First, a word on Taylor Swift’s productivity. Taylor Swift released her album Lover in August of 2019. A year later she dropped another album, folklore, by surprise. Six months after that, another surprise album: evermore. Then another five months ago by and it’s Fearless (Taylor’s Version), the first of her planned album re-records, in April 2021. Half a year later and Red (Taylor’s Version) comes out in November 2021. And tonight at midnight, it’ll be her tenth studio album, with brand new material, Midnights.
That’s six albums in just over three years, an impressive amount of work, whether you f-ck with her or not.
I’m excited about Midnights. For sure I’ll be listening to it on my commute to work tomorrow morning. And probably all weekend. But I can’t say that I’ve been keeping up with all the pre-release activity because, well, it’s a LOT. And I don’t have much energy left over from trying to keep up with BTS who just announced this week that all seven members of the band will be enlisting in the military starting with Jin next month but are still managing to roll out new content almost every day.
What I do know about Taylor’s Midnights is that there’s going to be a teaser happening tonight during Thursday Night Football on Prime Video. Apparently it’ll be at some point during the third quarter so as to keep viewers tuned in. Which means Taylor is getting PAID – because Amazon must have put up big cash to secure that exclusive.
ðŸ§£ ðŸ‘€ pic.twitter.com/gkZi4cEYRs— NFL On Prime Video (@NFLonPrime) October 14, 2022
Earlier this week, Taylor posted the Midnights Manifest (she’s always loved to alliterate) laying out the upcoming promotional schedule for the album.
The first single off the album will be “Anti-Hero” and there’s a dance challenge that comes with it so I guess it’s an up-tempo song, which kinda tracks as that’s been the pattern with her other pop albums. “ME!” was the first single off Lover and before that it was “Look What You Made Me Do” off reputation. And before that it was “Shake It Off” from 1989. If she’s following her own playbook, then, “Anti-Hero” will not be a slow jam. And likely not my favourite. Because in my opinion, Taylor’s lead singles are the weakest songs on the albums. The best Swift bangers, for me, are the ones that don’t get the early hype.
But it’s Taylor. So there’s always going to be hype. Hype might not even be the right word for it. What’s bigger than hype? Whatever it is, it’s Taylor. Taylor is undeniably one of the most major recording artists in the world. With one of the most dedicated fanbases in the world. Those fans right now are doing deep forensics on all the videos etc that she’s teased so far. That Midnights Manifesto video I’m sure is FULL of easter eggs that I don’t have the bandwidth to investigate. Constance Grady wrote a piece yesterday for Vox about all the conspiracy theories surrounding the Midnights release if you want to save time.
Before I wrap this up though, there’s a reason I referenced BTS earlier. That manifesto, or the promotional release schedule that Taylor unveiled this week, is not unlike what BTS has been doing for years with their own album releases. They put out a full calendar, in advance, for ARMY to kick off their album cycles.
Midnights is coming tonight, at midnight, and three hours later, at 3am ET, Taylor is promising a “special very chaotic surprise”. This too feels familiar for those who know BTS, because on their album release days, they always livestream themselves celebrating with each other, and it often becomes chaotic, which is just their signature band energy anyway.
So my point is this: western artists are starting to pick up some pointers – and why wouldn’t they? The western music industry did not expect BTS to achieve the status that they have achieved. They came to the party late…but they’ve been studying.