A few months ago Taylor Swift did something totally un-Swiftian, and surprise released her latest record ‘Folklore’. The indie-inspired album, which featured collaborations with Bon Iver and The National‘s Aaron Dessner, was remarkable and unexpected, and another example of the bold moves Swift has navigated throughout her career.
From the country of her early albums to the glittering synth-pop of ‘1989’ and experimental sounds of ‘Reputation’, this is an artist who’s constantly reinvented her sound. Yet at the core of it one thing remains: Swift’s sheer songwriting talent. It’s worth remembering that Taylor is the person who wrote ‘Love Story’ in 20minutes on her bedroom floor when she was only a teenager.
Now, almost a decade-and-a-half into her career, we look back on Swift’s glittering discography and rank every single one of her songs. That’s right: all 161 of ’em.
A few caveats to begin with – no officially unreleased songs have been included, nor songs that are “featuring Taylor Swift”. Anything written under a pseudonym has also been forgone (so her credit as Nils Sjöberg ‘This Is What You Came For’ isn’t given a look in). We have, however, included officially released cover songs – so that includes all of the Swifty renditions on the ‘Speak Now World Tour Live’ record and her bevvy of Christmas covers.
Additional words: El Hunt, Nick Reilly
161‘Christmases When You Were Mine’ (2007)
There’ve been a handful of Swift-does-Christmas moments over the years. Some are truly lovely – but this original tune from 2007 EP ‘The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection’ is not one of them.
A syrupy song about Swift fancying a celebrity, the puppy love of ‘Superstar’ is innocuous but bland.
159‘You Are in Love’ (2014)
A sweet bonus track from ‘1989’, it’s inoffensive but you can see why it was only bunged on the end of the deluxe edition of the album.
158‘White Christmas’ (2007)
This festive cover is absolutely fine – nothing more, nothing less.
157‘Silent Night’ (2007)
A cover of the classic Christmas carol, Swift well and truly puts her stamp on Franz Xaver Gruber’s song. Growing to a melodramatic finale, it’s an overblown rendition.
156‘Beautiful Ghosts’ (2019)
Written by Swift and musical theatre composer Andrew Lloyd Webber for last year’s film adaptation of Cats, this is a bit slushy. But, no, we wouldn’t say it’s a CAT-astrophe.
155‘Christmas Must Be Something More’ (2007)
Another festive tune: this time Swift questions the commercial nature of Christmas over rootin’ tootin’ country instrumentals, concluding that December 25th is actually about “the birthday boy who saved our lives”. Happy birthday JC!
An acoustic cover from Swift’s ‘iTunes Live from SoHo’ EP. It’s nice, but little more to it.
153‘American Girl’ (2009)
A cover of the Tom Petty classic, you can’t deny it’s a beast of a song. But this slowed down rendition saps some of the energy out of it.
152‘Last Christmas’ (2007)
There’s plenty of Christmas joy in this cover, but it doesn’t have a patch on the Wham! classic.
151‘King of My Heart’ (2017)
This electro-pop moment has a sweet sentiment: that the extravagance of past relationships isn’t what Swift wants anymore, and now this new love interest could be The One (“Is this the end of all the endings? / My broken bones are mending”). But this soppiness is delivered over jittery instrumentation, which three years on already sounds dated.
150‘If This Was A Movie’ (2010)
A bonus track from ‘Speak Now’, ‘If This Was a Movie’ is frustratingly repetitive. With its droning guitar licks and dreary chorus, it stutters towards the finish line.
149‘Last Kiss’ (2010)
A plodding waltz from ‘Speak Now’. Fine, but by no means vintage Taylor.
148‘Santa Baby’ (2007)
A twee cover of the iconic Christmas song, it’s a sauceless version of the usually sultry festive bop.
147‘I Did Something Bad’ (2017)
A cavernous slab of EDM, this was basically Swift proving that she’s a good girl gone bad. The devilish lyrics are fun (“They say I did something bad / Then why’s it feel so good?”), the dubstep-laced hook of “Ra-di-di-di-di-di-di-di-di-di-da-da” less so.
