Let’s be clear. There’s no best Taylor Swift song. There are Taylor Swift songs for different occasions: love, heartbreak, fear, anger, being 15, being 22, first dates, last nights, moms…the list goes on. You name it, the woman has written about it (for the most part), which is likely why her repertoire includes seven albums, a handful of EPs and more than 100 songs. Swift has been in the game for 13-plus years, and her music has spanned from country to pop to a duet with the lead singer of Panic! at the Disco. She’s won Grammys, sold out arenas and feuded with celebrities. And now, she’s on to the next stage of her life: her thirties.
In honor of her career, we looked back at her repertoire in attempt to rank each and every one. Some ground rules though: Swift has far more songs than the ones we’ve listed. Because this list could go on forever, we decided to limit our ranking to tracks from her eight albums: Taylor Swift, Fearless, Speak Now, Red, 1989, Reputation, Lover and Folklore—deluxe versions included. Swift has some fine music on her EPs (including a killer Christmas album) and has written several bops for movie soundtracks (see: her song for 2019’s Cats), but, for the sake of time, we had to stop somewhere.
No one has had a more eventful decade than Swift. In 2010, she won the Grammy for Album of the Year for Fearless. Six years later, she was pretty much burned at the stake by the internet after Kim Kardashian accused her of lying about her knowledge about Kanye West’s “Famous,” in which he calls her a “bitch” and claims that he made her famous. Two years after that, Swift announced that she left the record label she had been with since she was a teenager to sign with Universal Music Group. A year later, news broke that she and her former record label owner, Scott Borchetta, as well as his new business partner, Scooter Braun, were not on good terms.
So, yes, the 2010s have been a lot for Swift, and she’s captured each milestone, accomplishment and hardship in her music. And so, as we look forward to another decade of Taylor Swift, we present you with our ranking of her albums’ songs thus far.
“A Place in This World” (Taylor Swift)
While I wouldn’t say that this is the worst Taylor Swift song, it’s certainly my least favorite. The song is about Swift’s high school experience and how she didn’t fit in and her hope to one day find a “place in this world.” She eventually did as one of this decade’s most popular singers. But this song is something I would never listen to now.
“The Outside” (Taylor Swift)
“The Outside” is the second track from Swift’s first album about feeling like an outsider at her school. When I was 14 and listened to it for the first time, sure, it was relatable. But 13 years later, and there are other songs I connect to more.
“A Perfectly Good Heart” (Taylor Swift)
“A Perfectly Good Heart” isn’t bad. It’s just not something I’d listen to now. There are some songs from Swift’s first album that hold up, and some that don’t. And this track, in my opinion, is in the latter.
“Innocent” (Speak Now)
“Innocent,” which Swift sang at a surprise performance at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards after her incident with Kanye West, is a response to the ordeal. The track describes how Swift forgives West because everyone makes mistakes. It sounds good in theory, but listening to it, the song isn’t incredibly memorable.
“Superman” (Speak Now)
“Superman,” a deluxe song from Speak Now, described the perfect man who went to work and came home to be with his significant other. Neither the lyrics nor the melody connected with me.
“Girl at Home” (Red)
One of Swift’s deluxe songs from Red, “Girl at Home” describes a romance between Swift and someone who lives overseas. The subject (who some believe to be Harry Styles) has a “girl at home,” which is why Swift can’t pursue the relationship.
When Swift released “ME!” in April 2019, I was on the boat that this song was not good, or at least not a favorite mine. The cringe-worthy “spelling is fun” lyric was removed, but it’s still one skip when I listen to Lover.
“Superstar” (Speak Now)
Believed to be about John Mayer, “Superstar,” a track off of the deluxe edition of Speak Now, describes Swift’s crush on an unattainable celebrity. Something we’re all familiar with. The track is sweet, but overall, it’s on the worse end of Swift’s discography.
“How You Get The Girl” (1989)
“How You Get the Girl” was a low in 1989. Though the song had a catchy hook, it seemed outdated and cliché for Swift to write a song about how a guy could get a girl.
“Speak Now” (Speak Now)
While “Speak Now” has some cute lyrics (like when Swift compared a wedding dress to a pastry), the song isn’t one of my favorites because of the cliché narrative. The track is a fantasy of a woman who stops a wedding because she’s in love with the groom.
“Stay Stay Stay” (Red)
If “Stay Stay Stay” was released on Fearless, I may have liked it better. But it was an oddball on Red. The lovey-dovey lyrics didn’t fit in with the raw emotion of the breakup tracks, and it didn’t necessarily resonate with Swift’s more mature sound at the time.
“So It Goes..” (Reputation)
“So It Goes” was the only Reputation song Swift didn’t perform on her Reputation Stadium Tour. It’s not a favorite of the masses (or mine), perhaps because it’s not as memorable as some of the darker tracks on that album.
