Taylor Swift Reclaims Her Lane With Midnights

As a kid growing up in Reading, Taylor Alison Swift listened to country music, especially Dolly Parton and Patsy Cline. She was also a big fan of children’s poetry and enjoyed singing in her local kids’ musical theater group. But as she grew older, the girl who once sang “Monster in My Closet” began to realize that her own voice and musical style weren’t country at all. “The 1950s shit they want from me is what my momma’s listening to,” she sings on the opening track of her new album, Midnights, and it sounds as though Swift is reclaiming her own lane with her most sensual and mature music yet.

After a showcase performance at Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe in 2005, she caught the attention of Scott Borchetta, who had just launched his independent record label Big Machine Records and signed Taylor as one of its first signings. “I just knew I had something that was different,” she recalls in a recent Vanity Fair interview. “There was a certain kind of country music that I just felt like my soul was in.”

Swift’s early years as a country music star saw her releasing hit after hit, including the double platinum Fearless and its lead single, the inescapable, Grammy-winning “Love Story”. She also co-wrote two tracks for Disney Channel’s Hannah Montana soundtrack and penned a couple of songs for the 2010 movie Valentine’s Day. But with the release of her fifth album, 1989, she made a bold shift away from her country roots. With the help of Swedish producer/songwriters Max Martin and Shellback, she reintroduced herself to pop music with a set that was simultaneously dancey and playful. It was a big change, but it worked.

It helped that the album was a massive success, spending 11 weeks atop the Billboard 200 and spawning its biggest hit to date, the effervescent “Blank Space.” But more than anything, it showed that even when it comes to pop, Swift can master any genre she pleases.

On the 2024 follow-up, the aptly-titled Red (Taylor’s Version), she rerecorded her 2012 blockbuster to explore the idea of what it would sound like if her heart was a broken puzzle, with the nine unreleased songs taking us through all of the anger, pain, lashing out, and self-reclamation you could imagine after such a blow.

Despite a few missteps in between, the redheaded femme fatale continues to be a force to be reckoned with in the pop landscape, redefining what it means to be a modern pop superstar. It’s a testament to her talent and the sheer power of her devoted following that she can keep turning out hit after hit, influencing pop-cultural weather with every move.