Listened Midnights by Contributors to Wikimedia projects from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Midnights is the tenth studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, released on October 21, 2022, via Republic Records. Announced at the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards, the album marks Swift’s first body of new work since her 2020 albums Folklore and Evermore. Midnights is a concept album about nocturnal contemplation, written and produced by Swift with longtime collaborator Jack Antonoff.

Inspired by the “sleepless nights” of Swift’s life, Midnights contains confessional yet cryptic lyrics, ruminating themes such as anxiety, insecurity, self-criticism, self-awareness, insomnia, and self-confidence. Musically, Swift experimented with electronica, dream pop, bedroom pop and chill-out music styles in the album, eschewing the alternative folk sound of her 2020 releases for a return to synth-pop. It is characterized by subtle grooves, vintage synthesizers, drum machine, and hip hop/R&B rhythms.

Midnights is a concept album about late night contemplation. With this in mind, it is as much about setting an atmosphere. Spencer Kornhaber has described the album as ‘aggressively and aggravatingly normal’:

Midnights is not different. It is normal. Aggressively normal, aggravatingly normal, and, in its way, excellently normal. She has found the cultural status quo, and it sounds like that Glass Animals song that was in everyone’s TikToks last summer. What’s distinct about her return to synth pop is just the flavors she stirs in: oozing bass, surmountable melancholia, and the same type of confession and awkwardness that appears 45 minutes into an office happy hour. Transcending expectations is its own expectation, and Midnights makes clear, with modest poignance, that Swift has burned out on her own hype.

Alternatively, Ann Powers suggests that it offers a rethink of Swift’s habits.

Swift uses Midnights as a way to rethink the sonic rhetoric of first-person storytelling and shake off habits that have served her artistically and commercially for more than a decade. Sometimes she succeeds; sometimes she hangs on to her old habits. But the attempt intrigues throughout.

Charlie Harding, Nate Sloan, and Reanna Cruz touch on the seeming return of the T-drop, but they also explore some of the newer ingredients that help set the scene, such as Reese bass.

NS: I think Reese bass is sort of equivalent to the sandworms in Dune. It’s under the surface; you almost don’t really hear it clearly, you only see the sand moving. You only get a sort of hint of what that creature — that sound — might look like. You get the sense that if you turn up your speakers to hear the bass more clearly, you still wouldn’t be able to. It’s always a little bit out of reach. Maybe it’s something about the way it’s filtered or side-chained … I don’t know. But something about it is untouchable; it’s unreachable.

Tom Breihan continues the vibe on atmosphere suggesting that the album “fills the room and makes the air taste better.”

My colleague Chris DeVille described the album as “just folklore with synthesizers instead of acoustic guitars.”

These songs are not anthems or earworms, but they fill up a room and make the air taste better. I would love to hear some more immediate top-down endorphin-rush Taylor Swift jams, but her downbeat burbles can be just as effective, and there are some really, really good downbeat burbles on Midnights.

One of the intriguing questions that seems to be addressed throughout the commentary is what is actually wanted or expected from Taylor Swift in regards to her evolution over time? Ann Powers discusses how, unlike Adele and Beyonce, Swift does not have a child and in our patriarchal society, this seems to matter.

Sam Sanders – I don’t see Beyoncé as 17 and in Destiny’s Child anymore. I don’t see Adele as being 18, doing those first small songs and albums. Different people, right? But we still do this thing where Taylor is 15. It’s a Taylor thing, and I can’t put my finger on it, so I want you to.

Ann Powers – I do have an answer for this, and it goes into a sensitive place. I think about the great song by the Pretenders, written by Chrissie Hynde, “Middle of the Road,” where there’s a line in that song where she says, “I’m not the cat I used to be / I’ve got a kid. I’m 33.”

Taylor doesn’t have a child. And in our patriarchal society, when does a woman change? When she becomes a mother. All the women you mentioned became mothers, and maybe one of the main reasons why we don’t accept Taylor as an adult is because the childless woman remains a strange figure in our society. We don’t know how to accept childless women as adults. I’m gonna thank you, Taylor, for not having kids yet because we really need more childless women out there showing their path.

