Music

Taylor Swift’s Folklore: Top fan theories around Cardigan singer’s surprise new album


Taylor Swift released Folklore yesterday with next to no warning (Picture: Beth Garrabrant)

Taylor Swift, as you may have heard, has done a Beyonce – dropping what might be the best album of her career with next to no warning.

Indeed, Folklore – recorded in lockdown and released yesterday – is getting rave reviews from critics.

But the most fervent discussion is among fans.

Swifties have been eagerly dissecting the slowed-down album’s song titles and lyrics for insight into the 30-year-old’s life… as per just about every album she’s ever released.

But those looking for the directness and transparency of eras past – we’re thinking Look What You Made Me Do and Bad Blood here, which, let’s face it, had all the nuance of a sledgehammer – might be surprised to find a newfound subtlety to Taylor’s output.

But that’s still fuelling some pretty intense theories online.

Taylor’s new album is breaking records on Spotify (Picture: Taylor Swift Instagram)

Here’s a quick round up of the best of them, as T-Swift’s eighth LP breaks records around the globe.

Taylor and Joe Alwyn have broken up

Taylor has been dating actor Joe Alwyn for three years, and as far as we know, they’re still together. But Folklore has its fair share of sad numbers, and Cardigan contains the rather startling lyric: ‘I felt like I was an old cardigan, under someone’s bed.’

Side note: If you were a cardigan, we’d wear you Taylor!

As such, some have jumped to conclusions about Taylor’s relationship status.

We’re inclined to debunk this one. Break-up songs by artists in new relationships are a thing, after all.

Also, in a statement she released this week, Swifty said of Folklore: ‘The lines between fantasy and reality blur and the boundaries between truth and fiction become almost indiscernible.’

Meaning… don’t take everything literally, people.

Taylor announced the album with this message on Instagram (Picture: Instagram/taylor swift)

Joe co-wrote two songs on the album

In direct contradiction to the last theory, Taylor paid tribute to Folklore co-writer William Bowery when announcing the album (see above).

Unlike the others mentioned – Bon Iver, long-time collaborator Jack Antonoff – Google gives pretty much no indication of who Bowery actually is.

Unless, of course, Swifties speculating Bowery’s a pseudonym for Joe are on the money.

Supporting the theory is the fact Joe’s great-grandfather was named William, plus reports that Taylor and Joe’s first date took place at NYC’s Bowery Hotel.

Betty, August and Cardigan are connected

Read our full explainer on this here.

Betty is ‘queer canon’

Betty, the final song on Folklore, is seemingly written from the perspective of a teen boy called James, and details his love for classmate Betty.

But a writer at Vulture seems convinced James is actually a girl, as Taylor herself was named after the singer James Taylor.

A fan on Twitter added: ‘UMMMM???? BETTY IS SO GAY????? IS ANYONE ELSE HEARING THIS??????’

Well, they seem rather convinced. Of something.

So, has Taylor injected a storyline of same-sex romance into her album? It wouldn’t be the first time she’s given a shout out to LGBT fans in her work.

Folklore is out now (Picture: Beth Garrabrant)

Betty indirectly reveals the name of Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds’ new baby

As unlikely as it seems, this has weight. As previously mentioned, Betty is supposedly part of a trio of songs known as the The Teenage Love Triangle.

The protagonists of the story? Betty, James and Inez. Movie stars Blake and Ryan have three kids: James, Inez, and their new baby, whose name was confirmed as Betty this week.

Random.

The album artwork for Folklore is shot in black and white (Picture: Taylor Swift/ Republic Records)

Taylor as ‘cottagecore’ poster girl

This is our favourite. Immersed in nature in her album artwork, and proffering a new, stripped-back sound, Taylor seems to be ushering in a new trend that suits a post-coronavirus world.

Cottagecore. (Sorry, Justin Timberlake – Man of the Woods was clearly ahead of its time).

FYI, the Urban Dictionary definition of Cottagecore is: ‘A niche aesthetic based around the visual culture of an idealised life on a western farm.’

So, has lockdown left Taylor – known for her love of New York City and London – fancying a change of pace?

Or, perhaps the simplicity of yesteryear? As before moving to Nashville, Tennessee to pursue music, Taylor lived on her family’s farm in Pennsylvania.

In 2020, anything is possible!

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