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5 Takeaways From Taylor Swift's New Album 'Midnights'
Taylor Swift is still full of surprises — and back with darker pop than ever before — on her tenth studio album, 'Midnights.'
Taylor Swift is dressing for revenge. Back when August was slipping away, the singer stepped onto the MTV Video Music Awards red carpet in a silver crystal dress dripping with reputation nostalgia.
On what just so happened to be the 13th anniversary of Kanye West infamously interrupting her speech, the nod to reputation felt like a glaring sign of something about to come. So when she accepted the biggest award of the night, many fans expected her to finally announce another re-recording — but to everyone's surprise, she announced her tenth studio album.
Two months later, the clock struck midnight on Oct. 21, and Midnights arrived like a dream. Across a velvety electropop landscape sculpted by close collaborator Jack Antonoff, Swift untangles her late-night thoughts and deepest secrets across 13 — well, 20 — tracks.
"Midnights is a collage of intensity, highs and lows and ebbs and flows," shared Swift on Instagram. "Life can be dark, starry, cloudy, terrifying, electrifying, hot, cold, romantic or lonely. Just like Midnights."
Amid the mayhem, Swift proves she can make the whole place shimmer on Midnights — she is a mastermind, after all. Here are five key details to know about Taylor Swift's new album, Midnights.
She's Still The Queen of Surprises
When folklore dropped within a day's notice in July 2020, it was the surprise to end all surprises. Then, less than five months later, she pulled it off again when folklore's sister album, evermore, arrived that December.
Though she didn't take the same approach with Midnights, Swift proved she still has tricks left to play. Three days before the record dropped — and as eager album conspiracies flew about on TikTok — the star announced via TikTok that "a special very chaotic surprise" would drop at 3 a.m. EST.
Right on time, Swift unveiled the surprise "3am Edition" of Midnights, adding seven more songs to the LP. Similar to her beloved "From The Vault" tracks, the additions expanded on the mystifying mayhem of the late nights that inspired Midnights — and further proved Swift as a master of surprises.
It's One Of Her Darkest Albums Yet
Although Twitter pokes fun at some of the album's glaring one-liners that feel like outtakes from reputation — take "Draw the cat eye sharp enough to kill a man," for example — Midnights glimmers with some seriously dark moments.
"I gave my blood, sweat, and tears for this/ I hosted parties and starved my body," Swift sings on track five "You're On Your Own, Kid." The singer previously opened up about body dysmorphia and eating disorder in her documentary Miss Americana, and this appears to be the first time she's referencing those struggles in her music. While Swift comments on her relationship with the media frequently across her discography, this lyric especially stings, relaying how the media impacted her both emotionally and physically.
In her reputation era, Swift assured people of her cutthroat confidence. But on Midnights, she finds self-assurance in a different way, with a composed, moody vulnerability that still has edge — many f-bombs included. She edges into darker stories, digging up particularly painful moments from her past.
On "Would've, Could've, Should've," she reenacts "Dear John," her disgracing Speak Now track about her relationship with John Mayer. This time, rather than thinking out loud, she demands back years of her life: "Give me back my girlhood, it was mine first, and I damn sure never would've danced with the devil, at nineteen."
Midnights may not be quite as stylistically dark as reputation, but lyrically, it goes beyond karma with maturity and poise — which may be even more scathing than her 2017 snake-wrapped declaration.
It's Giving reputation and Lover
Swift is a master at carving out musical eras, but Midnights feels like less of a reinvention and more of a recycling. And as the singer noted herself, Midnights draws upon her past eras to stitch together "the stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life" — in other words, those reputation parallels aren't entirely coincidental.
The album marks Swift's exit from the folklorian indie woods and return to her fast-lane pop reign. She balances the moodiness of reputation and sweetness of Lover, incorporating sleek synth, distorted vocals (shoutout to the "Midnight Rain" jumpscare) and subtle Bleachers-like horns. And though none of the tracks have the radio-readiness of a "...Ready For It?" or "You Need To Calm Down," Midnights persists as both resilient and cohesive.
As much as Midnights feels like a darker patchwork of reputation and Lover, the album even sparkles with hints of 1989's staple formulas and folklore's dense lyricism. "Labyrinth" simmers with hints of evermore's ethereal "gold rush." Even the "It's me, hi" on "Anti-Hero" recalls Red's colloquial delivery from "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together." Tumultuous yet wistful, Midnights whirls as a reminiscent pastiche.
