Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’, Her new album is the most important thriller within the music world proper now. Listed here are the lingering questions that may preserve us up till it lastly comes out in October
TAYLOR SWIFT SHOCKED the world this week, by spilling just a little secret at Sunday evening’s MTV Video Music Awards. “I believed it may be a enjoyable second to let you know that my model new album comes out October 21,” Swift stated. “And I’ll let you know extra at midnight.” A couple of minutes later, she dropped her observe about Midnights, with a photograph of Taylor cradling her head in her arms, with a touch-tone telephone, a Rolodex, and two empty ashtrays.
So all week, time gained’t fly — it’s like we’re hypnotized by it. Midnights is the most important thriller within the music world proper now, and all followers can do is ask questions. How silly we have been to assume Dr. Swift would let August slip away like a bottle of wine. As a substitute, she drank down this entire merciless summer season in a single gulp, and smashed the bottle at her toes. She timed her album reveal for nearly precisely 5 years after she introduced Fame — 5 years in the past, or in Taylor time, “Six Quantity One albums in the past.”
All people moved on. I stayed right here. So listed below are among the burning questions round Midnights. On daily basis, she retains sprinkling hints and clues like glitter eye-shadow. And every single day, the fan folklore will get deeper as Swiftologists attempt to decode them, like we’re all passing notes in secrecy. However no one is aware of a factor till Oct. 21, when Swift comes down from her mountain-top with the New Tay-stament.
So listed below are 13 of the lingering questions that may preserve us up for the following seven weeks. Meet me at Midnights.
1. Why, Taylor? Why?
All the time the important thing Taylor query. Why does she do this to us? She doesn’t must work so arduous at dropping chaos on our heads. She simply loves the sport.
Taylor dropped off the radar this yr, whereas making Midnights. However she made a uncommon public look in June on the Tribeca Movie Pageant, to current her brief movie for “All Too Properly.” She acquired her greatest giggle when she admitted, “Folks usually significantly underestimate how a lot I’ll inconvenience myself to show some extent.”
More true phrases, Taylor. And by no means underestimate how a lot she’ll inconvenience the entire world for just a little album drama.
2. What’s Midnights all about?
Taylor summed it up in her missive. “We lie awake in love and in concern, in turmoil and in tears,” “We stare at partitions and drink till they communicate again. We twist in our self-made cages and pray that we aren’t — proper this minute — about to make some fateful life-altering mistake. This can be a assortment of music written in the course of the evening, a journey via terrors and candy desires. The flooring we tempo and the demons we face. For all of us who’ve tossed and turned and determined to maintain the lanterns lit and search around – hoping that simply possibly, when the clock strikes twelve … we’ll meet ourselves.
“Midnights, the tales of 13 sleepless nights scattered all through my life, will likely be out Oct. 21. Meet me at midnight.”
So many questions, proper right down to the “sleepless nights.” She sleeps?
3. Why October?
Midnights drops in probably the most Swiftian of months, precisely ten years (and at some point) after Purple, which arrived on Oct. 22, 2012. It’s her first Swiftober album since 1989. She broke her long-running custom when she dropped Fame in Nov, 2017, so it’s a symbolic return. Maple Latte Autumn is again, child.
4. What the hell is occurring in that album cowl?
Taylor is taking part in with a cigarette lighter, in entrance of a bathe curtain. She’s staring on the flame, as if as if she’s lighting a goddamn blaze at nighttime. It appears like Tay’s spending a misplaced weekend on the Midnights Motel within the Seventies, sporting a winter coat within the rest room, with a fuzzy ruff. Taylor gazing on the lighter with blue eye-shadow naturally evokes her query in “All Too Properly”: “Did the dual flame bruise paint you blue?”
Why does Taylor have a lighter? She doesn’t smoke and by no means sings about cigarettes, although generally she smells smoke after an emotional trash hearth, as in “Daylight” or “Cardigan.” However she’s acquired two ashtrays on the desk, plus a framed photograph of two folks. Is that this simply one other image to burn?
The album art work comes straight from the Extremely Chilled sequence of dance compilation CDs from the early 2000s. It spun off into Extremely Trance, Extremely Electro, and Extremely Rock Remixed, however for some motive the Extremely Chilled CDs are the ones I saved. Does this imply Taylor goes for a laid-back electro Ibiza hangover vibe? Simply wanting on the cowl provides a “hey, it’s Wednesday after Coachella, the place did everyone go?” buzz.
