Before we get to Taylor Swift’s latest award, let’s start with what’s new – her tenth studio album, Midnights, is scheduled for release exactly one month from today on October 21. So it’ll be interesting to see, in the coming weeks, what Taylor’s promotional strategy for this drop will be. Her two preceding albums, folklore and evermore, came without any advance notice and since it was still pandemic lockdown times, she didn’t make too many appearances in support of them…which suited the vibe of those works.
Midnights doesn’t seem to be of the same vibe. This is not Taylor in the woods, singing by the fire. The cover art for Midnights is decidedly 70s. And that 70s feel also shows up in the latest teaser she posted on Instagram stories yesterday:
Big 70s television energy. Ron Burgundy energy. She reveals that the randomly selected (I’m not going to spend time conspiracy-ing this but how many tries did she film before the 13 popped out?) 13th track on Midnights is called “Mastermind”. I legit can’t wait to hear it, along with the preceding 12 twelve tracks because I’m ready for the return of Glitter Gel Taylor Swift. Let me explain.
Last night Taylor was honoured as the Songwriter-Artist of the Decade by the Nashville Songwriters Association, obviously a major recognition. And a recognition she takes very personally. Songwriting is Taylor’s entire identity. She is a gifted and prolific songwriter, songwriting is her superpower, so she took this opportunity, among the community of songwriters who have named her one of the best, to talk about the work of songwriting, which is storytelling, and in particular highlight her “favourite part of songwriting: lyricism”. As she explained:
“And I’ve never talked about this publicly before, because, well, it’s dorky. But I also have, in my mind, secretly, established genres categories for lyrics I write. Three of them, to be exact. They are affectionately titled Quill Lyrics, Fountain Pen Lyrics, and Glitter Gel Pen Lyrics.”
Taylor goes on to describe (you can read the full text of her acceptance speech here) those three categories and give examples of the lyrics that fall under them. Her last two albums, folklore and evermore, in my opinion, give Quill and Fountain Pen but no Glitter Gel. Her best album, in my opinion, is 1989, and it gives Fountain Pen and Glitter Gel. The new album, Midnights, seems like it has Glitter Gel potential, or least more Glitter Gel than we’ve seen from her in the last couple of years.
Not that I don’t like the Quill and Fountain Pen Taylor songs. My favourite song off folklore is “august”, a pure Fountain Pen track. It’s gorgeous and wistful and I can listen to it over and over again for hours. And while I can’t say that I rock with all of Taylor’s music and lyrics (she actually self-cites “Shake It Off in her speech and I have never, ever f-cked with that song – it’s only slightly more tolerable than “Bad Blood” and “ME!”), when she nails it, she really nails it. And for me, when she nails it, it’s because she’s writing from her Fountain and Glitter pens. Fountain and Glitter Taylor just might be coming on Midnights.
PS. Here's what I consider the best Fountain and Glitter Taylor from Lover, also what I think is the best song off of Lover: “Cruel Summer”.
But the all-time best Fountain and Glitter Taylor to date? Definitely “Style”.