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Taylor Swift Made 2020 Her Year, and I’m Extremely Grateful She Did

It’s no secret that I love Taylor Swift with all my heart, and she has been making 2020 her bitch. The pandemic has put off a lot of plans for everyone, and while some of us—i.e me— have taken to re-binge watching every TV show we’ve ever seen, she’s released an album, released a live concert performance of said album, won multiple awards, and started rerecording her old music. She is dominating the music industry and she’s using her platform for good. 

In July of 2020, after a few cryptic Instagram posts, Taylor Swift announced that she was going to be releasing an album. She announced it the day she was going to release the new music, and if that’s not a power move, I don’t know what is. This new album also changed her genre. She’s been country, pop, and now, alternative. Her 8th studio album, Folklore, is in my top three favorite Taylor Swift albums for sure, and for good reason. She takes the most risks in her sound, in her lyric writing, and in her characterization. She has three songs that are different POVs in a cheating scandal, and a song that explains the history of her house in Rhode Island. There aren’t any real pop dance songs, and a lot of them are slow songs with beautifully crafted lyrics. There has been a lot of criticism on her lyric writing in the past, and I think she proved all of her critics wrong. Not only was this album a huge hit with fans and critics, it also got Swift nominated for five Grammys. In her documentary, Miss Americana, it shows a video of her heartbreaking reaction to her 7th studio album, Lover, not getting a single Grammy nomination. Even though she didn’t have to prove herself to anyone, she did an amazing job at showcasing her talents as a musician on her new album. 

Along with the album Folklore, this past week, Swift released a concert performing the songs off that same album. She filmed the performance with her producers Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff. Both of these men worked very closely with Taylor Swift as she created this album in isolation, and it was the first time they had all seen each other and performed the music together. The film, Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions, had the trio performing the beautiful album in a building that resembled a camp’s dining hall and explaining the inspiration behind the songs around a firepit—usually with a glass of wine. For example, her song “Mirrorball” was written after her tour was cancelled. We also found out that the writer on her album, William Bowery, was her boyfriend, Joe Alwyn. He wrote the full chorus of her song “Betty” and they wrote the rest together. This performance was filled with raw emotions on the songs like “Mad Woman” and “This is Me Trying”, which really helped me to connect with the songs. To watch her get angry, to see her in pain, and to hear both in her voice, made the album experience that much more emotional. It allowed her fans to join her on a journey that’s so personal, and yet, so communal. Also, not that this is super relevant, but her fashion choices have been so amazing during this era, and I want to live in that aesthetic. 

Another major endeavor that Taylor’s taken on this past month is that she’s started rerecording her old music. If you’re out of the loop, Scooter Braun, her old manager, wouldn’t let Taylor purchase her masters, and has made his feud with Taylor very public. He’s tried to silence her multiple times, which she’s continuously refused to agree to, because she feels like it’s necessary to talk about the poor treatment of women in the music industry. In order to own copies of all of her music, Taylor struck a deal that, come November 2020, she’d be able to re-record her music and own those masters. And the best news is that she's begun. Taylor went to the studio where her albums were recorded originally, and she’s rerecording all of the old hits. Recently, she let Ryan Reynolds use a snippet of the rerecorded classic “Love Story” in his commercial for Match.com. Let’s just say that the original music was amazing, but I’m so excited to hear it, especially with the essence of freedom and sticking it to the man on each track. I’m also excited to hear what her more mature tone sounds like on the new recordings. It’s natural for a voice to mature over the years, and her tone has definitely become richer as she’s developed, so that makes the music nerd in me extra excited. 

Here are some honorable mentions because she’s had so many amazing moments this year. Taylor Swift has made a point to speak out politically about her beliefs, and this election was no different. She made Biden/Harris cookies, and provided resources for her fans to get out and vote. She’s not the only celebrity to make her political beliefs known this election, but with her large platform, she reached many voters. Another shout out is that she won the AMA Artist of the Year award. If that award isn’t enough to prove that she’s the queen of 2020, then I don’t know what is. 

Look, I always recommend listening to Taylor Swift, but her album Folklore pushes that recommendation even more. Plus, if you want to get the optimal listening experience, stream Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Session on Disney+.

Grace Heinlein

Kutztown '23

A music major writes for a blog. That's the joke. You get it?
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