The Record-Breaking Success of Taylor Swift’s New Album ‘Midnights’, Explained

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taylor swift midnights album

Taylor Swift’s 10th studio album Midnights was released on October 21 and within 24 hours, it had broken the record for the most streams in a single day. It became the top-selling album of the year and reportedly led Spotify to crash for some users.

Midnights also became the most requested album ever on the smart speaker, Alexa.  

Why should IGAF: Swift is unlike any other pop star in the music industry right now. Swift’s fans have more parallels with Stars Wars and Game of Thrones fans, than Drake or Beyonce fans.

Her listeners have a level of dedication to her songwriting that no other modern-day artist can claim. Swift’s music is something to be analyzed, dissected, and pored over.

The Facts

  • According to Swift, Midnights is a “concept album” made up of 13 songs that tell “the stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life.”
  • This concept gives Swift the opportunity to revisit some of her most famous past relationships and feuds from her life.
  • The track Maroon is speculated to be about her doomed relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal and Midnight Rain is theorized to be about Tom Hiddleston who wanted Swift as a “bride.”  
  • There is an entire tribe of “Gaylor theorists” who believe Swift is bisexual and has dated several of her female friends or “squad” – most notably Victoria’s Secret model Karlie Kloss. Her tracks Karma and Question…? is theorized to be about a romantic relationship with Kloss.
  • Three hours after releasing Midnights, Swift dropped seven more bonus tracks on a surprise 3am edition of the album. Bonus track Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve is widely believed to be about Swift’s relationship with a 32-year-old John Mayer when she was 19-years-old. Fans are calling it her “darkest song” ever.
  • Swift also seemingly references her previous struggles with an eating disorder in the lyrics and music video for lead single Anti-Hero.
  • Vigiliante Sh*t is speculated to either be about her feud with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West or more likely her vendetta against now-divorced Scooter Braun who controversially bought the master recordings of Swift’s songs.
  • Snow on the Beach is a collaboration with Lana Del Rey but listeners were shocked but how little Del Rey is featured on the song.
  • There is a distinct lack of songs for radio-play. Anti-Hero is the track that has been most frequently turned into a TikTok video with its central memeable lyric “It’s me, hi. I’m the problem it’s me.”

Grand Scheme of Things: Swift’s music is perfect in an age where the internet brings people together around media consumption.

  • The most recent episode of Sounds Like A Cult (“a podcast about modern-day cults we all follow”) explored ‘The Cult of Taylor Swift.”  Hosts Isa Medina and Amanda Mentell comment that there is a fundamentalism” to Swift’s music which means that “you’re not allowed to be a casual Taylor Swift listener.” Her fans form strong online communities around deciphering her music. Swift makes her lyrics so relatable that her music becomes a vehicle for self-reflection for her fans and part of their own identity.
  • Although this obsession could sound problematic, this is also no different from the fandom around sports teams or the fan theories around TV franchises. In this modern online age, we love to talk and speculate about the things we love. Swift knows this and she brings her listeners together in record-breaking ways, like no other artist.