So, she did it. Taylor Swift, endearing musical talent and divisive cultural icon, dropped two surprise albums during quarantine and walked away with the top award of the night at the Grammys. She is the first woman artist to win Album of the Year at the Grammy’s three times.
Swift won Album of the Year for Folklore, her dreamy, melancholy, fantastical folk-pop album. Earlier in the evening she had performed a medley from the album in what looked like a very sought-after AirBnB.
She accepted the award along with her collaborators Aaron Dessner, Jack Antonoff, Jonathan Low, and Laura Sisk.
But there was one collaborator who she thanked who didn’t join her on stage—Joe Alwyn, Swift’s longtime boyfriend. Alwyn, an actor, co-wrote two songs on the Grammy-winning album: “Exile,” and “Betty.” He was originally credited under a pseudonym—the highly made-up sounding “William Bowery.” Fans quickly spotted the enigma, and months later, Swift confirmed that William Bowery and Joe Alwyn are one in the same. (Swift is famously meticulous and thrilled by hidden connections, but it is exceptionally hard to sneak things past her fans.) And on the Grammy stage, “William Bowery” got his due.
She looked emotional as she thanked, “Joe, who is the first person that I play every single song that I write, and I had the best time writing songs with you in quarantine.”
It’s startlingly romantic, if you think about it—for the greater part of Taylor Swift’s career, she has been making music about heartbreak, and has been dogged by frequently sexist criticisms that suggest that she is more defined by her ex-boyfriends than by her art. Tonight, she stood on stage accepting an award for work she made in collaboration with the love of her life.
Alwyn was not in attendance, but Swift celebrated with the very not-sore losers of Haim.
To add to the glittery, fairytale extreme of it all, she thanked A-listers Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds. “I want to thank James, Inez, and Betty, and their parents, who are the second and third people that I play every new song that I write.” Lively and Reynolds’ children, James, Inez, and Betty, are the namesakes of the major characters who populate the songs of Folklore.
You can say a lot about Taylor Swift. But winning Best Album of the Year…for an album you made during quarantine…with your literal lover…and then shouting out Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds in your acceptance speech?
Girl knows how to win.