Taylor Swift has set a number of new records with her 10th studio album, Midnights, which was released on 21st October.
With UK sales of 204,000, it had the biggest first week of any album this year, almost doubling the numbers of the previous title-holder, Harry’s House, the third solo album by Harry Styles. Midnights also had the highest first-week streams of the year: 72.5m, again beating Styles’ figures of 53.9m. On the day of its release, it broke global Spotify records for the most streams of a single album in one day.
It is Swift’s biggest ever opening week in the UK, beating her previous personal-best sales figure of 90,300 with her 2014 album, 1989.
The 32-year-old US musician has also overtaken Madonna to set a new all-time UK chart record for the fastest succession of nine UK No 1 albums of any female artist – although Madonna still has the record for the most UK No 1 albums. of any solo female artist, with 12 overall. Swift is now second in that list, pushing Kylie Minogue into third place. Incidentally, a reissue of Minogue’s 1997 album Impossible Princess charts at No 5 this week.
Midnights also beat Arctic Monkeys’ highly anticipated seventh album, The Car, to the No. 1 spot. What had been anticipated as a close-run chart battle ended up nothing of the sort: the Sheffield band racked up just over 100,000 chart sales.
Swift also takes the UK No 1 singles spot this week with Anti-Hero, a song she has described as “a real guided tour throughout all the things I tend to hate about myself”.
The song’s video – directed by Swift – was met with controversy over a scene in which she stepped on her bathroom scales, which displayed the word “fat”. Swift has previously discussed having a disordered relationship to food and body image. After she was accused of fatphobia, the video was amended to remove the word.
Swift has two more singles in the Top 5: Lavender Haze at No 3 and Snow on the Beach, a duet with Lana Del Rey, at No 4. Chart rules introduced after 16 of the 17 songs on Ed Sheeran’s 2017 album ÷ charted in the Top 20 means that only the three most popular songs of any album are eligible for the singles chart.
Midnights is Swift’s first album of original material since 2020, when she released the surprise albums Folklore and Evermore. In the interim, she has also released re-recordings of her albums Fearless and Red, part of her mission to reclaim ownership over her first six albums after the master recordings were sold to music mogul – and noted Swift foe – Scooter Braun.
Unlike the folksy, largely fictionalized Folklore and Evermore, Midnights is a relative return to Swift’s traditional brand of candid pop. It has generally been met with critical acclaim. In a five-star review, Guardian music critic Alexis Petridis described it as “cool, collected and mature”. Writing for the New York Times, however, critic Jon Caramanica said that the album “constrains her voice” and described some of the lyrics as “lacklustre and bluntly imagistic”.