Another track off the deluxe edition of 1989, Swift was right to leave it off the main album. The song is fine, just not as bop-worthy as 1989‘s other bangers.
“Stay Beautiful” (Taylor Swift)
I’m sure when I was a teenager this song was everything. But listening back now, it’s something I would skip.
“This Love” (1989)
In contrast to 1989‘s other ballad “Clean,” “This Love” doesn’t compare. The song is romantic, sure, but overall it’s one of the more forgettable tracks on that album.
“You Are in Love” (1989)
“You Are in Love” was a deluxe song on 1989, but for me, it didn’t really add much. The song is pretty and slow, and that’s about it.
“End Game” (Reputation)
Is “End Game” catchy? Yes. Is it a decent pop song? Sure. But I’ll pass on Ed Sheeran rapping.
“Come Back…Be Here” (Red)
Red is my favorite Taylor Swift album because, man, do I love some good breakup tracks. However, I can’t remember the last time I listened to “Come Back…Be Here.” There are other ballads to cry to in Swift’s discography.
“…Ready for It?” (Reputation)
I like “…Ready for It” when it was released as a pre-single before Reputation. It’s catchy and quotable, but compared to Swift’s other pop songs, it’s more generic.
“The Best Day” (Fearless)
OK, yes, we can all get on board with a song for your mom, and that’s what “The Best Day” is. The song is a snapshot of Swift’s childhood. She even released a music video for the track, which consisted of at-home videos, on Mother’s Day. But when I want to jam to Taylor Swift music, I don’t immediately think of her tribute to her mother.
“Come In With The Rain” (Fearless)
“The man with the reasons why” is one of my favorite camp sayings to come out of this song, but other than that, I don’t listen to it very often.
“Welcome to New York” (1989)
As someone who moved to New York a couple years after Swift did, I appreciate that Swift wrote this song for transplants and dreamers. I also give her props for LGBTQ-positive lyric. Still, it’s not one of my favorites melodies.
“I Wish You Would” (1989)
Like “I Know Places,” “I Wish You Would” was a decent song on 1989. It just didn’t have that same pizzazz as, say, “Blank Space” or “Style” to rank it any higher on this list.
“I Know Places” (1989)
“I Know Places” was one of Swift’s moodier tracks on 1989. The song would’ve been a highlight on an earlier album, but because of pop hit after pop hit on 1989, it faded into the background.
“Change” was one of the official songs for Team USA at the 2008 Summer Olympics. The track is uplifting with a triumphant chorus and positive lyrics. However, it lacks the specificity and storytelling of Swift’s other songs, which puts it lower on my list.
“The Lucky One” (Red)
“The Lucky One,” which fans believe to be about Joni Mitchell, was an unexpected sad track on Red. The song follows a singer who accomplishes her dreams only to not be completely happy with her life. Fans speculate that the track mirrored Swift’s own view of her career at the time.
“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” (Red)
When Swift announced “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” as her single in 2012, fans were shook. The song, though it had some country chords, was extremely poppy. It’s catchy, for sure, but Swift has released more irresistible pop songs since.
“Mean” (Speak Now)
“Mean” may have earned Swift several awards at the 2011 Grammys, but if I’m being honest, it’s not a favorite of mine. While we can all appreciate how Swift stuck it to a critic who said she “can’t sing” and doubted her career, the song’s melody can sound repetitive after a few listens.
“Never Grow Up” (Speak Now)
“Never Grow Up”—which Swift dedicated to Jaime King’s son Leo (the singer’s godson)—is a lullaby-like track, where Swift sings to a child about how she wishes they could stay young “forever” and not be affected by the real world. The melody and lyrics are sweet, but not as strong as Swift’s other ballads.
“It’s Nice to Have a Friend” (Lover)
“It’s Nice to Have a Friend” is a sweet song on Lover that describes a school-age romance and the awkwardness of it. The song is cute, but not as memorable as other Lover tracks.
“Look What You Made Me Do” (Reputation)
As the first single on Reputation, “Look What You Made Me Do” did what it was supposed to: make an impact. The song shocked audiences when it was released. It was different than anything Swift had written before, and the music video, which referenced Swift’s past selves, is dark AF. (She even has a dead version of herself in it.) The song isn’t the most melodic, but I can appreciate it from an art standpoint.
“You Need To Calm Down” (Lover)
Regardless of how people feel about this song, “You Need to Calm Down” will go down as one of Swift’s most memorable songs off of Lover. The track won multiple MTV Video Music Awards, and its music video starred almost every LGBTQ+ star alive. The track itself is fun, but it’s not something you can play on repeat without eventually getting tired of it.
“I Forgot That You Existed” (Lover)
There hasn’t been a consensus on the subject of “I Forgot That You Existed.” Some believe it to be about Kanye West, while many think it’s about Calvin Harris, which would’ve been the ultimate shade toward Swift’s ex. The track is a fun pop song to start Lover, but it pales in comparison to the later pop songs on that album.
