Taylor Swift shocked all the Swifties of the world on July 23rd when she dropped Folkore, a new surprise album that seemingly came out of nowhere.
For more than a decade now, this country superstar turned pop music household name has showcased what record labels want: the face, the musical talent, songwriting prowess marketable to the masses, and a game plan sure to successfully launch and get people buzzing from the get-go.
For the uninitiated, let’s take a step back. On her official Instagram account, Swift posted a black and white photo of her in the woods and accompanying caption saying, “Most of the things I had planned this summer didn’t end up happening, but there is something I hadn’t planned on that DID happen. And that thing is my 8th studio album, Folklore. Surprise,” she stated. Obviously, as any member of any industry, Swift has received a blow to her career just like any other business amidst the pandemic, so it was easy to comprehend what she meant and make initial assumptions on the themes of the new album.
The caption on the photo continues, “Tonight at midnight I’ll be releasing my entire brand new album of songs I’ve poured all of my whims, dreams, fears, and musings into. I wrote and recorded this music in isolation but got to collaborate with some musical heroes of mine; @aarondessner (who has co-written or produced 11 of the 16 songs), @boniver (who co-wrote and was kind enough to sing on one with me), William Bowery (who co-wrote two with me) and @jackantonoff (who is basically musical family at this point). Engineered by Laura Sisk and Jon Low, mixed by Serban Ghenea & Jon Low. The album photos were shot by the amazing @bethgarrabrant.”
Swift received an overwhelmingly positive response on her posts alluding to her new album. Moreover, she has definitely amassed even more followers, with fans of her collaborating artists flocking to her Instagram. Swift was delighted to announce that she had a complete album ready to launch, and it will only take a few hours before the world could listen to her music again. Since dropping her self-titled album, Taylor Swift, in 2006, she has since released several more: Fearless (2008), Speak Now (2010), Red (2012), 1989 (2014), Reputation (2017), Lover (2019), and now, Folklore (2020).
The entire world was shocked to find out about Folklore, and the mysterious aesthetic of Swift’s Instagram posts added to the mystique. But what stands out in this turn of events from Swift is that same business-minded game plan we have seen before. She and her team know how to keep her momentum and make the best out of the opportunities she is presented with and adapt to the changing music industry climate.
And what is most impressive about all this is how her music has evolved. It’s too easy nowadays to create a bop album and launch it thanks to the advancements in the recording industry. But Folklore features songs and lyrics that clearly demonstrate Swift’s growth as an artist. No longer the teeny-bopper icon, her songs hold deeper meanings, the Folklore’s lineup of tracks have been curated from the artist’s own emotions. That’s not saying that no one else has done it before, but Swift has successfully created a masterpiece that shows her more mature and vulnerable side as a person and an artist.
While Lover was a welcome project and a moneymaker for Swift for sure, its singles didn’t fare as well as those featured on her previous albums. But it seems that Swift appears to have learned from her run as a virtually undefeated pop powerhouse, and carried out a plan for Folklore that has proven to be effective for all the major recording artists that came before her. She has stuck to bold and honest choices of imagery, lyrics, sound, and the songs come at a time when the world can stream it anytime.
It’s for certain that Folklore is one of the top contenders for the No. 1 spot in the charts or make it to the top of the Hot 100. I guess we’ll just have to see how things go, but with millions of views on YouTube, her new videos are getting each hour, it’s not an impossible guess.
Circling back to the photo, Swift ends the caption with, “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. 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. Love you guys so much.”