Fans of Taylor Swift know she plans things out far in advance. A random statement in an interview may come back months or years later, having a significant meaning that was unexpected at the time, but becomes clear.
Just recently, a line from Swift’s New York University honorary doctorate acceptance speech returned to Twitter when a lyric from her new album was posted on a billboard.
“Breathe in, breathe through, breathe deep, breathe out,” Swift said, hinting at something nobody but her knew about.
In the past, this impeccable planning also included the release of singles before an album. Sometimes, this would be multiple singles coming out even months before an album. Most recently, fans received the lead single “ME!” in April of 2019, months before the album, “Lover,” was released in August.
Fans had time to enjoy, digest and buy the music for a long time before the full project came out, giving Swift immense success in sales and chart positions.
She repeated this pattern for many of her past albums, with at least one single coming out well before the album. However, this schedule seemed to change during the COVID-19 pandemic.
July 2020 saw Swift make a dramatic shift, opting for a surprise announcement, then releasing her eighth studio album “Folklore” just hours later. This was a shock to diehard fans and the general public alike, as the release made national headlines and spawned a number one album.
No single was released before the album, and barely any notice was given. This was so unlike Swift that many fans were left shocked and confused, but nonetheless intensely excited.
Swift once again shocked the world in December 2020 where she again posted a surprise announcement for her ninth studio album “Evermore,” just months after the previous release. Swift has typically waited two to three years between albums, so this second release was arguably even more shocking.
Her 2021 re-recording of her album “Fearless,” titled “Fearless (Taylor’s Version),” saw Swift almost return to her typical single release schedule, with “Love Story” coming out February before the rest of the album coming in April.
But once again, Swift broke her pattern with “Red (Taylor’s Version),” another re-recording but this time of her 2012 album “Red.” Swift announced the album in June of 2021, but waited five months before releasing the album with no singles.
It was another shock to fans and the public. And now, with the release of her newest studio album “Midnights,” Swift has once again released an album without a single. Not only that, she released a longer version just three hours later.
It’s a marked departure from her previous releases. “Midnights” came out at, you guessed it, midnight on Oct. 21. However, a mere three hours later, seven more songs were added to the 13-track album, in what Swift titled “Midnights (3am Edition).”
This came as yet another shock and gleeful surprise to fans, who were not expecting this second release.
So, the question remains, what happened to the previous single-to-album release schedule? Did the pandemic force a shift in the music industry away from the single?
It doesn’t appear so, since Beyonce, a pop culture legend and music industry veteran, still released the lead single “BREAK MY SOUL” off her 2022 album “Renaissance” before the album.
Is Swift just bored of the release cycle she had done for most of her career? Maybe.
Either way, the constant changes in how her music is released is exciting and interesting. What seems like every week, fans flock to Twitter speculating if Swift will release a song, video or surprise-drop an entire album. Her social media engagement definitely benefits from constantly changing her release style.
But, only time will tell if she goes back to her status quo or continues to keep fans guessing.