She Doesn't Give A Damn
Swift declared on reputation that she was done taking hits from the media and haters. On Midnights, she continues to drive this point home with a few more curse words, and a little less vengeance.
Sure, she sings "You're talking s— for the hell of it" on "Karma," and "Don't get sad, get even" on "Vigilante S—" — but while Swift and karma "vibe like that," she does peer past revenge. As Midnights swirls with feminist themes, Swift calls out how she's been slotted into gender roles, recalling Lover's single "The Man" and folklore's "mad woman."
On synth pop opener "Lavender Haze," she criticizes "the 1950s s—" the world wants from her, noting how "The only kinda girl they see/ Is a one-night or a wife." Later, on the electropop track "Midnight Rain," Swift similarly notes her independence: "He wanted a bride, I was making my own name."
Midnights also reflects on grief, but it simultaneously depicts a free-spirited Swift. In "Bejeweled," it's easy to picture Swift giving a little smile, glancing over her shoulder and saying, "And by the way, I'm still going out tonight" before closing the door.
It Might Be Her Most Personal Album Ever
While diaristic songwriting has always been Swift's M.O., Midnights feels especially poignant.
It marks a profound moment in her career, standing as the most assorted — though perhaps haphazard — album in her discography. Its down-to-earth, electropop magnetism comes from Swift's ability to draw from her previous eras, but lyrically digs deeper than she's ever dug before.
Per usual, Swift offers serious reflections on her life and love, but with more musing and maturity than her past albums. Past the "industry disruptors and soul deconstructors" on "Sweet Nothing," she runs home to her lover's unconditional love: "You're in the kitchen hummin'/ All that you ever wanted from me was nothing." Wrapped in the softness of "Labyrinth," she sings, "I'm falling in love/ I thought the plane was going down/ How'd you turn it right around?" with chasmic sincerity.
On "Anti-Hero," she sings, "I'll stare directly at the sun, but never in the mirror/ It must be exhausting always rooting for the anti-hero." Beyond the Swiftian quirks of its 30 Rock reference and imagining of her own murder, the song serves as the album's thesis statement in some ways: it's the perfect, pensive balance of self-awareness and self-doubt.
Restless (or shall we say, sleepless) and mercurial, Midnights tosses and turns between these two gray areas — and it's all by Swift's design.
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10 College Courses Dedicated To Pop Stars And Music: Taylor Swift, Bad Bunny & Hip-Hop
In honor of Music in Our Schools Month, check out nine college-level music courses that dissect punk and EDM, global hip-hop culture and the discographies and careers of superstar acts like the Beatles and Harry Styles.
There’s never been a better time to be a music-loving college student.
Beginning in the mid to late aughts, an increasing number of academic institutions have begun offering courses dedicated to major music acts. In the late aughts, rap maverick Jay-Z made headlines after becoming the subject of a Georgetown University course taught by Michael Eric Dyson, a sociologist and best-selling author of Jay-Z: Made in America. In the Sociology of Hip Hop: Jay-Z, students analyzed Hova's life, socio-cultural significance and body of work.
It's easy to see why students would be attracted to these courses — which fill up quickly and are often one-time-only offerings. The intertwining of celebrity and sociology present such fertile grounds to explore, and often make for buzzy social media posts that can be a boon to enrollment numbers. For instance, Beyhivers attending the University of Texas at San Antonio were offered the opportunity to study the Black feminism foundations of Beyoncé's Lemonade in 2016. Meanwhile, Rutgers offered a course dedicated to dissecting the spiritual themes and imagery in Bruce Springsteen's catalog.
Luckily for students clamoring to get a seat in these highly sought-after courses, institutions across the country are constantly launching new seminars and classes about famous pop stars and beloved musical genres. From Bad Bunny to Harry Styles, the following list of popular music courses features a little something for every college-going music fan.
Bad Bunny's Impact On Media
From his chart-topping hits to his advocacy work, Bad Bunny has made waves on and off stage since rising to fame in 2016. Now graduate students at San Diego State University can explore the global superstar's cultural impact in an upcoming 2023 course.
"He speaks out about Puerto Rico; he speaks out about the Uvalde shooting victims and uses his platform to raise money and help them," said Dr. Nate Rodriguez, SDSU Associate Professor of Digital Media Studies. "How does he speak out against transphobia? Support the LGBTQ community? How does all of that happen? So yes, it’s very much relevant to journalism and media studies and cultural studies. It’s all of that mixed into one."
