If we know anything after the release of Taylor Swift’s 10th album “Midnights,” it’s that — like she says in her 13th track — she is proving that she is truly a “mastermind.”
Her album drop on Friday crashed Spotify — for the second time, after crashing the music streaming site in November when her rerelease of “Red” dropped, Bloomberg reported.
Swift was the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter and was the No. 3 item in trending Google searches Thursday night.
Brands, celebrities and even politicians were tweeting in anticipation of her new music.
Harvard University tweeted a thread about her albums as Harvard courses.
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox referenced the album drop by tweeting, “15 minutes to midnight on the east coast for no reason in particular...” and then responded to his own tweet with “Um...did we break Spotify?”
What is it about Swift that creates avid fans across generations? And how has she managed to stay relevant and continued to create prolific and popular, award-winning music after all these years?
What is Taylor Swift doing right?
There’s no denying Swift has serious business savvy.
In a review of “Midnights,” Billboard’s Jason Lipshutz writes, “Swift’s place in popular music continues to be larger than life, and that status will likely be reflected with the commercial performance of the most anticipated album release of the fall.”
Few artists have managed to traverse through genres as seamlessly as Swift. Rising to fame at such a young age can be a huge challenge for most young artists, but Swift navigated the transition in a way that feels natural and authentic. She grew up alongside many of her most loyal fans, and as she matured, the subject matter and depth of her music grew up, too.
Not that the journey didn’t have bumps along the way. In 2014, rising to meteoric notoriety with the highly praised album “1989” and known for parties with celebrity friends, backlash swirled around the pop star.
How Taylor Swift drops Easter eggs about new music
Another explanation for how the musical artist manages to stay relevant and popular with so many different types of fans is that she disappears periodically from the public eye.
Remember the Disney vault from the 1990s? Before Disney+, your favorite Disney hits could only be purchased on VHS for a limited time before going back into “the vault.”
Swift seems to have adopted the same strategy. And when she makes an appearance, it is laden with strategy and Easter eggs that leave her fans wildly speculating, creating TikTok videos about what her cryptic messages could mean.
“It’s really about turning new music into an event for my fans and trying to entertain them in playful, mischievous, clever ways,” Swift said in a statement to The Washington Post.
She disappears from the public eye, only to reappear with a clear goal in mind — to announce and promote new music for her fans. Once the promotions end, back into the vault she goes.
Taylor Swift is simply a brilliant songwriter and entertainer
She captures the imagination of her audience with her storytelling capabilities, creating an immediate relatability with fans of her music.
At the beginning of her Netflix documentary “Miss Americana,” she dives right into the heart of what makes her most vulnerable and therefore, most likable.
She says in the opening line of the documentary, “You know, my entire moral code, as a kid and now, is a need to be thought of as good. It was all I wrote about. It was all I wanted.”
The relationship she has with fans feels personal. Even when she’s talking about herself and the strange and wild world of being a celebrity, she brings the conversation back to individuals who could relate.
On “Folklore: the long pond studio sessions” on Disney+, she discusses her song “Mirrorball” with her producer and frequent co-writer Jack Antonoff. He talks about the “myth we create for people” and wanting them to perform, referring to celebrity.
She agrees that the song “was a metaphor for celebrity,” then brings it back to something more relatable, saying, “Everybody else feels like they have to be on for certain people. For, you have to be different versions of yourself for different people. Different versions at work, different versions around friends, different versions of yourself around different friends.”
In her music, Swift digs into the heart of the human experience in a poetic way that almost romanticizes growing up, falling in love and breaking up in a way that fans of all ages continue to enjoy.
Her new music releases have become huge events. By forcing fans to stay up until 3 a.m. to discover the “Very special chaotic surprise” that she had for them on Friday, her fans went through a collective, cathartic experience together. That is bonding and that is powerful.
And it doesn’t feel like this is the last time she might break the internet with new music.