The font is superb, too — she’s making a tough swerve away from the elegant serifs that outlined her Folkmore period. A case-sensitive sans-serif font? A daring new alternative for her.
5. These new images are…lots, proper?
Taylor’s acquired 4 totally different covers for the vinyl editions: Blood Moon, Jade Inexperienced, Mahogany, and Midnight Blue. She’s in a room with a heavy Seventies motel vibe: wooden paneling, sickly inexperienced carpet, shaggy curtains, the works. It appears prefer it acquired adorned by Carol Brady after just a few Harvey’s Bristol Lotions.
In a single photograph, she simply placed on glitter eye-shadow to have a weepy meltdown, which is a really Taylor transfer. She lounges together with her toes up, with proggy-looking vinyl LPs on the ground. Nothing good has ever occurred on this room. I can’t assist considering it’s the sleazy motel from “Getaway Automobile,” possibly even the one with the car parking zone in “Illicit Affair.”
That keyboard in her room? It’s the final word Seventies keyboard, a classic Wurlitzer, famed for stoner epics by the likes of Supertramp and Three Canine Evening. However you’ve heard it from Ray Charles (“What’d I Say”) to Queen (“You’re My Greatest Good friend”) to Daft Punk (“Digital Love”). Taylor had the Wurlitzer on Folklore (“Betty”) and Lover (“Quickly You’ll Get Higher”). Will her Wurlie be on the album? Or is it only a cool place to stash yet one more ashtray?
6. What in regards to the vinyl?
It’s an enormous inform that she’s dropping the vinyl on October 21, the identical day as all the opposite codecs. (Sure, she’s releasing it on cassette, and sure, I smashed that pre-order hyperlink like Este hitting the Olive Backyard breadsticks. I swear Folklore and Evermore sound finest on cassette.)
It’s a single vinyl LP, so it’ll max out at about 22 minutes per aspect, which is new for her. Folklore, Evermore, and Lover have been all an hour lengthy. Rep was 56 minutes. The solely album she’s ever launched at vinyl size (since her debut) is 1989, which is 48 minutes. (Roughly so long as Type of Blue, Astral Weeks or The Velvet Underground and Nico.) Taylor likes to drop an hour of music at a time — that’s her consolation zone. However 13 songs in 48 minutes means they common below 4 minutes, which is Folklovermore-size somewhat than Converse Now-size. Put it this fashion: anticipate Midnights to be lower than 5 “All Too Properly”s lengthy.
7. Will this album contain heartbreak, turmoil, betrayal, and tears?
Are you new right here? It’s a Taylor Swift album. When she got here out of her work bubble for the Tribeca Movie Pageant, she made a revealing remark, quoting the indie legend John Cassavetes: “I’ve by no means seen an exploding helicopter. I’ve by no means seen anyone go and blow someone’s head off. So why ought to I make movies about them? However I have seen folks destroy themselves within the smallest approach.” Swift added, “I felt that.”
So brace your self. If there’s something we all know for positive about Midnights, it’s that individuals will destroy themselves within the smallest methods.
8. Why is that this album about midnight, not 2 A.M.?
All people is aware of how a lot Taylor loves a disaster at 2 A.M. That’s her favourite time for strolling the ground, wishing you have been at her door, cursing your identify, using in your truck, feeling like she misplaced a buddy, or simply lacking you whereas headlights go the window-pane. She has a few of her most interesting meltdowns at 2, although she switches it up in “Final Kiss” by seeing her ex’s face at 1:58. However each time she chooses her second, to paraphrase Laura Palmer on Twin Peaks: Evening time, Tay time.
9. What does midnight imply on Planet Taylor?
She’s at all times acquired a particular factor for midnight. That’s when she will get picked up in “Model,” when she has breakfast in “22.” She desires your midnights in “New Years Day.” She has an rotten time at midnight on her twenty first birthday (in “Happiness,” “The Second I Knew,” and “All Too Properly”). If you pre-order Midnights at her official store, there’s a joke about “22”: “It seems like an ideal evening…to hitch our listing!”
