On Sunday, Taylor Swift caused a bit of a frenzy when she announced that her 10th studio album, Midnights, will be released on Oct. 21.
The singer dropped the bombshell during her “Video of the Year” acceptance speech at MTV’s Video Music Awards after she won the accolade for “All Too Well: The Short Film.”
“I had sort of made up my mind that if you were going to be this generous and give us this, I thought it might be a fun moment to tell you that my brand-new album comes out Oct. 21,” she told the excited crowd at the time.
More information about the upcoming record came via social media, with Taylor sharing the album artwork alongside a written statement about what fans should expect.
“We lie awake in love and in fear, in turmoil and in tears. We stare at walls and drink until they speak back. We twist in our self-made cages and pray that we aren’t — right this minute — about to make some fateful life-altering mistake,” she wrote.
“This is a collection of music written in the middle of the night, a journey through terrors and sweet dreams. The floors we pace and the demons we face,” Taylor went on. “For all of us who have tossed and turned and decided to keep the lanterns lit and go searching — hoping that just maybe, when the clock strikes twelve … we’ll meet ourselves.”
“The stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life,” she added in the post’s caption.
Now, if there is one thing that Taylor is known for outside of her singing, it’s her dedication to leaving hidden clues and Easter eggs about her upcoming projects for her fans to discover.
Hardcore Swifties often curate incredibly plausible theories from the secret hints that Taylor has buried in her social media activity and various interviews, with many eventually proving to be true.
Speaking to Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show last year, Taylor said of her love of Easter eggs: "It's sort of a tradition that we started a very long time ago. I think the first time that I started dropping sort of cryptic clues in my music was when I was 14 or 15, putting together my first album."
She admitted that she sometimes plans her clues up to three years in advance, and told Entertainment Weekly that she always gets excited by her fans’ theories. She explained: “I've trained them to be that way. I love that they like the cryptic hint-dropping. Because as long as they like it, I'll keep doing it. It's fun. It feels mischievous and playful."
So needless to say, as soon as Swifties had finished screaming, crying, and throwing up over the Midnights announcement, they got to work — and here we have laid out some of the most compelling theories and interesting observations that they have curated around the upcoming album.
First things first, it wasn’t lost on many people that Taylor made her big announcement at the VMAs, where Kanye West famously crashed the stage and interrupted her acceptance speech for the Best Female Video Award in 2009.
Taylor was just 19 years old at the time, and later admitted to feeling humiliated as Kanye shouted that Beyoncé was more deserving of the win. The moment ended up triggering a long-running and messy feud between Taylor and the rapper.
As a result, many have claimed that her decision to reveal Midnights to the world on the VMAs stage was a conscious one on Taylor’s end, especially as 13 is her lucky number, which is exactly how many years have passed since the ’09 incident.
“Fully believe that nothing this woman does is an accident,” one person wrote on a Reddit forum on Monday. “In 2009, the show was stolen from her, last night she stole the show back.”
Adding fuel to the theory, others noted that Taylor’s VMAs dress was eerily reminiscent of an outfit she wore in her 2017 “Look What You Made Me Do” music video, which was already a homage to her 2009 VMAs gown.
In case you’re new here, “Look What You Made Me Do” was a direct response to the 2016 beef between Taylor and Kanye, after Kanye and his then-wife, Kim Kardashian, leaked a phone conversation with Taylor amid the fallout of his controversial song “Famous” and its accompanying music video.
“THE MOST OBVIOUS EASTER EGG EVER,” one fan tweeted alongside a screenshot of Taylor wearing the dress in her music video and a photo of the singer on the red carpet on Sunday night. Another person compared a photo of Taylor accepting her VMA in 2009 to her 2022 win and wrote: “13 years later... This is Taylor Swift's revenge dress.”
Rounding up the Kimye drama, it was also noted that Midnights will be released on Kim’s 42nd birthday, and while it’s not known if this is intentional, fans are still living for the drama.
“The fact that Taylor Swift is releasing Midnights on Kim Kardashian’s birthday..can I be this dramatic,” one person wrote. Someone else tweeted: “Taylor wearing a similar dress to the vmas like she did 2009 and announcing a new album coming out on Kim's birthday will forever be hilarious to me.”
After they’d fully analyzed Taylor’s activity that night, fans started to look retrospectively to see if there were any hints that Midnights was coming that they had missed.
And, with Taylor being Taylor, of course there were — including a direct reference to her upcoming album’s title back in May.
If you didn’t know, Taylor is currently in the process of rerecording her first six albums so that she can own all of her music. The move came after her old label, Big Machine Records, sold the masters of her original recordings to her nemesis, Scooter Braun.
Taylor vowed to rerecord all of the songs that she released with them to devalue the originals and prevent Scooter from profiting, and also so that she can legally own them.
Sharing a snippet of her rerecorded version of “This Love,” Taylor wrote on social media on May 5: “Thank you @jennyhan for debuting my version of This Love in the trailer for @thesummeriturnedpretty!! I’ve always been so proud of this song and I’m very 🥺🥺🥺 about this turn of events - This Love (Taylor’s Version) comes out tonight at m i d n i g h t!”
