Too Many Mirrors in this House: How ‘The Midnight’ Defies Genre

Justin Cary
5 min readNov 10, 2020


In October, my favorite band The Midnight released a six song EP on Amazon Music called “Horror Show”. Earlier in the year, the band released their full length album “Monsters” and as part of the merchandise for “Monsters”, fans could order a set of old-school floppy disc coasters. Hidden among these discs was one disc that had an actual text file on it; the first clue in month long scavenger hunt across the internet and the real world all leading up to the relase of “Horror Show”. It was a rare and exotic experience partcipating in that scavenger hunt each day; watching The Midnight Discord community grow and collaborate to solve clues, getting dialy prizes from the band (demos, videos and unsued artwork) and really feeling like the fans were part of something special. The Midnight is a synthwave band. What’s Synthwave you ask?

Synthwave (also called outrun, retrowave, or futuresynth[5]) is an electronic music microgenre that is based predominately on the music associated with action, science-fiction, and horror film soundtracks of the 1980s.[2] Other influences are drawn from that decade’s art and video games.[3] Synthwave musicians often espouse nostalgia for 1980s culture and attempt to capture the era’s atmosphere and celebrate it.[7] (from wikipedia)

I personally love this genre. It really speaks to me. Throughout my life, I have always had a strange connection with music; I never really felt connected with any one particular genre or style and I never really felt like the music I listened to was really ‘mine’. Part of this is because, growing up, I was really, heavily into Bruce Springsteen. I don’t regreat that at all and I still love The Boss. But my love of Springsteen was kind of inherited from my parents; I’m a second generation Bruce fan. It really wasn’t until The Midnight came along that I felt connected to the music and the people making the music. I’m sure it has a lot to do with the band being so new and me feeling like I have been on board from the very beginning but another part of it is the genre of Synthwave. The 80s sounds, the dripping nostalgia, the synths; it all feels like a comfy chair: welcoming, warm and it fits just right. I’ve been to several Midngiht shows and the band is incredible live. Not just that, but the community feels so welcoming as well. This is music for everyone and everyone is for this music. But there something special about The Midnight. Which brings me to Neon Medusa.

Perhaps the most lyrically powerful track on “Horror Show”, Neon Medusa draws upon mythology and modernism to weave a tale of warning about the Synthwave genre itself.


The Roman author Ovid describes the mortal Medusa as a beautiful maiden seduced by Poseidon in a temple of Athena. Such a sacrilege attracted the goddess’ wrath, and she punished Medusa by turning her hair to snakes.

Perhaps the lesser known tale of Medusa, the one presented here by Ovid tells a tale of injustice and a world where the victim is the monster; where simply because of her power and beauty, the mortal Medusa was cursed, punished and ultimately beheaded by Perseus who would be heralded as a hero forever. Still, the themes of insurmountable quests, of a seductive force that will turn you to stone forever, something both beautiful and dangerous and the well spring of dangers yet to come, coarse through the myth of Medusa.

Tyler Lyle, the singer/songwriter and front man of The Midnight, has written about Medusa before. You can check out his song “Medusa” here. But now, it isn’t just Medusa but a Neon Medusa. The image has changed; evolved. This isn’t the Medusa we see in Greek and Roman myth; this is something new. A danger lurking in the neon-soaked alleyways of Synthwave music itself.

Neon Medusa begins with a warning: “Don’t fall in love with the man on the stage.” So many stages with so many men on them. From politics to music to the evangelical church; a warning to be very careful about loving something too much. “I’ll be on in a minute I’m just sharpening my blades.” Perseus? The conqueror? Or another Idol, just as dangerous. “Don’t fall for his flattering tune; he’ll promise you the world until you drink that perfume.” More warnings, more cautions about the potential danger of investing too much, of loving something too fully. What are we actually talking about here? Maybe it is Synthwave itself, a Neon Medusa, a genre of music that can become a cage, that can turn you to stone if you aren’t careful, limited by the strict confines of what people think Synthwave is ‘supposed’ to be.

It’s a highway, highway to the dark
And a neon medusa’s got your heart
Sweet canyon lullabies
Don’t look straight into its eyes
It’s a highway, highway to the dark

Of course, this is only one interpretation of the song. The tune is filled with images of choice and consequence, of risk and reward, dreams and the ulimate realization that those dreams are not the same as when you first had them. But I think my read is valid too and I think this is really what makes The Midnight so special; they are a Synthwave band but they are more than that. They are willing to go outside the genre, to expand and take risks. They are willing to try new things and push the boundaries of what Synthwave is supposed to be. I chalk this up to the unstoppable combination of Producer Tim McEwan’s razor sharp musical skills and industry know-how and Lyle’s prodigious and universal song writing ability.

If your mama could see you now
If your mama could see you now
Topless and upsidе down
The room spinning around
If your mama could see you now
With the party lines coming out
Are you lost or are you found?
Are there too many mirrors in this house?

And that last line, about the mirrors, is the real crux of this whole thing and the bit that connects beyond just synthwave. If we surround ourselves with mirrors we are inevitably turned to stone, paralyzed by the endless repitition of our own image, an echo chamber that might feel good but will never let us go: a cage. Music works like this too. Tyler Lyle has often spoken about his influences, artists like Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Garth Brooks and Nina Simone; all artists who bucked their respective genres and refused to lock themselves in a cage of mirrors no matter how much people clamored for more of the same.

“Neon Medusa” is a brilliant song. Really, it is Part 1. Its sequel is “Good in Red”, another track on “Horror Show”, but that is for another article. Until then, go listen to “Horror Show” and make sure you bring what you need to survive. Here are a few suggestions from Tyler Lyle’s “Medusa”.

Guts of gold and wings of steel
A loaded gun and a pocket mirror
And if you make it out alive
You better hold that bloody head up high



Justin Cary

I am a freelance writer interested in covering video games. Twitter: @justinrcary