In 2020, when the world was temporarily “paralyzed” due to the epidemic, and people had to stay at home, Taylor Swift unexpectedly released a new album folklore with 17 songs, and the album’s release distance was the previous one. The album was only 11 months away; 5 months later, another 17-song album evermore turned out. In line with the top productions of the American pop music industry, these two albums have not been reduced in quality due to the huge amount of creation. The atmosphere, text depth and popularity of the songs are excellent. The two albums allowed Taylor Swift to win the 63rd Grammy “Album of the Year” and the highest honor of the British Music Awards “Icon Idol Award”, and at the same time completed her transformation of a new style.
From country music to pop music
Taylor Swift was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, USA in December 1989. He spent his childhood on an 11-acre Christmas tree farm in Montgomery. Her music career started in Nashville, the American country music center. She released her first album Taylor Swift at the age of 17 with a strong country music style, which was continued in the next two albums Fearless and Speak Now, among them Love Story, You Belong with Me, Back to Songs such as December became popular country music singles, and Mean won her the “Best Country Song” and “Best Country Singer” awards.
The release of the album Red in 2012 marked Taylor’s first transformation, that is, the transition and transition from country style to popular style. Although the concise and clear style of country music can still be heard in the album, it is more diversified than the previous three albums. It incorporates a variety of fashion elements such as pop style, British rock and electronic music, thus getting rid of the classic country. The bondage of music. In 2014, the album “1989” named after her year of birth was released. This is a pop music album full of synthesizer and electronic sounds. At this time, Taylor’s interpretation style has expanded from country music to the popular taste of urban listeners. happy. The album won the 58th Grammy Annual Album Award and won the “Annual Global Record Sales Champion” by the International Association of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). After 3 years of accumulation, the very popular album reputation came out, and the United States sold 1.238 million copies in the first week. In this album, Taylor changed the sweet image of the past, showing the “blackened” self with subversive black and white vision, and the electronic dance music delicately interprets the inner feelings and the concept of love. It is a pity that although this album with a reversal image has achieved considerable sales, word-of-mouth praise has been mixed. In 2019, the album Lover containing 18 songs was released. The visual effect of the pink and blue tone highlighted a romantic and warm atmosphere, and won her the “Most Popular Rock Album” award at the 47th National Music Awards. From country music to pop music, Taylor Swift’s audience has become wider and wider, and his creative content is more closely aligned with the aspirations of urban youth, and his ability to use popular elements is becoming stronger.
In Taylor’s first three albums, the lyrics are mostly straightforward narratives, expressing emotions through descriptions of life details and imagery retrospectives. The work is roughly divided into two themes: love and a positive attitude towards life. In the theme of love, there are different emotional experiences such as happiness, sadness, nostalgia, condemnation, etc., and it often contains the love fantasy of a little girl. Love Story is one of its most popular works in the early days. Romance bravely expresses the desire to break through the world and join hands with loved ones. In terms of outlook on life and values, she actively advocates women’s sense of security, courage and self-confidence, and pays attention to family and affection. For example, in the work Mean, the 20-year-old Taylor faced various criticisms and criticisms on the road of music growth, and clearly expressed her expectation of going into the big city, let us see her positive and tenacious attitude towards life and creation.
The album Red, which marks Taylor’s turn to pop music, has added a lot of descriptions and metaphors of urban scenes to the lyrics and text, creating more room for fantasy. In subsequent classic pop music albums, romantic and happy urban love, sensitive and fragile sexual relations, etc., became Taylor’s favorite creative themes. The close experience and thinking of the city made her record and expression more deeply rooted in the hearts of the people. The initial positive attitude towards life has not changed. Instead, as one’s own growth and maturity settled, it became more tolerant, fraternal and diverse.
The integration of folk style
In 2020, when the global economy is slowing down and some cultural industries are forced to stop, Taylor Swift’s eighth album folklore will be released. As the name of the album (folklore, meaning “folklore”) shows, it borrows from the folk rock style that combines folk and rock music in the 1960s. The music is simple and direct, with clear vocal harmony, guitar accompaniment, and strong Rock rhythm. The pioneers of folk rock music were The Byrds. Based on their style and influenced by British bands such as The Beatles, Bob Dylan added many rock instruments to this music.
Taylor modernized the folk style into this album and established a new musical image; and another folk style album evermore released 5 months later, its new style and new image can be quickly stabilized. The two albums have a total of 34 songs, including work creation, concept planning, dry recording, mixing and mastering, release and promotion. For this “big move” of transformation, the Taylor Swift team’s choice of arrangement, lyrics, narration, and visual elements is quite worthy of reference.
