STU students explore Taylor Swift’s “Midnights” at midnight

Midnights listening party this past Thursday Oct 20th, held at the Blackbox theater at St. Thomas University. (Violet Armistead/AQ)

Professor Jamie Gillies’ “Communications & Taylor Swift” class hosted a listening party on Oct. 20 to celebrate Taylor Swift’s latest album release, Midnights.

Located at the Black Box Theatre in Sir James Dunn Hall, students from the course listened to the entire album in the early hours of the morning.

“It was really fun because you’re sitting next to everyone in the class seeing everyone else’s reaction,” said fourth-year St. Thomas University student Theo Saulis.

Saulis was one of many students in the class who attended the listening party and was pleasantly surprised by the direction of the album.

“If there was a clump of words in a song or a really good bridge, we’d all scream together,” said Saulis.

After a long few years of online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Saulis believes that this event would not be able to happen virtually.

“It wouldn’t have been the same because everyone’s camera would be turned off and microphones muted, so you’re not getting in-time reactions to the song with everyone,” said Saulis.

This was the exact atmosphere that Gillies, chair of the journalism and communications department, hoped for when suggesting this event to students.

“It gives students that collective opportunity to be part of a global cultural event and also, not as a requirement for the course, links to what they’re studying,” he told The Aquinian, adding that he is indeed a “Swiftie.”

“I always use entertainers and musicians as case studies in communications classes and over the last couple years, students began saying they’d really like to have a course just on Taylor Swift.”

Many of Gillies’ students grew up listening to Swift’s music. He tries to link their interest in Swift to communications theory, marketing, branding and business communications.

“Swift is a serious disrupter to the music industry itself, especially if Taylor’s versions of all these albums start to outsell the originals,” said Gillies.

“It sends a massive signal to what’s left in the music industry and it means that artists can take back control of their careers and their song catalogues.”

Midnights sold 1.12 million copies in the United States in its first week.

The track, “Mastermind,” was a personal favourite of Gillies.

“Taylor put into words the very inspiration for this course because she is a communications mastermind,” he said.