Taylor Swift shocked the world this July when she released folklore, her first surprise album that saw her returning to country music and showing off her undeniable knack for storytelling. The record instantly went to #1 on the Billboard 200 chart the next week, earning the biggest debut week for any album in 2020, and stayed at #1 for six weeks before a slight dip. folklore returned to #1 earlier this month before another dip, then shot back to #1 this week, making it Swift’s longest-running #1 since her 2014 album 1989 ruled the chart for 11 non-consecutive weeks.
folklore is the only album released this year that has surpassed one million sales, thanks in part to several waves of signed albums that Swift sent to independent record stores and sold on her website. It’s Swift’s ninth project to reach this milestone, joining records like 2017’s reputation and 2019’s Lover. folklore’s tracks also helped Swift set a new record for most Hot 100 entries by a female artist, bringing her total to 113 entries, though Nicki Minaj tied this record three months after its release.
Her first country-infused project since 2012’s Red, folklore sees Swift telling various stories from different perspectives, including that of a teenage boy on “betty,” describing his infidelity towards his high school sweetheart. His conflicted girlfriend narrates “cardigan,” while the “other woman” shares her side of the story on “august.” While some songs are very specific to Swift’s own life – particularly the angsty “my tears ricochet,” which discusses her fight for the rights to her old music – her ability to channel others’ emotions shines on songs like “epiphany,” which likens the battle against COVID-19 to a war her grandfather fought in.
folklore is nominated for Best Pop/Rock Album at this year’s American Music Awards. If Swift receives the award, it will be her fourth win in that category and will extend her record as the artist with the most American Music Awards.