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Midnights

October 21, 2022

Midnights is Taylor’s tenth studio album, released on October 21, 2022, through Republic Records. Stemming from her thoughts during thirteen “sleepless nights,” the record has been described by her as a concept album encapsulating “a journey through terrors and sweet dreams”. Seven bonus tracks were surprise-released to streaming platforms on October 21, as part of the Midnights (3am Edition).
Table of Contents

Background and Release

After a dispute over the sale of the masters of her first six studio albums, Taylor announced plans to re-record these albums. She released the first two re-recordings, Fearless (Taylor’s Version) and RED (Taylor’s Version), in 2021. The latter spawned the release of a short film, written and directed by Taylor, for the 10-minute version of her 2012 song “All Too Well“. Mainstream media expected her to release the third re-recording next.

But then, Taylor dropped off the radar in 2022, while working on an album in secret. She finally made her grand return at the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards on August 28, 2022, where she garnered five nominations for the “All Too Well” short film and winning three of them. In her acceptance speech for the “Video of the Year” award, she announced a “brand-new” studio album scheduled for release on October 21, 2022: “You guys, I’m just so proud of what we made, and I know that every second of this moment that we wouldn’t have been able to make this short film if it weren’t for you, the fans. Because I wouldn’t be able to re-record my album [RED (Taylor’s Version)] if it weren’t for you. You emboldened me to do that. And I had sort of made up my mind that if you were going to be this generous and give us this, I thought it might be a fun moment to tell you that my brand new album comes out October 21st. And I will tell you more at midnight.”

Shortly after the reveal, Taylor’s official website was updated with a countdown clock and a phrase that read “Meet me at midnight.” Her social media was also updated with the phrase. Some of Taylor’s releases on Spotify also received changes to their canvases, with a visual featuring the same clock counting to midnight. That midnight, Taylor unveiled the name of her tenth studio album, Midnights, along with a written premise, and posted a cover artwork on her website and across her social media accounts. She described the album 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,” she 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 12 … we’ll meet ourselves. Meet me at midnight.»

The album was also made available to pre-save and pre-order on her website. On September 1, three limited-edition color variants of the vinyl LP were made available as well, featuring different cover artworks.

3am Edition

Midnights (3am Edition) is the extended version of Midnights. Taylor released these seven bonus tracks three hours after the original album. This version of the album features three songs with Aaron Dessner, who worked closely on folklore (2020) and evermore (2020) but does not appear on the main Midnights album. When announcing the re-issue, Taylor wrote:

«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. 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.»

On one of those three songs with Aaron Dessner, “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve,” The National’s Bryce Dessner and Bryan Devendorf also feature. Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon is credited among studio personnel and as an engineer on the track. Another of Dessner’s co-writes, “High Infidelity,” features contributions from Big Thief drummer James Krivchenia.
Taylor Swift for Midnights (Beth Garrabrant, 2022)
Taylor Swift for Midnights (Beth Garrabrant, 2022)

Title Significance

Taylor told SiriusXM that she’d always been inspired by the isolating feeling of sleeplessness, which is what led her to name the album Midnights:

«I think that I’ve always been fascinated with sleeplessness. My fans have pointed out over the years that I constantly am writing about 2am, middle of the night, things like that because I think that’s such a vulnerable, isolated time. It’s a time I’ve written a lot of my songs, it’s a time when the catharsis of songwriting has helped me the most. As far as a concept album – it was really fun for me to reflect back on any different midnights throughout my life, not just ones I had recently. I wanted it to be a really diverse range of emotions, and so I figured that the way to do that would be to stretch out the scope of time the album focuses on.»

Taylor Swift for Midnights (2022)

Midnights Era

Midnights Era 2022-present Just as August was coming to and end, Taylor shocked the music world by announcing a very well-kept secret at the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards. “I thought it might be a fun moment to tell you that my brand new album comes out October 21. And I will tell you more at midnight.”

