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When the clock struck midnight, a new music era began for Taylor Swift as she debuted her 10th studio album, Midnights.
When announcing the album, Swift hinted that it would share more personal stories, something she moved away from with her Folklore and Evermore albums, and described it as “the stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life.”
“This is a collection of music written in the middle of the night, a journey through terrors and sweet dreams,” Swift wrote. “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.”
Fans have been left wondering what direction and sounds the new era would bring following Swift’s last indie folk chapter, Folklore and Evermore. Midnights marks Swift’s return to a pop soundscape with longtime collaborator Jack Antonoff teaming with her on the album.
In an Instagram post, Swift called Midnights “a wild ride” and said how happy she was to reunite with Antonoff. “We’ve been making music together for nearly a decade,” she wrote. “HOWEVER…this is our first album we’ve done with just the two of us as main collaborators.”
She went on to explain that she and Antonoff had toyed with ideas and written a few things together, but that they really hit it off when their partners — Swift’s long-term boyfriend, Joe Alwyn, and Antonoff’s girlfriend, Margaret Qualley — shot Stars at Noon together in Panama.
“Jack and I found ourselves back in New York, alone, recording every night, staying up late and exploring old memories and midnights past,” Swift continued, shouting out their fellow collaborators. “Midnights is a collage of intensity, highs and lows and ebbs and flows. Life can be dark, starry, cloudy, terrifying, electrifying, hot, cold, romantic or lonely. Just like Midnights.”
Ahead of the album’s debut, a teaser trailer of “secret projects” from Swift was released during Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime Video. It was announced that Swift will also release “Midnights music movies,” for which she will reteam with cinematographer Rina Yang for the visuals.
“I love storytelling, I love songwriting, I love writing videos, I love directing them. And this was a really fun opportunity to work again with the cinematographer Rina Yang, who was my collaborator on the ‘All Too Well’ 10-minute short film,” she said.
“We wanted to challenge ourselves to do different things this time around,” Swift said of the upcoming videos, which will help visually explore “the world of this record.” “I’m really proud of what we made and I really hope you like them. We worked with some amazing actors, which you’ll find out more about at the end of the teaser trailer,” she continued to tease.
In the trailer, Swift can be seen taking on varied personas with the videos set to feature Antonoff, Laura Dern, Alana Haim, Danielle Haim, Este Haim, Pat McGrath, Laith Ashley, Jon Early, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Dita Von Teese and Mike Birbiglia.
The Midnights music movies mark the first time Swift has had an accompanied visual album.
In the days leading up to the new album’s Oct. 21 release, the superstar has built the anticipation for fans by launching a “Midnights Mayhem With Me” series on TikTok, in which she would reveal a song title from the tracklist. Among the songs featured on Midnights is a collaboration with Lana Del Rey called “Snow on the Beach,” which Swift described in an explainer video as being about two people falling in love with each other at the same time, likening that feeling to witnessing snow falling on the beach. Meanwhile, “Lavender Haze,” which has Zoë Kravitz credited as one of the songwriters, uses the phrase “Lavender Haze” to describe the romantic feeling of being in love. Swift revealed that she learned of the phrase while watching Mad Men and realized it’s a saying from the ’50s to describe being in love. “If you were in the lavender haze, then that meant that you were in that all-encompassing love glow, and I thought that was really beautiful,” she said.
Coinciding with the release of her new album, she is also set to debut a music video for her new single “Anti-Hero” on Friday. On social media, Swift described the song 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,” she said. “I struggle a lot with the idea that my life has become unmanageably sized, and, not to sound too dark, I just struggle with the idea of not feeling like a person.” She also said the song is a “real guided tour” of “all the things I tend to hate about myself.” Throughout the song, Swift details varied insecurities and personal fears, noting that it can be “exhausting always rooting for the anti-hero” and describes herself as “the problem.”
Apart from the themes of falling and being in love, other songs on the album reminisce about lessons learned (“You’re on Your Own, Kid”), breakups/heartbreaks (“Maroon”), independence (“Bewjewled”), imagining revenge (“Vigilante Shit,” “Karma”) and what could have been (“Midnight Rain”).
Later on Thursday, Swift surprised fans by revealing seven additional bonus tracks, dubbed Midnights 3am Edition. “Surprise! 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,” Swift tweeted. The additional tracks include “The Great War,” “Bigger Than the Whole Sky,” “Paris,” “High Infidelity,” “Glitch,” “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” and “Dear Reader.”
Other surprises are already in store with the album release. In a calendar of events shared on her social media, the singer-songwriter noted that a music video for another Midnights song will release Tuesday, Oct. 24; however, the song was not revealed.
Swift worked with longtime collaborator Antonoff for the Midnights album, with William Bowery also credited as a songwriter for the track “Sweet Nothing” — Swift has since revealed that the mysterious songwriter is her boyfriend, actor Alwyn. Others credited on the album include Mark A. Spears, Keanu Torres, Jahaan Sweet and Sam Dew.
Midnights is Swift’s first new album since Folklore and Evermore — Folklore won album of the year at the 2021 Grammys. Swift is also rerecording her entire early discography, which includes Taylor Swift (2006), Fearless (2008), Speak Now (2010), Red (2012), 1989 (2014) and 2017’s Reputation. Swift recently released Red (Taylor’s Version) and directed the short film for the original 10-minute version of her revered song, “All Too Well.”
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