Taylor Swift surprised fans with the unexpected release of her critically-acclaimed 5-star album, Folklore, made without fanfare during the lockdown. Since its release, Folklore has cemented itself as the top-selling album of 2020.
Folklore stands out as the #1 album in the world with global sales over 2 million worldwide and over half a billion total streams on audio and video in just one week. It has reached #1 on iTunes in more than 85 countries. The album marks the biggest UK debut for a female artist in 2020 and becomes her most-streamed album in its first week in the UK.
“Folklore proves that she can thrive away from the noise: if you interpret “classmates” as pop peers, Swift is no longer competing.” – The Guardian, Laura Snapes
Taylor Swifts' rise to pop stardom has been nothing short of meteoric. Born in Pennsylvania in 1989, she moved to Nashville to pursue her career in country music in 2004 and was signed to her first record deal with Sony at the tender age of 15.
Swift has sold over 50 million albums and 150 million singles worldwide. Her accolades include ten Grammy Awards, an Emmy Award, and seven Guinness World Records.
This success has brought with it an enormous amount of interest from fans and media alike, not always welcome.
It's worth catching the Netflix-produced “Taylor Swift: Miss Americana” for the rich detail it provides on the dark side of celebrity and Taylor Swift's political awakening, including the very real dangers this brings in the USA today.
Taylor Swift has over 138 million followers on Instagram, 86 million followers on Twitter and 39 million followers on YouTube, which gives her some very real influence. Particularly as her fans are known to be passionate. When Swift finally came out for the Democrats recently, votes in Tennessee spiked in their favour, but the alt-right in America felt betrayed as they imagined her as one of their own.
The singer-songwriter is still just thirty years old, that's a lot of fame and success for anyone to handle. She confesses that after the well-publicised spat with Kanye West she took a three-year break from giving interviews. Now thirty years old, she appears stronger than ever, having decided to actively promote feminism, gun control, and support BAME and LGTB communities, particularly against Trump.
She has been dating British actor Joe Alwyn for the last three years and spending a lot of time in London. Learning to enjoy peaceful moments watching rugby with his old University mates. This may account for the confidence apparent in this new album.
Folklore has been lauded as the album where she truly finds her style. Not just a pop star relating her personal journey, but as a deeply intuitive storyteller. Swift cites her biggest influences as Shania Twain, Faith Hill, and the Dixie Chicks. But Folklore brings to mind a mix of Joni Mitchell and Stevie Nicks. The pace is relaxed, with flawless timing and a sweetness to her voice. Music to actually listen too, eschewing power anthems or club background tracks. Beautiful piano melodies with a haunting echo of emotion. The lyrics carry you through, playing a cool, clever narrative, but the emotion is paramount.
Taylor Swift's career was supported at the very beginning by her parents. Her father worked as a stockbroker for Merrill Lynch and transferred to their Nashville office, the home of country music. Her mother was a financial marketing executive who also encouraged her daughter from an early age to follow her talent.
Swift has clearly come of age, with enough experience of the cutthroat world of celebrity to navigate it more smoothly. Her musical talent increases with every album and her political activism adds even greater depth to her style of storytelling. Folklore is a brilliant album that promises even greater things to come.
If you've dismissed Taylor Swift as just pop before, take five minutes to listen to “Hoax”, it is intensely evocative. You'll float in a calm sea, memories drifting up and fading away, like foam bubbles popping in the wind.
Photos by Beth Garrabrant