By: Joy Dong
Taylor Swift is one of the most successful and infamous singer-songwriters of the 21st century, paving the way for many musicians to follow, and is truly the mother of modern pop music. Beginning in 2006, 16-year-old Taylor Swift released her eponymous country-styled debut album. It earned top rankings in charts in the US and all across the world, received positive reviews from critics; and was the first step in her notorious music career. Fourteen years, seven albums, and 56 songs later, Taylor Swift’s most recent album, released on July, 24, 2020, details a new and untouched style of music, showing how talented Swift is; able to juggle multiple genres perfectly. Creative, storytelling, intriguing, relatable, meaningful, harmonious; folklore is a true masterpiece.
Though this album is absolutely beautiful at face value, the meaning behind the lyrics adds to the intricacy and haunting melodies. Swift hasn’t revealed the entire backstory, but she does mention on Instagram that, “In isolation my imagination has run wild and this album is the result, a collection of songs and stories that flowed like a stream of consciousness.”
Unlike many, if not all, of her previous songs, folklore isn’t an album based on personal experiences, but mainly about a story Swift created in her imagination during the COVID-19 lockdown. The first track on the album, called “the 1” she seemingly writes about remembering a relationship that was cut short, and one that she wishes would have lasted. Swift sings,“it would’ve been fun, if you would’ve been the one.” Fans suspect this to be “[a] nostalgic remembrance of myths and what ifs.” This theme of lost loves carries on to the second track, entitled “cardigan.” It is believed that this song is one of the three included in from the “teenage love triangle,” that Swift writes about in a post on social media. This track is told from a girl named Betty’s perspective. Swift writes and shows in her music video different stages of a young love, beginning in a cabin, and travelling to a magical and beautiful land. After this phase, Swift is seen almost drowning in an ocean storm, before she then finally returns to the cabin where she started. This metaphor likely symbolizes Swift/Betty looking back in the past phases of a relationship that started perfectly, and then endures rough patches. One of the lyrics, “I knew you, leaving like a father running like water... I knew you’d come back to me” shows how Betty feels, after a boy runs away with someone else, and then returns to ask for forgiveness. The boy in this love triangle, named James, also has a song told in his point of view, called “betty.” It is written to the girl he wronged in the past. In the song, James talks about wanting to attend Betty’s party, to apologize and ask to be taken back. He insists that his affair was “just a summer thing,” while making excuses, claiming, “I’m only seventeen, I don’t know anything.”
The other character involved in this triangle is named Inez, and her perspective is detailed in the song, “august.” This song shows how Inez and James’ relationship was doomed from the beginning, and writes about how the summer love “slipped away into a moment in time.”
Each of these songs are filled with catchy lyrics and beautiful melodies, with brilliant and well-thought-out storylines, and are my personal favorites from the folklore album.
Taylor Swift, once again, has proven to be a master in the art of singing, as well as storytelling. With every album, every song, every lyric, she showcases her bravery, cleverness and willingness to venture out and experience new styles and concepts. From country, to pop, to rock, to contemporary, to jazz, to funk, to alternative; Taylor Swift can do anything and everything.
Happy to say I’m a devoted Swifty. Stream folklore now !