Immersive minimalist arrangement
Taylor Swift offered to collaborate with several top American pop musicians during the home isolation period, including the guitarist Aaron Dessner of the American art rock band The National, Justin Vernon of the independent folk band Bon Iver, and the long-term collaboration Jack Antonoff . Although the album is mainly based on the simple folk style, the sound processing is quite sophisticated in the production of music, and the rich electronic sounds are used as the embellishment of traditional musical instruments, which makes the works have a distinctive modernity in the folk style, and both are advanced. Sense and popularity. Take the song cardigan as an example. The piano sound that is evenly staggered from the rhythm of the lyrics dominates. The percussion music uses the electronic drum sound, which does not overwhelm the audience, and appropriately adds delay (meaning “delay”) and other effects, leaving a quiet narrative. Space; the classic guitar sound is entered from the second verse to increase the layering of the arrangement; the arrangement also quietly adds electronic atmosphere sounds, which not only increase the richness, but also let the song fade out with atmosphere. For another example, the work’tis the damn season uses an electric guitar loop to run through the entire song, and also uses electronic drum sounds. The tone modulation is biased towards classic retro, adding percussion, strings and other sounds at the climax, which is simple and yet aurally rich. . In today’s busy urban life, the simple style appropriately reduces the pressure of the audience to obtain information and brings spiritual relaxation to the audience. However, simplicity does not mean simplicity. It is the result of highly condensed rich information, which is not easy for pop music creation.
Rich layers of quiet narrative
to light as the main line of the folk genre coherent two albums, Taylor explores the creation of a more narrative style. For example, the song august, which tells the protagonist to miss the intimate time that passed in August, and the folk style dominated by guitar, electronic atmosphere and national organ sounds, has a dream pop (“dream pop”, a genre of alternative rock). The magnanimous imagination space of the wind; the folk style of the bridge section is very wonderfully integrated, starting from the lyrics “Do you remember” and asking questions, the rhythm is accelerated, and the past memories are reproduced like a glimpse… The melody does not have a big ups and downs, but Intriguing. In the song willow, the rhyme know, follow, home, hollow and the beauty of the rhythm are used to express that I am willing to be with my beloved man. The importance of the text of the lyrics has been improved, and the narration is extended to a deeper level with a slow listening experience. Compared with her previous classic pop style, the melody of these two albums seems to be dull, but in fact it is through harmony trend, orchestration, arrangement and even the number of tracks to guide the audience to experience the quiet narrative. Of course, the moving melody of “wake up your ears” is indispensable, as well as the words that pop music audiences love to hear, such as champagne, ring, wine, gold, etc. she often uses.
Literary visual texture
The cover of the album folklore is black and white. Taylor’s tiny back figure is trapped in a forest full of fallen leaves; the album evermore uses a medium and close shot. She is still shown from behind in a plaid coat, and the forest full of fallen leaves in front of her is rendered. A calm atmosphere. In the MV of the song cardigan, Taylor braided up his hair and staged a scene of traveling and returning in a simple white dress. In the opening movie, Taylor played the old and broken piano in the wooden house where the bonfire was lit, and opened the piano cover, attracted by a golden light, and climbed into the world inside, where there are Alice in Wonderland-like forests and mini waterfalls; The piano bench dived into another world. She drowned in the water and swam towards the piano like driftwood not far away; she opened the piano cover again and returned to the previous cabin. She was wet and she wore a white woolen sweater. Keep warm. In the next album evermore, the MV of the title song willow and cardigan ended seamlessly with the scene. Taylor, wearing a white woolen sweater, began to write a continuation of the story, including piano, wonderland, golden light, woolen sweater, etc. The imagery is still full of literary and artistic visual texture.
In this transformation, Taylor expresses his increasingly introverted mood in a more poetic language (lyrics). The whole album is like a gentle novel, intriguingly telling about missing, infatuated, firm, fearless and painful, etc., you can see from it. Out of Taylor Swift’s still keen perception and more mature thinking, from the initial positive and upward to the tolerance and fraternity to today’s peace and fearlessness, his artistic image is becoming more and more full, and it is more and more worthy of savoring.
Taylor Swift, a country singer, has grasped the trend of fashion with his outstanding creative talents, chose to work with electronic music and synthesizers, and transformed into popular music with a wider market and audience. Its simple, lively and catchy melody derived from country music has won the recognition and resonance of more urban audiences, and has won her the largest group of fans: young people. She is famous for writing about her own growth experience, and the songs are full of youthfulness, which fits the hearts of young fans. They can understand the emotions, moods and meanings conveyed by the songs and empathize with them. From adolescence, along the way, batch after batch of young fans grew up with her. Taylor Swift insists on individualized urban expression, constantly improves his creative skills, and accumulates creative insights. When she realized that her classic pop music style had entered a flat period and was no longer surprising, she chose folk rock music elements, and cooperated with industry leaders to complete the new pop image with two high-quality folk element albums. Transformation. The more stable and comfortable music image without fear or regret complements her unique temperament that has been deposited over the years, and the works are more restrained and calm. Taylor’s successful experience of two transformations has made all fans who love her look forward to her infinite and broad musical path in the future.