Some criticism has also taken aim at Jack Antonoff. Kornhaber makes the case that although Antonoff co-wrote 12 of the albums 13 songs and co-produced all of them is it is misleading to suggest that the album is the way it is simply because of Antonoff. Kornhaber describes Antonoff as a ‘therapists-slash-craftspeople’, someone who provides the conditions to flourish:

The term producer can refer to a whole range of activities. Some producers mostly just capture the sound of artists playing their own music in the studio. Some, by contrast, are like one-person bands who whip up accompaniment for a vocalist. Some producers are beatmakers who deliver their contributions by email. Some are tyrants who use the singer as a mere ingredient for their own creation (and, in many cases historically, exploit or abuse the singer in the process). And some are therapists-slash-craftspeople, coaxing an artist to pour out their soul and then helping shape the results.

By all accounts, Antonoff falls into that last category.

For me, what I like about the album is how contained it feels. I wonder if this is what Antonoff brings?

Place between Lorde and Halsey.

Listened Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night is a synth-pop, indie pop, and slow rock album with elements of pop rock, rock n roll, alternative rock, arena rock, alt-pop, folk, baroque pop, rockabilly, and psychedelic music. The album was conceived after a breakup in 2017 and completed during the COVID-19 pandemic. It sees Antonoff expand Bleachers’ musical horizons beyond the sounds of the 1980s, with a sound compared to artists like Bruce Springsteen, the Beatles, Arcade Fire, Sufjan Stevens, Vampire Weekend, the Chicks, Dirty Beaches, and Destroyer.

Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night seems like the most complete Bleachers album so far. Whereas others have seemed to jump around between different traces and traumas, this album seems to tie together Antonoff’s tendency towards the vulnerable in an effort to consider those aspects of family, life and society that he may have overlooked in the past. This is something he discusses on The New Yorker Radio Hour.


All-star supporting cast aside, Saturday Night is unmistakably a Jack Antonoff joint, from that blunt baritone bellow to those Reagan-era stylistic fixations to the lyrics’ big-hearted optimism in the face of struggle. But it also exists in conversation with a current pop landscape marked by stylish minimalism and bedroom-pop intimacy

On his own album, the tension between the current bleary, miniaturized trends and his stadium-sized tendencies makes for a strange and fascinating listen.

The pandemic had a massive effect on the music. Not because it was necessarily written about the time period, but because you write, record and produce differently based on the pace of your life, based on what’s going on in the world.

Replied to Jack Antonoff on Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, and More by Spencer Kornhaber (The Atlantic)

The musician, who co-created some of the year’s standout records, from Taylor Swift and Lana Del Rey, is always asking, “How do you cut all the bullshit out?”

I am of the belief that if you placed Jack Antonoff in the room with a bunch of random instruments and an artist he would still manage to achieve something. It is easy to label Antonoff as having a sound, however the contrast in his work highlight his versatility. What stands out most with his work is his tendency to ask ‘what if’, as was capture with his work with Taylor Swift’s Lover:

What ended up happening was, it turned into this weird symphony of reverb. That comfort of this song being so perfect, it was like, “Okay, let’s fuck around.” What if I whack the snare with a brush? What if we only used the room sound? What if we record your entire vocal through a space echo? What if we had this bananas plucky string bridge?

Listened Carly Rae Jepsen: Meeting The Muse by Written By Charlie Harding from

They say you should never meet your idols, that you’ll only be disappointed. We had this possibility in mind going into our first interview with Carly Rae Jepsen, the pop star who inspired us to start our podcast Switched on Pop when Nate taught “Call Me Maybe” as a case study in music theory. Six years later and hundreds of pleading emails later, the time had come to meet the muse and unpack her latest offering, Dedicated Side B. In the course of composing her last two albums, E•MO•TION and Dedicated, Jepsen wrote over 200 songs. Many of her favorite works didn’t make it on either final album, so she’s started a tradition of releasing “Side B” records on the one-year anniversary of her last release. Her newest collection of unreleased music fluidly crosses decades of musical history and spans a vast emotional range. We spoke with Jepsen over Zoom about how she curated her latest B-Side release from a massive body of work. Would this beatific figure, once described by poet Hanif Abdurraqib and the “most honest pop musician working,” live up to her reputation? Listen to find out.

