The Clock Strikes: Time for Taylor Swift’s New LP, ‘Midnights’

The Easter eggs have been carefully checked for clues. The marbled vinyl has been made into collectible versions that have been pressed. The hashtags from fans are ready to go. It’s time for a new album from Taylor Swift.

Taylor Swift’s 10th studio album, “Midnights,” came out at midnight on Friday. This is the latest chapter in what has been a very productive couple of years for Swift, who at 32 is still one of the most powerful creative forces in music. She announced the 13-track “Midnights” album two months ago, calling it “the story of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life” and “a collection of music written in the middle of the night, a journey through terrors and sweet dreams.”

It is Swift’s fifth album in just over two years, following her indie-folk-style “Folklore” and “Evermore” during her quarantine, and then “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” and “Red (Taylor’s Version),” the first two rerecordings of her early albums, which she did after her former record label was sold without her involvement. In 2021, “Folklore” won the Grammy for album of the year.

Taylor Swift Midnights
Taylor Swift Midnights

In a way, “Midnights” is Taylor Swift’s return to the pop scene after a couple of years away from it. She said that many of the lyrics sound like late-night thoughts about the stresses of life, getting older, and the meaning of love. On “Anti-Hero,” the third song, she sings:

I have this thing where I get older but just never wiser
Midnights become my afternoons
When my depression works the graveyard shift

When my depression keeps me up at night, Most of the songs on the album were written and recorded with her longtime partner Jack Antonoff. Most of the songs were recorded at Antonoff’s home studio in Brooklyn and at Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady Studios in Greenwich Village.

In the list of names, there are also some interesting ones. Zo Kravitz, who has been working on an album with Antonoff, is listed as one of the six writers of the first song, “Lavender Haze,” along with Taylor Swift, Antonoff, Mark Anthony Spears (also known as the producer Sounwave), Jahaan Sweet, and Sam Dew. Fans know that Swift and Kravitz are close enough friends that Swift helped Kravitz take a remote photo for The New York Times Magazine during the pandemic without getting credit for it.

Another song, “Sweet Nothing,” was written by Swift and someone named William Bowery. This was a name that didn’t sound familiar, but it showed up in the credits for “Folklore.” Swift later said that this was a fake name for her boyfriend, the actor Joe Alwyn. On the track, she sings, “They said the end is coming/up Everyone’s to something.” “I always want to get home to your sweet nothings.”

“Midnights” is likely to be one of the most popular books of the year. Swift’s marketing for this album consisted of a series of funny videos on TikTok that showed song titles taken from Ping-Pong balls in a basket, one at a time, as if they were from an old TV commercial. Swift even posted her plan for the week before the album’s release on Instagram, with details like a “special very chaotic surprise” on Friday at 3 a.m. The music video for “Anti-Hero” will come out at 8 a.m. Eastern time, and “The Tonight Show” will air on Monday.

But Swift’s embrace of physical music formats like CDs and vinyl LPs could have a big effect on how well “Midnights” sells and where it lands on the charts. This is because of how Billboard uses data about how people listen to music, which can have a big effect on chart positions. Swift is putting out four standard vinyl versions of “Midnights,” each with its own disc colour and cover art. These versions are the same as the four different CD versions. “Get all 4 versions!” ” says Swift’s website. Target has been working with Swift for a long time, so it has its own exclusive LP version (on “lavender” vinyl) and a CD with three exclusive tracks.

The back covers are the most clever or shameless part of Swift’s vinyl strategy, depending on how you look at it. When the four editions are turned over and put on a grid, they show 12 numbers that, when put in the right order, form the hours of a clock. Swift said, in a perfectly deadpan Instagram video, “It could help you tell time.”

But not only that. Swift’s website sells the actual clock for $49. It comes in a kit with four walnut wood shelves to hold LP jackets, a brass metal clock centre piece, and two wooden hands with “Taylor Swift” written in brass ink on each one.

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