The Clock Hasn’t Struck Midnights On Taylor Swift

Staff Writer: Kamryn Kobel

Email: kkobel@umassd.edu

At midnight on Friday, October 21st, Taylor Swift’s tenth studio album was released. Fans have been eagerly awaiting the album, which is titled Midnights.

When Swift announced the album on August 29th, she described it as “the stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout [her] life”

The album’s announcement blindsided fans, as Swift is currently in the process of re-recording her first six albums. Fans were waiting for an announcement on which album’s re-record would come next, but Swift took fans by surprise by announcing Midnights in her acceptance speech for her Video of the Year award on August 28th.

The Thursday night before Midnights’ release held another surprise for fans.

In a promotional video aired on the NFL on Prime streaming network, Swift announced that Midnights would be a visual album with what she calls “music movies” to accompany each song.

Swift hints that there will be A-list actors featured in these videos. The music video for the song “Bejeweled” features actress Laura Dern, which sets the stage for the rest of the videos that are yet to be released. 

Midnights’ original thirteen tracks were released at midnight on the 21st, but in typical Swift fashion, she had much more planned for her fans.

Three hours later, the Midnights (3am Edition) was released, with seven surprise bonus tracks.

(Taylor Swift [@taylorswift13]. Photo of the Midnights album cover. Instagram, 7 October 2022. https://www.instagram.com/p/CjZ7WMkO7xZ/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=)

Swift is full of surprises, and this eleven-time Grammy winner’s success and popularity isn’t running out– it’s ramping up. 

Before the Midnights album had been out for a complete twenty-four hours, the album broke Spotify’s record for the most-streamed album in one day.

This record was previously held by Bad Bunny, who had 183 million streams on the first day of his album’s release.

This means that Midnights had over 183 million streams on Spotify in less than twenty-four hours.

The album also helped Swift break Spotify’s record for the most-streamed artist in a single day. And, according to Billboard, Midnights has sold over 800,000 copies on its first day available, making it the best-selling album of 2022 so far. 

In fact, Swift is breaking records against herself- Midnights surpassed the record for biggest sales week, which was previously held by Swift’s 2017 album titled reputation

(Taylor Swift [@taylorswift13]. Photo of Taylor Swift laying on a couch. Twitter, 20 October 2022. https://twitter.com/taylorswift13/status/1582944965470359552 )

The album itself has been described as a combination of Pop and R&B and as a mixture of Swift’s albums 1989 and reputation.

Midnights is an edgy, synth-pop concoction of fun yet meaningful lyrics. 

Rolling Stone magazine has declared Midnights an “Instant Classic,” describing the album as having “lyrics caught between a love story and a revenge plot.”

The Independent notes “Swift’s feline vocal stealth and assured lyrical control”, and gives it a five-star rating.

Pitchfork describes it as “an understated sound more interested in setting atmosphere than chasing trends.” 

Midnights is different from Swift’s previous two ‘new’ albums, folklore and evermore, which she describes as being fictional and uninspired by events in her own life.

Midnights is entirely biographical and features a range of songs that Swift has written throughout her sixteen years of professional songwriting.

The shift from folklore and evermore into Midnights was jarring for some fans; folklore and evermore are alternative indie folk albums, with haunting lyrics and a mournful tone. Midnights has a faster pace, and its catchy pop lyrics and synth beats are a change of style for fans.

The track “Snow on the Beach” differed from what fans were expecting as well.

This track features musical artist Lana Del Rey, and fans were hoping that Del Rey would share lead vocals with Swift within the song. However, Del Rey is only featured in the backup vocals.

Fans hoped that Swift and Lana would both have verses on this track, especially after Swift’s collaboration with Phoebe Bridgers on the song “Nothing New” from Red (Taylor’s Version), the re-release of Red that came out in November of 2021. In “Nothing New”, both Swift and Bridgers share lead vocals, while Del Ray sings backup in “Snow on the Beach”.

The song is still a success, however, as it has only 39,370,052 streams on Spotify to date. 

Midnights contains the most curse words out of Swift’s albums so far.

Six songs on this album are labeled as explicit, which is more than any she’s had on an album before. This chart, made by Reddit user katlaube, outlines Swift’s history of cursing throughout her different albums, with Midnights being the clear leader.

(https://www.reddit.com/r/TaylorSwift/comments/yand5r/updated_swear_words_chart_in_taylor_swifts_lyrics/)

Swift’s shift into Midnights may seem sudden and somewhat extreme, especially compared to the music she has previously released.

Midnights has changed her tone, genre, beats, lyrics, and history of cursing. 

But even after sixteen years, eleven Grammys, twelve albums, five tours, and billions of sales and streams, Taylor Swift is still breaking records and making headlines.

She is able to reinvent her music and herself, shifting and mixing genres effortlessly. She is venturing into the world of music video direction and Thursday night football streams.

Whatever Swift chooses to do, you can be sure that when she walks in the room, she can still make the whole place shimmer– just like she says in the lyrics of the Midnights song “Bejeweled.”  

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