Sure to delight English teachers everywhere, Taylor Swift has released a literary analysis of her “Cardigan” music video. A Vevo Footnotes exclusive, the singer long known for her hidden Easter eggs revealed them all at once. She also shared how she prevented the song from leaking, a rare feat for a pop star of her stature.
The video begins in a dark cottage, with Swift sitting at a piano containing a C. S. Lewis-style magical woodland inside. Two pictures are hanging on the cottage walls, both of which she explained to Vevo Footnotes. The man in the photograph on the left is her grandfather, Dean, who landed on the beaches at the Battle of Guadalcanal in World War II. Later on in the album, Taylor tells his story on “Epiphany.” As for the painting of a white house on the right, Swift worked on it herself in the first week of quarantine. Also, the clock’s hands point to 1 and 3, representing her famed lucky number, 13.
Swift wrote and directed the video herself, playing the song solely through an earpiece so the crew wouldn’t be able to hear it during filming. Highly discreet about the entire project, she didn’t add the “folklore” logo to the central piano’s fallboard until release day via special effects.
Speaking on the album as a whole, Taylor said, “I view Folklore as wistful and full of escapism. Sad, beautiful, tragic. Like a photo album full of imagery, and all the stories behind that imagery.” Of course, “Sad, Beautiful, Tragic” is also a song from her 2012 album Red.
In addition to spilling the secrets of “Cardigan,” Taylor released a lyric video for Folklore’s bonus track, “The Lakes.” The song references Romantic poet William Wordsworth, and partially grapples with being a public figure in the social media age. The themes and lyrics mirror those explored in her 2017 Reputation album, except softer and less embittered.
“Cardigan” is the first single off of Swift’s eighth studio album Folklore. Both the single and album debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts to critical acclaim, with praise citing their lyricism, atmosphere, and mature direction. Folklore, including “The Lakes,” is now available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music.