March 14th 2021 may have seemed like another day in lockdown for most of us, but in the world of music, it marked the 63rd Grammy Award Ceremony. There were many incredible takeaways from the night, including Harry Styles’ first Grammy win for Best Pop Solo Performance and Megan Thee Stallion winning Best New Artist. One of the most significant moments, however, was Taylor Swift’s historic Album of the Year win for her eighth album Folklore, making her the first woman to win this award three times.
I might not be a hardcore Swiftie, but credit where credit is due – she knows how to keep listeners engaged. Releasing Folklore back in July 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, Swift surprised fans with her unexpected album after but a day’s notice, simply taking to Twitter to announce that ‘in isolation [her] imagination has run wild and this album is the result.’ Folklore marked a new shift in Taylor Swift’s sound, with alternative folk being prominent throughout the 16 tracks – although the album title gives that one away really.
The change in the tone of this album compared to some of her previous upbeat pop tracks and heartfelt ballads really helped brand Folklore as a new Swift era. The album takes on its own identity, diving deep into emotions in an earthy, grounded way. She further explored and solidified this new sound in the equally surprising release of Evermore, Folklore’s sister album in December 2020, giving her fans a much-needed pick-me-up towards the end of a very turbulent year.
Taylor Swift hasn’t always been let off lightly by the media in the past, being infamously branded as a serial dater and therefore often being brandished as a negative role model for girls: a washed-out view that somehow still manages to manifest in today’s society (see Swift’s backlash against comments about her in the new Netflix show Ginny and Georgia). This in itself is deeply problematic and is definitely something worth unravelling in its own right. Yet the negative stereotypes she has faced throughout her career have notably not held her down, with her previous work showing evidence of her fighting against negative assumptions of her – take Reputation as a prime example. For someone who was faced with barriers and shaming throughout her career as a young female artist, Taylor Swift’s constant ability to rise above the media and produce music that evidently speaks to millions across the globe is something that honestly deserves nothing but praise.
Her Album of the Year Grammy marked her as the first woman in history to have achieved the award three times, following her wins for Fearless (2012) and 1989 (2016). Her release of Folklore last year not only marked a shift in her sound as an artist but also produced a welcome relief for her fans during a global pandemic and proceeded to make history whilst still in the midst of the pandemic. We might not all like her music, but there’s definitely something to be taken from her resilience, both as a singer-songwriter, and as a young woman right under the spotlight, and this Grammy award serves to prove just that.