Taylor Swift has lived up to her self-proclaimed “Mastermind” status with the Thursday night/Friday morning release of fresh versions of two “Midnights” songs. In one, which she spices up “Karma” with an all-new verse from arguably the hottest rapper of the moment, Ice Spice. In the other, bluntly subtitled “(Featuring More Lana Del Rey),” Swift all but cedes the aural spotlight to the guest artist who was formerly inaudible on the track, Lana Del Rey.
Ice Spice makes a few interjections here and there in Swift’s verses in “Karma” — she adds an affirmative “Facts!” after Swift sings, “Karma takes all my friends to the summit” — and she also gets the first and last words in this remix (“Karma is that girl, like” and a concluding “Karma’s gonna hold you down”). Mostly, though, she’s afforded an all-new second verse, with lyrics including: “Karma is your checks by the bounce / Karma is the fire in your house / And she ’bout to pop up unannounced.”
It’s hard to top these two for a dynamic duo in May 2023, but “Midnights” devotees will have just as much interest in the simultaneously released “Snow on the Beach (More Lana Del Rey Version).” It’s an ultimate example of fan servicing … or is it really just superior customer support? Fans complained that they couldn’t hear Del Rey’s voice on the original “Snow,” despite the featured billing for the star who co-wrote it with Swift. It wasn’t just a matter of turning up a channel in the audio — maybe there really never was much of Del Rey’s on tape, judging from the revelation that Del Rey went back into the studio to cut new vocals for the track.
Now, if anything, Del Rey’s voice might be more prominent than Swift’s. The balance, in any case, is finely tuned enough to be ear-tickling, as you anticipate who’ll be singing alone, or louder, or in equal balance at any point in the song. If you’re fans of both artists, it’s frankly a much more satisfying version, now that what seemed like a phantom feature has finally manifested in the flesh.
These are two of the three tracks that have been added to “Midnights (3 a.m. Edition)” to turn it into “Midnights (The Til Dawn Edition)” — yes, it’s a deluxe edition of a deluxe edition, now clocking in at 23 tracks.
The third additional track is not new to many Swift fans: It’s “Hits Different,” which was previously an exclusive bonus track on the Target-exclusive “Midnights” CD. This marks its first release to DSPs.
The biggest revelation is yet to come, on Friday, when Swift releases a physical version of “Midnights (The Til Dawn Edition)” that includes a song that has not previously been released or even known to exist in any form: “You’re Losing Me.” It’s the first time that Swift has appended what she calls a “Vault Track” to an album that is not a re-recording of one of her Big Machine releases. And given the fan interest in her changing personal status in recent months, the title makes it a certainty that the lyrics will quickly be scoured for clues about why her long-term relationship with Joe Alwyn ended, even though it could still turn out to be one of the great red herrings of the year.
The bad news for fans not already in or near New Jersey is that this CD version will only be available at merch stands for her East Rutherford stadium shows. That’s what Swift announced on social media, even noting the opening time for that merch — 12:30 p.m. ET — ensuring that thousands of fans will start showing up for the shows and seeking out the end of the line in the a.m. There may be plans for further distribution of the CD, but if so, Swift hasn’t yet mentioned it.
The race will be on, inevitably, to see which fan can buy the CD, head back to the car and burn and upload it to the rest of Swift’s waiting public via a hotspot, officially illicit re-distribution or not.
As for the universally available digital version sans “You’re Losing Me,” it’s bound to give “Midnights” a huge streaming and sales boost, with the album already at No. 2 on this week’s chart from a week before any such bonuses were known. Her reasons for putting out this deluxe-deluxe version can only come down to one factor: She wants to prevent Morgan Wallen’s “One Thing at a Time” album from enjoying a historic 13th week at No. 1, which it likely would, week after next, if not for Swift’s unexpected intervention. Only one of these two has ownership over the number 13.