By Sophia Alexandrou
Having been in lockdown for almost a year now, many people have found different ways to occupy their time. For some, a new hobby has been the way to go, for others, starting a side hustle is how they spent their time. Taylor Swift spent her time in lockdown writing two new albums within the span of five months and re-recording her first six albums.
On July 24, 2020, Taylor Swift released her surprise eighth studio album, "Folklore," announcing it only the day before. Swift, who is known for her fun, relatable country and pop songs usually inspired by past relationships, took this new era into an entirely different direction. Though Swift has shown her talent in terms of writing impactful lyrics and her versatility as an artist, being able to switch so seamlessly and successfully between country and different types of pop music, it is "Folklore" that truly solidifies her as one of the best lyricists in music today, as well as one of the most versatile.
Diverging from the upbeat and fun sounds of her previous album, "Lover," "Folklore" explores an entirely different sound, delving into the world of indie music. While Swift is known for using her romantic relationships as material for her work, on this new album she shows that her work can still be impactful and relatable even when she is writing about events that did not happen to her. For example, the songs, “Cardigan,” “August,” and “ Betty,” explore the same high school love triangle from three different perspectives. The song titled “The Last Great American Dynasty” is about “a misfit widow getting gleeful revenge on the town that cast her out,” says Swift. Another impressive track on this album, titled “Epiphany,” delves into the world of nurses working during this pandemic as she compares it to her grandfather’s experience during wartime. The impactful lyrics of this song like “Something med school did not cover/ Someone’s daughter, someone’s mother/ Holds your hand through plastic now,” really encapsulate the isolation and harsh reality of the pandemic. This album has given Swift five Grammy nominations in addition to the one she received for her songwriting in the movie "Cats."
Taylor Swift continued this theme of lyrically potent and emotional songwriting with another surprise album released on December 11, 2020, titled "Evermore." This album serves as a “sister album” to "Folklore" and continues to hit its listeners with stories that both come from Swift’s own experiences, and some that do not. For instance, “Ivy” discusses infidelity in a woman’s marriage as she falls in love with another man, while the heart-wrenching “Champagne Problems” discusses the story of a woman who turns down her boyfriend’s proposal for reasons she can only describe as “Champagne Problems.” In addition, Swift pays tribute to her late grandmother, Marjorie Finlay, with her song, “Marjorie,” in which recordings of Finlay’s vocals can be heard in the background. With lyrics like “And if I didn't know better/ I'd think you were singing to me now/ If I didn't know better/ I'd think you were still around,” this song holds a special place in the hearts of fans who have also lost those close to them.
If two new albums in 2020 wasn’t enough for Swift, earlier this month, the re-recording of her second studio album, "Fearless," was announced for release on April ninth, titled "Fearless (Taylor’s Version)." After losing the masters to her first six albums to Scooter Braun, Swift has been hard at work re-recording these albums so she can finally own them again. "Love Story (Taylor’s Version)" has already been released. Hearing this song for the first time again was an extremely cathartic experience, because for many, this was the first Taylor Swift song they ever heard. That someone as talented and impactful as Swift has been able to take her own music back is truly inspiring, especially since that she has been a strong advocate for artists' rights for a long time. The re-recording of her other five albums has yet to be announced.
Music is an extremely effective tool to cope with the difficulties that come in life. Though this past year has not been easy, Taylor Swift’s incredible lyrics and strong melodies have given her fans comfort in uncertain times. Swift’s "Folklore and "Evermore" have proven her to be one of the best artists in history. Her versatility and ability to produce such powerful lyrics is extremely unique and unmatched by most artists today. If you have not listened to these two albums yet, I highly recommend you do so. The stories are so specific, yet so universal that you can find yourself in all of them. Though the times of the Coronavirus have not been easy, Taylor Swift says it best in her song “Long Story Short": “Long story short it was a bad time/ Long story short I survived.”