146‘You’re Not Sorry’ (2008)
Imagine Swift doing Eurovision – this is what ‘You’re Not Sorry’ sounds like. Filled with melodramatic piano chords and overdone vocals, it’s a histrionic ballad that you can imagine accompanied with bombastic visuals and a ton of pyro.
145‘Girl At Home’ (2012)
The bubbling ‘Girl at Home’ fuses the driving country of ‘Red’ with bleeping 8-bit sounds, and is a sweet but bland tune.
144‘Come Back… Be Here’ (2012)
A weepy ballad where Swift reminisces over a lost love, this is uneventful – but fair play to Swift for managing to get “nonchalant” into a pop song.
143‘I Want You Back’ (2011)
A cover of The Jackson 5 taken from the from live album ‘Speak Now World Tour – Live’, this 90-second cover is short, sweet and absolutely fine.
142‘The Way I Loved You’ (2008)
A bit of a head-banging country moment, ‘The Way I Love You’ lacks the radio-ready hooks and megawatt moments of Swift’s other tunes.
141‘So It Goes…’ (2017)
An ethereal synth-pop moment laced with EDM and trap, this ‘Reputation’ cut is sleepy filler.
140‘Sweet Escape’ (2011)
This Gwen Stefani cover is deliciously entertaining, with Swift spitting out the tongue-twister pre-chorus of “Cause I’ve been acting like sour milk that fell on the floor / It’s your fault you didn’t shut the refrigerator” and almost nailing it. Taken from the Target DVD version of ‘Speak Now World Tour – Live’, is an intriguing rendition.
139‘This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things’ (2017)
This song was written as a response to the media after they criticised her decision to throw big parties for her pals and get them up on stage during the tour for ‘1989’ – things she considered “nice things”; a powerful sentiment, but an acquired taste.
Sounding like it should be accompanying a wild fantasy movie, with over-the-top strings and belted vocals, ‘Haunted’ feels like the younger sibling to Swift’s fairy-tale epics such as ‘Love Story’. They’re fine, but lack the nuance that some of her enchanting, happy ending filled romances boast.
137‘Long Live’ (2010)
A fairly pedestrian song from ‘Speak Now’, ‘Long Live’ is a fairly generic slice.
With its muted acoustic instrumentals and mawkish lyrics, ‘Speak Now’ is sickly sweet.
135‘Breathe’ feat. Colbie Caillat (2008)
A sleepy, acoustic number that sees Swift teaming up with American singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat, it’s a largely forgettable tune taken from ‘Fearless’.
134‘Drops of Jupiter’ (2011)
Another cover from the ‘Speak Now’ live album, this rendition of Train’s 2001 hit ‘Drops of Jupiter’ is a stripped-back version of the bombastic pop rock song.
133‘…Ready for It?’ (2017)
This slab of industrial pop opens Swift’s ‘Reputation’. With its dubstep wubs, EDM beats and trappy instrumentals, this messy number feels like a tug of war between this collection of different genres.
Earth, Wind & Fire, but make it Swifty! Recorded for the Spotify Singles series, this stripped back cover is lovely. Plus it features a typically Swiftian Easter egg, where she changes the opening line of “Do you remember the 21st night of September?” to the 28th night, a cute tribute to her anniversary with boyfriend Joe Alwyn.
131‘This Love’ (2014)
A weepy moment from ‘1989’, ‘This Love’ feels remarkably maudlin when nestled in-between the bevvy of synth-pop bops that Swift’s fifth album holds.
130‘A Place In This World’ (2006)
Written when she was just 13 years old, ‘A Place In This World’, it feels like a glimpse into a Swift’s secret diary. Opening with the wonderfully teenage: “I don’t know what I want, so don’t ask me”, it’s the musical equivalent of telling your mum that she just doesn’t understand you!
If you were ever imagining what Taylor Swift covering McFly would sound like – this could be it. The cheesy ‘Speak Now’ bonus track is filled with adolescent lyrics (“I watch superman fly away / Come back, I’ll be with you someday”), and is topped off with a pop-punk tinged chorus.
128‘I Heart?’ (2008)
Taken from Swift’s second EP ‘Beautiful Eyes’ – one that was exclusively released in Walmart in the US – this is a lovely country bop.