A Deep Dive Into Taylor Swift's Lyrics
Analyzing Taylor Swift's lyrics is a favorite pastime among Swifties, so it's fitting that her work and its feminist themes have been the focus of a string of university courses over the years.
In spring 2022, the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University launched an offering focused on the "Anti-Hero" singer's evolution as an entrepreneur, race and female adolescence. The waitlisted course — the first-ever for the institution — drew loads of media attention and Swift received an honorary degree from NYU in 2022.
In spring 2023, honors students at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas can analyze the 12-time GRAMMY winner's music and career in a seminar titled Culture and Society- Taylor Swift.
Kendrick Lamar's Storytelling & The Power Of Hip-Hop
Since dropping good kid, m.A.A.d. City in 2012, Kendrick Lamar has inspired a slew of academics to develop classes and seminars around his lyrical content and storytelling, including an English class that juxtaposed his work with that of James Baldwin and James Joyce.
More recently, Concordia University announced that the 16-time GRAMMY winner will be the focus of The Power of Hip Hop, It’s Bigger Than Us, a course examining the lyrical themes of Lamar’s works, such as loyalty, fatherhood, class and racial injustice.
"No artist speaks to this ethos louder and more intricately than King Kunta, the prince of Compton, Kendrick Lamar, 10 years after good kid, m.A.A.d. City dropped," said Yassin "Narcy" Alsalman, the Montreal hip-hop artist and Concordia Professor who developed the class which launches in winter 2023. “He showed us it was okay to work on yourself in front of the world and find yourself internally, that family always comes first, that community and collective missions are central to growth and that sometimes, you have to break free."
EDM Production, Techniques, and Applications
If you dream of hearing your own EDM tracks played at a massive music festival à la Marshmello, Steve Aoki and Skrillex, this all-in-one course at Boston's Berklee College of Music has you covered. Learn about the cultural origins of the various EDM styles — like techno, trance, drum and bass and more — and the techniques that artists use to achieve these sounds.
In between thought-provoking cultural seminars, students will receive lessons on how to operate the technologies necessary to create their own EDM masterpieces, including synths, digital audio workstations (DAW) and samplers.
Harry Styles And The Cult Of Celebrity
While many celebrity-focused courses center around sociology, the Harry’s House singer/songwriter has inspired his own digital history course at Texas State University in San Marcos: Harry Styles and the Cult of Celebrity: Identity, the Internet and European Pop Culture.
Developed by Dr. Louie Dean Valencia during lockdown, the class will cover Styles’ music along with topics like gender, sexual identity and class — but the singer-songwriter’s personal life is off limits. Stylers who are lucky enough to grab a spot in this first-ever university course dedicated to their fave can expect to revisit One Direction’s catalog for homework.
"I’ve always wanted to teach a history class that is both fun, but also covers a period that students have lived through and relate to," Dr. Valencia wrote in a Twitter post. "By studying the art, activism, consumerism and fandom around Harry Styles, I think we’ll be able to get to some very relevant contemporary issues. I think it’s so important for young people to see what is important to them reflected in their curriculum."
Global Hip Hop Culture(s): Hip Hop, Race, and Social Justice from South Central to South Africa
Since its inception, hip-hop has left a lasting mark on the world, influencing language, fashion, storytelling and beyond. At the University of California Los Angeles, students can learn about how the art form has shaped young minds as they analyze the various hip-hop scenes worldwide.
As part of a mission to establish the university as a leading center for hip-hop studies, UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies launched a hip-hop initiative featuring an artist-in-residence program, digital archives, and a series of postdoctoral fellowships. Chuck D, the founder of the barrier-breaking hip-hop group Public Enemy, was selected as the first artist-in-residence.
"As we celebrate 50 years of hip-hop music and cultural history, the rigorous study of the culture offers us a wealth of intellectual insight into the massive social and political impact of Black music, Black history and Black people on global culture — from language, dance, visual art and fashion to electoral politics, political activism and more," said associate director H. Samy Alim, who is leading the initiative.
The Music Of The Beatles
With their catchy two-minute pop hits, artsy record covers, headline-making fashions and groundbreaking use of studio tech, the Fab Five are among the most influential acts in music history. It’s no surprise, then, that they are the subjects of courses in a number of colleges and universities.
Boston’s Berklee College of Music offers The Music of Beatles, which digs into the group’s body of work as well as the music they penned for other acts. Alternatively, if you’re more interested in their post-breakup works, The Solo Careers of the Beatles dives into those efforts. Meanwhile, the University of Southern California takes a look at their music, careers and impact in The Beatles: Their Music and Their Times.
