Taylor Swift shocked fans in 2020 by releasing two albums back-to-back. The first being folklore in July and then evermore in December as the sister album of the former. But which is a better Taylor Swift album, evermore or folklore?
Taylor Swift’s album folklore is better than her album evermore released just a few months later. While both albums are fantastic, folklore has slightly stronger songwriting as her best ideas were likely used here rather than being saved for evermore.
folklore (both albums use all lowercase) was a surprise for fans.
Partly because Taylor announced the album only a couple of days before its release. They were also surprised because the sound went in different directions from the music Taylor traditionally made.
evermore was a surprise album as most big artists in the music industry don’t release 2 albums in the same year. Stylistically, especially on first listen, it was more of the same in the eyes of most in terms of the overall sound of folklore. Of course, the similarities between the two lead to comparisons.
I took a deep dive into both folklore and evermore to see how they are connected. And given her history, we also explored where Taylor stands with ownership of the masters for these albums.
Why are folklore and evermore so sad?
Unlike many of Taylor Swift’s earlier sad songs, folklore and evermore are not about Swift’s relationship issues and instead about a cast of fictional characters and perspectives she created for these albums.
Many fans have noted that both folklore and evermore are extremely sad.
It even led fans early on to wonder if Taylor had gone through another breakup. However, Taylor has explained that these songs are not necessarily her experiences.
People often forget that music is art, just as film and television are.
With folklore and evermore, Taylor wanted to tell stories of real life. This isn’t necessarily her life, but the themes on these albums are true for many people. So while it’s true that many of Swift’s best songs are autobiographical and about many of her exes, that isn’t always true.
These albums deal with many of the major themes of life.
Many of the songs tell the story of loss, the idea of wasted potential, and growing up. She wanted to do this with the use of different narrators and characters.
This is no different than what an author does with a novel.
While evermore and folklore are both sad, they are also different from each other. folklore is more grounded in reality, whereas the sister album seems to be more of a fantasy world. evermore is also a bit more experimental.
And one thing that’s immediately noticeable is the lack of pop production, including autotune.
But does Taylor normally use a lot of autotune?
I actually discussed Taylor Swift’s usual approach in this recent article. I discussed her potential use of autotune as well her singing ability overall. It also takes a look at if Taylor, like many singers, lip-syncs in concert.
Just click that link to read it on my site.
Was folklore or evermore more successful?
folklore was more successful than evermore, selling 836,000 copies in its first week. Comparatively, evermore only sold 300,000 copies in its first week. But both folklore and its sister record evermore were immensely successful.
Part of folklore’s greater success is undoubtedly the fact that it came first and that both sound similar.
folklore also broke the Guinness World Record for the biggest opening day on Spotify for an album by a female act. Taylor Swift took the world by storm when she announced folklore.
It had been such a short time since her last album, so no one was expecting it. As a result of the excitement, folklore sold like crazy!
Taylor Swift has the biggest-selling album of 2020.
In its initial week of release, folklore sold a combined 846,000 units. This is a combination of digital sales, streams, and also physical copies. While this was not as much as her previous two albums, it was pretty specular.
folklore went on to become the biggest-selling album of that year. This was partly due to the excitement but also because fans were obsessed with dissecting the themes explored on this departure from her usual music.
And folklore was also album of the year in many places such as:
- Rolling Stone
- USA Today
Although not as big of a seller as folklore, the follow-up album also performed well on the charts.
The LP debuted at number one on the Billboard charts, with over 300,000 units sold. This seems like a far cry from Evermore, but hardly anyone sells this much their first week these days.
folklore will have 16 songs on the standard edition, but the physical deluxe editions will include a bonus track “the lakes.” Because this is my 8th studio album, I made 8 deluxe CDs & 8 deluxe vinyls available for 1 week😄 Each has unique covers & photos https://t.co/zSHpnhUlLb pic.twitter.com/tG34e0MpgJ
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) July 23, 2020
Are all the folklore songs connected?
Only 3 of the songs on folklore are connected. The tracks “Betty”, “Cardigan”, and “August” tell the story of teenage love triangles. Each of the songs tells the perspective of a different member of the triangle.
Many people like to assume that Taylor Swift is telling one story with folklore. This is not the case as all the songs are not connected.
The decision not to connect all the tracks was probably best.
The song “betty” is told from the point of view of James, “cardigan”, the lead single of folklore, speaks from Betty’s vantage point, and “August” provides the viewpoint of the girl James cheats with. These perspectives are also from different times in their lives.
