By Emma Weidmann | Arts and Life Editor
Moonstone blue, mahogany, jade green, blood moon and lavender — these are the five vinyl variants of Taylor Swift’s 2022 album “Midnights.”
The first four have the same tracklist, and the fifth is a Target exclusive that includes three bonus songs — two remixes and a new track. That’s a good deal, right? You could pick one color, and if you got the Target lavender, you’d have every song on the album, right? … Right?
Taylor Swift, like all of your other favorite artists, laughs in the face of your wallet. In addition to these five variants of one album, there is a special “3am Edition” of “Midnights” that contains seven extra songs, and it doesn’t even stop there. “You’re Losing Me (From The Vault)” was only available on a “Late Night Edition” CD sold at select Eras Tour dates and for digital download on Swift’s website for 24 hours. It’s still unavailable for streaming.
This edition is the only one that contains any of the 3am tracks, but only five of the seven are included. “Paris” and “Glitch” are missing for some inexplicable reason.
But wait, there’s more! The “Til Dawn Edition” of the album came out in May — seven months after the original release — and it includes all the 3am tracks and one of three Target exclusive tracks, “Hits Different.” But it doesn’t include “You’re Losing Me,” and this edition isn’t available for physical purchase. You can stream it, however.
Are you tracking with all of these editions? You actually can’t physically own every song from “Midnights,” but if you wanted to try, you would have to buy the Target exclusive CD or vinyl to have “Hits Different” and snag a copy of the “Late Night Edition” CD for “You’re Losing Me,” which is reselling for $70 in some cases. You would be missing two 3am tracks after all of this.
Long story short: There’s no edition of the album that contains every single song, there’s no combination of versions that you can buy to physically own them all, and there’s still one song that’s unavailable to be streamed unless you purchased the digital download.
This isn’t even touching on the fact that the back covers of “Midnights” variants each have a graphic that, when fans buy four of them, form a clock. Swift sold a kit for $49.99 to mount the vinyls on a wall with functional clock hands. What seems like a cute marketing technique that matches the album’s theme is really just a cheap gimmick to encourage fans to buy four versions of the same vinyl in different colors for no apparent reason other than to make it reasonable to buy a piece of merch to go along with it.
Maybe she’s a genius, but at $30 a pop for each vinyl, you would get hoodwinked into spending close to $200 for the setup — and for what, really?
This isn’t even new to the “Midnights” album cycle. Swift pulled a similar stunt during her “folklore” era in which eight color variants of the album were sold, and there were four variants of its sister album, “evermore,” in green, slightly darker green, blue-ish green and red.
If all of this seems a little ridiculous to you, welcome to the crowd of rational people whose brains haven’t been fried by the capitalist queen of pop. And before anyone gets angry at me for writing this, let the record show that I am a fan of Swift’s music, and I have been for years. That doesn’t mean that I don’t also like looking at my bank account and not feeling fear.
Of course, there are a lot of other artists who make similar money moves, and the cost of concert tickets is becoming almost too much to bear. That goes for pretty much any artist in this day and age. Every time I go to a concert, I’m appalled by the prices they slap on a thin, scratchy hoodie with a badly cured, screen-printed graphic on it. I once questioned my will to live in the merch line for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
That said, I think the real issue here isn’t even the blatant highway robbery that musicians are subjecting their loyal fanbases to. It’s the fact that we’ll fall for it. Every. Single. Time.
There are fans who own every single vinyl variant of Swift’s albums, of which there are many. Vinyl collecting is an expensive hobby as it is, and I’m not trying to judge anyone for collecting each variant, but it seems absurd to me to spend literally thousands of dollars to have different colors of the same vinyl. At the end of the day, it’s not like choosing which one to listen to makes any real difference. I don’t know what moonstone sounds like in comparison to lavender. I’d assume they sound the same, but I don’t know. I can’t hear colors.