Did Taylor Swift Save 2020?


Jane Naylor, Staff Writer

Did Taylor Swift save 2020? The answer is yes–Taylor Swift single-handedly saved 2020. Well, maybe I’m just an overenthusiastic Swiftie, but Swift managed to write, record, and release two surprise albums within three months of each other, which is unheard of. Her first quarantine creation was Folklore, released in August. The album consists of 17 songs with a less pop feel but a more chill, coffeehouse vibe. Not only was the album unexpected, but the overall ambiance of the songs were as well. 

Taylor Swift is a lyrical genius. On her first surprise album, Folklore, she tells a story from three different points of view in three different songs. Swift has called this trilogy the classic “teenage love triangle.” First, there was her song called “Betty,” which is an apology from a suspected “James” for cheating on his girlfriend Betty one summer. Her song “August” is from the point of view of the girl who James cheated on Betty with, and “cardigan” is from Betty’s point of view when they are older and reminiscing about high school. To a non-Swiftie, this analysis probably seems insane and confusing; although when Taylor surprised fans for a second time with a documentary on Disney+, where she performed all of her Folklore songs acoustically and individually talked about each song, she confirmed the theories to be true. 

If that doesn’t prove Swift is insanely talented, on Friday, December 10th, she released a second surprise album she wrote over quarantine titled Evermore, making it her 11th studio album. The chill and mellow vibe from Folklore carried over to this album, some even calling it Folklore’s sequel. All of the songs on both albums are titled in lowercase letters, adding to the overall relaxed tone. Evermore consists of 15 songs, of which three are featured with artists HAIM, The National, and Bon Iver. I wouldn’t consider this album a holiday one, but many of the songs include references to coming home for the holidays and give off a wintery feel, including one song — my favorite on the album — titled “tis the season.” 

Then, on November 25th, Swift announced that she had created a documentary-type home concert that would be released on Disney+ the next day, called Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions. In this documentary, Taylor converses with two of her friends who helped her write and produce the album, Jack Atonhoff, and Aaron Dessner. Together, in a cozy cabin in Upstate New York, they sit down to discuss the background of each song on Folklore before acoustically performing it. For example, Swift said the idea for the song “epiphany” stemmed from her grandfather who was a soldier. She connected his heroism with the medical professionals today. The warm, snug, welcoming cabin vibe felt like a big, comforting hug — which I think everyone needs in the stress of today’s world. 

Taylor Swift’s presence at the end of 2020, a year full of unknowns, sorrow, and isolation has provided some light amidst the darkness. Thirty-two original songs in ten months are tremendously impressive. Her “quarantunes” are exquisitely written and catchy, and I highly encourage non-Swifties to listen to Taylor’s latest works of art, not only for their beautiful instrumentation but for the stories behind the lyrics.