Anti-Hero Takeover

Luke Daines, Staff Reporter


On October 21, 2022, at midnight sharp, music icon Taylor Swift dropped her 10th studio album. Midnights, the stories of 13 sleepless nights throughout Swift’s career, was received astoundingly well by adoring fans. But that evening was just the beginning.


At 3 am, Swift dropped “Midnights: 3am Edition” containing 7 bonus tracks. This extended album was also followed up with a music video for the lead single “Anti-Hero”. These were also both revived with unprecedented consumption.


“Midnights” broke the record for the most streamed album in one day, and Taylor Swift became the most streamed artist in a day in Spotify history. The album also went on to break sales records as it became the best-selling album of 2022, and the first album to sell over 1 million units in its first week in more than 5 years.


I sat down to talk all things Taylor with Stem’s history teacher and lifelong swiftie, Ms. L, and there was much to discuss. “It was exactly what I wanted it to be, without even knowing what it was going to be” said Longoria, when asked how she felt about the release. “She’s been my only favorite artist, ever.” Longoria stated when she spoke about how Taylor creates such a dedicated fan base.


This fanbase Swift has created, known as Swifties, is often attributed to being the main reason for her success. When I chatted with Ms. Longoria, she and I both agreed that the lengths we would go to for Taylor Swift rivaled even that of our friends and family. “Taylor made me watch football” Longoria stated, in reference to the album teaser Swift premiered during an NFL game on October 20, 2022.


I also was able to sit down with NESA Visual Arts student Iris Underwood. A self-proclaimed swiftie and enthusiastic fan. Underwood and I discussed the relevance of Midnights for a younger generation of fans. “It was so exciting because it was a moment in history I got to be a part of,” Underwood said, “…this is the first album that I am old enough to experience fully.”


When asked about what makes her so alluring, both parties delivered creative answers. “I truly think she is the most famous person in the world,” said Longoria, “…no matter who you are, whether you like her or not, you’ve heard of her. I think that infamous character is what makes her so interesting”. Iris took a similar approach. “There is no one quite like Taylor.” Underwood said, “whether it’s in terms of sales, popularity, relevancy, or influence, she is leading in all aspects.”


Now, I can’t talk about Midnights without discussing a theory that has gained popularity in the past few years, specifically with the release of Midnights: Gaylor. Now for those of you who don’t know much about it, this is a theory centered around the idea that Taylor Swift is a member of the queer community. Fans began to speculate about the idea of this when many started noticing recurring references to queer themes. “Every time she references queer history, she knows what she’s doing” said Underwood. 


Popular Tik Tokker @Kales_0 is a great source if you’d like to look more into this, but the gist is that Taylor has continuously made queer references and suggestions that have led many fans to believe she is a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, and with good reason. There is a lot of evidence to support these theories, including the history of colors like lavender and its ties to the queer community, as well as her previous friendship with model Karlie Kloss, and the continuous references to rumors about their relationship across the latter half of Swifts discography. I encourage you to go and do some digging to learn more about this because I found it quite eye-opening to see the explanations and context behind many of these beliefs.


I digress, but now we can move on to the discussion about public enemy #1, Ticketmaster. On November 1, 2022, Swift announced that she would be returning to tour in 2023. The tour, titled “Taylor Swift | The Era’s Tour”, is set to kick off in Glendale, AZ on March 17, 2022. Like me, most fans were ecstatic to hear that Swift would return to touring after 5 years off the road. Many believed that they might even purchase tickets to multiple shows to see Swift again and again, but then the morning of November 15 came. 


As millions of fans logged onto Ticketmaster that morning, the site began to experience major issues. Fans began to experience crashes, getting kicked out, and not even being able to open the website. There were so many issues that Ticketmaster even had to push the presale back 3 hours for west coast Swifties. Millions waited in line for hours to try and get tickets to Swift’s 52 dates across North America, but in the end, most came out empty-handed. If you’d like to read more about this, feel free to look into the article that my colleague Julissa Duran had written about the Ticketmaster debbocal.


Swift continues to break records in the weeks following the release. She became the first artist ever to occupy all of the top 10 spots on the Billboard Hot 100. She also was responsible for the first time in Billboard history when no male artists were present in the top 10. The lead single for the album, Anti-Hero, is currently spending its sixth consecutive week at number 1.


As for my thoughts, the album was some of Swift’s best work to date. She returned to a dreamy synth-pop vibe after a two-year break exploring more indie-alternative styles of music. “Midnights” successfully combines the strengths of more pop-y productions, but keeping with the deem lyricism of “folklore” and “evermore”. Some of my favorite tracks from the album include “Midnight Rain”, “Bejeweled”, “Mastermind”, “The Great War”, and “Glitch”. The album as a whole piece of work is relatively cohesive, with a few more different songs, and I think that it would be a good album for someone looking to get more into Swift’s work. The album also does a good job of covering sensitive topics that Swift has dealt with throughout her career. In “Anti-Hero”, she discusses having feelings of being a narcissist and larger-than-life, and talks about the insecurities of not being perceived as a “regular person”. In “You’re On Your Own, Kid”, she references her struggles with anorexia, and how it affected her relationships with herself and her family. She even makes references to cheating on her significant other in “High Infidelity”.


Overall, even with all of the drama surrounding the album, it stood by itself as a strong piece of work and a spectacular example of Taylor Swift as an artist. I highly recommend you give it a listen. It really hits different at midnight. 


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