Taylor Swift’s Folklore: a Journey of Vulnerability

Through a familiar, emotional road of gentle melodies – tastefully blended with tender lyrics – Taylor Swift resurrects her 2010 musical style with Folklore. The album dropped late July, selling over 1.3 million copies in 24 hours according to The Hollywood Reporter

Album cover of Folklore | Photo courtesy of Pitchfork

Swift masters the concept of tranquility throughout Folklore, utilizing creative instrumentals to emphasize the skill of storytelling.  The power in Swift’s poetic tone, in addition to her delicate motifs, sends shivers down any spine. She graces over a variety of emotional topics in the album, from heartbreak to youthful naivety. 

“I think your house is haunted / Your dad is always mad and that must be why,” Swift sings in “Seven,” using the song to focus on a theme of childhood trauma. 

The second track of the album, “Cardigan,” has gained the most popularity among listeners. Shortly after the album’s release, “Cardigan” ranked first on Billboard’s Hot 100. The song also partakes in a special story told throughout the album, according to Cosmopolitan.

“There’s a collection of three songs I refer to as The Teenage Love Triangle. These three love songs explore a love triangle from all three people’s perspectives at different times in their lives,” Swift stated during a live chat. 

Taylor Swift in “Cardigan’s” music video | Photo courtesy of CNN

Besides “Cardigan,” the album’s love triangle also includes songs “August” and “Betty.” The triangle centers around Betty and James, teenage lovers. James, however, impulsively cheats on his girlfriend during a wild summer. Later regretting his decision, he humbly returns to Betty in hopes of forgiveness. Each song of the trio narrates the story from a different perspective; “Cardigan” is from Betty’s, “August” is from the anonymous lover’s, and “Betty” is from James’. The creative connection drawn between the songs develops a sense of authenticity within the album. 

Besides the network of Folklore’s stories, some fans also noticed Swift’s reintroduction of an alternative pop genre. The lyrical and instrumental work appears similar to songs such as “Back to December,” which she dropped a decade ago. 

Her return to an older style drastically differentiates Folklore from more recent albums. The beginning of Swift’s career focused on country music, but she transitioned to country-pop with 2012’s Red. Swift proceeded to dive headfirst into mainstream pop with her 2014 album, 1989. Folklore, to some extent, returns to Swift’s roots in a country-like genre. 

The change in style that Folklore brought clearly impresses fans, evident from new records set by the album. Entertainment Weekly stated that, since Drake’s Views from 2016, Folklore has spent the most weeks at No. 1 of the Billboard Top 200. Folklore also won best selling album of the year, and tied Swift with Whitney Houston for the female artist with most weeks ranked No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

Overall, the album grips fans with a remarkable expression of emotional intimacy. It allows listeners to drift away from day-to-day preoccupations, and into a world of serenity guided only by Swift’s voice – exploring affectionate themes and stories captured perfectly by the craft of Folklore. 

Written by Prisha Puntambekar

Senior Prisha Puntambekar is Editor-in-Chief of the MCSun and has been part of journalism since her freshman year. Outside of journalism, she is busy blasting Tyler, the Creator or Taylor Swift on her record player.

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