Nate Sloan and Charlie Harding speak with Carly Rae Jepsen about her part in the origins of the podcast, a breakdown of I Want You In My Room and the release of her latest album Dedicated Side B.

A few interesting points to come out of the analysis of Jepsen’s song was the way in which Jack Antonoff creates a safe space in the studio to explore different and diverse ideas. This reminds me of Rick Rubin and his focus on creating the conditions to flourish. Also, the connection between the music and lyrics, especially the unual diminished chord in the pre-chorus that has always caught me.

In the second part of the program, Jepsen discusess how writing is more than a job and how she is always collecting ideas. This is how she wrote 200 songs for Delicate. She explains that she has ‘albums buried in the backyard’ which sometimes come out if she needs particular parts. This is reminiscent of Tom Waits (as recounted by Thom Yorke) who talks about leaving songs in the shed to mature:

There’s a Tom Waits quote about songwriting, he says he’ll have loads of little ideas and stuff, he’ll leave them in his shed at the bottom of the garden, which is his studio, and he shuts the door, and it’s like they’re little kids and they all breed and when he comes back there’s loads of them… certain things have really flourished and certain things have died. You know, we could go and do it all tomorrow, but… when you write a song, certain songs you just forget about and certain songs increasingly take on a significance and just don’t go away, and I think that’s the most important stage, really, because I think anyone can just rattle ’em off. But it’s what ends up meaning something to you.

She also explains how she decides which songs make the album and which don’t, creating charts which plot theme and feel of songs. She describes this as a ‘beautiful crazy mind’.

Listened Norman Fucking Rockwell – Wikipedia from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
Rather than hooking the listener in with sweet choruses and succinct pop songs, Norman Fucking Rockwell is an album which washes over like waves lapping the beach. Before long, you are lost. I think Sam Sodomsky sums it up best, saying,

The album weaves love songs for self-destructive poets, psychedelic jam sessions, and even a cover of Sublime’s “Doin’ Time” through arrangements that harken back to the Laurel Canyon pop of the ’60s and ’70s. Throughout, Lana has never sounded more in tune to her own muse—or less interested in appealing to the masses.

In an interview with Joe Coscarelli, Del Rey provides some insights into the choice of Jack Antonoff and why it is time for protest songs. There is something ironic about Antonoff’s inclusion. Some may call out another failure to present anything original, yet Del Rey’s raw honesty seems prime for collaboration with the ‘superproducer’ (what is a superproducer?) As Antonoff once stated in an interview with Zane Lowe:

I want to work with people because they think that they are geniuses, not because I want make the albums that they have already made

Ann Powers provides a more critical take on the album and Lana Del Rey.

Bookmarked Lana Del Rey’s Recent “Fan Tracks” Reflect Some of Her Strongest Songwriting Yet (Pitchfork)

“Mariners Apartment Complex,” “Venice Bitch,” and “hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but i have it” continue Lana’s lyrical hot streak. … She continues to tease the tropes that have so often been used to pigeonhole her, including femme-fatale melodrama, sadness as a form of rebellion, kitschy sexuality, and her beloved Americana imagery, all prim debutantes in pastels.

I am intrigued as to what Lana Del Rey’s album will be like. I have really enjoyed what Jack Antonoff has done with St Vincent and Lorde.
Bookmarked You May Not Know Jack Antonoff. But You Probably Love His Music. by (

“The heart and soul of pop is newness, excitement, innovation,” said Mr. Antonoff, a spirited, zealous talker who rarely stops fidgeting. “The music industry is built on chasing that ambulance — ‘someone did it, let’s go that way.’ I don’t want to be a part of that. I want to be away from it.”

After bringing artists into his modest space, he likes to start with a simple question: “What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you?”

In contrast with the cold, near-scientific approach to songwriting favored by titans like Max Martin and Dr. Luke, Mr. Antonoff strives for a gut-level, emotionally probing therapy experience — “excavating,” he calls it. “If someone could do it without me, then I don’t want to be there,” he said, recalling an unsuccessful experience trying to write for Rihanna, who often pulls from large pools of competitive talent.