“Better Than Revenge” (Speak Now)
For the most part, “Better Than Revenge” is a banger. It’s filled with angst, vengeance and passion. But it’s also filled with controversy. The song is often criticized for its slut-shaming lyric: “She’s an actress /She’s better known for the things that she does / On the mattress.”
“This Is Me Trying” (Folklore)
Those who fell in love with Swift in her country days hold Folklore to a high regard. While “This Is Me Trying” is our least favorite track, the song is still strong compared to the rest of her repertoire. Though it’s a bit slow, song still has the quintessential strong Swift lyrics: “Could’ve followed my fears all the way down / And maybe I don’t quite know what to say.”
“Bad Blood” (1989)
“Bad Blood” is one of Swift’s most memorable songs from 1989. The music video, which starred dozens of celebrities including Zendaya, Hailee Steinfeld and Selena Gomez, alone earned it a spot in Swift’s all-time best discography. But the song itself isn’t a fave, mostly because of its repetitive lyrics.
“Back to December” (Speak Now)
“Back to December” is somewhat of a reverse breakup song. Instead of it describing the heartbreak that Swift felt, it’s an apology letter to a man she should have treated better, who many believe to be Taylor Lautner.
“Soon You’ll Get Better” (Lover)
“Soon You’ll Get Better,” featuring the Dixie Chicks, is by far one of Swift’s most tearjerking songs. The track follows Swift’s mother Andrea’s battle with cancer, from her first doctor appointment to Swift wishing she was better. It’s a beautiful song that’s difficult to listen to casually.
“Breathe,” Swift’s duet with Colbie Caillat, described a relationship that simply didn’t work out. The song is slow and at times repetitive. It’s not one of my favorites. But it was a favorite of Grammy voters, who nominated it for Best Pop Collaboration in 2010.
“Ours” (Speak Now)
From the deluxe edition of Speak Now, “Ours” was a cute song about a love that no one else understood. (Fans speculate that it’s about John Mayer and how Swift’s parents discouraged of the relationship.) The track has a playful melody, but by the time it was released as a single, it seemed like Swift had already moved on from that uber-romantic, idyllic stage of her life.
“Sad Beautiful Tragic” (Red)
Out of Swift’s seven albums, Red by far has the most ballads. “Sad Beautiful Tragic” is one of them. Though the song has some beautiful lyrics, the track, for the most part, is a bit of a snoozer.
Dedicated to Swift’s childhood best friend Abigail Anderson, “Fifteen” describes one’s transition from a care-free childhood to the judgement and insecurity of their teens. The song is somewhat of a love letter that Swift wrote to her early teenage self.
“Hey Stephen” (Fearless)
“Hey Stephen” is a cute track about Swift’s child-like crush on someone named Stephen. The song fits with Fearless‘ theme of fantasy and infatuation, but it’s not one of Swift’s all-time bests.
“Jump Then Fall” (Fearless)
“Jump Then Fall,” a deluxe track from “Fearless,” is like part two of the song “Fearless.” It describes the initial infatuation between two people with a catchy, blissful beat. The only negative is that “Fearless” does it better.
“This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” (Reputation)
“This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” is what critics were waiting for. Many believe the track to be a direct response to Swift’s beef with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. The song is wild, fun and filled with shade.
One of many Red‘s songs that fans believe to be about Jake Gyllenhaal, “Treacherous” describes a relationship where Swift has heard bad things about the other, but she intends to pursue the romance anyways. The song is slow, maybe a little too slow for my liking, but it’s not one of Swift’s worsts.
“Wildest Dreams” (1989)
“Wildest Dreams,” one of Swift’s last singles off of 1989, was surrounded by controversy for its music video, which several believe to fantasize colonialism. Music video aside, the song is fine and dreamy.
“Shake it Off” (1989)
“Shake It Off,” Swift’s first single from 1989, was the first time the singer referenced what the public said about her. The song, which nods to how the media thinks Swift is boy-crazy and goes on “too many dates,” kicked off 1989 and led to her second single, “Blank Space,” which really went in on her critics.
“I Knew You Were Trouble” (Red)
“I Knew You Were Trouble” was one of Swift’s first pure pop songs. Though she experimented with pop elements before, “I Knew You Were Trouble” was different, with its dubstep chorus and catchy verses. At first the song was hard to digest for longtime Swifties, ho were used to the singer’s wistful country ballads, but years after its release, there’s no doubt the track made an impact.
“I Did Something Bad” (Reputation)
“I Did Something Bad” is the song everyone expected when Swift announced she was releasing a new album after her feud with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. But instead of referencing her drama around “Famous,” the bold, unapologetic track is actually believed to be about Swift’s love triangle with Joe Alwyn and Tom Hiddleston.