Symbolic Sisters: Amy Winehouse and Erykah Badu
Whether you want to learn about craft, management, building a career, or marketing your work, the Clive Davis Institute at NYU offers an impressive curriculum for musicians and artists. With seminars focusing on the works of Prince, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, and J. Dilla, a unique duo stands out: Erykah Badu and Amy Winehouse.
Framing the pair as "symbolic sisters," this two-credit seminar explores and compares how each songstress fused different genres and styles to forge a magnetic sound of their own. Winehouse rose to prominence for her retro spin on the sounds of Motown and Phil Spector and rebellious styling. A decade before "Back to Black" singer hit the mainstream, Badu — who is recognized as one of Winehouse's influences — rose to stardom thanks to her seamless blend of jazz, R&B, and hip-hop and captivating urban-bohemian style, creating a template for singers like SZA and Ari Lennox.
Selena: Music, Media and the Mexican American Experience
From ascending to the top of the male-dominated Tejano genre to helping introduce Latin music to the mainstream, Selena Quintanilla's impact continues to be felt decades after her untimely death. Artists including Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Victoria "La Mala" Ortiz, Becky G and Beyoncé cite the GRAMMY-winning "Queen of Tejano" as an influence.
Throughout the years, her legacy and cultural impact have been the focus of dozens of college courses. In 2023, Duke University continues this tradition with Selena: Music, Media and the Mexican American Experience. The course will explore the life, career and cultural impact of the beloved Tejano singer.
The Art of Punk: Sound, Aesthetics and Performance
Since emerging in the 1970s, punk rock has been viewed as a divisive, politically charged music genre. Its unique visual style — which can include leather jackets, tattoos, chunky boots and colorful hair — was absorbed into the mainstream in the '90s, where it continues to thrive (to the chagrin of hardcore punks everywhere). Over the decades, dozens of subgenres have cropped up and taken the spotlight — including riot grrrl and pop-punk — but very few have left the impact of the classic punk sound from the '70s and its anti-establishment themes.
If you're interested in learning more about the genre that inspired bands like Nirvana, check out Stanford University's The Art of Punk seminar, which explores the genre's visual and sonic origins, as well as its evolution and connections to race, class, and gender.
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How Making 'Good Riddance' Helped Gracie Abrams Surrender To Change And Lean Into The Present
While working on her debut album ahead of touring with Taylor Swift, the 23-year-old singer/songwriter not only tapped into a curiosity about growing up, but learned how to trust herself more.
There's a mesmerizing delicacy to Gracie Abrams' music. Her breathy, graceful vocals hang over sharply insightful songwriting, compelling you to listen just a little more closely. And once Abrams has your attention, she holds it close to her chest.
On her debut album Good Riddance, out Feb. 24, Abrams knits an ornate helix of homesickness and heartbreak. You can feel the lightning of a love that came out of the blue, and almost hear Abrams' mom on the phone through childhood bedroom walls. Throughout the record, Abrams draws listeners in as she sifts through what ifs and why nots in search of relief.
While her last two EPs — minor (2020) and This Is What It Feels Like (2021) spun bittersweet depictions of half-drunk happy past lovers, Good Riddance confronts her resentment and recklessness. Though the alt-pop album leads with a blurry black-and-white aesthetic, Good Riddance bleeds into the gray areas of right and wrong, of closeness and distance.
"It's funny when albums come out a year after you've written them," Abrams tells GRAMMY.com. "I feel like so much life has happened since then in a really great way. So it's almost like talking about it in hindsight now, but I'm desperately excited for it to belong to everyone else."
It's not easy coming to terms with a rollercoaster of feelings, especially at age 23, and it's even less easy to share them. But after crafting Good Riddance at Long Pond Studios in New York, Abrams credits her close friend and collaborator the National's Aaron Dessner with helping her settle into her vulnerability more comfortably. Her third headlining tour kicks off early this March, and she'll support Taylor Swift's Eras Tour in April alongside Phoebe Bridgers, beabadoobee, HAIM, MUNA, and others.
Before life grew too busy, Abrams logged onto Zoom to chat with GRAMMY.com. Wearing a soft smile and gray sweatshirt, she enjoyed a "super, super caffeinated cappuccino." ("I always get glares when I order it. People are like, 'Is she okay?'" Abrams says. "No.")
As she sipped on four shots of espresso, Gracie Abrams shared intimate details on her album's creative process, why touring is the "best kind of exhaustion" she's ever known, and leaning on her fans' rare "superpower" of being able to make her feel better.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What surprised you most about the creative process for Good Riddance? Or did you feel like the process was similar to other albums'?
