We lie awake in love and in fear, in turmoil and in tears. We stare at walls and drink until they speak back. We twist in our self-made cages and pray that we aren’t – right this minute – about to make some fateful life-altering mistake.
This is a collection of music written in the middle of the night, a journey through terrors and sweet dreams. The floors we pace and the demons we face. For all of us who have tossed and turned and decided to keep the lanterns lit and go searching – hoping that just maybe, when the clock strikes twelve … we’ll meet ourselves.
Midnights, the stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life.
1. Lavender Haze
The love life-inspired opening track captures the feelings of a honeymoon-style relationship and is inspired by the classic 50’s phrase of the same name.
Inspired by a line from a Mad Men episode, Swift wrote this song to convey the desire to focus on the passion of love rather than being swayed by the negative remarks of others.
How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love With the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland
When her twin sister reaches social media stardom, Moon Fuentez accepts her fate as the ugly, unwanted sister hidden in the background, destined to be nothing more than her sister’s camerawoman. But this summer, Moon also takes a job as the “merch girl” on a tour bus full of beautiful influencers, and her fate begins to shift in the best way possible.
Most notable is her bunkmate and new nemesis, Santiago Phillips, who is grumpy, combative, and also the hottest guy Moon has ever seen.
Moon is certain she hates Santiago and that he hates her back. But as chance and destiny (and maybe, probably, close proximity) bring the two of them in each other’s perpetual paths, Moon starts to wonder if that’s really true. She even starts to question her destiny as the unnoticed, unloved wallflower she always thought she was.
Could this summer change Moon’s life as she knows it?
The second song has similarities to Swift's earlier song, "Red." While “Red” describes a love that was “burning red,” this track is a more grown-up version of a love story. It shows that shades of red were a constant in the relationship, but maroon is a brownish crimson color; it is not a straightforward red but allows for complexities and honesty.
Destinations Unknown by Bill Konigsberg
The first thing I noticed about C.J. Gorman was his plexiglass bra.
So begins Destination Unknown. It's 1987 in New York City, and Micah is at a dance club, trying to pretend he's more out and outgoing than he really is. C.J. isn't just out--he’s completely out there, and Micah can't help but be both attracted to and afraid of someone who travels so loudly and proudly through the night.
A connection occurs. Is it friendship? Romance? Is C.J. the one with all the answers... or does Micah bring more to the relationship that it first seems? As their lives become more and more entangled in the AIDS epidemic that’s laying waste to their community, and the AIDS activism that will ultimately bring a strong voice to their demands, whatever Micah and C.J. have between them will be tested, strained, pushed, and pulled--but it will also be a lifeline in a time of death, a bond that will determine the course of their futures.
The third track can described by Taylor herself as:
"...one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written. I really don’t think I’ve delved this far into my insecurities in this detail before. I struggle with the idea that my life has become unmanageably sized and I, not to sound too dark, but I just struggle with the idea of not feeling like a person. This song is a real guided tour throughout all the things I tend to hate about myself, and it’s all those aspects of the things we dislike and like about ourselves that we have to come to terms with if we are gonna be this person, so I like “Anti-Hero” a lot because I think is really honest."
The book below was selected purely based on the Knives Out movie reference in the lyrics and music video. Check out this YA Friday blog that shares books featuring Anti-Heroes.
The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why -- or even who Tobias Hawthorne is.
To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man's touch -- and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes. Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a conwoman, and he's determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather's last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.
4. Snow On The Beach (featuring Lana Del Rey)
The fourth track features vocals from Lana Del Rey and is about falling in love with someone unexpectedly at the same time as they start to fall in love with you. The heart-warming lyrics are a part of a light modern pop track that compliment the duo's heavenly vocals.
Taylor has said the following about the song:
"The song is about falling in love with someone at the same time as they’re falling in love with you, in this sort of in this cataclysmic, faded moment where you realize someone feels exactly the same way that you feel, at the same moment, and you’re kind of looking around going, “Wait, is this real? Is this a dream? Is this for real? Is it really happening? Kinda like it would be if you were to see snow falling on a beach."