“Everything Has Changed” (Red)
“Everything Has Changed” is a decent duet with Ed Sheeran. The song has a sweet melody, and the music video shows Swift and Sheeran as two young parents of kids who also seem to have crushes on each other.
“White Horse” (Fearless)
“White Horse,” which became popular in 2008 after it was played on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, is about Swift’s realization that love isn’t what it’s all cracked up to be after she catches her boyfriend cheating on her. The song is the antithesis of “Love Story” in how it shatters the fairytale she once believed.
“You’re Not Sorry” (Fearless)
Exhausted from trying to make it work with her boyfriend who treats her poorly, “You’re Not Sorry” describes the end of a relationship, where Swift is done and apologies don’t matter anymore.
“The Way I Loved You” (Fearless)
“The Way I Loved You” portrays a passionate relationship of fighting and making up. It’s not the most well-known song off of Fearless, but the track doesn’t slack in its lyrics.
“Tied Together With a Smile” (Taylor Swift)
One of the most emotional songs off Swift’s first album, “Tied Together With a Smile” is about Swift’s friend who had an eating disorder at the time. The singer wrote the song soon after finding out.
“Starlight” tells the story of Ethel and Bobby Kennedy, the relatives of Swift’s boyfriend at the time, Connor Kennedy. The song is fun and upbeat, but compared to Swift’s other pop songs, it fades in the background.
“The Lakes” (Folklore)
“The Lakes” was the bonus track from Folklore. The song, which is a romantic, sweet lullaby about Swift’s relationship to Joe Alwyn, references England’s Lake District, where Swift and Alwyn went for their third anniversary. The Lake District is famous for his romantic scenery, as well as how it serves as a place where many 19th century poets wrote their love poems. The track is cute, but when it comes to other lyrical smashes from Folklore, it ranks more towards the middle.
“Untouchable” is a dreamy, romantic love song about having an unattainable crush. The track, off of the deluxe edition of Fearless, is actually a cover. The original song is by the band Luna Halo and sounds a lot different than Swift’s version, which is acoustic and has new lyrics.
“Picture To Burn” (Taylor Swift)
Ah, controversy. The lyrics of “Picture to Burn” were rewritten and the song was rereleased after criticism for its lyric about gay men: “So go and tell your friends that I’m obsessive and crazy / That’s fine! / I’ll tell mine / You’re gay.” As much as this song perfectly captures teenage angst, I can’t rank it much higher for that flub.
“Teardrops on My Guitar” (Taylor Swift)
Technically, this is the first Taylor Swift song I listened to. I just didn’t know it at the time. The first time I watched Swift perform was on season 1 of America’s Got Talent in 2006, where she dueted this song with a contestant. By far, the track is one of Swift’s most memorable from her first album that fans still sing today.
“If This Was a Movie (Speak Now)
From the deluxe edition of Speak Now, “If This Was a Movie” was a fine ballad. The song, as the title describes, talks about how a soured relationship should’ve been if Swift and her boyfriend were in a movie. The ballad was emotional. She’s just released more emotional songs since then.
“Invisible” (Taylor Swift)
“Invisible,” off of the deluxe edition of Swift’s first album, told the classic high school tale of having a crush on someone who doesn’t see you. The lyrics and the melody are nice. The track just doesn’t compare to Swift’s current ballads.
“Call It What You Want” (Reputation)
There’s no doubt that Reputation was dark, given that it was Swift’s first album after her drama with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. But the album also captured what it was like for her to fall in love with someone during one of the worst times of her life. “Call It What You Want” was a much-needed break from the darkness.
“Dancing With Our Hands Tied” (Reputation)
“Dancing With Our Hands Tied” is an exhilarating track from Reputation that tells the story of a relationship where one member is infatuated with someone else. It’s speculated that the song is about Joe Alwyn, whom Swift met while she was dating Tom Hiddleston.
“False God” (Lover)
“False God” isn’t an immediate favorite on Lover, but its jazzy and sexy melody grows on the listener (myself included.)
“Mad Woman” (Folklore)
“Mad Woman” doesn’t sound like Swift’s usual revenge songs. (Think “Picture to Burn” and “Should’ve Said No.”) But based on the lyrics, the song is full wrath: “Does she smile? Or does she mouth, ‘Fuck you forever?'”
“Mary’s Song (Oh My My My)” (Taylor Swift)
This sweet love song from Swift’s first album isn’t about her relationship, but about the marriage of her neighbors, who met as kids, fell in love and grew old with each other.
“Tell Me Why” (Fearless)
Though not one of the most well-known songs off of Fearless, “Tell Me Why” is still one of Swift’s lyrically strongest songs to date. The powerhouse, angst-driven track captures Swift’s response to a verbally abusive boyfriend who cuts her down.