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Writing and Production

Taylor stated that self-hatred, revenge fantasies, wondering what might’ve been, falling in love, and falling apart are five motives that inspired the album’s subject matter. She wrote the opening track, “Lavender Haze“, after coming across the 1950s phrase “in the lavender haze” in the period drama series, Mad Men. She wrote the song about protecting her romantic relationship from unsolicited comments online. In the third track, “Anti-Hero“, Taylor details her insecurities, such as struggling with “not feeling like a person”. Taylor further told radio station SiriusXM that Midnights is all new work within the same concept:

«Everything on Midnights is new work. Nothing is left over from a different album. It might’ve been ideas or concepts or things I’ve thought of maybe making in the past, but I didn’t write anything until I was making this album. I think that, in terms of referencing my previous work, that’s a fun thing for me to do that all does usually lead to something, but if we’re reflecting back on eras past, and music that I’ve made in the past, I think you’ll find that there’s a really good reason for that. But, it doesn’t necessarily have to do with this album. I will leave you with that very cryptic, but very truthful answer.»

Taylor posted a TikTok video on September 16, 2022, depicting the recording process of Midnights; it featured clips of her and longtime collaborator Jack Antonoff in his recording studio Rough Customer in Brooklyn, New York. Though Midnights has been billed as the first truly collaborative album Taylor’s made with producer Jack Antonoff, the LP and the extended 3am Edition feature plenty of other names, both old and new in the Taylor realm. One of those is Mark Anthony Spears, a.k.a. Sounwave, who collaborated on three tracks with her and Antonoff. He’s been teaming up with other major names in pop and rap, like Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé, and Chloe x Halle. He eventually struck up a friendship with Antonoff, with whom he and fellow producer/songwriter Sam Dew formed the trio Red Hearse. Antonoff ended up pulling Sounwave into Taylor’s Lover (2019) sessions, and they worked on the Britpop-inspired track “London Boy” together. He told Rolling Stone, “Me and Jack, we keep each other informed on any project we’re working on. We usually take at least a week out of the year just to create with no goal in mind. That’s basically how Red Hearse was created.”

Other people who contributed to the recording sessions of Midnights are Aaron Dessner, Justin Vernon, Austin Swift, Dylan O’Brien, Rachel Antonoff, and Lana Del Rey.
Taylor Swift for Midnights (Beth Garrabrant, 2022)

Artwork

Beth Garrabrant is the photographer of the Midnights photshoot, which took place in February 2022. It is her fifth collaboration with Taylor, having also been the one to shoot her artwork for folklore (2020), evermore (2020), Fearless (Taylor’s Version) [2021] and RED (Taylor’s Version) [2021]. The photoshoot is set in a room with a heavy Seventies motel vibe: wood paneling, green carpet, and old curtains. The room also features the ultimate 1970s keyboard, a vintage Wurlitzer, famed for epics by the likes of Ray Charles, Queen and Daft Punk.

The standard artwork of Midnights is a minimalist cover. It takes inspiration from old-fashioned LP jackets where songs are listed on the front cover. The album has four different vinyl and CD editions, entitled Moonstone Blue (which is the standard edition, also available in the color Lavender Marbled as a deluxe edition), Jade Green, Blood Moon, and Mahogany. Combined, the back covers of the four editions form a clock. The photograph of Taylor featured in the standard edition artwork depicts her in a blue eye shadow, a black eye liner, and her signature red lips, observing a glimmering lighter held near her face.

Promotion

On September 21, 2022, Taylor posted on TikTok introducing a series of short videos called Midnights Mayhem With Me, in which the track-list is gradually revealed in a randomized order. Whatever number comes out, she then reveals the trackname, which she does by picking up a red rotary phone and speaking into it, her voice coming out in a vintage filter. These reveals are interesting for a few reasons. Taylor is an expert in viral marketing, and these teases are far more low-key than someone of her reach could extend to, but also far more intimate. It has felt like 2014’s 1989 was a changing point for Taylor, the final album from Taylor Swift, The Superstar. reputation (2017), Lover (2019), folklore (2020), and evermore (2020) were all by Taylor Swift, The Person. Meanwhile, the Taylor’s Version albums had anagrams for the new vault tracks and the featured artists. Taylor has shut the world out and invited her fans in, and these reveals play into that.

