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There’s no place like home: Taylor Swift digs up her country roots at ACM Awards

Taylor Swift performs at the 2020 ACM Awards.

If she just showed up at your party, would you have her, Academy of Country Music Awards?

The answer was a resounding yes.

Pop musician Taylor Swift graced the ACM Awards stage Wednesday night for the first time in seven years to perform the song “Betty” off of her latest release, “Folklore.” Released in July, the acclaimed album was created entirely during the coronavirus shutdown.

Although Swift has won eight ACM awards (including entertainer of the year, twice), she last performed at the show in 2013, when she sang her song “Red” from her 2012 album of the same name, with some help from Alison Krauss and Vince Gill.

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony had been postponed from April and relocated from Las Vegas to Nashville, where Swift said she learned to write songs.

The “Lover” singer — who, until Carrie Underwood tied for the honor this year, was the last woman to be crowned the ACM entertainer of the year — performed “Betty” at Nashville’s Opry House, where country star Keith Urban hosted the show.

The track, which Times pop music critic Mikael Wood ranked seventh on the album, has sparked plenty of speculation, ranging from queer canon to a teenage love triangle. Swifties finally got an explanation in August, when the artist introduced “Betty” on country radio.


“Everybody makes mistakes, everybody really messes up sometimes, and this is a song that I wrote from the perspective of a 17-year-old boy,” Swift said. “I’ve always loved that in music you can kinda slip into different identities and you can sing from other people’s perspectives. So that’s what I did on this one.”

Some fans might have been surprised to see Swift return to her country roots, sporting a sequined turtleneck and tan trousers. Since 2014, the musician has veered away from country and moved more into the pop realm.

“Somebody once told me that you truly see who a person is when you tell them something they don’t want to hear,” Swift said in an acceptance speech at the 2015 ACM Awards. “And so to the country music community, when I told you that I had made a pop album and that I wanted to go explore other genres, you showed me who you are with the grace you accepted that with. I will never forget it.”

Taylor Swift’s ‘Folklore’ abandons the dance-pop of her post-Nashville career for a ruminative indie singer-songwriter sound befitting the times.


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