127‘A Perfectly Good Heart’ (2006)
An absolutely fine slice of country-pop from TayTay’s first album. On ‘A Perfectly Good Heart’ Swift depicts her very first experience of heartbreak. It’s one of her earliest breakup ballads, but quasi-emotive couplets like “It’s not unbroken anymore / How do I get it back the way it was before?” fail to pack the emotional punch some of Swift’s later tunes do.
This cover of rock band Luna Halo’s ‘Untouchable’ is sweet, but largely unexciting.
125‘Jump Then Fall’ (2008)
A bonus track taken from the platinum edition of ‘Fearless’. Swift herself has described the song as “really bouncy and happy and lovey”. It’s an accurate description, as the bouncing banjo-led number is sickly sweet, but lacks much depth.
124‘Sad Beautiful Tragic’ (2012)
A weeper taken from ‘Red’, this gloomy tune sees Swift reflect on a relationship that was a “sad, beautiful, tragic love affair”.
123‘Bette Davis Eyes’ (2011)
A song popularised by Californian singer-songwriter Kim Carnes in 1981, Taylor’s live cover of ‘Bette Davis Eyes’ is nice but innocuous.
A uninspired cover of American alt-rockers Better Than Ezra’s ‘Breathless’, Swift performed the tune for Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief in 2010 (with her version later appearing on live album ‘Hope for Haiti Now’).
121‘Look What You Made Me Do’ (2017)
It’s only TayTay sampling Right Said Fred’s ‘I’m Too Sexy’! The bolshy ‘Reputation’ lead single saw Swift giving a massive middle-finger up to the haters, and accompanied her comeback after a year-long hiatus. It impact was huge at the time, but in the meantime ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ feels like a bit of a mis-step.
It appeared on the soundtrack for ‘Hannah Montana: The Movie’, and critics said it was the best song in the film. Bad luck, Miley.
119‘Eyes Open’ (2012)
From the soundtrack to The Hunger Games, ‘Eyes Open’ sees Swift go stadium rock. Too bad hair-whipping number’s repetitive chorus begins to grate.
A cover of Nashville-based singer-songwriter David Mead’s ‘Nashville’, this cover (taken from the Target exclusive version ‘Speak Now World Tour – Live’; yes, we’re really into the deep-cuts here) is pretty impassioned .
On this lacklustre cut from Swift’s eponymous debut album ‘Invisible’, she laments feeling invisible to the boy she fancies. It’s a bleak sentiment, and the emotive instrumentals in ‘Invisible’ mimic this.
The least memorable moment from the fantastic ‘Folklore’, this slow, waltzing tune is inoffensive, but lacks excitement.
115‘London Boy’ (2019)
The lyrics to this ‘Lover’ cut are wild. On ‘London Boy’ Swift proudly asserts her love for the nation’s capital, listing her fave places (including Brixton, Shoreditch, Highgate and for some God-forsaken reason “walking Camden Market in the afternoon”). With a bizarre spoken word intro from James Corden and Idris Elba, it’s cringe and weirdly entertaining in equal measures.
It’s Swift does EDM, and it’s total chaos (albeit with a chorus that’ll be frustratingly caught in your head for weeks on end).
113‘Tied Together with a Smile’ (2006)
A bonus track from the debut album, ‘Tied Together With a Smile’ was written the day Swift found out one of her best mates was bulimic. An early indicator of Swift’s impressive turn of phrase (“And you’re tied together with a smile / But you’re coming undone”), it’s a lovely country moment.
112‘Beautiful Eyes’ (2008)
The title track from Swift’s EP of the same name, ‘Beautiful Eyes’ is an underrated stomper from TayTay’s extended discography.
111‘This Is Me Trying’ (2020)
A slow-burner from ‘Folklore’, this soft ballad sees Swift grapple with accepting blame for a crumbling relationship.
110‘My Tears Ricochet’ (2020)
This Jack Antonoff produced tune from ‘Folklore’ is about an “embittered tormentor showing up at the funeral of his fallen object of obsession.” Although fairly unremarkable, it does include the brilliantly Swiftian put-down: “And if I’m dead to you, why are you at the wake?” Ooft.
