We already knew that Taylor Swift was a restless creative force. Now we know that she is also an insomniac one.
Late Sunday, Swift announced her 10th studio album, “Midnights,” to be released on Oct. 21, which she described on social media as “the story of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life.”
“This is a collection of music written in the middle of the night, a journey through terrors and sweet dreams,” she added. “The floors we pace and the demons we face.” An image posted to Instagram, sure to be pored over for clues, shows Swift posed at a table in dim light, resting her head in one hand and holding out the receiver of a landline phone in the other.
“Midnights,” which Swift began selling through pre-orders on her website — available on “moonstone blue marble” vinyl and CD, as well as on cassette and download — will be the singer’s fifth album in just over two years. In 2020 she released a pair of LPs recorded in quarantine, “Folklore” and “Evermore.” (“Folklore,” which arrived in July 2020, won the Grammy for album of the year.) And in 2021 came “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” and “Red (Taylor’s Version),” the first of her planned series of rerecorded simulacra of her old albums — a move, prompted by the sale of Swift’s old record label without her participation, that gave her new control over her recordings.
Fans have been buzzing about a possible new version of “1989,” her pop breakthrough from 2014, especially since a new version of “Bad Blood,” from that album, was used in the soundtrack to “DC League of Super-Pets,” a new animated comedy film.
“Midnights” will come too late to qualify for the next Grammy Awards; the eligibility window for the 65th annual ceremony closes on Sept. 30. But, particularly with its robust offerings on physical media, the album has a strong possibility of becoming one of the year’s biggest commercial successes, rivaling releases like Harry Styles’s “Harry’s House” (which had the biggest opening of the year, thanks in part to vinyl sales), Bad Bunny’s “Un Verano Sin Ti” and Disney’s “Encanto” soundtrack.
Swift’s competition this year has also been notably soft. Despite the arrival of new albums by high-profile artists — Drake, Lizzo, Post Malone, Megan Thee Stallion, even BTS — few have had huge debut weeks or much staying power on the charts; one of the few new releases that has held fast in the Top 5 lately is Beyoncé’s “Renaissance,” which also had the biggest opening for a woman this year. The last artist to sell a million copies in a week was Swift, with “Reputation” in 2017.
Swift teased the announcement of “Midnights” late Sunday in an acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards, where “All Too Well: The Short Film” — from her “Red” rerecording project — won three awards, including video of the year. About an hour later, her website began taking orders.