Meet Her at Midnight

Christine Nguyen, Managing Editor

On Aug. 28, Taylor Swift accepted a Moon Person for winning video of the year at the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards for her companion short film to “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)”  from “Red (Taylor’s Version).” In her acceptance speech, she teased the release of her 10th studio album “Midnights” on Oct. 21, her first new release in two years. 

Debuting 16 years ago, Swift remains one of the best-selling musicians to date, her genre-versatility and songwriting genius propelling her to perennial popularity. Besides being the first to win three Grammys for Album of the Year in three different genres, 10 of Swift’s albums have held the number one spot on Billboard’s 200 — if “Midnights” follows suit, Swift would tie Barbra Streisand for the most No. 1 albums by a female artist. Given her impressive track record, there’s no doubt “Midnights” will strike a resounding chord in longtime fans and casual listeners alike. 

According to Swift’s Twitter, the album comes from a vulnerable place, telling the story of 13 transformative nights scattered throughout her life. Encapsulating the spirit of Swift’s success, “Midnights”’ premise speaks to her remarkable ability to turn intimate moments into universal anthems, tapping into the raw experience of lying awake at night haunted by your inner demons.

The highly-anticipated release follows sister albums “Folklore” and “Evermore” in 2020. By then, Swift’s discographical evolution was evident — from catchy, upbeat pop to a soft, mature sound. Themes of love, heartbreak, forgiveness, and family remain, but she explores a storytelling approach, embracing numerous perspectives — the albums feature anthology stories written from different characters’ points of view, such as the love triangle in “Cardigan,” “August,” and “Betty,” from “Folklore.”

With “Midnights,” a more introspective angle seems imminent, yet another step forward in Swift’s personal evolution. 

“The floors we pace and the demons we face,” Swift wrote. “[…H]oping that just maybe, when the clock strikes twelve… we’ll meet ourselves.” 

On the cover, a flame flickers before Swift’s contemplative gaze — a shift from the distant, less personal framing of her last covers. 

Swift’s storytelling and lyrical prowess also inspired her long-standing practice of leaving hints about her upcoming projects. 

“I wanted to [incentivize] fans to read the lyrics because my lyrics are what I’m most proud of,” Swift said on the “Tonight Show,” explaining how the tradition started with her first album. 

And Swifties are all too eager to pull on every loose thread to speculate about what’s next.

One theory alludes to Swift’s “Reputation” era, following a year-long media silence in 2017. Prior, Taylor had been teasing “Karma,” an album that would kick-start Swift’s rock era but was scrapped in favor of “Reputation. Fans hoping for “Karma’s” release are holding out for a soft-rock feel from “Midnights.”

Fans also speculated that “Midnights” is the sister album to “Lover,” which, she revealed in a 2019 interview with Ryan Seacrest, was originally titled “Daylight.” “Lover’s” final song, “Daylight,” hints that she no longer wants to fear the night. 

Swift has come a long way since her humble country origins, and her music will continue to reach audiences transcendent of genres. “Midnights” will undoubtedly find popularity in its relatable premise and soul-baring narratives, but who knows what Swift has in store. There’s only one way to find out — see you at midnight.