109‘Me!’ feat. Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco (2019)
A saccharine collaboration with Panic! at the Disco’s Brendon Urie, this semi-irritating (and unbearably catchy) tune is an absolutely fine single from Miss Swift. Although it gained several places in our ranking after Swift removed the “Spelling is fun!” lyric.
108‘Come In With the Rain’ (2008)
‘Come In With The Rain’ sees Taylor showing off the country-pop that defined her early years. It’s a nostalgic snapshot at Taylor’s life before world domination became the main priority. NR
107‘Cold As You’ (2006)
As Shakespeare once wrote in ‘Sonnet 18’ – “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” If it’s Tay Tay you’re asking, then absolutely not. Instead, this break-up ballad compares thee to a grey, dreary and completely sodden wash-out of a day. EH
106‘Never Grow Up’ (2010)
Taken from ‘Speak Now’, this ballad moment peers out into a dimly lit crowd, and sees Swift dealing out her best life advice for younger fans in particular. “I look out into a crowd every night and I see a lot of girls that are my age and going through exactly the same things as I’m going through,” she’s said. “Every once in a while I look down and I see a little girl who is seven or eight, and I wish I could tell her all of this. There she is becoming who she is going to be and forming her thoughts and dreams and opinions. I wrote this song for those little girls.” EH
105‘Bad Blood’ feat. Kendrick Lamar (2017)
This Kendrick Lamar-featuring cut would have been right at home on Taylor Swift’s villainous ‘Reputation’ – a record on which she embraced her false depictions in the media, and ran with them. Instead, though, it felt like an outlier on ‘1989’. Swift herself said that it’s a song about a friendship with a fellow pop star that turned sour: “She basically tried to sabotage an entire arena tour,” she told Rolling Stone. “She tried to hire a bunch of people out from under me.” EH
It’s a crying shame that the track fails to live up to its title. There’s little that live longs in the memory about this drum-driven number from ‘Lover’. NR
103‘The Other Side of the Door’ (2008)
A slightly slept-on fan favourite, ‘The Other Side of the Door’ features a deliciously dramatic guitar solo and even more melodrama. Like so: “I said, ‘leave’, but all I really want is you to stand outside my window throwing pebbles screaming ‘I’m in love with you’’. Exquisite. EH
102‘Soon You’ll Get Better’ feat. the Chicks (2019)
Featuring country music icons The Chicks, ‘Soon You’ll Get Better’ is one of Swift’s most personal songs; both of her parents have had cancer, and this year the singer confirmed that her mother Andrea has been diagnosed with a brain tumour. It’s a difficult listen precisely because it’s so incredibly honest. “I hate to make this all about me but who am I supposed to talk to?” she asks. “What am I supposed to do if there’s no you?” EH
101‘Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince’ (2019)
A slow burning, electro-pop moment that’s meant for soundtracking a moody walk to the shops in the rain.
One of Swift’s most affecting ballads, this song pieces together quotes from a blog by a mother named Maya Thompson, who wrote about her journey with four-year-old son Ronan, who died from a rare cancer called neuroblastoma in 2011. Swift credited his mum as a co-writer and donated all the proceeds to charity. EH
99‘Stay Beautiful’ (2006)
This twanging debut cut is dedicated to the high school crush that Swifty never worked up the courage to ask out; and by the time he moved away, it was too late. “After hearing my songs, a lot of people ask me, `How many boyfriends have you had?’” she said of the song. “And I always tell them that more of my songs come from observation than actual experience. In other words, you don’t have to date someone to write a song about them. This is a song I wrote about a guy I never dated!” EH
98‘Tell Me Why’ (2008)
Despite including the brilliantly searing take-down of “You could write a book on how to ruin someone’s perfect day” this up-tempo bop is errs on the side of humdrum.
