The Weekly Rewind: The case for ‘folklore’ as Album of the Year

Weekly Rewind Graphic

The nominees for the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards were announced Tuesday, Nov. 24, and of all the nominations, one body of work outdoes the competition: “folklore” (2020) by Taylor Swift.

Garnering her fourth nomination in the Album of the Year category, Swift has the potential to tie Stevie Wonder and Frank Sinatra with the most wins of the coveted award by a lead artist. Swift previously won this award in 2009 for her second studio album “Fearless” (2008) and again in 2015 for “1989” (2014). The difference between her previous wins and this potential one, though, is her considerable growth as a musician.

Beginning her career as a country artist, Swift then crossed over into pop, becoming one of the most dominant artists in the field.1989” produced three No. 1 singles (“Shake it Off,” “Blank Space” and “Bad Blood (ft. Kendrick Lamar)”) and cemented her status as a pop titan. However, as Swift continues to prove, her artistry is dynamic.

Following up her efforts in country and pop, Swift transitioned to a more alternative sound this year when she released her eighth studio album, “folklore.” Met with universal acclaim, “folklore” became Swift’s highest rated album on Metacritic and topped the Billboard 200 for eight nonconsecutive weeks in 2020, the longest-running No. 1 album of the year. “Cardigan,” the lead single, also debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, making Swift the first artist to simultaneously debut atop both the Billboard 200 and Hot 100 in the same week. Swift’s artistry and connection to her fans, dubbed “Swifties,” solidifies her impact on the industry.

Despite debuting before 2014, Swift has dominated on streaming platforms as well. “folklore” holds the Guinness World Record for most first day streams for a female album on Spotify, and Swift finished 2020 as the No. 1 most-streamed female artist in the United States on the platform.

Swift’s lyricism is among her greatest strengths, with critics declaring that “Swift explodes the expectations of anyone preparing to call her music ‘diaristic.’” Other nominees for Album of the Year such as Dua Lipa’s “Future Nostalgia” (2020) and Post Malone’s “Hollywood’s Bleeding” (2019) achieved commercial success, but neither was crafted during the tumultuous earlier months of the pandemic. Swift turned the world on its head when she released “folklore” as a surprise album in late July, emphasizing her commitment to provide those in lockdown with an album to help them through.

The Recording Academy has lauded Swift for her ability to connect with audiences in the past, and with 10 Grammy Awards under her belt, the Academy should consider Swift once again for this ceremony’s highest honor. Not only did Swift produce her greatest album of all time this year, but she did so during a pandemic. Swift’s ability to write and produce successful music across genres is evident, and “folklore” is the proof.

Correction: This article has been updated to correctly reflect the stylization of “folklore,” the album’s name. The Daily regrets this error.