Folklore (stylized in all lowercase) is the eighth studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, released on July 24, 2020, through Republic Records. A surprise album announced without prior promotion, Folklore was written and recorded in isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. An indie folk, alternative rock, electro-folk, and chamber pop album, it marks a departure from the upbeat pop sound of Swift's preceding studio albums to stripped-down tunes driven by piano and guitar, featuring production from Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff. Folklore portrays what Swift called "a collection of songs and stories that flowed like a stream of consciousness" rising out of her imagination, manifesting vivid storytelling from largely third-person narratives that detail heartbreak and retrospection. Swift adopted a rustic, cottagecore aesthetic for the album.
Upon release, Folklore received widespread critical acclaim, with emphasis on its sonic coherence, relaxed atmosphere, and poetic lyricism. It broke numerous records on streaming services, including the Guinness World Record for the biggest opening day for an album by a female artist on Spotify. The album sold two million copies in its first week globally, 1.3 million of which were sold on its first day. Folklore reached number one in Australia, Canada, Belgium, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and several other territories.
In the United States, Folklore debuted atop the Billboard 200 chart with 846,000 units moved, garnering Swift's seventh consecutive number-one album in the country and marked the largest sales week for an album in 2020. All 16 tracks of Folklore debuted simultaneously on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, with three in the top-10: the lead single "Cardigan" debuted at number one, giving Swift her sixth number-one single in the US, making her the first act in history to debut atop both the Billboard 200 and Hot 100 charts in the same week, while "The 1" entered at number four, with the Bon Iver collaboration "Exile" at number six; the three tracks also debuted inside the top-10 in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, and the UK. By the end of its third week, Folklore earned over one million units in the US—the fastest album of 2020 to do so.
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