Taylor Swift opened the 2021 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony by performing a sleek, synth-pop version of “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” a song originally co-written and performed by 2021 inductee Carole King.
Buoyed by a chorus of soft-glow backing singers and a lush bed of keyboards — truthfully, the song sounded as though it could’ve slipped right onto 1989 — Swift walked around the stage slowly and deliberately, letting the music and lyrics wash over her. Her performance was honey-smooth and full of admiration and clearly showed she grew up listening to King’s music.
In a nod to the night’s formal tone, Swift sported a black, lacey bodysuit with sparse glitter accents, and sparkly eyeshadow to match. Swift looked thrilled to be singing the song, grinning widely after the first chorus as the crowd screamed its approval, and adding theatrical vocal flourishes here and there for emphasis. And after singing some of the more pointed lines, notably, “So tell me now, and I won’t ask again,” Swift had a sassy look on her face that showed she meant business.
However, King was even more moved by the performance: The camera panned to her in the audience as the song floated to its end, and King was wiping away tears and gesturing her acceptance and approval to Swift.
Taylor Swift starting off the show to induct Carole King. pic.twitter.com/lOGefhnIGP
— Dr. Bryan McGeary (@BMcgeary) October 31, 2021
Although Swift has never covered the song previously, the two women have crossed paths before. At the 2019 American Music Awards, King presented Swift with the Artist of the Decade award and praised the musician’s versatility. “Over the years, I have known some great songwriters and I have also known some great singers and performers,” she said. “It’s rare to see all those talents in one person. Taylor Swift. She is one of the only modern pop artists whose name appears as the sole songwriter in her song credits. Her lyrics resonate across all generations, her songs touch everyone and her impact around the world is extraordinary.”
Both Swift and King have also won the prestigious Grammy Award for Album of the Year. The latter won for 1971’s Tapestry, while Swift took home the honor three times, for 2008’s Fearless, 2014’s 1989, and 2020’s folklore.