While Lover will always be my favourite Taylor Swift album, there’s no denying that Folklore is an absolute masterpiece. I’ve lost count of how many listens I’ve given it over since it was released in mid-2020, so I thought now would be a good time to talk about my favourite songs on the album. I then thought I’d embrace my love of Taylor Swift even more with a brand new blog series – friends, I give you my Tay-Tay Top Five. Quite simply, I’m going to be writing about my top five songs on each of her albums and why I love them so much. Starting with the most recent, today is all about Folklore.
Created in isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic, Folklore is Taylor’s 8th studio album and she announced its release a mere 16 hours before it dropped. Quite a different flavour to her usual pop genre, this album is a mix of indie-folk and alternative rock, along with some electro-folk and chamber pop thrown in. An unplanned creation, Taylor said on her Instagram that Folklore is a collection of stories and songs, and that “picking up a pen was my way of escaping into fantasy, history and memory.” This is an album that demonstrates even more just how incredible she is at storytelling, creating story arcs and characters with some intense and vivid imagery – in particular, three of the songs (Cardigan, August and Betty) tell the story of a teenage love triangle, each one from a different character’s perspective at different times in their lives.
All information correct at time of writing.
Release Date: 24th July 2020
Producers: Aaron Dessner, Jack Antonoff, Taylor Swift
Label: Republic Records
Awards & Nominations:
Guinness World Record for a female artist to have the most Spotify streams of an album on the first day of release.
BreakTudo Awards – Album of the Year 2020 (Nominated)
People’s Choice Awards – The Album of 2020 (Nominated)
American Music Awards – Favourite Pop/Rock Album 2020 (Nominated)
Danish Music Awards – International Album of the Year 2020 (Won)
Apple Music Awards – Songwriter of the Year 2020 (Won)
NetEase Annual Music Awards – Top Western Album 2020 (Won) and Top Folk Music Album 2020 (Won)
Gaffa Awards – International Album of the Year 2021 (Nominated)
Grammy Awards – Album of the Year 2021 (Won) and Best Pop Vocal Album 2021 (Nominated)
Japan Gold Disc Awards – Best 3 Western Albums 2021 (Won)
My Top Five
- Exile (feat. Bon Iver)
- Invisible String
Honourable Mentions: The 1, August
Let’s start with what is arguably the best goddamn song on the album. Epiphany is heartbreaking, hauntingly beautiful and full of emotion, and it had me crying just as much as Soon You’ll Get Better on the Lover album. Initially, the song references soldiers heading off to combat (Taylor mentioned her grandfather serving in World War Two in her list of inspirations for the album), but the second verse seemingly references something that’s all too close to home for all of us:
“Something med school did not cover
Someone’s daughter, someone’s mother
Holds your hands through plastic now
‘Doc, I think she’s crashing out’
And some things you just can’t speak about
Only twenty minutes to sleep but you dream of some epiphany
Just one single glimpse of relief to make sense of what you’ve seen”
While it doesn’t appear to have been confirmed, the song seemingly pays nod to the incredible healthcare workers risking their lives to look after us and our loved ones during the current pandemic. We’ve all been affected in some way by the pandemic – some a lot more than others – and I think that’s what makes the song so emotional. Everything about it – the imagery, the melody, the lyrics, right up to the heart monitor beep sounds at the end – is just incredible. Drawing parallels of the soldiers in WW2 and the frontline workers fighting against the virus is a beautiful way to honour the bravery and courage that so many have shown and continue to do so as the pandemic goes on. If you do one thing today, give it a listen.
Exile (feat. Bon Iver)
I shared a Tiktok recently that perfectly sums up how I feel about this song. To put it into words, I’ve embedded it for your lulz below.
Indeed, the song is all about the end of a toxic relationship, and this article by Cosmo draws a number of parallels to Taylor’s earlier songs including The Last Time and You’re Not Sorry. So what does my happily-married-never-had-a-toxic-relationship ass love so much about this song? Well, the Bon Iver collab is incredible and you can just feel the pain and the emotion throughout the whole song. I can certainly see the parallel to The Last Time on the Red album, and this song feels like a more intense, raw version of the song.
Swifties like to do their detective work when it comes to Taylor’s albums, and there’s a couple of fan theories about Betty. While this is one of the songs that’s part of the ‘teenage love triangle,’ and some would argue it’s written from a male perspective, others argue that’s not the case, as this Buzzfeed article hilariously demonstrates. I must admit, upon hearing the song for the first time I thought that perhaps it was about a relationship Taylor had with a girl (and it appears I’m not the only one, as this article shows), but this was before I knew about the love triangle theory (which is that Betty is told from the point of view of the male character in the triangle). However, as more fan theories emerged, it the idea that the song is indeed part of the story running through the album is one that became a lot more plausible, with Taylor even mentioning during the Long Pond Studio Sessions film that she thought the characters of Betty and James ended up together. Why do I love the song so much? It tells a story so brilliantly, and it’s very reminiscent of Taylor’s older stuff. I just love the chorus too – it’s so catchy, and hearing Taylor just casually curse in her songs is weirdly refreshing, as it’s something she doesn’t do in her older stuff .
This is probably the song from Folklore that most people will be aware of, and it’s definitely one of my favourites. Again, it’s considered to be another part of the ‘love triangle’ – this time told from Betty’s point of view. At the time I first listened to it, I was unaware of this theory, but I think the reason I loved it so much was down to the fact it was so moody and dark. Taylor herself described the song as looking back over “a lost romance and why young love is often fixed so permanently within our memories.” When you link it to the love triangle theory, it makes perfect sense. We should also take a minute to appreciate how beautiful the music video is for the song too.
This is one of the songs on the album that grew on me – the more I listen to it, the more I love it. Fans speculate that the song is about all of the past relationships that led Taylor to her current one with Joe Alwyn – this PopSugar article explains it much better than I can! For me, it’s the upbeat nature of the song and the imagery that she creates that make it one of her songs I can’t stop listening to.
As always, it was very difficult to narrow down the sixteen tracks to a top five, so I feel that I need to give a shout out to a couple of other songs that I really enjoyed on the album (let’s be honest, I loved the whole bloody thing). The 1 has to come in as one of my favourites, because it sets the tone for the whole album – just raw and emotional. Again, it felt very reminiscent of her older stuff and that instantly brought back memories for me of the hidden gems on her earlier albums. August reminded me a lot of the early days of my relationship with Liam when we first got together, and it’s incredibly catchy too.
Many fans are saying that Folklore is hands down, Taylor’s best album. As I mentioned earlier, personally, Lover is my favourite, but I 100% agree that Folklore is her best work. The emotion, the imagery, the lyrics – it’s just perfection.
Have you listened to Folklore yet? Let me know what you thought of it and what your favourite song was in the comments!
Catch Up with the Rest of My Tay-Tay Top Five Series
Red (Taylor’s Version) (2021)
Fearless (Taylor’s Version) (2021)
Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions (2020)
Speak Now (2010)
Taylor Swift (2006)
Featured image: Official Charts.