Under these COVID-19 circumstances, Taylor Swift shocks her fans with the release of a new album, “folklore” on July 24. During the time of its release, One Direction revealed its 10 year anniversary to be a special reunion resulting in a massive social media presence for the former boy band. Even with this intense hype for the band on Twitter and other platforms, Swift still managed to share the social media spotlight. The most shocking part of it all had to be the timing of the release with the initial announcement. Swift gave her fans no time to even quite process the news before that same night the album was officially released.
Swift said she was able to spend lots of time alone with her own thoughts, creating every song writer’s dream of a complex musical masterpiece. “folklore” features a brand new never-heard-before sound; although, no one is shocked with this new sound that seems to fit her so well.
Starting in 2012 with the release of “Red,” Swift has upheld her “reputation” (no pun intended) of consistently changing her sound. Ordinarily, this is a very difficult task for an artist to accomplish while keeping a consistent fan base, but Swift’s die-hard fans have stayed through it all. Time and time again, her fans have kept her on top of Billboard with each new album.
Her new sound, at its most simple form, can be easily linked to the artist, Bon Iver, who is featured in the duet, “exile” and helped co-write. The majority of her new songs on the album have a very similar mood to Bon Iver’s brand. With the help of Swift’s pop star fame and extraordinary feature on the album, Bon Iver has had an increase in streams and popularity since the release.
The care and intended message she had in “folklore” was very clear in the way she promoted the new release. On all social media platforms, Swift took the time to explain her reasoning behind her new sound and unique storytelling in every song.
Along with the initial release, Swift took different songs from the album and arranged them into “chapters” based on how they fit together thematically. The “escapism chapter” is made up of six songs that each express some sort of escape whether it be from a toxic relationship (exile) or from the difficulties that come with fame (the lakes).
After the “escapism chapter” was released, she came out with two more: the “sleepless nights chapter” and the “saltbox house chapter.” These small chapters of songs are just another way for Swift to tell a story and make sense of the album in a coherent way.
Not only does Swift tell stories in every individual song, but her fans also found a story of a teenage love triangle told with a tie between three songs, “august,” “cardigan,” and “betty,” which gives the most direct information of the teenage love affair. The song goes into depth of the ways the boy attempts to win Betty back after an affair. Lyrics also reference a girl’s name, the “other” girl, to be Inez (who invites the boy into her car for a “drive”). “cardigan” goes into Betty’s perspective as a cardigan wearing young girl. She repeats the lyric “when you are young, they assume you know nothing” referring to the stigma around teenage heartbreak. “Chase two girls, lose the one” makes a direct connection to the love triangle. “August,” the perspective of the other girl, repeats the lyrics, “August slipped away like a bottle of wine, because you were never mine.” The entire song is an ode to their summer love and what she lost once the month August arrived.
Clearly, Swift had plenty of time to make this complex album with the state of the world today. Each rhetorical choice, lyric and title was perfectly placed to fit together creating a story within a story within a story. She, whether it be for aesthetic effect or for a message, takes on Billie Eilish’s signature by purposely making every song and the title lowercase. The dedication and work put into this album by Swift is a rare and beautiful thing to see from an artist that was much needed in these hard and complicated times.
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