Taylor Swift saved 2020 not once but twice with two new albums

Taylor Swift. She’s a household name, an award-winning singer, and an idol to many people. The 31 year old singer songwriter has been a prominent female role model since 2006, and it appears she is not stopping now.

I’m a huge fan of Taylor Swift, and I have been since around 2010 when I was 6 years old. One of my favorite memories is crying happy tears when my parents gave me tickets to her concert when I was 11. Needless to say, I’ve grown up with her as one of my biggest inspirations and sources of comfort. I love her, and I’m pretty sure I always will. As I’ve matured, so has her music.

Taylor gave a gift to this world when she dropped her 8th studio album, Folklore, on July 24, 2020. She had worked on it in secret during quarantine, and its release was announced just beforehand. She’s always been a surprise enthusiast, but this was by far the most shocking thing she’d ever done… until she did it again five months later. Evermore, Folklore’s sister album, was also announced and released on the same day, December 11, 2020.

The two albums are unlike anything Taylor has ever done before. They are both members of the folk genre, while in the past her albums have been either country or pop. Each song has a softer sound and uses acoustic instruments versus technology. Taylor is known for how personal her writing is and how her songs have been a sort of diary she’s shared with the world. But these two albums are different. They don’t portray Taylor’s life experiences in every song, but rather they mostly tell fictional stories she created through music.

Folklore gained a lot of popularity for its lead single, “Cardigan.” The song has a magnificent bridge, with words so poetic and powerful that an award is deserved for a few lines alone. However, the meaning of Cardigan is better understood when you also listen to “August” and “Betty.” It’s a love triangle. “Betty” is from the perspective of a boy named James, who is begging for forgiveness from Betty after he cheated on her with another girl. It is the first song Taylor has written from a male perspective, but the genders can also be up for interpretation. “August” is about the girl James cheats with. It’s from her perspective, and it offers a unique spin on the “other woman” trope. The girl in August conveys her heartbreak, with lyrics such as “living for the hope of it all,” and “you were never mine to lose.” Taylor pushes back against the idea that the person someone cheats with is also guilty. In reality, the girl in “August” was hopelessly in love with James, who used her. She’s just as much of a victim as Betty is. “Cardigan” is from Betty’s perspective, and completes the triangle as she forgives James.

My favorite song from Folklore besides the love triangle ones is “This is Me Trying.” It’s tragically beautiful and hits close to home, for it’s about trying your best during a difficult time in your life. The lyrics “it’s hard to be at a party when you feel like an open wound” are the most meaningful to me, because they connect to that feeling of being lonely in the most crowded of places. It connects to mental health issues, and it’s something that I’ve seen resonate with a lot of people who have gone through such struggles.

Evermore tells new stories. The song “No Body, No Crime” has gained a lot of publicity because of how it quite literally tells a tale about a murder. It follows the story of someone who hears from her friend about her friend’s husband being a cheater, and then that friend dies. It’s assumed that the husband did it, and Swift sings the line “I think he did it but I just can’t prove it.” The narrator then kills the husband out of revenge, and then the husband’s mistress gets blamed for it in the end. The entire song is incredibly entertaining, and even has a country riff in the background, sparking nostalgia for Taylor’s earlier days.

Another song that many people love is called “Champagne Problems.” Its lyrics are both stunning and clever. It follows a pair of college sweethearts. When one proposes, the other, who is the narrator, declines because they feel they cannot accept for many reasons. It’s about the heartbreak of saying no to something that part of you want to say yes to. The lyrics “dropped your hand while dancing, left you out there standing, crestfallen on the landing, champagne problems” encapsulate the plot of the song. I highly recommend listening to it to follow the story.

“Ivy” tells the story of two people having an illicit affair and is perhaps the most beautiful in terms of the melody. “Tolerate It” is another one of my favorites, and it’s about loving someone who doesn’t appreciate you or love you the same way. It can be interpreted in many different ways, which is what I admire a lot about Taylor’s writing. The lyrics “I made you my temple, my mural, my sky… Now I’m begging for footnotes in the story of your life” are enough to make someone cry.

Overall, I love both of these albums and rate them each a 10/10. They’re undeniably beautiful, and give many of Taylor’s fans the feeling of validation as well as enlightenment. As a songwriter, she is able to capture a myriad of possible emotions through her words, and that is incredible.

Image: The covers of Folklore and Evermore.

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