97‘The Outside’ (2006)
One of the first songs Swift ever wrote, ‘The Outside’ speaks to the feeling of being a misfit growing up: “So how can I ever try to be better?” she asks, “Nobody ever lets me in”. EH
96‘Getaway Car’ (2017)
This banger from ‘Reputation’ references novelist Charles Dickens, epic war film The Great Escape, a runaway Bonnie and Clyde and even various meta details from Swift’s own romantic life. EH
In her candid 2020 documentary Miss Americana, Taylor Swift speaks about the struggle of your every move being followed by an audience and remarks that many women, particularly in pop, are “discarded in an elephant graveyard by the time they’re 35.” Broadly, this is what ‘Mirrorball’ seems to be about; balancing her skill for performing with the huge pressure of constant reinvention. “All I do is try, try, try I’m still on that trapeze,” she says, “I’m still trying everything, to keep you looking at me””. EH
Delivered as an official anthem for the 2008 US Olympic Team, here’s a track that sees Swift exploring the idea of overcoming adversity on the road to success. It’s easy to be cynical about it all, but it gave Swift her first US top 10, so maybe that message got through after all. NR
Sometimes the best revenge is to take the moral high ground. And performing at the MTV VMAs – where Kanye West infamously snatched the mic from Taylor Swift mid-acceptance speech – Swift appeared to get hers by playing ‘Innocent’. “You’re 32 and still growing up now,” she sings. Guess how old West was when he declared “I’mma let you finish, but…” Yep. EH
92‘Begin Again’ (2012)
Marking one of ‘Red’’s more pointed returns to her country roots, ‘Begin Again is, according to Swift, “about when you’ve gotten through a really bad relationship and you finally dust yourself off and go on that first date after a horrible breakup, and the vulnerability that goes along with all that”. EH
91‘I Know Places’ (2014)
Ahead of making ‘1989’ Swift long harboured ambitions of working with Ryan Tedder – most recognisable as the lead vocalist of One Republic and record producer for everyone from Adele to Lady Gaga. And their eventual collaboration came about on ‘I Know Places’ – a song that explores falling in love amid high pressure fame, and finding places to outrun the cameras. EH
90‘The Lucky One’ (2012)
Speculation orbits around ‘The Lucky One’ – which dissects the more taxing sides of fame that people don’t speak about. “Now it’s big black cars, and Riviera views, and your lover in the foyer doesn’t even know you,” Swift sings, “and your secrets end up splashed on the news front page”. Fans reckon it’s about everyone from Joni Mitchell and Shania Twain to Kim Wilde. Possibly, it could also be a reflection of Swift’s future fears. EH
89‘You Need to Calm Down’ (2019)
Delivering an effective riposte to endless streams of internet trolls can often prove to be the toughest of tasks. It’s testament to Swift then, that she managed to deliver a swift fuck you, all packaged up in the shape of a bonafide banger. Bow down. NR
88‘How You Get the Girl’ (2014)
The 10th track from ‘1989’ is like the less sabotage-hungry answer to Robyn’s ‘Call Your Girlfriend’ – here, Taylor’s full with useful tips for winning an ex back after an unwise dumping. She’s even got a script ready. “And then you say: “I want you for worse or for better, I would wait forever and ever,” she sings, “broke your heart / I’ll put it back together.” EH
87‘New Year’s Day’ (2017)
The groggy clear up that takes place after a raucous New Year’s house party has never sounded so idyllic – despite the fact their entire floor is splattered with glitter and stale old beer spilling out of half-empty bottles, Swift’s just happy to have a worthy clean-up buddy. “I want your midnights,” she sings, “but I’ll be cleaning up bottles with you on New Year’s Day” Sometimes those small, mundane moments are just as romantic. EH
By a mile the steamiest cut from ‘Reputation’, this slinking song details the pang of secret lust in breathy falsetto. “Carve your name into my bedpost, ‘cause I don’t want you like a best friend,” Swifty pleads. “Only bought this dress so you could take it off.” Get it, girl! EH
85‘Mary’s Song (Oh My My My)’ (2006)
This debut album cut is archetypal vintage Swift, drawing on the people around her for storytelling material. Twanging and country-pop, ‘Mary’s Song (Oh My My My)’ borrows Swift’s next door neighbour – and her long, rock-solid marriage – as a protagonist. “I’ll be 87, you’ll be 89,” she sings wistfully, “I’ll still look at you like the stars that shine in the sky.” EH
84‘Christmas Tree Farm’ (2019)