No, definitely not remotely similar. I think working with Aaron allowed for so much to come up that I don't think would have for me otherwise. So much of that is because of the trust that he and I share. We have very similar personalities in many ways, and often joke that we share a piece of our brain because certain instincts are so aligned. So to have a space that was so comforting and safe, I was surprised by the ease at which I was able to write about such heavy s—.
I think there was a joy to all of it, even when it hurt really bad to admit feelings through the lyrics. I think I was surprised by how excited I was to go to bed every night so that I could wake up the next morning and do it all over again. All of it felt very different than anything I've done before.
It sounds like it was a cathartic experience for you. I'm really glad he was able to create such a safe space. What's the best piece of advice he's given you?
I think that the biggest takeaway that has been universally applied is to trust myself more. He's made me feel really good at what I bring to the table. And I think that is while also challenging me and pushing me to be the best version.
There's something about that kind of someone — who I admire so much, who is a mentor to me — having confidence in me not just as an artist and a writer, but as a person. He's encouraged me to listen to these internal fire alarms that I think for a while I'd been pushing aside a bit. It's definitely helped enormously.
He's one of my best friends now too. That relationship has been really, really, really massively life-altering. Just because I feel like not only can I call him up and ask him when I'm spiraling about something, how to handle it, he's always like, "well, you already know what you're going to do and trust that, do the thing."
One of my favorite tracks is "Best," which features the titular lyric. Can you tell me more about that song and why you decided to name your debut Good Riddance?
Well, this is the first time that I've made an album where I've been thoughtful about every element, including the tracklist. I think as a songwriter and a storyteller, I'm very invested in the arc of the narrative. So the bookends on the album were very important to me. "Best," which is track one, was one of the more painful songs to write because I think there was a lot that I said in this song that I never even said to the person that it's about. And it feels like a version of an apology in many ways.
And yes, the title comes from a line in that song, and I felt very drawn to what Good Riddance means and feels like when you hear it. I think there's this harsh connotation, that I think is definitely one side of it for sure. But then I also think, in a more kind of conversational offhand way, there's a surrender to change. I feel like there's many elements of the album that consist of me surrendering to change, in having a curiosity about growing up in different ways and what it means to leave certain things behind.
Surrendering to change is such a perfect phrase to describe what the album encapsulates. How do you find yourself coping with change, especially at such a fast-paced time in your life?
I think I'm trying to hold everything a bit more lightly and remind myself that nothing is permanent at all, the good or the bad. Honestly, my experience with touring has allowed me to understand that being a controlling person only makes everything harder.
There's so many unpredictable elements, and you have to be really down to go with the flow and be open to last minute adjustments across the board in order to have the best time. That's something that my tour manager, Mackenzie Dunster, the sickest person of all time, she's like a big sister to me [taught me]. She is very much the person that… [gave me the] understanding that the only thing that you can control is yourself.
When talking about change in general, I try to consciously have more of a softness now than I have in the past towards myself, but also what other people may be going through at any given time, spoken and unspoken. Trying to just be more understanding and less rigid has allowed for more ease when going through these greater transitions. But I definitely am no expert. Especially at 23, I also try to constantly remind myself of how little I know about everything. So I hope I continue to get better at going with the flow.
Navigating your twenties can be so tricky, but it sounds like you have a wonderful support system. What would you go back and tell the Gracie that made minor?
I would say so many things. I think mostly get off your phone a lot. I think I would urge myself from back then to remember what is real and what is not real. That was the year before my worst anxiety ever, so I think I would also whisper little tools into my ear about how to deal a bit better in healthier ways and things.
But that being said, I also do feel very grateful for having gone through the things that I did at that time. And I wouldn't change them, but I do think it's awful. When I think back on the amount of time I spent on my phone, or looking for validation, or posting about feelings, [I want to tell myself] just shut your mouth and go to sleep. You know what I mean?
You've been in the music release, tour, music release, tour pattern for a while. Do you feel like you're going with the flow now, and you're more used to it?
I feel really thrilled to get back on the road, especially for [my] headline [tour] being the first tour this year. It feels comforting. I feel so excited to be back in rooms with people that are nice enough to show up and be vulnerable with their feelings, and reciprocate in that way.
It also is such a significant reminder of what I feel we all were lacking over the past few years in having that sense of community in a room and being okay, being emotional with strangers. It's so specific, and… I haven't found it can be replicated elsewhere.