And They Lived . . . by Steven Salvatore
Chase Arthur is a budding animator and hopeless romantic obsessed with Disney films and finding his true love, but he's plagued with the belief that he's not enough for anyone: he's recovering from an eating disorder and suffers from body dysmorphia fueled by his father, and can't quite figure out his gender identity. When Chase starts his freshman year of college, he has to navigate being away from home and missing his sister, finding his squad, and contending with his ex-best friend Leila who is gunning for the same exclusive mentorship. If only he can pull together a short for the freshman animation showcase at the end of the semester.
Then Chase meets Jack Reid, a pragmatic poet who worships words and longs to experience life outside of his sheltered world. But Chase throws everything into question for Jack, who is still discovering his sexual identity, having grown up in close-knit conservative family. Jack internalized a lot of homophobia from his parents and childhood best friend, who unexpectedly visit campus, which threatens to destroy their relationship. Chase will have to learn to love--and be enough for--himself, while discovering what it means to truly live.
5. You're On Your Own, Kid
The fifth track follows a youngster who yearns for their love but ultimately realizes that they are on their own. As the “Kid” grapples with the fact that their love “never cared,” they begin to move on toward the end of the song and figures out who they are.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.
With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.
6. Midnight Rain
On the sixth track, Taylor Swift sings about ending a relationship in order to focus on her singing career more. It then ends, with their relationship being forgotten, as if it never happened.
Where She Went by Gayle Forman
It's been three years since the devastating accident... three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.
Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star, and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.
The seventh song is about someone seeking clarity and the answer to all her questions from a former friend and lover and how unfortunate circumstances lead to a heated encounter.
Melt With You by Jennifer Dugan
Fallon and Chloe used to be best friends, but last summer, they hooked up right before Chloe left for college, and after a series of misunderstandings, they are now not speaking to one another. A year later, Chloe’s back home from school, and Fallon is doing everything in her power to avoid her--which is especially difficult because their moms own a business together, a gourmet ice cream truck where both girls work.
When their moms have the opportunity to make a presentation to some venture capitalists in Texas--something that could seriously expand their business and solve all their money problems to boot--it's up to Fallon to work a series of food truck festivals across the country. But she can't do it alone, and Chloe is the only one available to help. As tensions heat up again between the two, will Fallon be able to keep her cool?
8. Vigilante S**t
The eighth track follows a woman who seeks revenge on her lover, presumably someone who has committed a crime. Taylor and the subject of the song ostensibly obtain their revenge following a breakup instead of getting “sad” or “even.”
Murder for the Modern Girl by Kendall Kulper
A ravishing young mind reader stalks the streets at night in kitten heels, prowling for men to murder.
A soft-spoken genius toils away in the city morgue, desperate to unearth the science behind his gift for shape-shifting.
It’s a match made in 1928 Chicago, where gangsters run City Hall, jazz fills the air, and every good girl’s purse conceals a flask.
Until now, eighteen-year-old Ruby’s penchant for poison has been a secret. No one knows that she uses her mind-reading abilities to target men who prey on vulnerable women, men who escape the clutches of Chicago “justice.” When she meets a brilliant boy working at the morgue, his knack for forensic detail threatens to uncover her dark hobby. Even more unfortunately: sharp, independent Ruby has fallen in love with him.
The song describes the narrator’s frustration with her lover, who does not value her as she deserves. In retaliation, she goes out for a night on the town. Despite her lover no longer being enchanted by her, she knows damn well that she can dazzle any room that she steps into.
I'll Be the One by Lyla Lee
Skye Shin has heard it all. Fat girls shouldn’t dance. Wear bright colors. Shouldn’t call attention to themselves. But Skye dreams of joining the glittering world of K-Pop, and to do that, she’s about to break all the rules that society, the media, and even her own mother, have set for girls like her.
She’ll challenge thousands of other performers in an internationally televised competition looking for the next K-pop star, and she’ll do it better than anyone else.
When Skye nails her audition, she’s immediately swept into a whirlwind of countless practices, shocking performances, and the drama that comes with reality TV. What she doesn’t count on are the highly fat-phobic beauty standards of the Korean pop entertainment industry, her sudden media fame and scrutiny, or the sparks that soon fly with her fellow competitor, Henry Cho.
But Skye has her sights on becoming the world’s first plus-sized K-pop star, and that means winning the competition—without losing herself.
