Taylor Swift performed on the Grammy Awards for the first time in five years, bringing her “Folklore” collaborators Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner with her for the first on-stage performance they’ve done together.
She kicked off the performance with “Cardigan,” laying on a grassy ground and singing up to the audience. The camera panned out to reveal an environment very in line with “Folklore”: a dreamy forest, with Swift on the roof of a cabin. In that cabin were Antonoff and Dessner, ready to launch into “August,” with the songstress strumming on the guiter along with them. They ended with “Willow,” the opening track off her “Evermore.”
Swift last appeared on the Grammys in 2016, which was the last time she was up for album of the year, when “1989” prevailed in that category.
In a video that was posted to the Recording Academy’s website just two days prior to the Grammys, Swift had indicated that most things about her performance were “highly confidential” but that she did want to reveal ahead of time that Dessner and Antonoff would be participating.
“We’ve only gotten to be together in the same room once, so this is really awesome to get to be together with them again. We’re quarantining in the same house, we’re getting tested every day,” she said in the teaser video. “It’s just really exciting, honestly, to play music with your collaborators. That’s something that I will never, ever take for granted again.”
Swift has not promoted “Folklore” or its follow-up, “Evermore,” with many television appearances. In September, she returned after a long absence to the Academy of Country Music Awards (sans her producer/co-writers) to sing a seated version of “Betty,” the most country-flavored song from “Folklore.”
The “once” that Swift referred to in the Recording Academy teaser referred to when she, Antonoff and Dessner came together last year to shoot “Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions,” an Apple TV Plus special that united the trio for the first time, after they recorded all the songs from that album in shared isolation during the early months of the pandemic. The Grammy performance marked the first time they’ve performed as a unit in front of an audience.
Swift was up for six awards going into the 2021 Grammys, including album of the year for “Folklore” and song of the year for “Cardigan.”