Label: Republic Records – B0032823-01, Republic Records – B0032754-01, Republic Records – B0032752-01 Format: 2 x LP Country: US Released: Nov 20, 2020 Genre: Rock, Pop, Folk, World, & Country Style: Vocal, Indie Pop, Indie Rock, Ballad
Folklore (stylized in all lowercase) is the eighth studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It was a surprise album, released on July 24, 2020, via Republic Records. After the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, Swift cancelled her planned sixth concert tour, Lover Fest, and quarantined herself, during which she conceived Folklore as "a collection of songs and stories that flowed like a stream of consciousness" out of her imagination.
Swift collaborated with producers Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff virtually; she recorded her vocals at a home studio she built in a bedroom of her Los Angeles residence, while Dessner and Antonoff worked from Hudson Valley and New York City, respectively. Departing from the mainly upbeat pop production of its predecessors, Folklore consists of mellow ballads driven by neo-classical instruments, pursuing indie folk, alternative rock, and electroacoustic styles. Influenced by loneliness during the quarantine, Swift explores themes of escapism, empathy, romanticism, and nostalgia in the album, through a set of characters, fictional narratives, and story arcs, in contrast to the autobiographical tone of her previous projects. The title was inspired by her desire for the music to have a lasting legacy akin to folk songs, whereas its artworks and aesthetic reflect cottagecore.
Upon release, Folklore broke the Guinness World Record for the biggest opening day on Spotify for an album by a female act. Three of its tracks reached the top 10 of the record charts in eight countries, namely "Cardigan", "The 1" and "Exile", the first of which is the album's lead single and marked Swift's sixth number-one song on the US Billboard Hot 100. Folklore topped the charts in various countries and is certified platinum in Australia, Denmark, New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It was Swift's seventh consecutive number-one album on the US Billboard 200, where it reigned atop for eight weeks and became the best-selling album of 2020.
Folklore received widespread critical acclaim, centering on its emotional weight, poetic lyricism, and relaxed pace. Critics found its introspective essence timely for the pandemic and regarded its sound as a bold reinvention of Swift's artistry. The album was featured on numerous 2020 year-end best albums lists, often referred to as the quintessential lockdown record. It won the Album of the Year at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, making Swift the first female artist in history to win the honor three times, following the victories for Fearless (2008) and 1989 (2014). Swift discussed Folklore and performed it live in the Disney+ concert documentary Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions, premiering on November 25, 2020, followed by the release of Folklore's sister album, Evermore, two weeks later. A demo version of the deluxe edition bonus track, "The Lakes", commemorated the album's first anniversary.