The tenth song finds Taylor breaking apart. Then she finds comfort in a person and wonders how they do it due to her being very broken. Taylor says in the pre-chorus that she is scared of elevators due to them going up really fast, and the song is about falling in love very quickly. Taylor sings at the start about how she is still getting over someone, then Taylor sings in the chorus about falling in love and how did it happen when she was broken.
The Feeling of Falling in Love by Mason Deaver
Just days before spring break, Neil Kearney is set to fly across the country with his childhood friend (and current friend-with-benefits) Josh, to attend his brother's wedding—until Josh tells Neil that he's in love with him and Neil doesn't return the sentiment.
With Josh still attending the wedding, Neil needs to find a new date to bring along. And, almost against his will, roommate Wyatt is drafted.
At first, Wyatt (correctly) thinks Neil is acting like a jerk. But when they get to LA, Wyatt sees a little more of where it's coming from. Slowly, Neil and Wyatt begin to understand one another… and maybe, just maybe, fall in love for the first time…
On the eleventh track, Taylor confronts an ex-lover and warns him about the consequences of his actions. Considering the way both acted during the relationship, Taylor is relieved that karma will do her justice and may not be so kind to her ex-lover.
On the importance of karma in her life, Taylor mentioned it is the most important life lesson to be learned.
Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer
Chronic overachiever Prudence Barnett is always quick to cast judgment on the lazy, rude, and arrogant residents of her coastal town. Her dreams of karmic justice are fulfilled when, after a night out with her friends, she wakes up with the sudden ability to cast instant karma on those around her.
Pru giddily makes use of the power, punishing everyone from public vandals to mean gossips, but there is one person on whom her powers consistently backfire: Quint Erickson, her slacker of a lab partner. Quint is annoyingly cute and impressively noble, especially when it comes to his work with the rescue center for local sea animals.
When Pru resigns herself to working at the rescue center for extra credit, she begins to uncover truths about baby otters, environmental upheaval, and romantic crossed signals—not necessarily in that order. Her newfound karmic insights reveal how thin the line is between virtue and vanity, generosity and greed, love and hate . . . and fate.
12. Sweet Nothing
This song discusses Taylor’s memories of her relationship that ultimately turned out to be much more despite the expectations and outside pressures. As a phrase, sweet nothings can be words of affection exchanged by lovers.
Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laekan Zea Kemp
Penelope Prado has always dreamed of opening her own pastelería next to her father's restaurant, Nacho's Tacos. But her mom and dad have different plans—leaving Pen to choose between disappointing her traditional Mexican American parents or following her own path. When she confesses a secret she's been keeping, her world is sent into a tailspin. But then she meets a cute new hire at Nacho's who sees through her hard exterior and asks the questions she's been too afraid to ask herself.
Xander Amaro has been searching for home since he was a little boy. For him, a job at Nacho's is an opportunity for just that—a chance at a normal life, to settle in at his abuelo's, and to find the father who left him behind. But when both the restaurant and Xander's immigrant status are threatened, he will do whatever it takes to protect his newfound family and himself.
Together, Pen and Xander must navigate first love and discovering where they belong in order to save the place they all call home.
The closing track details Swift's relationship's origin story. In the lyrics, she seems to recount the night she met Alwyn at the 2016 Met Gala, how her heart was set on him, and how she planned for them to end up together.
She Gets the Girl by Rachael Lippincott and Alyson Derrick
Alex Blackwood is a little bit headstrong, with a dash of chaos and a whole lot of flirt. She knows how to get the girl. Keeping her on the other hand…not so much. Molly Parker has everything in her life totally in control, except for her complete awkwardness with just about anyone besides her mom. She knows she’s in love with the impossibly cool Cora Myers. She just…hasn’t actually talked to her yet.
Alex and Molly don’t belong on the same planet, let alone the same college campus. But when Alex, fresh off a bad (but hopefully not permanent) breakup, discovers Molly’s hidden crush as their paths cross the night before classes start, they realize they might have a common interest after all. Because maybe if Alex volunteers to help Molly learn how to get her dream girl to fall for her, she can prove to her ex that she’s not a selfish flirt. That she’s ready for an actual commitment. And while Alex is the last person Molly would ever think she could trust, she can’t deny Alex knows what she’s doing with girls, unlike her.
As the two embark on their five-step plans to get their girls to fall for them, though, they both begin to wonder if maybe they’re the ones falling…for each other.