When Taylor spoke of the trilogy of songs, she did not specifically say which ones. However, given the themes expressed in the three mentioned, fans are pretty sure.
Ever since I was 13, I’ve been excited about turning 31 because it’s my lucky number backwards, which is why I wanted to surprise you with this now. You’ve all been so caring, supportive and thoughtful on my birthdays and so this time I thought I would give you something! pic.twitter.com/wATiVSTpuV
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) December 10, 2020
Why did Taylor Swift Release evermore?
Taylor stated she released evermore because she and partner/producer Aaron Dessner of the band The National kept writing after enjoying the process so much after creating folklore.
But remember, this was in 2020 when many places around the world were shut down and in lockdown. Bands and performers weren’t able to do concerts in many cases.
So why not keep recording?
Many fans have wondered why Taylor Swift released evermore. This does not mean fans don’t appreciate the album. They simply ask this because it was so soon after folklore.
Many fans felt that the folklore era was cut short.
Most fans look at album cycles as eras, for example, the folklore era. With the release of evermore, they felt that it ended what folklore could have fully become. Many fans wanted more music videos and singles from folklore.
Taylor has stated that she released evermore simply because she and members of The National couldn’t stop writing songs.
She said that they were faced with the choice to either “Turn and go back or to travel further into the forest of this music”.
Also, as an artist, it probably made sense for her to release evermore when she did. These albums are not normal Taylor Swift, and it seems that maybe she wanted this sound to be associated with one big era.
This allows her to break away from the constraints of the industry.
You cracked the codes and guessed all the From The Vault titles. 👏👏👏 Here’s the full track list, my friends. pic.twitter.com/lC3awlRmm2
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) April 3, 2021
Does Taylor Swift own the masters to evermore and folklore?
Taylor Swift does own the masters to both folklore and evermore, just as she has with all her newer releases starting with 2019’s Lover.
Taylor Swift has fostered a major conversation about artists’ rights over the last several years. First, it was the discussion regarding royalties from streaming.
More recently, it has been about ownership of music.
This is important because Taylor’s rights to her pre-Lover albums were sold out from under her. This was because her previous record label, Big Machine Records, owned them. They in turn sold them to Ithaca Holdings owned by Scooter Braun. Braun then sold them to Shamrock Holdings for $300 million.
But none of them, seemingly, would sell them to Taylor, despite her wanting to own her masters and supposedly making them offers.
Since Taylor Swift is now under a new recording contract, she owns the masters to her last 3 albums, Lover from 2019 and then folklore and evermore from 2020. The singer and her legal team made sure her contract was fair for her as an artist.
An artist owning their masters is important.
This is because this gives them the right to authorize people to sample the music. Owning the masters also means the artists get paid when the songs are sampled.
The master is basically the original recording of a song. It should also be noted that Taylor Swift has started rerecording her old albums to regain the rights to the masters for those.
What is the meaning behind Taylor Swift’s song coney island?
Taylor Swift is known for often, but not always, writing biting, harsh songs about her exes. But when it comes to the song coney island (she uses all lowercase) from the album evermore, is the again about a past relationship?
Take a look at this excerpt from the lyrics:
“Break my soul in two
Looking for you but you’re right here
If I can’t relate to you anymore
Then who am I related to?”
Clearly, it seems sad, and about a romantic partner.
The irony is that despite her reputation (hilariously mocked in her song “Shake It Off”) Taylor has been in an exclusive relationship with Joe Alwyn since 2016. And Joe, under his pen name of William Bowery, helped write the song “coney island”.
Coney Island (the place) is a boardwalk amusement park located on the beach in New York.
The song itself relates Taylor’s relationship with an amusement park; fun, happy, and exciting, but perhaps lacking depth. The song is also a duet with Matt Berninger, lead singer of the band The National. The National’s brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner also helped Taylor write and produce both evermore and folklore.
But the question remains, is “coney island” about Joe or an old flame?
Taylor has been surprisingly mum on the subject, but more than one Taylor Swift fan have surmised, based on lyrical clues, that the song is actually a nod to several of her exes including:
- John Mayer
- Jake Gyllenhaal
- Calvin Harris
- Harry Styles
- Conor Kennedy
- and Joe Jonas
What is the meaning behind Taylor Swift’s song gold rush?
Taylor’s song gold rush is also off her evermore album and features lyrics like:
But I don’t like a gold rush, gold rushI don’t like anticipating my face in a red flush I don’t like that anyone would die to feel your touch Everybody wants you Everybody wonders what it would be like to love you
That certainly implies that someone, possibly a love interest is really popular in a sudden, but potentially flash in a pan kind of way. And Taylor presumably doesn’t like that.
