Los Angeles Times

Music Icon Stays in Spotlight With Surprise Albums

January 22, 2021

Shocking her fanbase, singer Taylor Swift released a new album, Folklore on July 24. Fans approved of her new music as Folklore went on to become the only album selling 1 million tracks in the United States in 2020. Within the first two days, the album garnered 126 million streams. 

After her Reputation album, many enthusiasts believed Taylor transitioned to a completely pop genre dubbed “New Taylor.” This phase in her music career received mixed reactions. Some loved it, others did not appreciate the new pop music style. However,  fans found themselves drawn to the Folklore album by its return to sounds Swift used in the early 2010’s.

Using sounds similar to her song Safe and Sound which she recorded for the movie “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” Swift managed to obtain an indie-alternative title for Folklore. Ranging from more country to pop, the artist embodied many different styles all in one album.

Although the beautiful music, what really stood out was Swift as a lyricist. First with The One, Swift masks the truly downcast tone of regret over what could’ve been with an upbeat rhythm. Exile, a song in collaboration with Bon Iver, written as a conversation between two lovers. Then again with My Tears Ricochet written from the perspective of someone describing the end of a relationship, when a person who had always supported them pushed them away. Finally, Swift achieved the height of lyrical storytelling, with songs Betty, Cardigan, and August where she wrote about a love triangle from three different perspectives. Covering each perspective though the different lyrics and different tones in each song. 

Drawing inspiration heavily from events in her own life, Swift wrote all of the songs during isolation in COVID-19. These events include her recent feud with American media producer, Scooter Braun in fall 2019 where she said he unfairly controlled her masters and six previous albums. When Swift’s attempt to buy them back failed, she decided to simultaneously re-record all of her old music and write new hits which included albums Me! and Folklore. 

On the heels of her Grammy nominated album, Folklore. Swift released another album, Evermore. Evermore continues Taylor’s old-made-new vibe with a more melancholy feel. Swift sings songs about old friends, old love, and heartbreak. 

It soon became clear that the undoubtable star of the surprise album was Champagne Problems, a song about a relationship that was destined to fail. Oscillating between high and low notes, the melody and lyrics created the quintessential ballad. No Body No Crime was another song fans fell in love with. In it, Swift returned to her original country origin in a catchy and fun to sing along to song about a story about a cheating lover and a dead friend. Finally, the  album’s namesake song, Evermore, a collaboration with Bon Iver, ended the album on a sorrowful note. 

Folklore and Evermore became the singer’s eighth and ninth studio albums since the release of her first, Taylor Swift, in 2006. Now 15 years later, Swift manages to stay in the limelight and amass the same type of support/following she got at the beginning of her career. She accomplished this through tactfully using her prevalent popularity to gain further traction for whatever she releases.

In earlier years, Swift used marketing techniques such as collaborating with a wide network of artists which included Ed Sheeran, Kendrick Lamar, and ZAYN. These collaborations proved advantageous because she reached larger audiences. However, the singer took a minimalistic route when promoting Folklore and Evermore and dropped both of the albums abruptly. In both cases, the only notice fans received came via an Instagram post the day each album dropped. This created a renewed sense of excitement among her fan base in the twelve hours leading up to the albums’ releases. When the albums dropped, old listeners as well as new ones flocked to stream them. Folklore and Evermore sold 846,000 and 154,000 respectively in their first weeks in the US alone. 

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