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mirrorball

folklore (2020)

On “mirrorball,” the sixth track off of Taylor’s surprise eighth studio album, folklore (2020), she compares herself and the concept of celebrity to a reflective disco ball.

Background and Lyrical Theme

In the same way that a disco ball primarily serves to entertain partiers below, Taylor has dedicated her career to entertaining others. When the world was sent into lockdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic, she started reflecting on the concept of celebrity and wrote “mirrorball”, as she revealed in the documentary/concert film folklore: the long pond studio sessions. Ultimately, the thoughts that went into the song are what make it a great piece of pandemic work: It’s not directly about the pandemic, but rather about the experience of what happens to artists going through a pandemic – they start to dream:

«On folklore there are a lot of songs that reference each other or have lyrical parallels and one of the ones that I like is the entire song 'this is me trying' then being referenced again in ‘mirrorball,’ which is, ‘I’ve never been a natural, all I do is try’. Sometimes when I’m writing to an instrumental track I’ll push ‘Play’ and I’ll immediately see a scene set and this was one of those cases. I just saw a lonely disco ball, twinkly lights, neon signs, people drinking beer by the bar, a couple of stragglers on the dance floor. Sort of a sad, moonlit, lonely experience in the middle of a town you’ve never been. I was just thinking that we have mirrorballs in the middle of a dance floor because they reflect light, they are broken a million times and that’s what makes them so shiny. We have people like that in society, too. They hang there and every time they break it entertains us. And when you shine a light on them it’s this glittering, fantastic thing. But then, a lot of the time when the spotlight isn’t on them they’re just still there, up on that pedestal but no one is watching them. It was a metaphor for celebrity but it’s also a metaphor for so many people. Everybody has to feel like they have to be ‘on’ for certain people. You have to be different versions of yourself for different people. Different versions at work, different versions around friends. Different versions of yourself around different friends. A different version of yourself around family. Everybody feels that they have to be in some ways duplicitous and that’s part of the human experience. But it’s also exhausting. And you learn that every one of us has the ability to become a shapeshifter. But what does that do to us?»

Taylor Swift

Referencing the Covid-19 Pandemic

The isolation of lockdown is only directly referenced on folklore a few times, “mirrorball” being one of those. In a conversation with co-producer Jack Antonoff, Taylor said: “It was the first time (and one of the only times) that what we’re living through was lyrically addressed. I think that the pandemic and lockdown runs through this album like a thread because it’s an album that allows you to feel your feelings. And it’s a product of isolation, a product of all this rumination on what we are as humans. But this is the first time in the bridge, saying, ‘They called off the circus, burned the disco down, when they sent home the horses and the rodeo clowns’. I wrote this song right after I found out all my shows were cancelled. And it was like, ‘I’m still on that tight rope, I’m still trying everything to keep you laughing at me.’ So I am writing all this music, still trying. And I know I have an excuse to sit back and not do something, but I’m not. And I don’t know why that is.”

Live Performance

Taylor first performed “mirrorball” as part of the concert film and documentary folklore: the long pond studio sessions (2020), together with Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff.

Commercial Performance

Upon the release of folklore, “mirrorball” debuted at No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 during the chart week of August 8, 2020.

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
I want you to know
I’m a mirrorball
I’ll show you every version of yourself tonight
I’ll get you out on the floor
Shimmering beautiful
And when I break, it’s in a million pieces

[Chorus]
Hush, when no one is around, my dear
You’ll find me on my tallest tip-toes
Spinning in my highest heels, love
Shining just for you
Hush, I know they said the end is near
But I’m still on my tallest tip-toes
Spinning in my highest heels, love
Shining just for you

[Verse 2]
I want you to know
I’m a mirrorball
I can change everything about me to fit in
You are not like the regulars
The masquerade revelers
Drunk as they watch my shattered edges glisten

[Chorus]
Hush, when no one is around, my dear
You’ll find me on my tallest tip-toes
Spinning in my highest heels, love
Shining just for you
Hush, I know they said the end is near
But I’m still on my tallest tip-toes
Spinning in my highest heels, love
Shining just for you

[Bridge]
And they called off the circus, burned the disco down
When they sent home the horses and the rodeo clowns
I’m still on that tightrope
I’m still trying everything to get you laughing at me
I’m still a believer, but I don’t know why
I’ve never been a natural, all I do is try, try, try
I’m still on that trapeze
I’m still trying everything to keep you looking at me

[Outro]
Because I’m a mirrorball
I’m a mirrorball
And I’ll show you every version of yourself tonight

General Information
Albumfolklore
ReleasedJuly 24, 2020
RecordedMay–July, 2020
StudioKitty Committee (Los Angeles)
GenreIndie Folk
Length3:29
LabelRepublic Records
SongwritersTaylor Swift
Jack Antonoff
ProducersJack Antonoff
Taylor Swift
FOLKLORE CHRONOLOGY
my tears ricochetmirrorballseven
Single Certification
Song Artwork
Live Performance
Lyric Video
Official Audio
Official Live Audio