Sure, it’s cheesier than an explosion at the Kraft factory, but this track sees Taylor successfully using the festive season to look back on her own childhood (she grew up on a Christmas tree farm). Christmas is now Swiftmas. NR
83‘Everything Has Changed’ feat. Ed Sheeran (2012)
Warm, fuzzy, and firmly hanging onto its rose-tinted glasses, this collaboration from ‘Red’ has a cutesy video to match, featuring miniature child versions of the pop stars. EH
82‘Should’ve Said No’ (2006)
“It’s strange to think the songs we used to sing, the smiles, the flowers, everything is gone; yesterday I found out about you,” sings Swift in the opening lines of this debut album cut – which exposes a boyfriend for cheating, and proceeds to rip him apart atop country-rock guitars and a ripper of a string solo. EH
81‘The Last Time’ feat. Gary Lightbody (2012)
On this intensely catchy anthem from ‘Red’, Swift teams up with none other than gruff-vocaled Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol – lighters in the air, everyone. EH
This ‘Red’ cut sees Swift transporting back to the 1940s – inspired by a photo of two loved-up teenagers dancing together. The teenagers in the photograph were actually US senator Bobby Kennedy and his future wife Ethel, and ‘Starlight’ imagines their adventures early on. “I ended up meeting Ethel and going and playing it for her,” she wrote of the song, “and she just loved it,”. EH
79‘The Best Day’ (2009)
R’The Best Day’ is one of Swift’s earliest odes to her mother Andrea. Recalling her happy childhood, it’s a sweet, if somewhat cloying look at the early years of the planet’s biggest pop star. NR
78‘I’m Only Me When I’m With You’ (2006)
Easily one of the more head-banging moments of Swift’s debut – with the hardest slapping violin solo of 2006 – ‘I’m Only Me When I’m with You’ is dedicated to the singer’s best mate Abigail Anderson, who also features in the video. EH
77‘It’s Nice to Have a Friend’ (2019
A minimal intermingling of steel drums and choral backing vocals, ‘It’s Nice to Have a Friend’ arrives near the end of Swift’s ‘Lover’ – and also features some snow-tinted nostalgia, and slightly rogue but highly enjoyable brass solo. EH
76‘The Moment I Knew’ (2012)
Nine years ago, Taylor Swift had a right stinker of a 21st birthday – her ex boyfriend never showed, and left her sobbing beneath the Christmas lights (her birthday is on the 13th December). Still, at least it inspired this deluxe edition ‘Red’ song. EH
75‘Paper Rings’ (2019)
This fidgety cut from ‘Lover’ is Swifty’s big jitterbug moment – singing about her current boyfriend Joe Alwyn, she declares that she’s willing to chuck aside all her magpie tendencies just to be with him. “I like shiny things, but I’d marry you with paper rings,” she sings. Loved up – and thrifty! EH
74‘Only The Young’ (2020)
‘Only The Young’ saw Taylor truly nailing her political colours to the mast for the first time. Tackling gun violence and providing a message of hope for the next generation, Taylor emerged as the activist we all need right now. NR
One of the quieter moments from ‘Red’, ‘Treacherous’ eventually grows to a subtle roar, and details a pairing that’s gradually unravelling like a ball of twine. “All we are is skin and bone, trained to get along / Forever going with the flow,” she sings, “but you’re friction”. EH
72‘Better Than Revenge’ (201)
Across Taylor Swift’s entire back catalogue, ‘Better than Revenge’ is perhaps best suited to soundtracking an angsty high school drama; think along the lines of 10 Things I Hate About You. It has its fair share of cutting one-liners, too. Case in point: “no amount of vintage dresses gives you dignity”. Burn. EH
71‘I Wish You Would’ (2014)
Co-written with frequent collaborator Jack Antonoff, ‘I Wish You Would’ started with a guitar line Antonoff sent to Swift during her Red tour – and it eventually evolved into this slightly Haim-ish pop juggernaut. Lyrically, it tells the story of a heartbroken protagonist who watches her window in the middle of the night and notices that headlights keep flickering past at the same time. “It’s two AM, here we are,” she sings for the big reveal, “I see your face, hear my voice in the dark.” EH
70‘Stay Stay Stay’ (2012)
If there’s anyone who specialises in nailing the many sides of romance, it’s Tay Tay – case in point, ‘Stay Stay Stay’. The song’s placed immediately after the defiant break-up anthem ‘We Are Never Getting Back Together’ on ‘Red’ – and in many ways, it’s that song’s foil. Atop chronically catchy ukulele, she details a more generous kind of love that’s still worth fighting for. EH
69‘Sweeter Than Fiction’ (2013)
Taken from the soundtrack for the movie One Chance, this John Hughes-channelling tune is a new-wave belter that forecast the shimmering synth-pop of Swift’s fifth album ‘1989’.
