It’s been a long, winding and genre-spanning road for Taylor Swift to finally go country again.
For the first time in seven years, the singer performed on the Academy of Country Music Awards stage Wednesday night, singing the twangy-in-the-best-way track “Betty” off her surprise quarantine album “folklore.”
The last time she graced the awards show with a tune, Swift was, of course, a very different artist, still straddling the country and pop worlds (she performed her Tim McGraw collaboration “Highway Don’t Care” at that 2013 ceremony). Two years later, she was awarded the Milestone Award at the 50th anniversary of the show, even though at that point she’d all but stopped making country music and gone full-tilt pop star.
So it was a homecoming of sorts when Swift performed her new track live for the first time at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, the city where she relocated as a teenager to launch her country music career.
Accompanying herself on an acoustic guitar with some harmonica thrown in, Swift stunned in a sparkly burgundy blouse and tan trousers (all Stella McCartney, by the way) and her curly “reputation”-era bangs. She did her own hair, makeup and styling for the performance, per People.
“Betty” is a peak Taylor Swift song, written from the perspective of a high school boy as part of a trio of songs on “folklore” about a teenage love triangle. It also happened to reveal the name of her close friends Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds’ baby, Betty, born in October 2019.
The song did require one change for the live performance with Swift singing “would you tell me to go straight to hell,” instead of the original “would you tell me to go fuck myself,” in a TV-friendly tweak.
After her performance, the album “folklore,” which has reigned in the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart for the past six weeks, shot to the top of the U.S. iTunes charts as well. Within 24 hours of its release in July, “folklore” sold over 1.3 million copies globally, making it the biggest album of 2020 to date.
In addition to Swift, Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Gwen Stefani, Luke Bryan, Kelsea Ballerini and Florida Georgia Line performed at the virtual ACM ceremony.
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