“Long Live” (Speak Now)
“Long Live” was Swift’s first song for her fans. The track, which she also dedicated to her band, sung about friendship and an unbreakable bond that could defeat anything.
“New Romantics” (1989)
When “New Romantics” was released as a deluxe track on 1989, fans wondered why it didn’t make the main album. The song is fun, pop and catchy. It’s not the most memorable or well-known pop track from the album, but it’s still worth jiving to.
“The Last Time” (Red)
This duet with Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol is haunting. The breakup song is told in two perspectives, Swift’s and Lightbody’s, before both viewpoints meet in the middle for a gripping chorus and bridge.
“22” is the antithesis of “The Moment I Knew,” which explores Swift’s disappointing 21st birthday. “22” is about friends and a fun age. The song also teased the next era of Swift’s life in 1989, which was the start of her controversial “squad.”
“The Story of Us” (Speak Now)
This pop-rock song was written after Swift’s breakup to John Mayer. (The song’s secret message in her lyric booklet referenced the two’s first time face to face after their split at the 2010 CMT Awards.)
“Death By a Thousand Cuts” (Lover)
“Death By a Thousand Cuts” isn’t Swift’s catchiest pop song, but there’s a shattering noise throughout the track that really adds a meta artfulness.
“Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince” (Lover)
“Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince” is different than Swift’s other songs on Lover. The track contains layers and layers to comment on the current state of America. The song, which Swift titled her forthcoming Netflix documentary after, is also a response and reference to Swift’s silence on politics throughout the 2016 election.
“Paper Rings” (Lover)
“Paper Rings” is another Lover track with mixed reactions. Some adore the song as a fun and silly jingle about marriage, while others aren’t a fan of its child-like tune. For me, the song falls in the former category and harkens back to Swift’s blissful teenage music.
“Haunted” (Speak Now)
Released on Swift’s third album, Speak Now, “Haunted” was one of the singer’s darkest tracks at the time. With a full orchestra behind her, the song details a haunting love that she can’t shake off.
“Illicit Affairs” (Folklore)
Despite its sweet tone, “Illicit Affairs” talks about an affair as Swift gives advice to someone about how they can keep their infidelity a secret: “What started in beautiful rooms / Ends with meetings in parking lots.”
“Invisible String” (Folklore)
Though Folklore can be seen as a breakup album, “Invisible String” is one of the sweet tracks from the LP about a relationship that was meant to be. “Isn’t it just so pretty to think / All along there was some Invisible string / Tying you to me?”
“Begin Again” (Red)
Red is often regarded as Swift’s breakup album. Most of the LP explores the toxicity of Swift’s relationship at the time, but “Begin Again,” which ends the album, offers hope. The song is about how meeting someone after a brutal breakup can lead you to believe in love again.
“Should’ve Said No” (Taylor Swift)
Swift’s first album was made up of wistful love songs, sad breakup songs and angsty songs about cheating or douchebags. “Should’ve Said No” falls in the last category. The track captures Swift’s reaction after she finds out that her boyfriend cheated on her with pure 16-year-old anger.
“You Belong With Me” (Fearless)
Like it or hate it, “You Belong With Me” is an integral part of Taylor Swift’s history. The song is what won her her 2009 MTV Video Music Award, which started her feud with Kanye West. Along with that, the song is fun, young and a catchy high school tune. Yes, it doesn’t hold up that well, given that it pits two women against each other for a man, but there’s no doubt that it’s a blast to sing along to.
“I Almost Do” (Red)
One of Swift’s pure country songs on Red, “I Almost Do” tells the story of Swift wanting to reach out to an ex she misses but refraining herself.
“Red” was an amalgamation of Swift’s country roots and pop future. The song starts with twangy guitar strumming before unleashing a dub-step-like chorus.
“The Other Side of the Door” (Fearless)
“The Other Side of the Door,” off the deluxe edition of Fearless, has one of Swift’s most exhilarating bridges. The bridge starts with Swift listing all her complaints about a relationship in the heat of the fight before confessing she’s still in love.
The song starts with Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively’s baby daughter James saying “gorgeous,” and that should be reason enough for this to top a Taylor Swift songs list.
“King of My Heart” (Reputation)
Amid the darkness of Reputation, “King of My Heart” provided a lightness. The song was a simple tribute to Swift’s current boyfriend Joe Alwyn.
“Mirrorball” is one of those songs that, once you listen to it, you can immediately imagine it in a school dance scene in a coming-of-age ’80s movie. In the song, Swift sings about how she’ll do anything for the other person: “I’m a mirrorball / I can change everything about me to fit in.”
“The Last Great American Dynasty” (Folklore)
Swift is known for her storytelling, and “The Last Great American Dynasty” is no different. The song tells the story of Rebekah Harkness, a St. Louis heiress and divorcée who married William “Bill” Hale Harkness. The couple previously owned Swift’s Rhode Island mansion.