However my favourite Taylor midnight scene is the extraordinarily underrated bridge of “The Final Nice American Dynasty,” the second the place Rebekah paces the seashore by evening, “staring out on the midnight sea.” It’s the one second within the track the place Rebekah is alone, and it’s the second the place we see how horribly lonely it’s to be the city widow when her fair-weather pals have drunk up her champagne and left her behind. Midnights appears poised to go deeper into that sort of loneliness.
Word: Since “midnight” is the opening phrase of “Model,” this may be the place to say that Midnights drops the identical day My Policeman opens in theaters, October 21. So you possibly can start your day with Taylor’s new album and finish it with Harry Kinds’ new movie, if that’s a random combo you occur to be into.
10. What in regards to the Emily Dickinson connection?
Taylor indicators off her missive with the phrases, “Hold the lanterns lit and search around… We’ll meet ourselves.” The Emily Dickinson stan account @emilysorchard factors out that this evokes a letter that Dickinson wrote in 1855, telling a buddy, “I’m out with lanterns, in search of myself.” Later in the identical letter, Dickinson writes, “I can’t assist laughing at my very own disaster,” and what a Taylor line that’s.
The Tay-Emily affinities run so deep. She revealed her Nineteenth-century poetry fetish in 2020 with “The Lakes,” singing about Wordsworth and Coleridge. On the time, I wrote, “Tay ought to preserve it going with the lit fan-fic — possibly Emily Dickinson or Gertrude Stein subsequent?” So I’m obsessive about the hope for extra Belle of Amherst content material. Dickinson was very into writing about midnights, from “Good Morning—Midnight” to “Desires—are effectively—however Waking’s higher” to “We develop accustomed to the Darkish,” all poems that any Swift fan would love. Right here’s to Wild Nights! Wild Nights! (Taylor’s Model).
11. When is the following Taylor’s Model?
All people figured she had one other TV coming this yr. The thriller was: Converse Now or 1989? She kicked off her summer season in Might by dropping “This Love (Taylor’s Model),” remaking the killer 1989 ballad. The identical day, she added “The Outdated Taylor Assortment” to her retailer, filled with Converse Now and 1989 merch. Was she simply setting us as much as throw us off the scent?
12. The place are Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner?
Taylor hasn’t stated a phrase about producers, or whether or not she’ll preserve working together with her two trusty collaborators, the dynamic duo of Jaaron Desstonoff. This group has chemistry, as you possibly can see in her Lengthy Pond Studio Classes. It’s just like the artistic trio behind David Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy: Jack is her Brian Eno, Aaron is her Tony Visconti, with Tay because the devious blonde mastermind.
One factor we do know: she’s choosy about producers, and when she clicks with one, it’s not the sort of connection she sometimes walks away from.
13. Is Taylor going for extra cottagecore? Or is she heading again to pop glitz?
Taylor wrote the best songs of her life with Folklore and Evermore, the place she acquired into acoustic guitar and mossy cabins. Again in June, she dropped a fab new folkie ballad: “Carolina,” from the movie The place The Crawdads Sing, one in all her most awesomely creepy night-prowler songs. Time will inform if “Carolina” was her farewell to the Folkmore period, or a bridge to her subsequent shiny synth-pop album.
However let’s put it this fashion: has she ever made three albums in a row with the identical musical theme? Even when it’s what individuals are begging for?
We already know from her observe that Midnights is stuffed with late-night insomniac distress. (Thank God.) It’s not going to be a cheery hear. However bear in mind, her cottagecore albums have been impressed by the pandemic, which meant no dwell exhibits. She wrote these songs realizing she wouldn’t be rocking them in stadiums filled with confetti and dancers. The scene will likely be totally different in 2023, and if she’s planning to tour, she’s going to write down some pop stadium bangers. The once-maligned Lover is having an enormous yr — it’s her highest-charting, biggest-streaming album every week, and “Merciless Summer time” has gotten so iconic, it now appears like a superb transfer that she didn’t make it a single. (She plans all the pieces.) However up to now, she isn’t tipping her hand about Midnights.
Taylor likes to preserve folks guessing her subsequent transfer, and he or she loves it after we all fail. So casually merciless, within the identify of nothing in any respect — only for the hell of it. She’s already out to destroy our lives with this album and we haven’t even heard it but.
There’s plenty of midnights between now and Oct. 21. Good luck sleeping via any of them.