On October 14, 2022, Amazon Prime Video announced that “something very, very special” related to Taylor is set to exclusively premiere in the Thursday Night Football of October 20.Some lyrics from Midnights were displayed on billboards owned by Spotify across the world, starting with “I should not be left to my own devices” in Times Square on October 17. In her “Midnights Manifest,” Taylor also confirmed that she is scheduled to appear on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on October 24, followed by The Graham Norton Show on October 28.
Taylor Swift for Midnights (Beth Garrabrant, 2022)
Taylor Swift for Midnights (2022)

Accolades

Midnights helped Taylor achieve three Guinness World Records: the most streamed album on Spotify in 24 hours (184.6 million streams), the most first-day streams of an album on Spotify (184.6 million streams), and the most streamed act on Spotify in 24 hours (228 million streams).

Critical Reception

Midnights received widespread acclaim from music critics, most of whom praised its subdued production and vocals. On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized score out of 100 to ratings from publications, the album received a weighted mean score of 85 based on 23 reviews, indicating “universal acclaim”.

Rolling Stone‘s Brittany Spanos and Rob Sheffield dubbed Midnights a classic; Spanos praised Taylor’s “brilliant and fresh” songwriting style, while Sheffield highlighted the production and mood. Variety‘s Chris Willman praised Taylor’s vocals, Jack Antonoff’s production, and the artistic choice to abandon “bangers” for mid-tempo pop. Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph admired Taylor’s “intimate” songcraft, melodies and lyrics. Lucy Harbron of Gigwise appreciated her reinvention and experimentation in Midnights.

The Guardian critic Alexis Petridis described the album as a sophisticated, “tastefully subdued” record with “confident” songwriting and “understated” production. Ann Powers, in her NPR review, felt the album is Taylor’s most “challenging” and complimented her “glamorous, gleaming” voice, while Matthew Neale of Clash cited her songwriting prowess and “swagger”, naming Midnights a “near-perfect” body of work. Helen Brown of The Independent wrote, Taylor “unpacks her darkest dreams, deepest doubts and cruelest thoughts” using “feline vocal stealth” and “assured lyrical control”. NME‘s Hannah Mylrea said the album marks Taylor’s return to pop, offering “future-facing sounds” and candid lyrics. Entertainment Weekly‘s Marc Hirsh complimented its sound, concept and themes. Mikael Wood of Los Angeles Times admired Taylor’s “strong” vocals emphasizing her grain and cadences. Elise Ryan of the Associated Press called the album a product of her maturity and artistic evolution. Billboard‘s Jason Lipshutz wrote it’s “a focused, legacy-extending” album with “razor-sharp” lyricism.
Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour (2023)

Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour

Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour 2023 “The Eras Tour” (stylized as “Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour”) is Taylor’s upcoming sixth headlining concert tour, in support of her entire albums discography thus far, including Lover (2019), folklore (2020), evermore (2020) and Midnights (2022). It is an all-stadium tour set to commence on March 17, 2023, in Glendale, Arizona.

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Commercial Performance

Midnights was a massive commercial success. The album broke a string of sales, streaming, digital, vinyl and official chart records globally. It achieved the all-time Spotify record for the most streamed album in a single day, garnering 186 million streams in its opening day on the platform, surpassing the previous record of 155 million streams by Drake’s Certified Lover Boy (2021). Taylor also became the most-streamed artist in a single day on Spotify, with 228 million streams across her entire catalog, the first artist to cross the 200-million mark. The album further broke the Apple Music record for the most-streamed pop album in a single day, the Amazon Music records for the most-streamed album in a single day and week, and the first album to amass over 700 million Spotify streams within a week. According to Republic Records, Midnights moved three million album-equivalent units worldwide in its first week.

