Folklore (stylized in all lowercase) is the eighth studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It was a surprise album, released on July 24, 2020, through Republic Records. Swift conceived Folklore in quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic as ""a collection of songs and stories that flowed like a stream of consciousness"" out of her imagination, and collaborated with producers Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff virtually.
Departing from the upbeat pop elements of its predecessors, Folklore consists of mellow ballads driven by neo-classical instruments, pursuing indie folk, alternative rock and electroacoustic styles. With storytelling rooted in escapism and romanticism, the album explores fictional narratives featuring characters and story arcs, in contrast to the autobiographical tone of Swift's previous projects. The album's title was inspired by the singer's desire for the music to have a lasting legacy akin to folk songs, whereas its artwork and aesthetic reflect cottagecore.
Upon release, Folklore broke the Guinness World Record for the biggest opening day on Spotify for an album by a female act. Three of its tracks reached the top 10 of the official charts in eight countries, namely ""Cardigan"", ""The 1"" and ""Exile"", the first of which is the album's lead single and marked Swift's sixth number-one song on the US Billboard Hot 100. The album reached number one in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and various others. It was Swift's seventh consecutive number-one album on the US Billboard 200, where it topped for eight weeks and became the best-selling album of 2020.
Folklore was met with widespread critical acclaim centering on its emotional weight, poetic lyricism and relaxed pace. Critics found its introspective themes timely for the pandemic and regarded it a bold reinvention of Swift's artistry. The album prominently featured on publications' year-end lists of the best albums of 2020; it ranked first on many and was frequently called the quintessential lockdown album. It won Album of the Year at the 63rd Grammy Awards, making Swift the first female artist in history to win the honor thrice. Folklore was succeeded by its sister record, Evermore, which was released on December 11, 2020.