Maybe she doesn’t want to share the spotlight. Or maybe all the attention is bringing out the attention of other women (after all, she once claimed “I get drunk on jealousy”).
And the term gold rush pertains to when, in the 1800s, someone would find gold somewhere (typically California) and word would spread. Everyone would flock to the site hoping to strike it rich, creating a feeding frenzy.
But the vein, in many cases, would dry up leaving most empty-handed.
So while it could be about one of her exes (again). Most likely it’s about someone she was into or had a crush on. And she chose not to act on that as she didn’t want to be part of the growing fan club and just another person in a long line of people flocking to him.
If it is about an ex, it’s most likely about Harry Styles.
What is the meaning behind Taylor Swift’s song champagne problems?
Taylor’s song champagne problems is also off her ninth studio album evermore, and Swift sings lyrics like:
Because I dropped your hand while dancingLeft you out there standing Crestfallen on the landing Champagne problemsYour mom’s ring in your pocketMy picture in your wallet Your heart was glass, I dropped it Champagne problemsYou told your family for a reasonYou couldn’t keep it in Your sister splashed out on the bottle Now no one’s celebrating
The term “champagne problems” itself wasn’t coined by Taylor.
The official definition of that term is “a ‘problem’ of wealthy people, which we all would like to have; having to decide between two wonderful things” (source)
Clearly, the lyrics are about a failed romance that was getting serious enough to involve a ring and family members. And it is true that Taylor and her longtime boyfriend Joe Alwyn have flirted with but never committed to getting engaged.
But for once, this song is NOT about one of Taylor’s exes or Joe himself.
Many fans have surmised that “champagne problems” is about Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber, who were together for 8 years up until 2018. Gomez and Swift are good friends.
But while Taylor has not confirmed if it was about Gomez and Bieber, she has confirmed it’s not about her own experiences or any of her relationships.
What songs did Taylor Swift and Jack Antonoff write together on evermore or folklore?
Jack Antonoff serves as one of the producers of both folklore and evermore.
But he’s also one of Taylor’s favorite songwriters to collaborate with. He’s also in the band Fun who had a big hit in 2011 called “We Are Young”.
He first began working with Taylor Swift in 2013 on a song called “Sweeter than Fiction” from the soundtrack for the film One Chance.
They then collaborated on 3 songs on Swift’s next album 1989.
For the album folklore, the following songs are songs Antonoff co-wrote with Taylor Swift:
- this is me trying
- illicit affairs
Then on evermore, Antonoff co-wrote the following:
- gold rush
All told, Antonoff has helped Swift on dozens of songs going back to 2013. And there’s likely more to come!
How did Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon end up on folklore and evermore?
Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon is known for being eclectic and a bit reclusive.
After all, his first album (when Bon Iver was just him) was recorded in a cabin in isolation. And Justin’s style is hardly what you think of when you hear the average Taylor Swift song.
So how did it come to be that the queen of pop and this eccentric, reclusive alternative musician came together to create a masterpiece such as folklore’s “exile” or evermore’s title track “evermore”?
Ultimately it comes down to Aaron Dessner of The National who produced both folklore and evermore.
Dessner and Vernon are friends. And The National is similarly eclectic to Bon Iver, so it makes sense that when Taylor connected with Dessner and his brother Bryce (also from The National) to create both albums, that Dessner might try and elicit Vernon’s help.
You can see some of the story in Swift’s folklore documentary “The Long Pond Sessions”.
But Swift was a fan of Bon Iver and asked Dessner to extend the invitation, expecting Vernon to decline. To her delight, Vernon said yes, and the rest is history.
And together, they gave us the beautifully haunting song “exile”, one of most people’s favorite songs from folklore.
Taylor Swift proved with both folklore and evermore that she has a lot to offer as an artist.
These are not pop albums, and they also show that she is not as self-absorbed as many believe her to be. For most fans, folklore is the better album.
Some people feel like the singer simply picked the best songs for folklore and then released the rest as evermore. But either way, Taylor Swift’s talent for songwriting is undeniable in any genre. And these two albums left many fans hoping for a third album in this style.
Speaking of fans, one of her biggest fans is Olivia Rodrigo.
I took a look at their relationship in this recent article. In it, I go through their history as well as if Taylor influenced Olivia. Both artists are super supportive of each other.
Just click that link to read it on my site.
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