Taylor Swift’s New Album Design: An (Over) Analysis | by Michael Jing | October, 2022

Because if it’s from a secret singer-songwriter, why not?

A mock-up of Taylor Swift's 'Midnights' album design, showing the dimensions and details of the front and back covers.

While many music artists try to top the charts by using ’70s-inspired tunes, Taylor Swift bucks the trend by designing her album cover like one. However, none of the songs featured in Midnight came close to the Studio 54 era. Coming from an artist whose specialty is leaving clues for fans to dig into and invest in her music, let’s find out why Swift did it.

Already at the beginning of the album is the title of a track Swift dug up from the ’60s TV series “Mad Men.” Lavender Haze, as she puts it, “is a common phrase used in the ’50s where they would describe being in love.”

It wouldn’t be a big leap for a design firm to use the Swiss style during a period when people were fascinated by the lilac hue. Consider the works of Penguin book covers and the works of Joseph Muller-Brockman of the time. Mind you, Brockman also created an entire book devoted to the use of the grid system which is evident in the structure of Midnight Covers. They rule all the way to the use of a neo-quirky typeface, the New Haas Grotesque.

Swiss style-inspired compositions have always been heavily used in current album cover designs such as Tiffany’s I Just Wanna Dance and Kanye West’s Life of Pablo. But unlike covers that are more brutalist-adjacent, Swift has opted for a more traditional approach for herself. Text is visually stable, aligned on an invisible grid, and never angled. This reflects, even subject-wise, the visual atmosphere of every Late Night Tales compilation since their works from October 2004.

A mock-up of Taylor Swift's 'Midnights' song video design, showing dimensions and details.

We can all accept that at this point in her career, Swift has ventured into many genres of music. From her debut in country straight out of Nashville, she’s gotten her hands on pop (1989, lover), electronic (reputation), Folk (folk songs, evergreens), and all the things in between.

However, when Midnights arrived, not a single track was publicly heard before the album’s entirety was released. There is no reference to the kind of songs she would sing amid her retro, gloomy look. (maybe a little Lover track?) Even die-hard fans couldn’t quite tell that Swift — all the boxed-up, international typographic style in those covers — actually had something up her sleeve.

The rollout of her songs and videos might help us understand why Swift and her team needed to do this. The only main theme that tied all the songs on this album together was that Swift wrote them spontaneously on various late nights. Not once did she mention that it was a purely one-style album.

Listening to the tracks will also help you see just how far Swift is leaping between the different musical styles in her back catalog for her latest album. His collaboration with Aaron Dessner in some 3 AM Edition Tracks bring to mind their actions Folklore / Forever, almost identical to what was left of the recording sessions at the time. Song karmaAlthough confirmed to be part of midnightK’s songwriting sessions were reportedly rumored to be written for a 2016 album, but were later scrapped by Swift. It was in lieu of her long-running feud with Kanye West, which came to a head that year, that greatly affected Swift’s reputation.

Overall, listening to the entire album feels like something Swift has worked on throughout her lifetime. It’s genre-hopping and not really homogeneous-sounding, but it was also not initially intended to be homogeneous.

With a variety of songs bundled together under the theme of Midnight, how does one create an overall design for that? The Swiss style neutral look would have worked without a doubt. Weird fonts like Neue Haas Grotesque have already received flak from designers as their “auto-tune” approach to typography. Although to be fair, with a man like Swift, who leaves cryptic messages in various aspects of his music scenes, this can be objective.

Avoiding a very strong typographic feature in their album designs of Midnights allows them to fit the track in a versatile way. It captures Dieter Ram’s principle on using as little design as possible, but only in this case to hide explosive forms of musical design behind the album. Talk about being secretive and hard to guess…

Fake pics of Taylor Swift's 'Midnights' inspired album cover.

The album’s design is so simple and easy to replicate that so many companies have copied midnightTo advertise himself on the album cover of. And at the same time there’s that free publicity for Swift. Whether this was intended for Swift’s PR, we don’t know.

The strategic simplicity of Swiss Style makes it easy to use and quickly adapt the identity to its various song videos and other promotional materials, which we can see are visually highly diverse. The white space, grotesque typography, and framed images help tie everything together, even when a variety of stock footage is being used in his song videos. Using this format prevents the album’s identity from being completely hidden on a ’60s/70s image, when grotesque fonts and white space have been used in a similar fashion for countless years.

This is significant at a time when Taylor is increasingly trading music releases to quickly re-record her first six albums, having lost those owner rights when she and her previously signed record label, Negotiations between Big had failed. machine record. Things didn’t go so well when Scooter Braun, with whom Swift has a sour relationship, bought on the label.

A black-and-white bitmap image of disco balls of various sizes, showing points of light on the ground.

Blue eyeshadow, disco balls, bell bottoms, and ultrafragola mirrors showing off your favorite influencers in their home are just some of the design directions the ’70s are heading for. And it’s no surprise that Swift herself would happily attend, as she has attended many of his public events.

Even though there’s no funk involved in many of the new songs she brings in, there’s no stopping Swift from putting hints of supergraphics in her TikTok and wearing stripes in cool colors. Swift hums her latest song in warm lights, with floral motifs on the walls of her makeshift home anti Hero music video. Vintage has never been so different from what our eyes were seeing before.

People’s attempt at retro-bounding is undeniably full of inconsistencies. Decades of design (as we are in between the ’50s and ’70s) usually blended with each other to create some golden age feeling for new generations to consume. And Swift uses that to her advantage, not only inspired by the styles of the past but reinterpreting them to fit the 21st century narrative she’s living through, just like many Janes. Jade supporters have done it.

As we watch Swift continue to jump through the hoops of stylistic differences between songs, she reconciles them in frame midnightvisual recognition. It proves his resilience here not only as a lyricist but also as an art director. But it can also be a very helpful design team supporting her to create a cohesive package, one of her diverse songs.

A mock-up of Taylor Swift's 'Midnights'-inspired song video still image.

Leave a Comment