Why Utah Gov. Spencer Cox stayed up late for Taylor Swift

Gov. Spencer Cox joined in on the global anticipation for Taylor Swift’s 10th studio album, “Midnights.”

(Evan Agostini | Invision/AP) Taylor Swift, seen here Sept. 9, 2022, at the Toronto International Film Festival, released her latest album, "Midnights," late Thursday night, Oct. 20, 2022. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and his daughter, Emma Kate, were among those staying up to download the album on its release.

The music or movies a person likes can say a lot about them — even if they’re elected officials.

So a tweet from Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, on his personal Twitter account, late Thursday night was illuminating — as the governor joined in the anticipation over the release of pop star Taylor Swift’s 10th studio album, “Midnights.”

Cox’s first tweet, sent about 15 minutes before the nationwide release of the new album, hinted at the interest, and earned him several responses from constituents and followers. He followed, 15 minutes later as the album was officially released, with a quote tweet that joked about “breaking Spotify”; the music-streaming platform reportedly crashed as the album became available.

Three minutes later, Cox tweeted once more: relaying that his daughter got the album on her phone. He shared that he was sitting next to her and listening along. (Emma Kate Cox is a teen, and has introduced her father to her musical tastes before: He once tweeted about attending an AJR concert with her.) Cox even tweeted out a few pictures with his daughter.

Cox engaged with followers about his thoughts on certain tracks from the album. He said “Maroon” is a favorite, alongside “You’re On Your Own Kid,” and he appreciated “Question...?” and “Labyrinth.” He later praised album closer “Mastermind” and “Vigilante Sh*t” (though he referred to it only as “Vigilante”).

Appraising the song “Karma,” Cox said, “Ok lyrics are amazing, melody wasn’t my favorite…but I liked it (daughter liked it more).”

Several people sent tweets asking if Cox was a Swiftie — the affectionate name given to Taylor Swift’s fans — and he clicked “like” on those tweets.

(Republic Records via AP) This image released by Republic Records shows "Midnights" by Taylor Swift.

In a direct message to a Tribune reporter, Cox said music is one thing he and his daughter bond over.

“Staying up for her album drops has become one of our things together,” Cox said. “I love music and really started to appreciate Taylor when ‘1989′ came out.” He named the song “Out Of The Woods” as his “sneaky fave” and also praised “Blank Space.”

“But I think it was really the combination of the pandemic and ‘Folklore’ [Swift’s 2020 album] — something about the melancholy mood matching the moment — that hooked me,” Cox said.

“She’s a brilliant musician, and even though not all of her music is my style, I can appreciate her artistry. But the best part will always be connecting with my daughter through her. So, I guess maybe that does make me a Swiftie.”

Politically, Cox and Swift may not have a lot of common ground outside of music. Swift made headlines in 2018 when she made her first political endorsements, for Democrats in her home state of Tennessee. On the other hand, Swift has been a champion for LGBTQ rights — and Cox has sometimes broken from his Republican colleagues on LGBTQ issues, including his veto of a bill blocking transgender girls taking part in high school sports. (The bill passed anyway, over his veto.)

Cox’s fun Swift-related tweets were a contrast to a tweet he posted Wednesday, a comment to a long post from Davis Smith, founder and CEO of Utah-based outdoor gear maker Cotopaxi — in which Smith complained about safety concerns at the company’s San Francisco store. Cox’s response: “Utah company sadly learning what happens when progressive candidates and policies are unchecked.”

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