Taylor Swift: Year in Review


Photo courtesy of Eva Rinaldi

Taylor Swift performing at the Speak Now Tour.

Pop-star singer-songwriter Taylor Swift kept herself busy throughout 2020 and didn’t let quarantine or COVID-19 get her down. In fact, she used this time to produce not one, but two new albums and rumors are circulating about a possible third album to come in 2021. In case you missed what Swift has been up to these last few months, here’s a timeline of her jam-packed 2020. 

July 24, 2020

Folklore, Swift’s eighth studio album, is released. This was a surprise release and the date she chose to release this album is significant because 7+24= 31, which is 13, Swift’s favorite number, backward. Folklore was released just 11 months after her seventh album Lover dropped. The Folklore album has a cottage-core aesthetic that romanticizes harmony with nature, and the black and white album cover shows Swift’s back in a forest. The songs on this album are about grieving and loss, and her melodic lyrics follow well-developed narratives and storylines. Swift wrote on Youtube that she “created character arcs and recurring themes that map out who is singing about who.”

November 24, 2020

Swift received six grammy nominations including:

Best Pop Vocal Album: Folklore

Album of the Year: Folklore

Song of the Year: “Cardigan”

Best Pop Solo Performance: “Cardigan”

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance: “Exile” featuring Bon Iver

Best Song Written for Visual Media: “Beautiful Ghosts,” co-written with Andrew Lloyd Webber for the film version of Cats 

November 16, 2020

Swift posted on social media that she is able to start rerecording her first five albums including Taylor Swift, Fearless, Speak Now, Red and 1984. Her contract with her old recording studio, Big Machine Records, is up as of Nov. 2020, and that means that Swift finally has the freedom to do as she wishes with her music and take ownership of her songs. Swift does not own albums one through five, and as a result, she cannot give copyright permission for her music to be used in commercials, movies or advertisements. Swift could make millions of dollars by re-recording her music because she will own the master rights and publishing rights to her songs, and none of her profits will go to a recording company. Swift’s decision to re-record is a turning point in the music industry and she may encourage other artists to follow in her footsteps. However, there is a risk involved with rerecording because Swift will be altering her work and changing hit songs that so many listeners know and love. While the lyrics of her songs may remain unchanged, her voice at 31-years-old sounds much different than when she was 16 and released her first album. 

November 25, 2020

The documentary Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions was released on Nov. 25; it can be streamed on Disney+. The movie documents Swift’s songwriting process and all of the work that went into creating the album Folklore. In the movie, she performs all 17 of the tracks on Folklore alongside Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff, her co-producers, and features guest Justin Vernon, the primary songwriter of the indie-folk band Bon Iver. This was an interesting approach to a traditional concert and the closest thing to a “performance” during COVID-19 times. 

December 2, 2020

Swift released the first sample of her rerecorded work; the short clip of “Love Story” was posted on Youtube. This clip was used in collaboration with Match.com for an ad campaign. The teaser has fans waiting in anticipation for Swift’s re-recordings to drop so they can reminisce about their favorite songs, and relive their teenage years.

December 11, 2020

Swift’s ninth studio album Evermore was released. This album is the sister album to Folklore which was released just months earlier, and the two albums have similar vocals and lyrical narratives. The album was released just two days before Swift’s 31st birthday which is Dec. 13. The album cover of Evermore shows Swift’s back looking at the woods from Folklore in the distance. She is wearing a plaid jacket and her hair in a single french braid down her back. The tracks on Evermore are about healing and moving forward, which is an evolution of the tracks from Folklore. 

Easter Eggs 

Swift is known for hiding little clues in her music and on social media which she calls “Easter eggs.” These clues give fans hints about upcoming release dates, the inspiration behind certain songs and characters, and connections between lyrics from her older work. Like all of her albums, both Folklore and Evermore contain Easter eggs:

“Betty,” “August” and “Cardigan” are a teenage love triangle between three characters named Betty, James and Ines. 

Track 13 on Folklore is “Epiphany,” a song that she wrote about her mother that relates to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Similarly, track 13 on Evermore is “Marjorie,” a song inspired by her grandmother. 

 Track five on every album has traditionally been Swift’s saddest and most heart-wrenching song. On Folklore track five is “My Tears Ricochet” and on Evermore track five is “Tolerate It.”