“Getaway Car” (Reputation)
“Getaway Car,” believed to be about Swift’s brief romance with Tom Hiddleston, tells the story of a fast and dangerous relationship that both partners knew wasn’t going anywhere.
There’s no argument. “Dress” is about sex. (Though there’s still a debate about who it’s about.) “Dress” is one of several tracks on Reputation, where Swift is unapologetic about the fact that she drinks and f—ks.
“Don’t Blame Me” (Reputation)
Reputation is often believed to be Swift’s most sonically different album, and “Don’t Blame Me” fits in that mold. The song has a gospel sound while still possessing that same dark energy that makes Reputation stand apart.
“London Boy” (Lover)
“London Boy” has had mixed reviews since Lover‘s release. Some consider it one of the worst tracks on the album, while others consider it a work of art. I’m part of the latter. The song is silly (it’s literally about Swift’s obsession with her British boyfriend and U.K. culture) without being annoying.
Of Swift’s Folklore songs, “Peace” has a bluesy vibe as it talks about an ended relationship that continues to haunt both parties: “Would it be enough if I could never give you peace?”
Written amid the coronavirus pandemic, “Epiphany” references the heartbreak of people who can’t say goodbye to their loved ones in person: “Someone’s daughter, someone’s mother Holds your hand through plastic now.” The song continues by looking for a glimmer of hope about the situation: “But you dream of some epiphany / Just one single glimpse of relief / To make some sense of what you’ve seen.
For the most part, 1989 was Swift’s first pop album, with most of her songs tailored toward radio play. “Clean” was by far the best ballad on the album. The song’s lyrics are just as thought-provoking as her previous albums.
For most fans, “Hoax” flew under radar. It’s the last song on “Folklore,” and it can seem redundant when compared to some of the other breakup tracks on the album. But rest assured, the song has some of the best lyrics of Swift’s career: “Don’t want no other shade of blue but you / No other sadness in the world would do.”
“Our Song” (Taylor Swift)
“Our Song” was a high point for country Taylor. The song, which is full-on twang and banjo, served as the last track of Swift’s album. Its last lyric—”play it again”—encouraged listeners to repeat the album.
“Seven” starts with one of Swift’s most haunting openings: “Please picture me in the trees / I hit my peak at seven / Feet in the swing over the creek I was too scared to jump in.” The song talks about a relationship where, though she can’t remember certain details such as the other person’s face, continues to affect her.
“Enchanted” (Speak Now)
As she explained on a live chat before the release of Speak Now, “Enchanted” was Swift’s first title idea for her third album. The name was changed after producers pointed out that the title and song were too similar to the fantasy theme on Fearless. Still, the track, which is about the first time Swift met Owl City’s Adam Young and how “enchanted” she was, is a banger. (Let’s just forget about Young’s response to it…)
“Sparks Fly” (Speak Now)
Long before it made it on Speak Now, Swift performed “Sparks Fly” at a small show. The audio for the song was recorded and uploaded on the internet. The track became an instant favorite among fans who asked Swift to release the studio version on an album. Years later, she did just that, and it became a single on Speak Now. As for the song itself, “Sparks Fly” (which some believe to be about a great night of sex) is definitely one of Swift’s more risqué tracks from her early years.
“The Moment I Knew” (Red)
“The Moment I Knew,” off the deluxe edition of Red, is one of Swift’s more emotional ballads to not make it on her main albums. The track, believed to be about Jake Gyllenhaal, tells the story of Swift’s 21st birthday and how she knew her relationship was over after her boyfriend didn’t attend it .
There’s not much to say about “Afterglow” other than that high note in the chorus, which is *chef’s kiss*.
“The Archer” (Lover)
When Swift announced “The Archer” as a Track 5, fans expected an emotional, candid ballad, and she didn’t disappoint. “The Archer,” believed to be about Joe Alwyn, explores Swift’s insecurity in a relationship given the negativity around her reputation.
“The Man” (Lover)
A standout from Lover, “The Man” tackles Swift’s experience with sexism and misogyny in the music industry with clever, tongue-in-cheek lyrics: “If I was a man / Then I’d be the man.” Swift also performed the song at the 2019 American Music Awards amid her drama with Scooter Braun and Scott Borshetta.
“My Tears Ricochet” (Folklore)
“My Tears Ricochet” is Swift’s track 5 from Folklore. The song is sad and longing, but given that Folklore is filled of track 5-level ballads, “My Tears Ricochet” has a lot of competition. Still, the track, which was the only one written solely by Swift on Folklore, is guaranteed to make you cry.
“Fearless,” a classic early Taylor Swift love song, captures the emotions of a perfect first date (the nerves, the infatuation, the dancing in a storm in my best dress) in the most specific detail.
