“Midnights” continues Taylor Swift’s legacy of breaking records

Everybody knows Taylor Swift. Love her or hate her, you can’t deny she is one of, if not the most significant music stars in the world. You may or may not have heard of her recent album Midnights, released on October 21, 2022. Unlike many artists, she didn’t release any songs leading up to the album’s release. Fans waited for months, anxiously anticipating how the album would sound. This was very fair, since Swift is known to change which genre she does for her albums very often.

She is at the level where she doesn’t need to give fans a taste of what the album will sound like, they’ll listen anyways. They sure did listen anyways, Midnights is the first album in nearly five years to move over a million units in the first week (which it completed in only three days). The last album to do this massive feat? None other than Swift’s 2017 record Reputation.

Still, this could all just be Taylor’s enormous fan base. Is the album even any good? For those of you who have heard of the album, you may have heard some mixed reviews. Some love it, some do not love it, but that’s music for you. Music is subjective, nobody will all love the same album, but many people love this one and the rest of her catalog.

Image credit: Pitchfork

Midnights is totally a pop album, her first since 2019’s Lover. Taylor entered the music scene in 2006, and started her career with country albums Taylor Swift, Fearless, and Speak Now. These albums launched her career and included numerous hits like “Our Song”, “Love Story”, “You Belong With Me”, “Mine” and “Enchanted”. While being a country star, it was easy to see that pop music had a major influence on her music.

She leaned into this more with her 2012 album “Red”, which included songs like “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”, “22”, “Red”, “I Knew You Were Trouble”, and fan favorite “All Too Well”. The success of “Red” convinced her to finally ditch country music for good and go full pop in 2014 with her arguably biggest album 1989. Taylor said in an interview:

“This album was made completely and solely on my terms, with no one else’s opinion factoring in, no one else’s agenda factoring in. I didn’t feel that I was having to think too hard about the musical direction. In the past, I’ve always tried to make sure that I was maintaining a stronghold on two different genres, and this time I just had to think about one, which was creatively a relief. It was nice to be honest about what I was making.”

This plan worked, and the album included some of her biggest hits, such as “Shake It Off”, “Blank Space”, “Style”, “Bad Blood”, and “Wildest Dreams”.

She continued pure pop with her albums Reputation (including “Look What You Made Me Do”, “…Ready For It?”, and “Delicate”) and Lover (including “ME!”, “You Need To Calm Down”, and “Lover”). You probably know a lot of the previously mentioned songs, so it was shocking to many when she ditched pop in 2020 to release not one, but two surprise alternative albums, folklore and evermore. These albums traded in synths for acoustic instruments, as she traded in her guitar for the synths a decade before. While very different from the rest of her music, these two albums were extremely praised and regarded by many as her best work.

All of her albums have received critical praise. They’ve sold millions of copies and been streamed hundreds of millions to billions of times. She also re-released her Fearless and Red albums in 2021, due to unfortunate circumstances having to do with her original contract. She re-recorded these albums the exact same way as the originals, but this time with extra tracks and “Taylor’s Version” being added to the end of each album/song. She will re-record the rest of her first six albums, and many fans expected her to finish this before she released any new music. As it turned out, those fans were wrong.

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Taylor Swift chose winning an award as a good time to announce this album. As she was winning “Video of the Year” at the VMA’s (the most prestigious award of the night) for “All Too Well (Ten Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version): The Film”, she announced a new album and told her fans to check her Instagram page at midnight exactly for more details. This would be the first of many midnights that fans stayed awake for Taylor during this album cycle. Fans wondered if it would be alternative, pop, or maybe even a new genre she never tried before. All these questions were answered on October 21 at midnight when the album was released.

It is a pop album, with subgenres including electronica, synth-pop, and dream pop. The visuals for the album were very alluring photos of Taylor dressed in 1970s-inspired outfits. The music, however, is very modern-sounding. While the sound is modern, it can also be a classic because it doesn’t rely on current trends, it sets new trends. Fans were also surprised when Taylor dropped seven extra bonus tracks at 3 in the morning of the release morning, on the (3 am Edition) of the album. These songs are just as good as album tracks despite not being on the main album.

Taylor Swift/YouTube

What are some of the fan-favorite tracks on the album? The beautiful thing about a Taylor album is that every song is somebody’s favorite. There’s a little something for everybody. There are some slower ballad-esque songs, including “Snow On the Beach” which features the talented Lana Del Rey. Other ballads on the album include “Labyrinth”, “Sweet Nothing”, and “Mastermind”. For people who love fun pop songs that don’t take themselves too seriously (like myself), there are songs like “Karma” and “Vigilante S***” that are just pure fun. There are songs that are more introspective and look upon Taylor’s relationship with others and herself in a more serious light, such as “Anti-Hero”, “Question…?”, and “You’re On Your Own, Kid”. Lastly, there are just some classic Taylor songs about love and life in general, including “Lavender Haze”, “Maroon”, “Midnight Rain”, and “Bejeweled”. Despite fitting into similar categories, all of these songs are unique in their own way.

Taylor Swift/YouTube

If the first-day numbers weren’t enough to prove the power of this album, wait until you hear the first-week numbers. Midnights sold 1.5 million copies in its first week in the US alone. This is the 4th highest debut of all time and the biggest by a large margin since Adele’s 2015 25. It has sold the most vinyl records in a single week, over 500,000, which is the most this decade. Even more impressive, this week Taylor occupies the entire top ten on the Billboard Hot 100. This has never happened before, an artist being in every single song in the top ten songs. This is also the first time ever in history that a man has not been on the list, it’s just Taylor and Lana Del Rey (because of their collaboration).

Taylor-mania is at an all-time high, and she just recently announced she will be going on a tour very soon to celebrate the different eras of her career. Many of her diehard fans, including myself, will be fighting for tickets. As best said by Barbara Walters in 2014, “Taylor Swift is the music industry.” The fact that she is breaking all of these records 16 years into her career proves that statement to be true.