By Isabella Telgenhof
Taylor Swift said meet me at midnight and the world did exactly that. On October 21st Taylor Swift dropped her tenth studio album (or twelfth counting Taylor’s Version re-records) Midnights, which includes songs following stories of late nights throughout her life. There are thirteen original tracks, and in true Taylor Swift Fashion, seven bonus “3am Edition”. In addition to these twenty songs there is an album with a twenty-first track, exclusively sold at Target. The album's announcement came with Taylor’s speech at the VMA’s while wearing a dress very similar to a scene from the “Look What You Made Me Do” music video. This was an intentional reference to her being interrupted at the 2009 VMA’s by Kanye, which started the lasting feud between the two artists.
During the weeks of promotion leading up to the album's release, Swift was seen in many other pieces that were reminiscent of previous ‘eras’ connecting to past events in her life. Swift is famous for having eras alongside her albums that connect fashion with music, and her fans have connected the dots. As a female artist she has stated she needs to evolve to stay interesting in the industry and that’s one thing she does well. She has easter eggs in every album that her fans know to look for. With her ever-changing genres from country to pop to folk, Taylor Swift is an enigma.
Taylor Swift’s story of infamy begins on June 19th, 2006 with her debut song “Tim Mcgraw” going more than viral. Swift was a young teenage girl from Pennsylvania with a dream, the support of her parents, and a guitar. She debuted as a young new female singer in country music with the release of her self-titled album. Paired with her catchy music was long curly blond hair, sweet sundresses and cowboy boots. After all, she was still a high school girl and just starting to make her way into the music industry. The aesthetic of her debut was very southern belle charm and coincided with the song that catapulted her to fame, “Tim McGraw”.
After her self-titled album, came Fearless. Released in 2008, Fearless was what truly brought Swift into her own as a famous country artist. This album featured tracks including “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me”, both of which garnered Swift national attention. From then on, she was no longer just a country artist. Shortly after, she was invited to the VMA’s and won an award, where she was famously interrupted by Kanye West. With this new era and continued fame, each performance was more over the top than the next, creating the perfect combination of sparkle and sweet southern disposition.
Post-Fearless came Speak Now (2010), which many Swifties (popularized term used to describe Taylor Swift fans) are speculating will be the next “Taylor’s Version” album to come out. During this era, Swift started experimenting a little more with pop sounds, which will later lead her to the path she is on now. The long curly blonde hair stayed consistent through most of this era, but the sweet country attitude slowly drifted away as her love for dramatics in her performances, and exposure to Hollywood, increased.
Next came Red (2012), which truly began Swift’s transition from country to pop. This era was the big introduction of Taylor’s classic red lip. We gained songs like “22”, “All Too Well”, and “I Knew You Were Trouble”, which remained favorites throughout the year.
November of 2021, Red (Taylor’s Version) dropped and had a short blimp of style referencing back to the original era in 2012. It was during this era that Taylor’s old style of high-waisted shorts, vertical stripes, and even cat ears came back in full force, as yet another genius marketing tactic for the revived album Red, (Taylor’s Version). Swift's Red era, which set numerous records, won awards, and had a massive world tour, was life changing for her.
1989 dropped in 2016 finally giving Swift the title of Pop Star instead of Country Music Star. With the drop of this album came Swift’s notorious model/celebrity friend group, who were posting iconic photos with one another all over social media. This only helped to further Swift’s career as a pop icon and influencer to all ages. Swift's hair changed from having loose, long curls between Red and 1989 to a somewhat shorter style with straightened hair and bangs, giving her the blunt bob that she is recognized for to this day.
However, Taylor Swift’s music is more than what she wears while on stage or how she chooses to do her hair on any particular day. Swift is equally as famous for her music as she is for her fierce advocacy, consistently standing up for what she believes is right and ethical. Another reason that her fans are so die hard. Swift began taking action for artists removing her discography from all streaming platforms to advocate for higher royalties. She also took a stand for herself taking a dj/radio host to court over a sexual assault case for only a single dollar because she didn’t need the money, only the justice. However, the media can be unkind and social media can be harmful, so when her name was once again linked to Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, she went into hiding and deleted all of her social media posts. As a Taylor Swift fan, it was difficult because she went MIA for an entire year. Nobody saw her, and the cycle of releasing an album every two years was disrupted, leading fans to wonder even now whether there is a missing album that we may never hear because the world treated her too harshly.
But, then came Reputation. For far too long Taylor Swift was off of Social Media, leaving everyone wondering what the pop star could possibly have been up to. Then, on August 21st, 2017, Swifties finally got a taste of what she was working on. Her Social Media channels all finally had a new post on it, a glitchy 10 second clip of what appeared to be a snake. A single panel, just of a scaly tail. And just like that, she was back. Her short but suspenseful hiatus from social media created the perfect amount of wonder for her fans. Her social media pages were a blank slate, and nothing else had ever made people wonder what she might be working on. Although she faced criticism for this move, it was criticism that drove her to work harder and make even more music.
The doubts were shut down when Swift completely blew tour numbers out of the water with Reputation’s Stadium tour. The dark color palette and ‘villain arc’ and ‘revenge’ like aesthetic are some of the defining characteristics of the era. After the darkness of Reputation, pastels made their way into Taylor Swift’s social media with the news of Lover in 2020. The bright and colorful aesthetic was not only on her Instagram page, it was also in the clothes she wore for performances and promotions, as well and in the vibe of the album as a whole. As the title of the album suggests there is an overwhelming topic of love, including romantic, platonic, familial, and even post love break up songs. With the sale of her previous discography's masters (from Taylor Swift up until Reputation) to Scooter Braun in a deal that didn't help her and would have ultimately injured her much more, Swift's public enemy number two also rose to prominence at this time. As a result, Swift switched record labels and released albums with "Taylor's Versions" so she could claim copyright of her original songs and lyrics.
Lover was meant to have two festivals, also known as Loverfest, which because of the COVID-19 pandemic, never occurred. Instead, without prior notice during lockdown, we acquired the sister albums, Folklore and Evermore. Two folk albums that seem to capture autumn in music form. These albums were exactly what Swift and her fans needed to find serenity during lockdown, with their forest surroundings, neutral color scheme, and cozy vibe. Fans speculated a third album titled Woodvale to complete the folk album trio, but it was never announced and now we have “Taylor’s Version” and Midnights to feed any Taylor Swift content we were lacking.
Now here we are nearing the end of 2022 with the release of Midnights. I, for one, am overjoyed that another pop album featuring synth and a 70s vibe has been given to us. In fact, I've been playing the album repeatedly while I've been writing this piece. Karma is undoubtedly on Taylor's side because West and Braun have recently had setbacks, and aren't they jealous that the same hasn't happened to them? With the release of Midnight’s and the streaming and sales records it has set, Taylor Swift has undoubtedly reestablished her position as a major asset in the music industry. So “Dear Reader” I hope that you take this article as a sign to go and stream Midnights, and by the time this is published, possibly Speak Now (Taylor’s Version), if Swifties have discovered the right easter eggs.