At the time, many thought that this was a sign that she was going to release her new version of her 2014 album, 1989. In addition to this being the record that “This Love” originally appeared on, the spaces between the letters in “midnight” made some think of her 1989 single “Blank Space.”
“She literally teased the album and we were looking at the blank spaces,” one fan tweeted. Another wrote: “M i d n i g h t … we had it in front of us since May 5th.”
And true to Taylor’s revelation that she plans some Easter eggs years in advance, other eagle-eyed Swifties noted that in 2020 she created a Spotify playlist for her album Folklore that was called “The sleepless nights chapter,” a direct reference to the theme of her upcoming album.
As for what listeners can expect from Midnights, there is growing speculation that this is actually the sister album of Lover, which was released in 2019.
During an interview with Ryan Seacrest after the album was released, Taylor revealed that she very nearly called Lover “Daylight,” which is the name of the final song on the album.
Explaining why she ended up changing her mind, Taylor said: “I felt like that was a little too on the nose because Reputation was such a dark, like evening-nighttime-city album, and I thought that calling the next album Daylight would be too obvious and it’s such a love album.”
Even more tellingly, “Daylight” — and thus the album — ends with a voice recording of Taylor saying: “I wanna be defined by the things that I love. Not the things I hate. Not the things that I'm afraid of, I'm afraid of. Not the things that haunt me in the middle of the night. I just think that you are what you love.”
Drawing attention to both facts in a TikTok video, one fan theorized: “Thinking about how Swifties totally forgot about that random theory that Lover had a Side B, which was going to be ‘blue,’ and how Taylor said she plans things three years in advance sometimes, and how she ends ‘Daylight’ with ‘the things that haunt me in the middle of the night’ and now we get Midnights, which is literally an album about the things that haunt her in the middle of the night, three years after Lover (which was originally going to be named Daylight) came out.”
The theory gained even more traction in the video’s comments, with one fan pointing out that Midnights’ artwork looks much more like the back of a traditional album, as it includes the tracklist.
Another person referenced the two albums she released between Lover and Midnights, which she wrote during the COVID-19 pandemic. They said: “We really forget folklore and evermore weren't planned but just a product of the pandemic,, midnights may have been planned for ages.”
One fan even shared their hope that Midnights will begin where “Daylight” left off in Taylor’s voice recording, commenting: “‘Daylight’ ends with the voicemail type outro imagine if track 1 picks up where it left off omg.”
Someone else echoed: “Watch the first track be part two of ‘daylight,’” to which the original poster replied: “I gotta listen to ‘daylight’ and then the first track of Midnights when it comes out fr.. i rlly feel like the audio clip is a [segue].”
And even though the titles of Midnights’ songs have yet to be revealed, simply listed on the album artwork as tracks 1-13 across sides A and B, the fans still have some theories about them.
One claimed that the written statement Taylor shared alongside her album artwork on social media was key, with the statement divided into two distinct paragraphs. In a TikTok video, the fan claimed that each paragraph represented each side of the album, and the song titles were hidden within them.
“For example, they could be ‘We Lie Awake,’ ‘In Love’ … so on and so forth,” they said. “I don’t think she just wrote this to announce it.”
And the theory was incredibly well-received, with one viewer pointing out: “If you look at the way the phrases are broken up, there’s 13 of them.”
Someone else wrote: “I’m so glad I’m not the only one who read that and was like these words are way too specific to not mean something😹”
Others picked up on the fact that Taylor’s artwork on Spotify had been replaced with an animation of a ticking clock after Midnights was announced — with the clock’s numbers a variety of different colors.
One social media user pointed out that the colors had to mean something, theorizing that each one correlated to the period in time that its corresponding track was about — especially as the colors match some of the themes seen in Taylor’s past album artwork.
“She said that the songs were written at different times in her life,” the Swiftie tweeted. “Each color represents an era. green for debut, blue for 1989, red for red, yellow for fearless. Corresponding numbers are songs written from specific era, track 1 & 2 from 1989 era.”
Finally, a fan pieced together all of the above information and unlocked a fear that there is enough evidence to suggest that Midnights will be Taylor’s final album — at least for a while — as they admitted that they were “absolutely petrified” in a TikTok.
In the video, they wrote: “Midnight is like the ending of a day. It was 13 tracks about nights ‘scattered throughout my life,’ she announces it at the vmas, 13 YEARS after the 2009 VMAs incident wearing a dress reminiscent of the LWYMMD video but appearing in public with confidence and joy and pride.”
“It just feels like she’s cleanly wrapping everything up,” they went on. “Like a closing ceremony of all the ups and downs of her career. I cannot mentally cope with the concept of Taylor Swift not having an active career.”
While the video has racked up over 90,000 likes, many shut down the theory in the comment section. One referenced Taylor’s lucky number as they wrote: “There’s absolutely no way we aren’t getting at least 13 albums.”
Someone else said: “She released 2 albums in quarantine b/c she was bored, releasing TS10 while doing the rerecords just for the hell of it. She ain’t goin anywhere.”
Someone else referenced Taylor’s Netflix documentary as they claimed: “In Miss Americana there was a whole rant about how women in music are abandoned past 30. She’s gonna cling on til 109 out of spite 💀”
And I think I speak for all of us when I say that this is one theory that we definitely hope to be true.