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Taylor Swift Announces New Album at the Grammys: How Swift is Too Swift for Album Releases?

The 66th annual Grammys were hosted on Feb. 4, and pop superstar Taylor Swift took the chance to announce an upcoming album. Again.

Her 11th studio album, “The Tortured Poets Department,” will be her 8th release since 2020.

Swift took the stage after winning Best Pop Vocal Album for “Midnights” — not her biggest award of the evening, as the album was later named Album of the Year — to reveal the album’s title and cover to the crowd.

The crowd’s response, TikTok user @glutenfreeinnewyork said, was “not it.”

“They did not seem impressed. Like, they just seemed over it, I was just expecting a little bit more support. Their eyes were glazed over, and they were just kind of like, ‘Uh huh.’”

TikTok user @happylilsoph agreed that the crowd indeed was not impressed, likening Swift to a student who, every year, gets the same award for being the highest achiever, in a stitch of the video.

“Do I think that’s a bad thing? Absolutely not. But the thing it does mean is that she is no longer the underdog,”

The statement rings true — it’s hardly surprising to anyone that the top Spotify artist in the world who has smashed record upon record in the past year is no longer the down-to-earth underdog she once was marketed as. However, I doubt that it’s the only reason for the dull reaction from Swift’s audience. The reaction, I believe, lies more in the fact that the cultural sphere has become oversaturated with Swift.

Since the launch of her re-record project, the public has only had an average of seven months between Taylor Swift’s album announcements — even less between the release of one project and the announcement of another. Many Swifties have joked about the speed with wherein Swift releases one album before moving on from it entirely.

“'Speak Now (TV)' (20 days) is now the FASTEST era in history to end, surpassing 'Fearless (TV),'” X user @blessedswifty posted in July 2023.

It’s a far cry from the way artists — including Swift — used to conduct album promos. Swift previously went on record saying she tends to release an album every two years. Now, in 2024, Swift averages closer to two releases per year.

Part of this is, of course, related to the re-records and the intent to own all of her music as quickly as possible, a goal plenty can sympathize with. However, it has the added, unintended consequence of causing her fellow artists — and, I argue, the general public — to feel disconnected from the excitement. “Glazed over.”

n sum, the album cycle has become expedited — at least in Swiftland. It was once that case that Swifties could listen to an album and savor it for months or even years to come with music videos, a dedicated tour (if you’ve been living under a rock, Swift is currently on her massively-successful “Eras Tour,” cramming her best hits and a few fan favorites into a 3-hour performance), a press tour and merchandise.

We still have those things under the Swiftian album cycle, but the sheer speed with which it approaches us is overwhelming. She announces an album, we order the merchandise, listen to the album, and then, our brains are directed to the next album on the horizon almost immediately. We chew the art up and spit it out instead of savoring what is given to us. It’s hard to do otherwise when Swift herself is seemingly doing the same.

I do not mean to characterize Swift as a money-hungry billionaire. She said she feels happiest when she’s creating more often in an interview with Martin McDonagh, which is perfectly understandable. It is simply that it becomes hard to view the consistent releases and subsequent abandonment of her projects as anything other than a way to make money, at least from a consumer perspective.

“Midnights,” for example, promoted six vinyls — some with exclusive songs, encouraging people to pick up each one. “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” promoted four versions. Even now, the upcoming “The Tortured Poet’s Department” went on pre-order immediately with people waiting in virtual lines for over half an hour to pay for songs they have yet to hear.

Additionally, costly promotions for the artist such as music videos have also been nonexistent in the past year, despite the release of “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)” and the massively successful “1989 (Taylor’s Version).” Her prior re-records, at the very least, got one video. Over time, it seems the re-records have become a chore to get done as quickly as possible more than a way for Swift and her audience to reminisce on and celebrate a long and successful career.

However, Swift is not the first person to roll out exclusive editions for financial gain or to do away with music videos. I do not intend to pin the entirety of capitalism’s evils on the music industry on her. It’s merely the combination of this roll-out of merchandise, the speed with which she announces new albums, and the lack of creative experiences like music videos associated with those albums that show an issue, an issue that pervades our culture in far more areas than the music industry — we have become a culture of overconsumption.

Our closets are full of fast fashion pieces from three months ago that we now eye with disgust and will toss away for the next trend, our shelves are full of books we read as fast as possible and never think about again and now, we listen to an album, buy its associated merchandise and immediately think about what comes next. Yes, we are “glazed over,” viewing artistic expressions of identity as something to chew up and spit out when the flavor is lost.

As for Swift’s peers in the audience and their unimpressed demeanor, I posit that not only is it because Swift is no longer the underdog. It’s not even the fact that they are equally unsurprised as the general public by the constant rollout of items given the precedent set in recent years, though I am sure that is also a contributing factor.

They look unimpressed because Swift is setting a new standard for music and its frequency. Given her success, it is something that other artists may be forced to emulate if they want a chance to become even a fraction as culturally relevant as Swift is. It could set a new standard — speed up or get left in the dust.

In other words, Swift has changed the way the music industry operates — for better or worse. Only time will tell if this speedy release schedule will become more popular and what effect it will have on music as a whole.

“The Tortured Poets Department” will be released on April 19. I will be listening. Like it or not, you probably will be, too, and then we’ll wait anxiously for her next announcement.


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