In this review in the New York Times, Jack Antonoff shares some of his past, how he goes about working with other artists and how Gone Now differs from the first Bleachers album.

📓 The Producers: Jack Antonoff

I have long been interested in the role of the producer in regards to influencing music and culture. Whether it be Mark Ronson, The Neptunes, Timbaland and Stuart Price. Here then is a collection of notes on Jack Antonoff:

Tiny Desk Concert

Bleachers performed on NPR Tiny Desk Concert here and here. Both performances include some interesting reimaginings, such as including Don’t Take the Money with Radio Gaga.

Making of Don’t Take the Money

Jack Antonoff reflects on the making of “Don’t Take the Money”. He provides an insight into the challenge of getting out the sound inside your head with the tools and skills at your disposal. Condensed into eight minutes, this overlooks the reality that such creations can take a considerable amount of time to develop.

Bleachers & PS22

A performance of “I Wanna Get Better” featuring Antonoff and the PS22 choir.

PK in the Morning Interview

Jack Antonoff‏ reflects on the making of “Look What You Made Me Do”. Hearing the song on the radio for the first time, he provides a commentary sharing the thinking to some of the sounds and choices. He also reflects on the life of an artist, including the following:

“You know a song is done when you run to back it up with the hard drive”

“Music is meant to be a mini-documentary of that moment”

“Start young, because then you have longer before you have that conversation”

“You can’t learn it so just get out there and do it”

Beats 1

Jack Antonoff and Zane Lowe on Beats 1 discuss the Bleachers album Gone Now. Interesting quotes:

“No one hates anyone enough to go out there and buy a ticket to heckle them at the show, therefore when I am on tour I feel like I am with my people” (3:00)

“Writing is the most powerless process … you wait, you sit and you pray” (5:00)

“I want to work with people because they think that they are geniuses, not because I want make the albums that they have already made” (8:00)

“It took my whole career to find out that it is all an accident … Fun was a big accident” (9:00)

“The success you get, the more people are listening, the more you need to take care of them” (25:00)

Entertainment Weekly

Step Into Jack Antonoff’s Pop Laboratory, Where He Makes The Music Happen

“It’s sad and sounds like a party at the same time”

Bill Nye

Jack Antonoff talks with Bill Nye about rollercoastering. Nye explains the dopamine rush associated with going on a rollercoaster. They also talk about what is means to exist.

Larry King Now

Jack Antonoff on “Larry King Now”

“I was born in 84′, I became conscious in the early 90’s” (9:00)

“1+1 = 1 Million” Antonoff on writing with others

WTF Podcast

A conversation between Jack Antonoff and Marc Maron on the WTF Podcast

“If I got a TV the first thing that I would do is throw away the manual and then spend seven years working out how to turn it on” (127)

“I don’t want to get to involved in the computer stuff … I don’t want to get away from what the song is” (127)


In an interview on WRBU, Jack Antonoff deconstructs the confusing logic of The Little Mermaid and why when you are playing in an arena you want to create an intimate experience, as well as vice versa.

When you play in a small venue you want to give people the arena experience and when you play an arena you want to give people the small venue experience

Drugs spin certain wheels in your head that are already spinning

Reddit AMA

Jack Antonoff with an Ask Me Anything

Jack Antonoff Reveals How He Wrote “New Year’s Day” with Taylor Swift in an interview with Jimmy Fallon:

Writing music is not much different to having a physical. (1 min)

How Jack Antonoff Helped Define Pop in 2019

In an interview with Spencer Kornhaber, Antonoff push back on the idea of a ‘unique sound’:

I don’t really like the idea of a signature sound. I don’t really recognize one in myself. If other people do, that’s cool. All these records sound pretty different to me, and most importantly, they sound like the artist. The only thing I think about in production is, Who is this person and what is the absolute most right-to-the-bone way of expressing them? How do you cut all the bullshit out? (quote)

Sonically enhancing the meaning of songs with Jack Antonoff (Mix with the Masters)

In this YouTube video, Antonoff discusses how he believes that every song has its ‘best self’ and the challenge is to find it. Like a sculptor, it is about finding what is inside the stone.

