Taylor Swift’s “Folklore”: the best candidate for Album of the Year

The pop star’s eighth studio album demonstrates range and risk, making Swift the most viable candidate for 2020


Photo courtesy of the LA Times

Kara Dwyer, Opinions Editor

As the Grammys quickly approach, music-lovers across the globe can’t help but speculate as to who will be awarded the show’s most iconic category, Album of the Year. From the bright pop of Dua Lipa’s “Future Nostalgia” to the R&B and soul of Jhené Aiko’s “Chilombo,” the category boasts a wide range of both up-an-coming artists and well-known legends. According to the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which presents the award show, the category “[honors] artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry.” Thus far, no nominee fits such a description as well as Taylor Swift with her eighth studio album titled “Folklore.”

Written amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Swift shocked her fans by announcing the surprise album in late July. Even more surprising, her album introduced a completely new sound to her arsenal. Unlike her pop and country albums in the past, the artist experimented with indie and folk sounds, whilst keeping the lyrical charm that her fans adore.

“I was used to her music being country and eventually pop,” said junior Mkenna Wimberly, a long-time fan of Swift. “I was wary when ‘Folklore’ came out due to its unique sound, but I immediately fell in love with it. It’s now one of my favorite albums from her; her storytelling is incredible.” 

As in the rest of her albums, Swift focuses on self-written lyrics to connect to listeners and tell stories through song in such a way that outmatches her competitors in this category.

Swift herself stated on the album’s release day, “There’s a collection of three songs I refer to as the ‘Teenage Love Triangle’… [they] explore a love triangle from all three people’s perspectives at different times in their lives.” Like with any great story, she embeds figurative language and deep themes into her songs, despite some who claim that her music lacks meaning. 

The numbers themselves speak for the greatness of the album; “Folklore” was the only album to sell over one million copies in 2020 and it remained at the top of the Billboard Top 100 for two months (longer than any other nominees for album of the year this year). If Swift were to win, she would be the first woman to ever receive the award three times (the first two being for Fearless and 1989). She’d also be just the fourth artist in history to ever win album of the year three times (following Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon). 

The other artists are all deserving of their nominations for their hard work in such an unprecedented year, but they still cannot compete with “Folklore.” The album’s overall continuous success cannot be ignored; it opened her fans to a new genre and drew in new supporters who prefer a more indie sound.

Although Swift may be more popular than a few other nominated artists, giving her an advantage, she still has been praised by unbiased, top critics, such as those from the magazine “UNCUT” stating, “[‘Folklore’ is] a sharp turn to the left for Swift and a fine reminder that she is more than just a gleaming pop phenomenon, but a remarkable songwriter too.”