In case you haven’t heard, Taylor Swift surprised fans Thursday morning with a new album announcement. I immediately freaked out and wrote about it, but I knew there was no way I would stay up until midnight to listen, considering my lack of sleep from the night before. However, my excitement got the best of me, and I woke up at 5 a.m. to listen the album, and wrote down my thoughts.
Before Listening to folklore
I had no idea what to expect from folklore, but I had a feeling it would be different in the best way possible. I tried my best to stay away from social media so my perception of TS8 would not be tainted. All I had was a text from my friend that said her sister felt “pregnancy vibes” from the album and I did see an article headline that fans were worried that Taylor and Joe Alwyn’s relationship was over. However, I went on Instagram to read Taylor’s statement when she released the album, which talked about her writing as a stream of consciousness that embodied the stories of her life, people she knew, people she wishes she didn’t know and people she created in her mind. I was immediately relaxed and ready to listen. I hopped into bed with my three dogs (I needed emotional support), birds chirping as the first hint of morning light greeted the sky and an extra blanket, which I thought would reflect the warmth and comfort I assumed I would feel from this new masterpiece (Yes, I already knew it was a masterpiece before I listened to it).
After Listening to folklore
Well I wasn’t wrong, folklore is a masterpiece. However, it didn’t feel warm to me. I felt like I was sitting on the edge of a green cliff dangling my legs over an angry ocean and getting sprayed by the cool mist of the waves crashing against the unforgiving rock. These lyrics are full of longing for lost love and regret for past mistakes, but it is refreshing and relatable due to the raw self-awareness and reflection that Swift exhibits. It is still a pop album, but leads down a more folky, singer-songwriter path. I appreciated the string sections, the guitar plucking and harmonica parts that made the music fuller, and also reminiscent of country Taylor Swift. Her lyrics are whimsical, deep and descriptive, and I think they are allowed to shine once again due to the less-processed-pop tone of folklore, which strongly deviates from her last three albums.
Lastly, I think it is very important to note that Taylor herself said, “The lines between fantasy and reality blur and the boundaries between truth and fiction become almost indiscernible,” when she released folklore. It is very easy to relate this all to her life and make assumptions, but she warned us that it’s hard to tell the different between real and make believe. I am sure the assumptions I have made are off, and I am sure Swifties are already getting to the bottom of each lyric as they always do.
I think folklore is exactly what fans needed: Taylor Swift, but something different. As always, she delivered.
Thoughts on Each Song from folklore
I was pleasantly surprised with the light and airy intro into this song followed by a hopeful, yet subdued beat. I immediately got excited when she sang “shit” because I love when she curses, since it was a no no for so long. But then Taylor got me saying “shit” as I realized this song talks about what she thought was a beautiful relationship that unfortunately ended. When she said “The greatest movies were never made” and “If you wanted me you really should’ve showed” I automatically became worried just like the rest of her fans. She also used the lyrics “never leave well enough alone,” which seems to be a problem instead of an accepted trait like in her song “Me!” I hope this is one of the songs not based on her current life.
When I heard the lyrics “when you are young they assume you know nothing,” I thought this was going to be a song about political activism and awareness among young people, similar to her “Only the Young” single. I was wrong. “cardigan” gave me “the 1” vibes with an added layer of ghostliness. The whole song is a gorgeous poem to a relationship she misses. Oh man.
“the last great american dynasty”
At first I thought it was going to be about a political couple in America. Then it’s a fairly upbeat song about a woman who moved into a man’s life and was blamed for making his heart give out. Then, she swims in champagne pools with all the “big names” spending up all the money she inherited. Swift says everyone is swimming in champagne sea in “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.” Is this based on her life? What is a “Bitch Pack” of friends? Is this one of her girl groups? Is Taylor saying she ruined a guys’ life? Well at the end she switches into the first person view, so it’s safe to say this is about her. Well, at least she had a “marvelous time” ruining everything.
