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). With production from Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff, Folklore eschews the upbeat pop of Swift's previous albums for mellow ballads driven by piano and guitar. It is mostly described as an indie folk, alternative rock, and electro-folk album while a few classify it as pop. Swift wrote and recorded the album during the COVID-19 pandemic, conceiving it as "a collection of songs and stories that flowed like a stream of consciousness" out of her imagination.
Departing from the autobiographical themes abundant in her older projects, the album manifests vivid storytelling mostly from third-person perspectives that channel escapism, nostalgia, loneliness, and introspection, which reflects in its cottagecore aesthetic. Folklore received universal acclaim upon release, with emphasis on its relaxed atmosphere, emotional weight, and poetic lyricism. Many critics dubbed it a bold move for Swift to experiment with indie genres unconventional to her usual styles, and found the album encapsulating the emotions of the pandemic. Folklore broke many streaming records, such as the Guinness World Record for the biggest opening day on Spotify for an album by a female artist. According to Republic Records, Folklore sold two million copies in its first week globally. It reached number one in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and many other countries.
Debuting atop the Billboard 200 chart, Folklore was Swift's seventh number-one album in the United States, and the best-selling album of 2020. It spent eight weeks at number one, making it the longest-running chart-topper since 2017. All of its 16 tracks entered the Billboard Hot 100 simultaneously. The lead single "Cardigan" became Swift's sixth US number-one single, making her the first act to debut atop both the Billboard 200 and Hot 100 simultaneously, while "The 1" and "Exile" peaked at numbers four and six, respectively; these three songs reached top-10 in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the UK as well. A documentary on the making of Folklore with a performance of its songs, Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions, was released on November 25, 2020, alongside its live album. Swift's ninth studio album, Evermore, is a sister record to Folklore.
Publications listed Folklore amongst the best albums of 2020, with many placing it first. At the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, the album and its songs earned five nominations, including Album of the Year, Song of the Year for "Cardigan", and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for "Exile". Folklore has been viewed as the quintessential quarantine album, and the pandemic's "first great" work of art. It is widely regarded as one of the most influential albums of 2020.