So I've missed it dearly. And I think knowing that I am capable of doing it is very helpful going into this year. Especially with the Taylor tour too, the scale is so extreme and so wildly different from anything I even had the imagination for. I truly can't wait. But definitely, I feel a greater sense of calm than I did before.
What's been one of your favorite tour experiences or fan attractions? I'm sure you have a lot to pick from.
It's just so lucky and it's so fun to remember all of it. All I can speak to is my relationship with my listeners, but I feel like we have such a close relationship. It literally feels like friendship first to me. Every time I meet someone and have even a quick conversation, we're like, oh, "this is my username and X, Y, Z." Immediately, I'm like, "oh, we've talked before a billion times, or you sent me this meme on this day, and I really needed it" because I felt sad. Or reading letters from my audience when I'm really far away from home and feeling immediately cured of all homesickness.
There's this weird superpower that I feel they have, that again, is just such a rare thing. It makes me so grateful and just is a constant reminder of how giving they are with their time and energy and experiences. To share with me anything at all also makes me feel way more down to share about my life.
But I think it's funny too, with these songs on this album, a lot of them are very explicit and it's also very raw still. And I think I'm still navigating how to have a job that is so intertwined with my personal life and how to protect my energy and my privacy, while also wanting to be open and vulnerable.
I've been spending a lot less time on social media recently because it has been better for my head. Especially with tour coming up, what feels real to me is the in-person interactions [rather than what comes] up online that feels destructive or distracting. When I think about this as an album that I don't want to be giving much added context to, I think I'm really more interested in hearing from everybody else [about] how it makes them feel. I think I also want to just keep some parts of it for me.
How do you remind yourself to stay present?
Well, every time I've felt like I've been on stage and I'm thinking about something else by accident, the show is worse in my mind. I remind myself to stay present because I have the best time when I'm exactly where I am. And I think the easiest way to do that is to make real, direct eye contact with someone in the audience and just lock in for a minute.
I think there is a softness and a sensitivity to the audience that [enables me to] feel more okay to show up as I am on any given day. And I've definitely had certain shows where I'm like, "can we all just take a group breath for a second?" And sometimes I do that when I am having some weird wave of a feeling, or an anxiety or something creeps into my head, I do try to recalibrate in real time. Just having little practices along the way to try to be as present as possible is really helpful.
But I'm also aware that there's so many of these places, for example, I've never been to, and there's so much to explore and to really be excited about — especially on days that you're extra tired, or really homesick, or feel super far away from everyone, or haven't seen your dog in months or whatever it is. The luckiest thing in the world is to be able to write these songs and then perform them, and then meet people through that and connect. That's real and so lucky. So lots of gratitude all the time.
Since you're touring with Taylor Swift in the next few months, what was it like the first time you met her?
It's like meeting an immediate best friend and also a superhero. You know what I mean? She's like the coolest person of all time. She is the warmest. She makes you feel like family instantly. And to have admired her and her work for my entire life, to also then be able to feel that way on a personal level is such a lucky, cool thing. And she's everything that you would ever hope she would be.
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12 Classic Moments From The 2023 GRAMMYs, From The Heartwarming To The Surreal
From Harry Styles' adorable fan moment to Taylor Swift dancing merengue during Bad Bunny's performance, here are 12 memorable moments from the 2023 GRAMMYs.
When the 2023 GRAMMYs wrapped, viewers weren't just talking about the history-making wins or the dynamo performances.
The internet being the internet, some of the spontaneous, in-between moments — the ones that can only happen during Music's Biggest Night — got a comparable amount of ink, from Adele's surreal meeting with the Rock to Taylor Swift and Bad Bunny's much-memed photo op.
Below, revisit 12 classic, memeable moments from the 2023 GRAMMYs — the ones that the internet is built to receive with laughs, applause and memes galore.
Lizzo Was… A Bouquet?
Lizzo — who won big for Record Of The Year for "About Damn Time" — stepped out in an impressively floral and voluminous getup courtesy of Dolce & Gabbana. Perhaps looking ahead to the vernal equinox, Ms. Bad Bitch O'Clock captioned her Instagram post, "Spring awakening."
Adele Met The Rock For The First Time…
It was her lifelong dream. Shouldn't it be everyone's? And the Rock made it even sweeter with his request to join him onstage, when she won Best Pop Solo Performance: “Get up here, best friend!”
…And Posed With Two Fellow Pop Queens
Everyone seemed to lose their minds over this one — Lizzo included!
