Every song on Taylor Swift’s “Midnights,” ranked


Eliza Raphael

From country to pop to folk, Swift’s return to pop with “Midnights” sounds different from anything we’ve heard from her before.

By Sadie Goldberg

Taylor Swift has never been one to treat music traditionally, and with the release of her 10th album “Midnights,” she proved to her fans that she’s still full of surprises. Since the release of Swift’s third studio album “Speak Now,” listeners have relied on her seemingly effortless ability to change genres. From country to pop to folk, Swift’s return to pop with “Midnights” sounds different from anything we’ve heard from her before. While uniqueness never guarantees quality, Swift’s ability to constantly change rarely leaves the listener mournful for albums past, and “Midnights” is no exception.

Three months in, the songs that successfully made that journey are more obvious than ever, and the few that fell short, are exposed. Here’s the full ranking.

Note: Song rankings are based on “Midnights (3am Edition),” which Swift released three hours after “Midnights,” with seven additional songs.

20. “Dear Reader” (6/10)

The last track, “Dear Reader,” is the unsatisfying conclusion to “Midnights (3am Edition).” When compared to the rest of the album, the song is noticeably surface-level. It’s held back by a slow, repetitive melody, electronic tones and an over-use of self-deprecation. While this is a well-executed element in other songs off the album, it is a little too on the nose in “Dear Reader.” 

Best lyric: “So I wander through these nights, I prefer hiding in plain sight. My fourth drink in my hand; these desperate prayers of a cursed man.”

19. “High Infidelity” (7/10)

“High Infidelity,” as the name implies, addresses the repercussions of cheating on a partner, while also playing on the “High Fidelity” sound. Like “Dear Reader,” the song falls short of its large potential. Swift has a notable past of writing songs about adultery; one of her best, “Ivy,” is about a woman cheating. However, the difference between the two is that “High Infidelity” lacks depth. There is a lack of a narrative to invest in, and the rest of the song has a much different tone. There is no way to build off of it.

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

18. “Bigger Than The Whole Sky” (7/10)

Another “3am” track, “Bigger Than The Whole Sky” centers on loss and is one of Swift’s lyrically superior songs off the album. Unfortunately, similar to most songs in the bottom 15, it seems to go on a little too long. It also notably lacks a bridgethe later part of the song is different from the melodycausing it to sound more redundant than it is.

Best lyric: “Every single thing I touch becomes sick with sadness ‘cause it’s all over now, all out to sea.”

17. “Snow on the Beach (feat. Lana Del Rey)” (8/10)

“Snow on the Beach” was one of the most anticipated songs for the album, as Lana Del Rey is the only feature on “Midnights.” However, the over-excitement only leaves listeners disappointed with a slightly underwhelming product. Swift and Del Rey both have beautiful voices, inevitably leaving listeners to wish for more. Swift has done songs with a similar mellow sound to great success—“illicit affairs” off of “folklore” being the prime example—but while “illicit affairs” has a painful, raw bridge to bring it together, the bridge in “Snow on the Beach” is more of the same. Overall, Swift and Del Rey succeed in creating a mystical and soft feeling for their duet, capturing the surprise and beauty of being loved. Although she does not have much of a presence, Del Rey’s voice adds a necessary ethereal layer to the chorus. And while some of the lyrics don’t land quite as they should, “Snow on the Beach” is the perfect song to drift off to (in a good way) and marks the first of many songs that will continue to appear on playlists for years to come.

Best lyric: “Life is emotionally abusive and time can’t stop me quite like you did.”

16. “Paris” (8/10)

“Paris” could be higher on the list; its fun verses and bridge are reminiscent of “1989,” and the pre-chorus is clever while providing a perfect transition. However, the shift in quality in the chorus brings “Paris” down to the bottom half. The decline distracts from an otherwise vibrant and entertaining song, which is a shame because it is a truly enjoyable listen.

Best lyric: “Stumble down pretend alleyways, cheap wine, make believe it’s champagne.”

15. “Labyrinth” (8/10)

“Labyrinth” is melodically beautiful, and the airiness of Swift’s voice suits it well. However, being the longest of the original 13 tracks, the uniform slow beat fuses the song a little too well. Different parts of the song sound alike, causing the song to drag on near the end.