“exile” ft. Bon Iver
I listened to a Bon Iver song before the albums’ release, so I had an idea what this song might sound like. It’s a lot simpler than the song I heard, and I am not complaining. I can picture two people dueting to this poem on a small coffee shop stage. I can also see this song being on a Twilight soundtrack. Or any movie soundtrack that involves a breakup. Also, another breakup song?! What’s going on?
“my tears ricochet”
Okay, so now she’s talking about a guy giving her “Hell,” but then saving her face during a rough breakup. “We gather stones never knowing what they’ll mean. Some to throw, some to make a diamond ring.” Well I guess she didn’t get the diamond ring… Everything about this song breaks my heart. What happened to “I’d marry you with paper rings?” Now my tears are going to ricochet.
Taylor was enjoying whatever relationship ended until the very end, even though she knew it was coming. She even tried changing to try to fix it. “Hush, I know they send the end is near, but I’m still on my tallest tiptoes spinning in my highest heels love, shining just for you,” she longingly whispers. She really was in love…
This song is an ode to her childhood, which she is clearly fond of. It also seems to be apologetic: “Please picture me in the weeds. Before I learned civility, I used to scream.” The song again seems to be longing and remembering, but it is upbeat and doesn’t feel heavy at all. I also seriously appreciate the strings at the ending. Taylor showcasing strings? What era is this?!
Okay, finally a song I can’t directly relate to her current life, because it talks about a boy going back to school. This is an upbeat song that had a smile on my face the whole time. It’s robust with layered music—strings, guitar, piano, synth (do I hear brass instruments, too?), but still follows the calm, airy nature of the entire album. In it, Taylor looks back on a fond summer hook up. There seems to be no hard feelings or devastating pain that is laced throughout the album so far.
“this is me trying”
Taylor again really paints a painful image of herself trying to get a message across to someone. She’s clearly not good at it in real life (if she is referring to herself), but her emotions come out beautifully in her lyrics.
In this song, she speaks about a naiive, secret and twisted relationship. The relationship clearly means a lot, though, as the other person taught her a “secret language” she can’t speak with anyone else. I feel like anyone who relates to this, can really relate to this.
This is the cutest song that talks about invisible strings that tie people together, before they realize they’re right for each other. Like the visuals in the lyric video, the song is light and airy and features a folky string part that takes me back to her original music.
Taylor (or the woman in the song) is mad: “They strike to kill and you know I will.” AND she drops the f-bomb. Okay, Taylor. That’s a first. Proud moment. This seems to be a darker version of “The Man” from her last album, which speaks of the double standard of men being allowed to be mad and women being chastised for it. You made her like that,” she argues.
A dreamy entrance to this song leads to lyrics about a wounded soldier (maybe her grandfather in the Guadalcanal campaign which she says she writes about) and maybe also a note on current times: “Hold your hands through plastic now, doc I think she’s crashing out.” She seems to regretfully think that there are some things like the death of a person by virus or war you can’t easily talk about.
Taylor shows deep reflection and self awareness in this song in regard to a teenage relationship that the villain of the story, James, ruined. James wants nothing more than forgiveness from Betty for fooling around with another girl and hurting her, but understands what he did was wrong. Oh and she dropped the f-bomb again. Also, it seems that while the song is from the perspective of James, James could be a girl, which would make this Taylor’s second gay pride anthem.
The guitar at the top of this song gives me strong John Mayer vibes. The song seems to be about a rocky past relationship. She says she can’t give peace to the person, but offers friendship and support. “I would die for you in secret,” she promises. Could this be about John? I think that might be a stretch. She also says there are “clowns to the west” which I am sure will trigger fans into thinking this is about Kanye West. Will we ever know?
This is last song on the standard album. She seems to be referring to a relationship as a hoax, which pains her incredibly. This song seems to bring the album back to where it started, asking, “What’s the movie for?” Taylor is clearly distraught. Please don’t let this be about Joe.