“Delicate” was a sleeper hit in 2018, peaking at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song’s chorus is irresistible, and its music video (though embroiled in controversy) is memorable. The track also provided much-needed lightness to Reputation‘s dark and moody aura.
“Mine” (Speak Now)
The first track of Speak Now, “Mine” was a mature take on the love songs of Fearless. The song, which tells the story of a classic American relationship, is a fantasy laced with insecurity and memorable lyrics, such as: “You made a rebel of a careless man’s careful daughter.”
“Out of the Woods” (1989)
Though it didn’t chart as high as Swift’s other 1989 singles, “Out of the Woods,” which peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 at 18, is still an excellent track. The song, believed to be about Harry Styles, has a heart-racing melody that continues until its end.
“Dear John” (Speak Now)
Also considered one of Swift’s lyrically strongest songs, “Dear John,” believed to be about John Mayer (no surprises there), is painful and raw. The song’s bridge, where she tells Mayer that she’s “shining like fireworks over your sad, empty town,” is enough for it to make the top of anyone’s list.
“New Year’s Day” (Reputation)
Swift’s only ballad on Reputation, “New Year’s Day” was the perfect transition from Swift’s sixth to seventh album. The song served as a palette cleanser for Reputation‘s darkness and ushered in the lightness and love that epitomizes Lover. The track also describes the beginning of Swift’s relationship with Joe Alwyn and how the New Year served as a fresh start for her after her dramatic 2016.
“I Think He Knows (Lover)
“I Think He Knows” is another example of Swift’s modern take on a love song. Though just as blissful and charming as her old stuff, the track exudes a maturity and confidence that Swift’s early 2010s love songs don’t have. The chorus can also only be described as fun, and it’s not hard to imagine thousands of fans dancing along to it at Swift’s tour in 2020.
“All You Had to Do Was Stay” (1989)
“All You Had to Do Was Stay” wasn’t a single from 1989, but it could have been. The song is also an exclusive member of Swift’s Track 5 group. (The singer is known to release more emotional songs as her fifth track.) And while “All You Had to Do Was Stay” is more pop than Swift’s other Track 5s, the song doesn’t disappoint with its unescapable chorus and candid lyrics.
“Cardigan” was the first single from “Folklore,” and Swift filmed the music video for the song via social-distancing guidelines. (She revealed on her Instagram at the time that she did her own hair and makeup.) “Cardigan”—which fans believe is part of a love triangle between three people—is told from the perspective of someone who was cheated on. “Chase two girls, lose the one / When you are young, they assume you know nothing.”
“The 1” (Folklore)
Swift leads Folklore with “The 1,” a jazzy ballad where Swift looks back on what a relationship could’ve been. The song starts with how Swift has changed since the relationship before the chorus, where she questions, “We were something, don’t you think so?”
“Cold As You” (Taylor Swift)
“Cold As You” has been a favorite among Swifties since Swift’s first album, but it had a resurgence among new fans when Swift performed it live in 2013 on The Red Tour. Though released 13 years ago, the song contains some of Swift’s strongest lyrics. Ex: “You put up the walls and paint them all a shade of gray / And I stood there loving you, and wished them all away.”
“Cornelia Street” (Lover)
“Cornelia Street” is an example of how Swift can write a pop song without sacrificing the emotional lyrics she’s known for. The track, also believed to be about Joe Alwyn, captures the fear of losing a relationship and how Swift could never walk certain streets again without thinking of her ex.
There’s a reason “Lover” was nominated for Song of the Year at the 2020 Grammys. The track, which is arguably one of Swift’s first country songs in years, is a simple love song (in case it wasn’t made clear by the title.) Believed to be about Joe Alwyn, the song turns cute, specific moments from a relationship into vivd lyrics that paint a picture for the listener.
The last track on Lover, “Daylight” proves that Swift’s songwriting skills haven’t gone anywhere. The track is a love song, but not in the way that fans will recognize from Swift’s first two albums. There’s a maturity to the ballad. This isn’t just a crush: “I don’t wanna look at anything else now that I saw you / I don’t wanna think of anything else now that I thought of you.” The song was also considered as the title of her seventh album.
“Holy Ground” (Red)
“Holy Ground,” which is believed to be the last song that Swift wrote about Joe Jonas, describes the stage of a relationship that Swift hadn’t written about before. The song isn’t a love song or a breakup track. Instead, it captures the moment of when one finally moves from a relationship and finds peace.
“Love Story” (Fearless)
The first single off of Fearless, “Love Story” defined that era of Swift’s career. The song, which is by far one of Swift’s most well-known tracks, imagines a relationship where Swift is Juliet and her crush is Romeo. The track is a fantasy laced with a killer melody that makes it impossible not to sing along to.