Best lyric: “Break up, break free, break through, break down. You would break your back to make me break a smile.”

14. “Lavender Haze” (8/10)

“Lavender Haze” is the opener on “Midnights,” and although there are better songs on the album, Swift succeeds in setting the scene for the record. Due to its more generic sound, the song has trouble standing out. Nevertheless, “Lavender Haze” builds excitement using triumphant lyrics and an energetic beat.

Best lyric: “Surreal, I’m damned if I do give a damn what people say.”

13. “Maroon” (8.5/10)

As the name implies, “Maroon” is a darker version of “Red,” with both songs dealing with the loss of a cherished love. While “Red” looks back on the past with excitement, “Maroon” is somber and regretful, taking the listener through painful memories of the relationship. The leaden production, while at times monotonous, adds to the woeful feeling. There was a chance “Maroon” would feel boring, but once again, the emotion in Swift’s voice entrances the listener.

Best lyric: “You were standing hollow-eyed in the hallway. Carnations you had thought were roses, that’s us.”

12. “Vigilante Shit” (8.5/10)

“Vigilante Shit” is a track that feels most similar to “Reputation.” The lyrics in the verses and chorus are sharp and savvy, and though unexpected, the spooky bridge represents the fear Swift is inspiring in the enemy of the song. Unfortunately, unlike “Reputation” tracks like “Don’t Blame Me” and “I Did Something Bad,” “Vigilante Shit” suffers from endless build-up with little pay-off. The lack of a quickened pace or beat drop makes it difficult for the listener to become enthusiastic.

Best lyric: “They say looks can kill and I might try.”

11. “The Great War” (8.5/10)

With its four-minute run time, one could expect “The Great War” to feel mundane, but being Swift’s best-written song off the album, the listener stays engaged as Swift vividly recounts the struggles she and her partner faced. Background string instruments and a militaresque drumline help boost the Pat Benetar-inspired metaphor that love is a battlefield, and the satisfying conclusion leaves listeners fulfilled.

Best lyric: “My knuckles were bruised like violets. Sucker punching walls, cursed you as I sleep talked.”

10. “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” (9/10)

“Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” is one of Swift’s most scathing songs of her career, making other songs like “mad woman” and “Cold as You” seem gentle in comparison. Throughout the song, Swift reflects on a relationship she regrets, and the verses detail how she would have grown without him. The chorus uses religious allusions to represent Swift’s pain. The bridge is where the song shines; Swift’s voice is full of anguish as she sings some of the most devastating lyrics of her career. 

Best lyric: “Living for the thrill of hitting you where it hurts. Give me back my girlhood, it was mine first.”

9. “Glitch” (9/10)

The best of the 3am tracks, “Glitch” feels like someone trying to remain casual even after realizing their feelings. It’s endearing yet fretful, vulnerable yet lighthearted. If there were any doubts that Swift could return to pop music smoothly, “Glitch” silences them. Her casual tone during the verses bubbles up to frustration in the chorus as if to say “I wasn’t supposed to fall in love.” It’s heartwarming to listen to, and you find yourself rooting for Swift and whomever she has fallen for.

Best lyric: “And I’m not even sorry, nights are so starry, blood moonlit. It must be counterfeit.”

8. “Sweet Nothing” (9/10)

“Sweet Nothing” is promising from the start: before Swift starts singing, a soothing piano melody prepares the reader for a comforting love song. Akin to a lullaby, “Sweet Nothing” is what it feels like to exist in a bubble with someone you love. In the verses, Swift describes seemingly insignificant things about her life with her partner that are meaningful to her. While the rest of the world is hectic and badgers her, Swift has somewhere, and someone, to come home to. 

Best lyric: “Industry disruptors and soul deconstructors and smooth-talking huckster out glad-handing each other. And the voices that implore, ‘You should be doing more’, to you I can admit, I’m just too soft for all of it.”

