Folklore (stylized in all lowercase) is the eighth studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It was a surprise album, released through Republic Records on July 24, 2020, eleven months after its predecessor, Lover (2019). As an indie folk, alternative rock, electro-folk, and chamber pop album, Folklore departs from the upbeat pop sound of Swift's previous albums, for mellow tunes driven by piano and guitar, featuring production from Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff. Written and recorded in isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, Swift called the album "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 perspectives that detail introspection and escapism. The singer adopted a rustic, cottagecore aesthetic for the project.
Upon release, Folklore received widespread critical acclaim, with emphasis on its relaxed atmosphere, emotional weight and poetic lyricism. Music critics deemed it a bold move from Swift, to experiment with indie genres unconventional to her usual styles. The album 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. Folklore sold two million copies in its first week globally, 1.3 million of which were sold on its first day. It reached number one in Australia, Canada, Belgium, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and several other territories.
On the Billboard 200 chart, Folklore debuted at number one with 846,000 units moved, giving Swift her seventh consecutive number-one album in the United States, immediately becoming the best-selling album of 2020. It spent seven weeks atop the chart, making it the longest-running number one album of 2017-2020. All 16 tracks of Folklore entered the Billboard Hot 100 simultaneously, with three in the top-10: the lead single "Cardigan" debuted at the top spot, 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 simultaneously, while "The 1" arrived at number four and Bon Iver duet "Exile" at number six; the three tracks opened inside the top-10 in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, and the UK, as well. By the end of its third week, Folklore had accumulated over one million units sold in the US—the fastest album of 2020 to do so.