“Last Kiss” (Speak Now)
“Last Kiss” is a classic Taylor Swift breakup song. The track (believed to be about Joe Jonas) tells the story of a relationship in excruciating detail, from the moment Swift’s ex met her father to the first time he told her he loved her, before breaking the listener’s heart with an emotional kicker: “Never thought we’d have a last kiss.”
There are many theories about “Betty.” Some believe it’s about Swift’s rumored romance with Karlie Kloss. Others believe it’s a made-up story using the names of Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds’ three children: Inez, James and Betty. Whatever the story is, “Betty” is a perfect example of Swift’s storytelling. The song is told from the perspective of James, a man who screwed up in his relationship with Betty and wants her back. The track is one of the more upbeat songs from Folklore, but it still packs a punch in terms of emotional lyrics. The song is also one of the rare occasions where Swift says “fuck.”
“State of Grace” (Red)
“State of Grace,” which is the first song on Red, is different than any song Swift has released. The song isn’t quite pop, nor is it country. It’s a different sound that served as the best transition for Swift’s career at the time as she shifted from lyric-forward country ballads to radio-friendly ear worms.
Of the duets on Swift’s albums, “Exile” is by far the best. The song, which features Bon Iver, is a conversation between two people who have both hurt each other in a relationship. The track starts with a slow, deep piano followed by Bon Iver’s low voice that haunts the rest of the song.
“Style” was another pop-perfection song from that should have become Swift’s fourth no. 1 on 1989. The song, believed to be about Harry Styles (kind of self-explanatory), had the right ingredients for a killer pop song. After listening to the track, there’s no way one could read the words “long hair / slick back / white T-shirt” without the song’s chorus blasting in their head.
Forever & Always (Fearless)
“Forever & Always” is one of Swift’s few tracks to take on two lives. The song was first released as an angsty, pop-rock track on 2008’s Fearless before Swift rereleased it as a piano ballad on the album’s deluxe version a year later. Both versions are worth a listen, but there’s something about the piano that better captures the song’s pain and confusion. It’s also one of the few tracks that Swift has confirmed its subject. (She told Ellen DeGeneres in 2008 that it was the last song written for Fearless after Joe Jonas broke up with her via a 27-second phone call.)
“Tim McGraw” (Taylor Swift)
Released on June 19, 2006, “Tim McGraw” was Swift’s very first single. The track defined Swift’s early career, from its country-twang chords to its longing lyrics about a relationship that ended too soon. The song, which is about an older boyfriend who moves away to college, still holds up today, as evidenced by Maggie Rogers’ modern cover of the track 13 years after its release.
Folklore was Swift’s tour-de-force of songwriting, and August, in my opinion, is the best track. Part of the “Cardigan”-“August”-“Betty” love triangle, “August” is told from the perspective of Inez, a woman comes between the relationship of Betty and James, according to fan theories. From the light guitar to Swift’s airy voice, the song is wistful and summery packed with heartbreaking lyrics about a relationship that never was.
“Blank Space” (1989)
Many Swifties separate Swift’s career into two eras: country Taylor and pop Taylor, and “Blank Space” is by far the high point of pop Taylor. The second single off 1989, the song was a tongue-in-cheek method for Swift to make fun of herself and the way media viewed her as this boy-crazy, man-hungry carnivore. The music video, where Swift becomes the caricature of a crazy ex-girlfriend (mascara tears, attempted murder, etc.), is also an all-time fave.
“Cruel Summer” (Lover)
From the moment Swift released lover in August 2019, “Cruel Summer” became an instant favorite among fans. Co-written by St. Vincent and Jack Antonoff, the song is the definition of a banger. Believed to be about Swift’s current boyfriend Joe Alwyn and how she met him during one of the cruelest summers of her life (cc: the aforementioned Kim Kardashian/Kanye West drama), the song’s chorus is enough to earn it a spot in anyone’s top 10.
“All Too Well” (Red)
While there’s no best Taylor Swift song, you’d be hard-pressed to find a Swiftie who doesn’t feel some sort of way about “All Too Well.” (It’s the track that turned my boyfriend from casual listener to a hardcore Taylor Swift fan.) The last song Swift wrote with her old-school collaborator Liz Rose, “All Too Well” harkens back to the heartbreaking lyrics of Swift’s teen years with a mature twist. The song, which is believed to be about Jake Gyllenhaal because of that scarf lyric, tells the story of a how a once-beautiful relationship became ugly. The bridge! The scream-singing! The dancing with the refrigerator light on! “All Too Well” is by far Swift’s lyrically strongest song, and anyone who has a chance to hear it live should consider themselves #blessed.
Our mission at STYLECASTER is to bring style to the people, and we only feature products we think you’ll love as much as we do. Please note that if you purchase something by clicking on a link within this story, we may receive a small commission of the sale and the retailer may receive certain auditable data for accounting purposes.