TSwift Continues to Surprise – A Review of Swift’s Bonus “3 a.m.” tracks

While you may have not been one of the lucky ones who secured tickets to Taylor Swift’s The Eras tour a few weeks ago, you’re likely still listening to Swift’s newest album, “Midnights.” As her 10th album, Swift continues to impress and dominate the music industry – so much so that tickets to her latest tour were sold out days before they were available to general admission. 

Staff writer Olivia Parisi, a self-proclaimed Swiftie, shares her take on the 3 a.m. tracks of Swift’s “Midnights” album and how even though getting tickets for her upcoming tour might’ve been a disappointment, just like the 3 a.m. tracks were a surprise, there are also many more surprises Swift has for the future and for her fans. 

An announcement by Taylor Swift on October 16 revealed that at 3 a.m. the same night of the “Midnights” album release there would be a special surprise in relation to the album. The surprise was an additional seven songs. With that, the “Midnights” album has 20 official tracks, plus three bonus tracks on the Target exclusive vinyls and CD. 

The seven bonus 3 a.m. tracks increase the time and length of the album by nearly 50%, and certainly are essential to the album and storytelling. They feel more like a continuation of the story, rather than just the out-takes. 

Similar to the 13 tracks released at midnight, the 3 a.m. tracks explore a variety of genres and themes. They seem to be more mellow and sometimes sadder than the original tracks but still fit the electro-pop theme of the album.

The 3 a.m. tracks start off with “The Great War”. This song is about Swift and her relationship troubles, in which she compares them to WWI. Swift alludes to war and uses gorey imagery to depict her struggles in past relationships. She describes how they have caused her to take her trauma out on her current partner. She sings, “And maybe it’s the past that’s talking / Screaming from a crypt / Telling me to punish you for things you never did / So I justified it”. The song’s lyricism and tune resemble songs from her 9th studio album “evermore,” pleasing to her fans who enjoyed the cryptic and melancholic tones of the “evermore” and “folklore” era. The song is not all hopeless and sad though because it ends with Swift singing, “I will always be yours/ Cause we survived the Great War.” Showing that just like the literal war had ended, so did her relationship troubles.

“Bigger Than The Whole Sky” is one of, if not the saddest song of the entire album. To fans everywhere the song means something different. Swift describes missing someone that was ‘bigger than the whole sky’, someone who she will never get to fully meet, and someone who was taken from her too soon. It is impossible to know who Swift is talking about, but nevertheless the singer’s desperation in the song pulls on the heartstrings of listeners. “Bigger Than The Whole Sky” makes fans miss someone in their own life, or feel pitiful for those who have lost someone close to them. Swift repeats the word “good-bye” and ends the song with saying that she will never meet, “What could’ve been, would’ve been/ What should’ve been you.”

“Paris” is more poppy, upbeat, and romantic. The song describes a relationship between Swift and an exhilarating lover of hers who makes her lose track of time and live in the moment. She says, “No, I didn’t see the news/ Cause we were somewhere else…I was taken by the view/Like we were in Paris.” She is entranced and giddy by this mysterious person she is describing, and the cheerful melody demonstrates this. This song revives the romance of the album as Swift sings, “Romance is not dead/ If you keep it just yours,” adding to the thought-provoking, late-night concept of love that Swift uncovers in this album.

“High Infidelity” is a slow paced and melodic song that digests topics of cheating and infidelity. Swift talks about being in a relationship devoid of love, feeling disrespected, and describing this feeling through poetic lyrics. “You know there’s many different ways that you can kill the one you love.” Swift, through a display of how a loveless relationship is doomed to fail, justifies her own infidelity. Swift repeatedly mentions a specific date, and asks the question, “Do you really want to know where I was April 29th?” This date is an obvious marker of a shift in her relationship and even a point of self-discovery. The mention of a specific date has caused fans to make some speculations on who this song could be about, but infidelity is not a newly explored topic for Swift, as songs like “Illicit Affairs”, “No Body No Crime”, and “Ivy” also explore the subject. 

“Glitch” is definitely a song that many can relate to. This song dives into questioning a relationship and how that relationship came to be. Swift describes getting close with a person who she never expected to be close with. She writes about how one night turned into years with that special someone, how she didn’t see it coming as it must have been some sort of “glitch” in her system.  “We were supposed to be just friends…The systems breaking down/ I think there’s been a glitch.” The song is a comfortable reminder that love occurs when least expected, and is an overall light and enjoyable listen.

“Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” has my #1 ranked spot for the entire “Midnights” album. Swift’s vulnerability in discussing her past in this song is brilliant and relatable. This song has many religious allusions, from praying to dancing with the devil to heaven. This song is speculated to be about Swift’s former boyfriend, John Mayer, because she references being 19, and other songs dedicated to Mayor like “Dear John” were released around that time. Swift uses religious phrases and imagery to share her inability to let go of this past relationship. It keeps her up at night. It fills her with regret. “If clarity’s in death, then why won’t this die?” Swift says, alluding to the popular religious theory that life after death will provide a sense of understanding and comfort. She uses these religious allusions to explain her failure to gain clarity even after the relationship’s “death.” It is a devastating, yet real song, that explores the idea that time doesn’t always heal emotional damage. My favorite line of the song is, “Give me back my girlhood/ It was mine first.” Even years later, Swift feels insecure about the things her ex took from her and still has not fully gotten those parts of herself back. This song encapsulates the essence of the entire album, letting listeners know what keeps Swift up at night, all while being a heart-wrenching but lyrically beautiful piece of music.

“Dear Reader” is a wonderful song to end the album with. This song is written like Swift is personally writing a letter to listeners giving them advice. She opens the song with “Dear Reader”, and gives various forms of advice throughout the song. These appear to be lessons that Swift has learned as she advances her career and musical journey. She tells listeners to “Never take advice from someone who’s falling apart”, but her advice is still important to fans. Some of Swift’s best tips are, “Bend when you can/Snap when you have to”, “You don’t have to answer/ Just ‘cause they asked you”, and “When you aim at the devil/Make sure you don’t miss”. Swift explains that her advice should not be followed, telling listeners to “find another guiding light”, but then says, “I shine so bright”, expressing her desire to be listened to, naively  unaware of her own advice. This song ends the album on a hopeful note, letting fans take away lessons from Swift’s own experiences, pulling her and her fans closer, and presenting them with hope for their own life.