Taylor Swift Producer, Jack Antonoff — Pensado’s Place #478

I just always want to be in rooms where we’re only trying to cut closer to the bone and figure out how to convey the message we’re conveying. It’s not about ‘I’ve got the sound, I’ve got the idea, I can make this better.’ There’s way too much of that in our world so I don’t want to wash it over by just saying it’s a positive environment, because it’s not, it can be really harsh or dark environment, but what it is is an environment where all things lead to things. Bad ideas pave the way for good ideas. That is my philosophy and and just to be able to not take our eyes off of what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.

That’s what collaborating is is, you have this idea and you’re actually trying to make it a real thing.

Another one of those phases where past couple years we’ve squashed and compressed and just like contorted songs to the limits where you know you’re sending a mix to a mixer that is basically already mastered the mixer has no choice but to sort of squash more then you’re sending it to be mastered which is what they do from there. I and a lot of newer artists younger artists … feel like we’re collectively way more excited about space and leaving some room in that bubble where a human being could actually live and it not just be something that plays at a party.

Songwriters Roundtable: Mark Ronson, Kesha, Jack Antonoff, Diane Warren, Boots Riley | Close Up

I almost think songwriting is not necessarily this skill that you have to put words together better than other people, it’s more like you just have this net to catch it. Like for example, you know if anyone on the street could say something that could be the greatest song of all time and a songwriter didn’t think of those words, they knew to grab it.

The Jack Antonoff Conundrum

In the last few years, Antonoff has evolved into a Rick Rubin-style artist whisperer — a Jack of all trades, if you will. He is willing and able to accompany artists all over the stylistic map. But if he’s going to maintain this privileged stature — and all evidence suggests your favorite pop artist will recruit him sooner or later — I’m more curious to hear what he does when pop’s pendulum swings back toward the humongous and ostentatious. And given that fellow ’80s devotee the Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” just became the most successful Hot 100 single of all time, maybe Antonoff doesn’t have to wait for a cultural sea change. Forget Billie Eilish and Phoebe Bridgers — put this man in the studio with Abel Tesfaye and let the neon nostalgia flow.

Jack Antonoff on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Producers

The goal isn’t to “do your thing” on someone else’s music — the goal is to make the best, most alive version of this vision. So, in a weird way, it’s inherent that these [albums] end up sounding totally different, because no two people who are real artists have the same ideas, even if we’re in the same cultural dialogue. Some people might have more of a signature sound, and that’s cool. I feel really intent on my goal, which is to make great records, and the only way that I’ve been able to get close to figuring that out is just immersing myself and not drawing at anything that feels known or safe to me.

Good records are made if everyone is looking at the same thing, whether that’s two people, three people, four people.

My version of time management is that, when I’m doing the things I love, they somehow create time for me, so I only do things I love. In this line of work, you are either being given life or sucked of life, and I don’t love being in the studio enough to be doing something I don’t want to do.

Listened Steel Train, by Steel Train from Steel Train

Steel Train is the third full-length studio album by Steel Train, released on June 29, 2010.[5] The album features an all-female companion album entitled Terrible Thrills Vol. 1, which consists of covers, remixes, and re-imaginings of every song on the album by female artists.

Before Jack Antonoff produced tracks for Pink, Lorde and Taylor Swift, he was a member of Steel Train. I am always interested to listen to how artists evolve. This reminds me of the contrast of the early Powderfinger albums to their latter pop productions. I am also interested where the particular interest in 80’s synthpop came in as it is not really present in these guitar laden tracks.
Listened Bleachers – I Miss Those Days from Song Exploder

Bleachers is the moniker of Jack Antonoff, a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer. He won two grammy awards as a member of the band fun., and another for his production work on Taylor Swift’s album 1989. He’s also co­-written songs with St. Vincent, Carly Rae Jepsen, Lorde, Sia, and more.

In June 2017, Antonoff released his second album as Bleachers, Gone Now. In this episode, he breaks down a song from that album, called “I Miss Those Days” and traces the process of making it—from the original demo, to a version he discarded, to the final song.