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Meet me at midnight: Taylor’s Swift VMAs success and album announcement

Taylor Swift has quite a lot going on at the moment. In the midst of her re-recordings, press events to discuss “All Too Well: The Short Film” and work for David O’Russell’s film “Amsterdam,”  the multihyphenate managed to find time to create her 10th studio album, “Midnights.” Per Swift’s announcement, “Midnights” will feature 13 currently unnamed tracks, each telling the story of a “sleepless night” throughout Swift’s life. “Midnights” follows the release of her most recent re-recording, “Red (Taylor’s Version)” and will be her first new studio album since the Dec. 2020 release of “evermore.”

Swift dropped the surprise announcement Aug. 28 at the 2022 MTV VMAs. While onstage collecting her third award of the night, Video of the Year for “All Too Well: The Short Film,” she ended her acceptance speech by saying, “We wouldn’t have been able to make this short film if it weren’t for you, the fans… so I thought it might be a fun moment to tell you that my brand new album comes out Oct. 21. And I will tell you more at midnight.” She followed the speech with posts to her social media and a theme change on her website to signify the start of a new era. 

While the album announcement may have come as a surprise to many, some observant fans have been predicting a new release for months. Swift — known for her love of clues and of her favorite number, 13 — often hints about future work in everything she does, from Instagram story posts to talk show appearances. Swift is known to make major announcements on days of personal significance, and many Swifties raptly follow her every move, trying to predict what the next one will be. 

Her in-person appearance at the VMAs this year was her first since 2019 and fell on the 13th anniversary of her first major VMA win in 2009. That win holds a bittersweet significance for Swift, as it both solidified her position in the popular music genre and also began her infamous public drama with Kanye West.  

This moment — and its enduring legacy — is a recurring theme in her music. Over her career, Swift has explored the embarrassment she felt as a young artist and the later mental health struggles she faced, partially due to her widespread cancellation and public downfall as a result of her tumultuous relationship with West. The crystal Oscar de la Renta gown she wore for the show is reminiscent of the bedazzled gown she wore to the infamous 2009 VMAs and the shots of her in a bathtub of diamonds from her music video for her 2017 song, “Look What You Made Me Do,” which alludes to her drama with West.

Beyond the album announcement, the VMAs were a major success for Swift. She took home three awards: Best Direction, Best Longform Video, and Video of the Year, all for  “All Too Well: The Short Film,” which she wrote, directed, and featured in. It was Swift’s third time winning the show’s biggest award, Video of the Year, making her the first artist to ever do so. Her win in Best Direction is also notable, making it the second time Swift has won the award, her first time being in 2019 for the music video for “The Man.” 

While Swift has directed many of her own music videos throughout her career,  “All Too Well: The Short Film” marks her first foray into film. These MTV awards are the latest in the abundant critical and popular praise the work has received. Since its release in 2021, Swift has appeared at a variety of film festivals to discuss her directorial process and expressed a desire to continue to direct at Tribeca Festival this past June.

In addition to the buzz surrounding her wins, Swift had lots of airtime throughout the night’s broadcast, shown chatting with “All Too Well: The Short Film” star Dylan O’Brien and dancing as Nicki Minaj rapped “he always in the air / but he never fly coach” in her Vanguard Medley performance, a moment many viewers took as a lighthearted jab at Swift due to recent news of her private jet use. Swift dominated conversations online after the awards show, leaving  “Midnights” poised to be one of the most anticipated releases in the remainder of 2022. 

Fans have already begun creating hopeful predictions about “Midnights”: from  decoding a potential tracklist to trying to guess when Swift may release a lead single. I think that this album will be one of her most vulnerable yet, showcasing her unique songwriting talent. With the focus being her sleepless nights, it’s likely that her innate skill for crafting heartbreaking and relatable narratives will shine, similar to her critically acclaimed pandemic releases, “folklore” and “evermore.”

 The album will likely cover themes of indecision, self-doubt, and personal reflection. In her album announcement, Swift utilized phrases such as “self-made cages” and expressing a desire to “meet ourselves,” which, to me, suggests work that will be deeply personal. Both myself and many others believe that the album will be emotionally devastating, with Swift leaning on her strongest skills and life experiences to craft yet another masterpiece. 

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