• Derrian Douglas

Folklore proved Taylor Swift did more than any of us during lockdown

Image credit: Shutterstock

Without warning Taylor Swift dropped a new album in the middle of a pandemic, revealing the news on Instagram sharing,"In isolation my imagination has run wild and this album is the result" - which is more than we can say for ourselves during lockdown.

You guys think Taylor is tired from making one of the most confusing albums in history? The tea is piping. The references are flowing. The theories are abundant. Let's get into it.

The unexpected album has received rave reviews from critics and fans alike, while others say it lacks the typical Swift "bop".

American singer and choreographer Todrick Hall took to Twitter to congratulate Swift for the "highest debut for a female on Spotify", calling the album "breathtaking". The album was streamed 81.9 million times and sold 1.3 million copies in the first 24 hours after its release.

In announcing her new sound - alternative pop-folk - Swift showed her admiration for other strong women in the industry, most of which are her friends and possible former lovers. In a live Youtube Q&A, Swift mentioned that three of the songs on the album created a "Teenage Love Triangle". Fans quickly speculated that the songs "Cardigan", "Betty" and "August" were the tunes Swift was talking about, and have their own theories on who is involved in the love triangle - Swift's former BFF Karlie Kloss is mentioned the most.

Kloss's middle name is Elizabeth, which is often shortened to Betty. In "Cardigan" Swift sings about Betty and James, two teenage lovers. The song is an ethereal yet sad song about their relationship from Betty's perspective. Swifties theorise James might be Swift as she was named after James Taylor. "Betty" is a love song from James to Betty apologising for cheating on her. The song "August" is from the perspective of the girl James cheated with.

Once falling down the "Kaylor" wormhole, you'll find that many of the lyrics in the three songs match what Swifties already know about Kloss and Swift's relationship. In September 2016, Kloss snuck into Swift's apartment, and in the singer's track "Cruel Summer" fans linked the lyric "I snuck in through the garden gate every night that summer just to seal my fate" to paparazzi photos of Kloss with Swift's bodyguard two days before the alleged secret meeting.

In "Betty" Swift once again references sleeping next to a girl all summer long.

In a less intense theory, fans believe Taylor Swift dropped the name of friend Blake Lively's newest born, Betty. The names James and Inez - Lively and Ryan Reynolds's other children - also appear in the album.

The possibility of Swift's breakup from long-time boyfriend and British actor Joe Alwyn is also making its way around the rumour mill as many of the new songs talk about the thought that comes to mind for all of us after breaking up with hot British guys -"what could have been".

The song "Cardigan", which is widely adored by fans, served as inspiration for the new album's press packages as pictures of celebs in the same cardigan began appearing on social media.

Her once confessional pop has turned into a melody that most fits the times we're living in, and with it a new sense of fantasy brews on the surface. While Swift has mostly perfected the art of anonymity in her music, Folklore is on a different level. While the love triangle trio seems autobiographical, others like "Exile" and "Hoax" are much more mysterious - both referencing painful breakups and flawed relationships. On an even more personal note, she writes a song for her grandfather in "Epiphany" including the lyric "and some things you just can't speak about". The lyric references her grandfather's time in the war, but can be used to describe any painful moment in a person's life.

While Swift says a lot of the inspiration from the new album came from her running imagination during her time in lockdown, the soundtrack reeks of stripped down and honest heartbreak, betrayal and pain.

Whether you like the Nashville native or not, you have to admit Shake it Off is a bop. And I don't know about you, but when I turned 22, you can bet your bottom dollar I was singing along to T-Swift. But after years of chart-topping bangers, fans are finally getting what they asked for - a long and emotional album from Taylor Swift. If Adele won't give us one, Swift is the new CEO of post-breakup drives with your best friend. Cry it out, boo, and then keep it moving because you got this!

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