Taylor Swift Danced Merengue To Bad Bunny
Swifties might need months of recovery from this moment. As one Twitter user put it, "Taylor Swift dancing to Bad Bunny altered my brain chemistry forever."
Chris Martin's Astronomical Look
Mirroring Coldplay's Music of the Spheres' celestial vibe with his threads, Martin showed up to Music's Biggest Night looking dashingly wizardly.
Lil Uzi Vert's Goku-Like Appearance
During the Hip Hop 50 segment, the celebrated rapper looked ready to go Kamehameha on Crypto.com Arena.
Bonnie Raitt's Astonished Reaction
The Americana legend's Song Of The Year win for "Just Like That," the only nominated song to feature one songwriter, was a massive win for purveyors of songwriting's basics — an instrument, a voice and a pen. Judging by Raitt's expression, she felt the magnitude of the moment completely.
Bad Bunny & Taylor Swift's Photo Op
Trust us: this was memed to the nth degree.
The Crowd Grooved To Hip-Hop 50
A litany of familiar faces — from Bad Bunny to Jay-Z to Taylor Swift — jammed along with the historic salute to hip-hop, which featured countless of the genre's stars from several generations, including Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Scarface, Missy Elliott, Lil Uzi Vert and many more.
Trevor Noah: Special GRAMMY Delivery!
GRAMMY record-setter Queen Bey was famously late to the 2023 GRAMMYs due to traffic — so host Trevor Noah played delivery boy the first golden gramophone she won on the telecast, Best R&B Song for "CUFF IT.".
Harry Styles Celebrated With A Superfan
Last but certainly not least, Album Of The Year winner Harry Styles got to share the big moment with one of his biggest fans — a woman named Reina, one of 10 superfans highlighted throughout the ceremony — as she awarded him his golden gramophone.
Not only did he give her a huge hug upon talking the stage, but he made sure to give her a fist bump after delivering his acceptance speech.
Music's Biggest Night always seems to spawn countless memorable happenings — and we're anxious to see what memeable moments will transpire at the 2024 GRAMMYs!
2023 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Complete Winners & Nominees List
Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
Taylor Swift's Essential Music Videos, From "You Belong With Me" To "Anti-Hero"
In honor of Taylor Swift's history-making Best Music Video win at the 2023 GRAMMYs for "All Too Well: The Short Film," revisit some of the superstar's most iconic videos to date.
At the 2023 GRAMMYs, Taylor Swift won Best Music Video for her short film set to the 10-minute version of "All Too Well."
It's a golden gramophone the singer has won once before, nearly a decade ago for the star-studded visual to 1989 single "Bad Blood." But this win was different. As Swift collected the 12th GRAMMY of her storied career, this victory came from a video she had single-handedly directed; it also marked the first time an artist won the category for a video they directed solo.
Delivering iconic visuals is nothing new for the superstar, either. After all, she's been doing it from her earliest days as a teenage wunderkind known for penning diaristic country-pop hits like "Tim McGraw," "Our Song," "Love Story," and "You Belong with Me." But over the years, Swift's precision in executing her singular, cinematic vision has only gotten more creative, more exact and more ambitious — and now, those talents are GRAMMY-winning.
To celebrate Swift's big GRAMMY win for "All Too Well: The Short Film," GRAMMY.com has distilled her extensive filmography down to the 11 most essential and unforgettable music videos in the Swiftian canon — from "Teardrops on My Guitar" to her latest No. 1 smash "Anti-Hero."
Check out GRAMMY.com's picks for the most iconic Taylor Swift music videos below.
"Teardrops on My Guitar" (Taylor Swift)
Although it was only her second single, the video for 2006's "Teardrops on My Guitar" contains many of the hallmarks for what would become Swift's signature visual aesthetic throughout her early career. Unrequited love interest in the form of One Tree Hill's Tyler Hilton? Check. An iridescent gown fit for a fairytale? Check. A narrative arc that establishes our girl as the underdog, who you can't help rooting for to get her happy ending? Check and check.
"You Belong With Me" (Fearless)
Is there any video more quintessential from Swift's country era than the one for "You Belong With Me"? Not only did the Fearless visual give Swifties their queen in her now-iconic "Junior Jewels" T-shirt, but it established the goofy side of Swift's personality — as yet unseen in her filmography — as well as her willingness to embody characters in her videos, like the brunette mean-girl of a cheerleader and an ultra-relatable band geek who are competing for the heart of the hunky boy next door.
