own worth, too. “Putting someone first only works when you’re in their top five,” Swift sings wisely.

11. “Karma”

Don’t get me wrong: I love “Karma.” It’s catchy and fun, perfect for a run — but even so, objectively, it’s your basic fluffy pop song. Also, I’m not sure that the lyric “Karma is a relaxing thought. Aren’t you envious that for you it’s not?” holds up to grammatical scrutiny. 

10. “Labyrinth”

“Labyrinth” reminds me a lot of “epiphany,” from Swift’s 2020 release “folklore.” The vocals are beautiful, and the sentiment is moving: falling in love is messy, even terrifying. But musically, the song feels somewhat boring, and some of the sonic elements — namely, whatever the odd elephant-esque sound in the background is — seem stark and out of place.

9. “Mastermind”

Here, Swift is an unstoppable genius, who carefully plans her seemingly accidental collisions with her soon-to-be love. “I swear, I’m only cryptic and Machiavellian ‘cause I care,” she sings hilariously. But in the end, all is well: this potentially creepy tendency just makes her partner love her all the more.

8. “Vigilante S—”

From the title alone, I knew this song would be ridiculous and corny — and somehow, it exceeded my expectations with just the first line: “Draw the cat eye, sharp enough to kill a man.” So, needless to say, the lyrics didn’t earn “Vigilante S—” its eighth-place spot. Musically, though, it’s wholly unlike anything else on the album. It’s refreshing, even intriguing, and that counts for a lot. 

7. “Anti-Hero”

“Anti-Hero,” the album’s lead single, is the crystallization of Swift’s self-deprecating thought patterns. “It’s me. Hi,” she sings. “I’m the problem. It’s me.” She describes herself, somewhat relatably, as a “monster on the hill,” “slowly lurching toward your favorite city.” In contrast, oddly enough, the music itself is upbeat and fun — although by no means the record’s best.

‘Anti-Hero,’ the album’s lead single, is the crystallization of Swift’s self-deprecating thought patterns.

6. “Question…?”

The first time I heard this song (at about 1 A.M.), I was decidedly underwhelmed. But with time, it’s grown on me. Reminiscent of Swift’s past song “Delicate,” “Question…?” is a song about a love that makes all other loves pale in comparison. “Does it feel like everything’s just like second best after that meteor strike?” Swift sings. “Do you wish you could still touch her [the first love]?” Then, pseudo-innocently: “It’s just a question!”

5. “Maroon”

“Maroon” is the heartbreaking story of a relationship, from hopeful infancy to devastating conclusion. Here, Swift’s songwriting abilities shine through brilliantly. “You were standing hollow-eyed in the hallway,” she sings. “Carnations you had thought were roses — that’s us.” In the end, all that remains is a painful legacy.

4. “Lavender Haze”

All right, I’ll say it: “Lavender Haze” feels like it should be playing in a Forever 21. And I love it! “No deal,” Swift sings, “the 1950s s— they want from me.” She critiques sexism and rejects society’s expectations, all in the package of the perfect pop song. 

3. “You’re On Your Own, Kid”

“You’re On Your Own, Kid” is track five on the album, the slot where Swift famously places her most heart-wrenching songs. This one is certainly no exception. Swift tells the bittersweet story of learning just how alone she really is — but ultimately, she’s strong enough to face it all on her own. As an added perk, the song boasts the best bridge on the album. 

2. “Midnight Rain”

It’s an intriguing story: the juxtaposition of sunshine and midnight rain, of a kind, small-town boyfriend and an ambitious girlfriend, desperate to escape. She leaves him in pursuit of fame, but even years later, the memory of him is still there, in the back of her mind — just like the chorus of “Midnight Rain” is always there, in the back of my mind. It’s insanely catchy. And while Swift’s pitched-down voice is a little jarring at first, I’ve come to enjoy it.

From some artists, this kind of sentiment would come off as cloying, fake — but when Swift sings it, you know it’s real.

1. “Sweet Nothing”

A controversial pick? Definitely, but hear me out. Swift is perhaps best known for her scathing break-up songs (think “All Too Well”). But she’s equally in her element at the opposite end of the spectrum, with heartfelt songs about genuine love, perfect in their simplicity. “All that you ever wanted from me was sweet nothing,” she sings of longtime boyfriend Joe Alwyn, her voice as syrupy as the love she describes. From some artists, this kind of sentiment would come off as cloying, fake — but when Swift sings it, you know it’s real.