68‘False God’ (2019)
A sultry, R&B ballad filled with religious imagery and trap beats, ‘False God’ finds Swift all grown up.
67‘Don’t Blame Me’ (2017)
This thundering, foot-stomping, fist-pumping moment from ‘Reputation’ will make you want to set fire to your ex’s car (in the best possible way).
This Jack Antonoff co-write from ‘Folklore’ is a melancholic dream-pop ballad. Part of a trio of songs that Swift has dubbed the Teenage Love Triangle, ‘August’ is the tune that comes from the point of view of the other woman, telling the story of forbidden love.
65‘The Lakes’ (2020)
The ethereal ‘Folklore’ bonus track sees TayTay channel the Lake Poets in a romantic number about love, resilience and the Lake District.
The lovely final song on ‘Lover’ is wistful number about healing, hope and healthy new relationships.
63‘Welcome to New York’ (2014)
The opening track on ‘1989’, ‘Welcome to New York’ ushers you into the sleek synth-pop world of Swift’s fifth album. With its bouncing bassline and hand-clapped beats, it’s a bombastic tribute to the Big Apple.
62‘I Forgot That You Existed’ (2019)
There comes a moment while growing up when you just stop caring about what everybody else thinks of you. The fizzing opening track on ‘Lover’ celebrates this, with TayTay rejoicing in the peace and quiet brought on by not giving a shit about the haters.
61‘Hey Stephen’ (2008)
‘Hey Stephen’ is the stuff of gooey rom-coms. “‘Cause I can’t help it if you look like an angel,” Swift sings over warm instrumentation, “can’t help it if I wanna kiss you in the rain”. It’s wonderfully schmaltzy stuff, and comes with a chorus you’ll sing full belt after a Tinder-date-gone-right – just don’t let the date hear you.
60‘I Almost Do’ (2012)
‘I Almost Do’, Swift’s explained, is “about the conflict that you feel when you want to take someone back, and you want to give it another try, but you know you can’t”. Exploring the internal battle between moving forward and looking back, the poignant ballad fuses country-pop with soft-rock, and the result is a brutally honest and quietly powerful song.
59‘I Think He Knows’ (2019)
This sharp-edged, upbeat moment from ‘Lover’ would have stood up well as a single – charting those early will-they-won’t-they moments complete with suggestive sighs. EH
58‘Mad Woman’ (2020)
This ‘Folklore’ track skewers the sexist trope of angry women being branded hysterical. “Every time you call me crazy, I get more crazy,” she claps back, rising to the challenge, “what about that?” EH
Like much of ‘Folklore’, the sparse ‘Peace’ ponders how much life has changed, and celebrates a partnership strong enough to withstand the soaring highs and painful lows alike. EH
56‘Picture to Burn’ (2006)
Peak debut album angst, ‘Picture to Burn’ is jam-packed with sizzlingly mean one liners. Case in point: “I hate that stupid old pickup truck you never let me drive / You’re a redneck heartbreak who’s really bad at lying”. EH
Taylor Swift wrote the title track for her second album while touring her self-titled debut – whisked away from everyday life, the song muses on the perfect rainy first date. “I wanna ask you to dance right there, in the middle of the parking lot,” she says. EH
Chiming and reflective, this string-adorned ‘Folklore’ track sees Swift hark back to childhood: “please picture me in the trees,” goes the opening line, throwing back to the Pennsylvanian Christmas tree farm where she grew up. It’s a snapshot of being young and carefree while real life gradually creeps into the picture – the song appears to be addressed to a friend who had a difficult upbringing. EH
53‘Call It What You Want’ (2017)