"Mine" (Speak Now)
"Mine" was the lead single for Swift's third album — not to be confused with fellow Speak Now single "Ours," which led off the 2010 LP's deluxe repackaging. And though she'd dabbled in the past on videos for "I'm Only Me When I'm With You" and "The Best Day," the song marked the pop star's first true directorial effort helped along by co-director Roman White. And she was clearly taking notes that would inspire her future work during the process — just watch the scene where she and her rakish, blonde fiancé get into a screaming match in their kitchen and tell any Swiftie it doesn't look familiar…
"Everything Has Changed" feat. Ed Sheeran (Red)
This 2012 collaboration with Ed Sheeran upped the ante in Swift's videography by handing off the bulk of the storytelling to other people entirely — in this case, a pair of elementary schoolers portraying younger versions of Tay and the "Thinking Out Loud" crooner. The close friends and frequent collaborators only appear in the final moments of the video, but the kids and their adorable story would pick up nearly a decade later in the visual for the pair's 2022 duet remix of Sheeran's "The Joker and The Queen."
"Blank Space" (1989)
What does Swift do when the media paints her as a serial dater — verging on maneater — who's constantly burning her way through a revolving door of famous men? Write a smash hit about it, of course. With help from Joseph Kahn, Swift turns tabloid fodder into cinematic gold by casting herself as the unhinged nightmare dressed like a daydream, always ready to make the bad guys good for a weekend and add their names to her little black book. Too bad the poor fools won't find out until it's too late that their names are in red, underlined…
"Look What You Made Me Do" (reputation)
#TaylorSwiftIsOverParty? As if. With the release of the "Look What You Made Me Do" video, Swift officially entered her reputation era and shifted her skewed public perception off its tilted axis and back in her favor. Yes, there were snakes serving tea, bathtubs filled with diamonds, and a Taylor or two for every era that had come before. But the true feat of the glossy, karma-fueled visual was reminding the superstar's fans, doubters and haters alike that her ability to come back from the proverbial dead with a smash single in hand will always be stronger than anything thrown at her.
"The Man" (Lover)
For her solo directorial debut, Swift wanted to make both a statement and a splash. So she chose to skewer the sexism and toxic masculinity she's endured throughout her career as "The Man," cleverly dressing in drag as a rich, cocky manspreader by the name of — you guessed it — Tyler Swift. As has become custom over the years, the music video was filled with Easter eggs and cameos from famous faces like TikTok star Loren Gray, Dwayne Johnson and even her own father. The video eventually made history as well, when Swift became the first solo female to ever take home the prize for Best Director at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2020.
Filmed at the height of the pandemic, Swift proved with the video for "cardigan" that she is always capable of creating magic, even in the most challenging of circumstances. Taking cues from the fantasy and period films she had devoured during the early days of quarantine, the visual took a more fantastical turn than many of the past videos in the star's filmography. As the sole star of the show, a nightgown-clad Swift is transported to magical worlds by her trusty piano — a perfect parallel to the fictional worlds she dreamed up on folklore.
When evermore arrived by surprise just five months after its older sister, Swift announced that she was venturing deeper into the metaphorical woods. And with that, the music video for "willow" picks up right where "cardigan" left off. The clip doubles down on the fantasy of folklore by setting the singer on a journey filled with witchcraft, scenes straight out of a storybook, and an onscreen reunion with Taeok Lee, who last appeared as a backup dancer on the Red Tour in 2013.
"All Too Well: The Short Film" (Red (Taylor's Version))
There was really only one way to do the mystical 10-minute version of "All Too Well" justice after Swift dug it out from the vault for Red (Taylor's Version) — a short film, directed by Swift herself. Enlisting actors Dylan O'Brien and Sadie Sink as the doomed lovers at the center of the autumnal tale, Swift wrote the treatment, took charge on set, and manifested her creative vision with her most fully-realized project to date. The sweeping, 15-minute mini-movie soon inspired Swift to write and direct her first feature film, and helped the singer win the 2023 GRAMMY for Best Music Video.
"It's me, hi, I'm the problem, it's me." With that witty inner dialogue, Swift introduced Swifties to the most hilariously self-destructive version of herself. But even self-loathing looks like a blast through the superstar's point of view, whether she's outrunning ghosts dressed in whimsical '70s-style bedsheets or commiserating with her gigantic monster of a doppelgänger who just wants to be part of the gang.
The Taylor Swift Essentials: 13 Songs That Display Her Storytelling Prowess And Genre-Bouncing Genius