By Miri Granik
The night before October 21, 2022, with anticipation that mirrored New Year’s Eve, Taylor Swift fans all around the world counted down the seconds until the songwriter would release her new album as the clock struck midnight. Midnights is Swift’s tenth studio album and fifth record in just two years, yet the excitement surrounding this release was unmatched by any of her previous works.
Swift is an awe-inspiring musician and writer, but she is first and foremost a powerful community builder. Over her eighteen-year career, the 32-year old songwriter has built a loyal fanbase that is rapidly growing. Midnights opened with the phrase “meet me at midnight”, and that is exactly what her fans did. Together, Swift fans counted down the seconds late into the night of the release, listened to the thirteen songs, and then posted their initial reactions to the lyrics on social media. Spotify even crashed that night because so many listeners were trying to stream Midnights at the same time. It was a midnight that would give Cinderella a run for her money. In a post on her Instagram, Swift described the album as “the stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life.” It is a look into her most introspective moments, which are both extremely personal and astonishingly universal. Her songs have brought people together like never before.
The night that Midnights was released became even more eventful when, three hours later, Swift surprised listeners with a “3 am” version of the album: a late night release of seven bonus tracks. “Surprise!”, Swift captioned her Instagram post, “I think of Midnights as a complete concept album, with those 13 songs forming a full picture of the intensities of that mystifying, mad hour. However! There were other songs we wrote on our journey to find that magic 13. I’m calling them 3am tracks. Lately I’ve been loving the feeling of sharing more of our creative process with you, like we do with From The Vault Tracks. So it’s 3am and I’m giving them to you now.” From The Vault Tracks are songs that Swift wrote for previous albums that didn’t make the final cut. Listeners now had seven more songs to laugh to, cry to, and sing together. Needless to say, Swift didn’t sleep that night and neither did her fans. The release of Midnights was like one big slumber party with all of your best friends.
From the beginning of promotions for Midnights, Swift made it clear that this album was a gift of appreciation for her fans. Swift announced her new album in her acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards in August. Her short film, All Too Well, had won video of the year, best long-form video and best direction. All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) is a longer version of Swift’s fan-favorite song, which was originally released in 2012. It is part of the songwriter’s undertaking to re-record her old music to take back ownership of her records. In her acceptance speech, Swift thanked her fans. “I wouldn’t be able to re-record my albums if it wasn’t for you. You emboldened me to do that.” As a token of her gratitude, she announced that her new album would be coming out on October 21st.
Midnights is Swift’s first “directly autobiographical” album in three years, as she explained in her Tonight Show interview. The songs on her previous two studio albums, Folklore and Evermore, were fictional stories. Swift recently released re-recorded versions of her earlier personal albums Fearless and Red, but Midnights is the first new music about her own life that she’s released in years. The lyrics are relatable, fun, and current, making the album Taylor Swift’s most approachable work for the modern generation. Midnights is already the top selling album of the year with a five star review from Rolling Stones, which accurately named the record an “instant classic.”