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Music icon Taylor Swift surprised fans all across the globe when she announced the arrival of her eighth studio album only one day ahead of its release. 

“Surprise,” Swift posted on social media on July 23. “Tonight at midnight I’ll be releasing my 8th studio album, folklore; an entire brand new album of songs I’ve poured all of my whims, dreams, fears, and musings into.” 

While the album came as a complete shock to her millions of fans on social media, it had apparently been in the works since quarantine began, as she acknowledged the chaos yet inspiration that these times have created. “Most of the things I had planned this summer didn’t end up happening, but there is something I hadn’t planned that DID happen,” she wrote. “And that thing is my 8th studio album, folklore.” 

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She went on to elaborate about those who helped her bring the album to fruition: “I wrote and recorded this music in isolation but got to collaborate with some musical heroes of mine; Aaron Dessner (who has co-written or produced 11 of the 16 songs), Bon Iver (who co-wrote and was kind enough to sing on one with me), William Bowery (who co-wrote two with me) and Jack Antonoff (who is basically musical family at this point. Engineered by Laura Sisk and Jon Low, mixed by Serban Ghenea and Jon Low. The album photos were shot by the amazing Beth Garrabrant.” 

“Before this year, I probably would’ve overthought when to release this music at the ‘perfect time,’ but the times we’re living in keep reminding me that nothing is guaranteed,” the singer wrote. “My gut is telling me that if you make something you love, you should just put it out into the world. That’s the side of uncertainty I can get on board with.” 

At midnight on July 23, Swift’s 16-track album dropped, delighting fans after the massive anticipation that she had built up, with the album and several song titles immediately and unsurprisingly trending on Twitter all throughout the next day, especially as a result of the additional release of the music video for “Cardigan”, which she directed herself. 

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In an essay posted on Twitter that accompanied the release of the album, she wrote, “In isolation, my imagination has run wild and this album is the result. I’ve told these stories to the best of my ability with all the love, wonder, and whimsy they deserve. Now it’s up to you to pass them down.” 

Swift whimsically discusses the imagery that sparked the ideas for the LP and several of the songs on it. “It started with imagery. Visuals that popped into my mind and piqued my curiosity. Stars drawn around scars. A cardigan that still bears the scene of loss twenty years later. Battleships sinking into the ocean, down, down, down. The tree swing in the woods of my childhood. Hushed tones of “let’s run away” and never doing it. The sun drenched month of August, sipped away at like a bottle of wine. A mirrored disco ball hovering above a dance floor. A whiskey bottle beckoning. Hands held through plastic. A single thread that, for better or for worse, ties you to your fate.”

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“Pretty soon the images in my head grew faces or names and became characters. I found myself not only writing my own stories, but also writing about or from the perspective of people I’ve never met, people I’ve known, or those I wish I hadn’t. An exiled man walking the bluffs of a land that isn’t his own, wondering how it all went so terribly, terribly wrong. An embittered tormenter showing up at the funeral of his fallen object of obsession. A seventeen-year-old standing on a porch, learning to apologize. Lovestruck kids wandering up and down the evergreen High Line. My grandfather, Dean, landing at Guadalcanal in 1942. A misfit widow getting gleeful revenge on the town that cast her out. 

Taylor Pens on Her ‘Folklore’

“A tale that becomes folklore is one that is passed down and whispered around. Sometimes even sung about. The lines between fantasy and reality blur and the boundaries between truth and fiction become almost indiscernible. Speculation, over time, becomes fact. Myth, ghost stories, and fables. Fairytales and parables. Gossip and legend. Someone’s secrets written in the sky for all to behold.” 

“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. Picking up a pen was my way of escaping into fantasy, history, and memory. I’ve told these stories to the best of my ability with all the love, wonder, and whimsy they deserve. Now it’s up to you to pass them down.” 

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32 Facts on Taylor Swift

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Previous albums 

The arrival of Folklore was such a surprise mainly because of Swift’s recent release of her seventh studio album, “Lover”. The album came out in August 2019, and quickly became the best selling album of the year. Folklore is definitely set to follow the same track, as it sold more than a whopping 1.3 million copies globally in just 24 hours, according to Republic Records, which released the album. 

Back in 2006, Taylor Swift burst onto the scene back with her first eponymous debut studio album as a young curly-haired country singer who would make waves with her songs “Teardrops on my Guitar” and “Tim McGraw”. Now, 14 years and eight albums later, she has achieved superstar-level fame, racking up over 10 Grammy Awards and 29 American Music Awards, and making a name for herself as one of the best-selling music artists of all time. 

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That being said, her musical style has certainly evolved over the years. Folklore is a definitive step away from her contemporary pop music that became a staple on most of her recent albums, after her original departure from country music and aside from the hip-hop infused Reputation, as she delves into a more indie and alternative groove of which she has also been known to enjoy listening to herself. 

“I’m on some new shit,” Swift cheekily sings in the opening lines of “the 1,” the first track on the album, in what many see as her reference to her clear evolution towards her new and apparent narrative storytelling throughout Folklore that strays away from her often self-referential songs. Fans and critics are pleased with her “new shit”, however, as many are calling her whimsical and more subdued album her best work to date. 

Taylor’s kind gesture

In an industry and corporate world that usually deals with claims of plagiarism with powerful legal teams to squash claimants – Taylor instead utilized her kindness. Amira Rasool, the founder of Black-owned retailer The Folklore, openly accused Swift of ripping off her company’s logo on ‘Folklore’ related merchandise on Instagram. It is important to point out that a merchandise designer is responsible for the designs and not Taylor herself. Taylor Swift responded swiftly with kindness by declaring herself a fan of Rasool’s work and openly rectified the plagiarism by changing her album’s merchandise logo and took her apology many steps further by committing to financially support Rasool’s business and donations to Black in Fashion Council which is launching next week. Taylor’s quick actions are a study in actual rectification with kindness. Taylor has long been an active humanitarian and human rights activist, hence her recent actions show that she walks her talk by actively supporting Black Lives Matter, Black women and Black talents.

As Folklore continues to break streaming records, it is clear that Taylor Swift is only continuing to climb up the ranks amidst her already extraordinary career and success. And who knows, maybe we’ll be getting another surprise album sooner than we think!  

By Christine Feeley

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