Taylor Swift’s Mellow Quarantine Project


Photo courtesy of Mink Mingle on Unsplash.com

Audrey Glynn, Managing Editor

Taylor Swift lied. 

The singer-songwriter posted a simple selfie on Instagram on April 27th, 2020 with the innocent caption ‘not a lot going on at the moment’. It was quarantine, she was just like anybody else.

When I woke up on July 23rd, I slipped into my normal morning routine of avoiding falling back asleep, checking the time once or twice, and grabbing my phone. My fingers seem to be programmed to open Instagram first, and July 23rd was no different. But the first post I saw utterly destroyed any pattern my morning routine seemed to have. I screamed and jumped out of bed. 

Accompanied by a black-and-white image of the 30- year- old icon majestically looking into the distance, was a caption of the admittance to Swift’s complete and utter lie. “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,” read the caption. Swift’s quarantine activities included tending to her cats, and putting everyone’s thoughts into sweet metaphors and original melodies with the release of “folklore”. 

Also in the caption of the post that made my mother run into my room asking if I was alright was the release date, July 24th. At that moment, I had 17 more hours before I could hear “folklore” and see the music video for the second track, cardigan. 

Taylor left me and the rest of the shocked and anxious Taylor Swift obsessed fans with little detail other than the album cover, back cover, and the release date. The sepia-toned and black-and-white vibes from the two pictures made people begin to make assumptions about how it would sound, if it would be pop, country, heavy metal. Nobody knew. But there were only hours until ‘folklore’ was the world’s to hear, connect with, and judge. I waited, and I waited. What seemed like a million years later, “folklore” was released at midnight on July 24th. 

“You know the greatest films of all time are never made,” she says on the first track, “the 1”. Swift opened her album with a song that puts many past lovers’ thoughts into lyrics, with a major key chord progression and a mellow beat. She has always done this. She has the ability to make heartbreak concrete when it is certainly abstract. She uses metaphors unlike many twenty-first century lyricists, and her rhymes make people rewind her songs so they can potentially feel how they felt when they first heard such lyrics again. All these abilities were featured on her albums like “Red”, “Reputation”, and “Lover”, but “folklore” is new, and it is different from the rest. 

Perhaps it is the thought of Swift alone in her home, pouring her “whims, dreams, fears, and musings,” onto a notebook page or a voice recording, or the new indie-folk, dreamy sound ‘folklore’ has. But out of eight studio albums, and a genre journey unlike most artists, “folklore” is raw and it is real, it is Taylor Swift. 

“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,” says Swift, describing what may be the real reason it is so different from the rest in her introductory essay for the album.

“the last great american dynasty” tells the story of young Rebekkah Harkness, the heiress to the Standard Oil name, also the previous owner to Swift’s Rhode Island home. “betty” is about a 17- year- old high school lover James, who messed up a relationship and is dreaming of forgiveness. “mad woman” puts her drama with other celebrities and their constant attack on her reputation and career into perspective with lyrics like “and you’ll poke that bear ‘til her claws come out, and you find something to wrap your noose around, and there’s nothing like a mad woman.” Swift romanticizes her childhood days with “seven”, drowns in the sweet summer sun in the upbeat “august”, and tells a relationship beginning to end on the album’s lead single, “cardigan”.

The album features 16 songs, all extraordinarily emotional, whether it’s in a major or minor key. The lack of drums may be a turn-off at first listen to some music fans, but the lyrical intelligence Swift wrote in isolation keeps them put. 

I laid in bed till 4 A.M on July 24th, just listening, and then listening again and again. It is October now, and I have not stopped listening to Taylor Swift’s “folklore”.