7. “Midnight Rain” (9/10)

A persistent aspect of “Midnights” is that Swift is not necessarily the good guy, as described in “Midnight Rain” as she tells the story of who and what she left behind to get where she is today. “Midnight Rain” succeeds where “High Infidelity” fails, with compelling verses and terrific production. The first two choruses autotune Swift’s voice down, and though it is jarring at first, it ultimately adds to the song by building anticipation for the rest of it. Unlike “Paris,” the build-up is worth it, with a melancholic bridge and Swift’s natural voice elevating the rest of the choruses.

Best lyric: “My town was a wasteland. Full of cages, full of fences, pageant queens and big pretenders. But for some it was paradise.”

6. “Mastermind” (9/10)

Swift has written many songs about the serendipitous nature of love, like “invisible string” from “folklore,” as well as songs as recent as “Snow on the Beach.” “Mastermind” is the antithesis of those, telling the story of Swift manipulating her own life and her partner’s life so that they end up together. Looking at the lyrics alone, “Mastermind” may read as creepy, but because of the wit and charm infused into the song, the final result is alluring and sweet.

Best lyric: “And I swear I’m only cryptic and Machiavellian ‘cause I care.”

5. “Question…?” (9.5/10)

“Question…?” is a tale of a vulnerable interrogation. Swift is trying—and failing—to find the reason a relationship went wrong. The chorus’ lyrics are more challenges than genuine inquiries; a series of rhetorical questions that reveal the hurt Swift is experiencing. Although the aggressive nature of the lyrics tries to convince the listener that Swift has the upper hand, in reality, she doesn’t. “Question…?” is one of the most skillfully-made songs off of “Midnights,” and holds a spot as one of Swift’s most complex songs to date.

Best lyric: “Half-moon eyes, bad surprise. Did you realize out of time?”

4. “Bejeweled” (9.5/10)

“Bejeweled” is similar to “Question…?” as both songs feature Swift’s exasperation with her partner. Where “Question…?” is passive-aggressive, “Bejeweled” is sweetly confrontational. A rare display of confidence by Swift in the later half of the album, “Bejeweled” reminds both the listener and Swift’s partner that she knows her worth. The song is lighthearted and catchy, providing a nice breath of fresh air on a comparatively sobering album. 

Best lyric: “Baby love I think I’ve been a little too kind. Didn’t notice you walking all over my peace of mind in the shoes I gave you as a present.”

3. “Anti-Hero” (10/10)

“Anti-Hero” is the personification of Swift’s insecurities. The song’s lively production deceives the listener into thinking that the song will turn positive, but it doesn’t. In the past, Swift has made songs addressing her critics, like “Shake it Off,” but this song reveals who her worst critic is: herself. It may appear as nothing more than self-pity, hearing a celebrity say they’re the problem, but “Anti-Hero” contains a level of vulnerability that stops the song from feeling disingenuous. In “Anti-Hero,” Swift gracefully lays out the thoughts that keep her up at night for the world to see.

Best lyric: “Did you hear my covert narcissism I disguised as altruism like some kind of congressman?”

2. “Karma” (10/10)

We spend a lot of “Midnights” listening to Swift’s doubts, but “Karma” allows Swift to put those negative emotions to rest. Her sense of confidence is obvious and electric, infecting the listener with a sense of happiness and satisfaction. The lyrics directly challenge a man who has wronged her, possibly Scooter Braun, whose purchase of Swift’s masters has motivated her to re-record all albums pre “Lover.” These lyrics, when combined with the up-tempo beat, make it clear that Swift will come out on top. 

Best lyric: “Spider boy, king of thieves, weave your little webs of opacity. My pennies made your crown.”

1. “You’re On Your Own, Kid” (10/10)

“You’re On Your Own, Kid” is the most nostalgic song on  “Midnights,” with the first verses directly connecting to Swift’s song “Fifteen” from her 2008 album “Fearless.” The song’s title and first half paint a sad, isolating look at Swift’s life thus far. Although this lonely feeling never fades, the song ultimately ends with resiliency. Swift shows the listener that sometimes all you have is yourself, and that’s okay. This song is “Midnights”’ magnum opus, and if you only listen to one song off of the album, it should be “You’re On Your Own, Kid.”

Best lyric: “From sprinkler splashes to fireplace ashes, I gave my blood, sweat, and tears for this. I hosted parties and starved my body like I’d be saved by a perfect kiss.”