In the United States domestic market, Midnights sold over 800,000 pure albums in its first day, including 400,000 vinyl LPs, instantly becoming the best-selling album of 2022; it logged the biggest sales week for an album since Taylor’s own reputation (2017) and the most vinyl records sold in a week since tracking began in 1991. Midnights moved 1.578 million units within its first week, becoming Taylor’s fifth album to open with over one million sales and making her the first-ever act to do so; it also marked the largest opening week of the last seven years and Taylor’s best, surpassing 1989 (2014). Of the 1.578 million units in its first week, 1.14 million units were pure sales, including 575,000 vinyl LPs and 395,000 CDs. Midnights garnered 549.26 million on-demand streams in its first week — the largest streaming week for an album by a woman and the third-largest overall. Taylor tied Barbra Streisand for the most No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 among women (11), and broke the record for the most consecutive No. 1 debuts in the chart’s history, surpassing Eminem and Kanye West.

Internationally, Midnights garnered the best opening-week units of 2022 in several countries, including Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. It marked the best opening week for a western or international artist in China, Germany and Taiwan, and Taylor’s best yet in France, Germany, Italy, Poland, and the UK. It also broke the record for the largest vinyl sales week of the 21st-century in Australia, Canada, and the UK.

In the UK, Midnights sold over 140,000 units in its first three days, becoming the fastest-selling album of 2022. The album debuted atop the UK Albums Chart with 204,000 units. She broke Madonna’s record for the shortest time for a female act to accumulate nine UK No. 1 albums, and became the first woman since Miley Cyrus in 2013 to simultaneously debut atop both the albums and singles chart, following the number-one debut of “Anti-Hero” as well. Midnights marked Taylor’s eighth No. 1 album on the Irish Albums Chart and the biggest opening week since Ed Sheeran’s ÷ (2017).

Midnights became Taylor’s record-extending tenth consecutive No. 1 album in Australia, with the biggest opening week since reputation. It also set the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) records for the biggest streaming and vinyl sales weeks for an album. All of the album’s standard tracks entered the ARIA Singles Chart, occupying the entire top 14 region. With the debut of “Anti-Hero” atop the singles chart, Taylor earned a record-breaking third Australian “Chart Double” of her career. Midnights was her 11th consecutive No. 1 album on the New Zealand Albums Chart as well. The album sold over 200,000 digital albums in its first day on China’s QQ Music. It garnered the biggest first-week Spotify streams ever for an album in Brazil and the Philippines.
Taylor Swift for Midnights (Beth Garrabrant, 2022)
Taylor Swift for Midnights (Beth Garrabrant, 2022)

Impact

Billboard called Taylor’s unexpected announcement of the album at the Video Music Awards a “headline-grabbing” moment. Bruce Gillmer, producer of the award show, spoke to the magazine about their viewership gains and how Midnights gave a “massive lift” to the ratings. Taylor’s official website also crashed due to heavy traffic following her first social media posts about the album. The album’s cover artwork became an internet trend, mimicked and parodied by social media users, including official accounts of brands, organizations and celebrities. Apple Fitness+ released three new exercise programs designed around Taylor’s music, featuring tracks from Midnights, curated for yoga, treadmill and HIIT workouts. Spotify’s servers crashed for several minutes when Midnights was released.

Noting a New York Times article that asked “if Adele couldn’t sell more than a million albums in a single week, could any artist?” after her 2021 album, 30, missed the mark, Rolling Stone responded that Taylor “has once again moved the goalposts regarding what the music industry can see as possible from a major pop star” by selling over a million albums in a week while also finding sucess on streaming platforms.
General Information
ArtistTaylor Swift
ReleasedOctober 21, 2022
RecordedNovember 2021-2022
StudiosRough Customer (Brooklyn)
Electric Lady (New York)
Henson Recording (Los Angeles)
Long Pond (Hudson Valley)
Conway (Los Angeles)
Sharp Sonics (Los Angeles)
GenreElectro Pop
Synth Pop
Indie Pop
Length44:02 (Standard Edition)
69:00 (3am Edition)
LabelRepublic Records
Producers
Jack Antonoff
Aaron Dessner
Sounwave
Jahaan Sweet
Braxton Cook
Keanu Beats
Taylor Swift
TAYLOR SWIFT CHRONOLOGY
RED (Taylor’s Version) [2021]Midnights (2022)
Prologue
Album Certification
Album Announcement
Tracklist
STANDARD EDITION
Album Artwork
Highest Honor
Midnights Era

Midnights Era

Midnights Songs

The Eras Tour

Taylor's Discography