As far as years go, Taylor Swift’s 2016 was relatively tumultuous, featuring the whole ‘Famous’ lyrics debacle feud with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian and two very public break-ups. ‘Call It What You Want’ appears to address the singer weathering that particular series of storms, and finding quiet contentment with partner Joe Alwyn. “Call it what you want,” sings a smitten Swifty: she doesn’t care what people think any more. EH
52‘Death By A Thousand Cuts’ (2019)
Apparently inspired by the 2019 film Someone Great (which in part took influence from Swift’s ‘1989’ closer ‘Clean’) this upbeat track from ‘Lover’ seems to get inside the head of the film’s music journalist protagonist right before she flees heartbreak to another city. “I ask the traffic lights if it’ll be alright,” Swift sings, “they say, “I don’t know”. EH
51‘Dear John’ (2010)
Is ‘Dear John’ about Taylor Swift’s short-lived relationship with the musician John Mayer? Well – John Mayer certainly thinks so: he told Rolling Stone he was “humiliated” by the song, and added that “it was a really lousy thing for her to do.” Tay Tay remained tight-lipped “How presumptuous!” she told New York Daily News. EH
50‘End Game’ feat. Ed Sheeran and Future (2017)
Taylor’s own homage to the R&B-laced slow jam, ‘End Game’ is less spiky than the rest of ‘Reputation’ – instead Swift muses on wanting her relationship to last forever, while Ed Sheeran and Future chip in with punny takes on reputations that precede them. EH
49‘White Horse’ (2008)
The dual-Grammy winning ‘White Horse’ is wonderfully understated moment. Filled with romantic, fairy-tale imagery, it’s run through a realist filter that makes it like the older, more sceptical sister to ‘Love Story’. It’s one of the best Swift heart-break ballads.
The warm, unpretentious ‘Epiphany’ is an exquisite ‘Folklore’ song. Filled with powerful instrumentals that could have fallen off the latest Bon Iver record and Aaron Dessner’s glittering production, it sees Swift go full-on indie.
47‘The Archer’ (2019)
The minimalist The Archer is a meditative moment from ‘Lover’. Filled with ambient synths and soft instrumentals, as Swift discloses her own insecurities in a remarkably vulnerable way.
46‘Holy Ground’ (2012)
This galloping soft-rock moment celebrates whirlwind romances, and comes with a chorus perfect for shouting along to on road trips.
45‘I Don’t Wanna Live Forever’ with Zayn Malik (2017)
Look, it might have come from the soundtrack to the Fifty Shades of Grey sequel; but that doesn’t mean that Taylor’s collab with ex-1D member Zayn isn’t a bit of a banger. All sensual electro-pop and breathless vocals, this sultry number deserved better than the film it was soundtracking.
This swaying folk-rock tune tells the tale of a cheating boyfriend trying to apologise for his indiscretions is a highlight of ‘Folklore’. With its woozy harmonica riffs and chiming vocals, it’s a beaut.
43‘All You Had to Do Was Stay’ (2014)
A sweltering synth-pop banger that comes off like Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Emotion’ meets Lorde’s ‘Melodrama’.
‘Fifteen’ is one of Swift’s greatest ever songwriting moments. The cautionary tale of young love it as a country epic – complete with the utterly shattering line “Abigail gave everything she had to a boy / Who changed his mind and we both cried”.
41‘Back To December’ (2010)
‘Back To December’ is a musical apology, with Swift explaining that she decided to write it as “sometimes you learn a lesson too late and at that point you need to apologise because you were careless,”. With an accompanying orchestra and grandiose instrumentals, it’s unflinching and honest, with Swift taking responsibility and asking for forgiveness after a breakup.
40‘Cornelia Street’ (2019)
A highlight from ‘Lover’, ‘Cornelia Street’ is a dazzling tune that’s made even more powerful in this acoustic version performed in Paris last year.
39‘Safe & Sound’ (2012)
Before Swift took a trip to a metaphorical cabin in the woods for recent album ‘Folklore’, she dabbled in writing indie-folk tunes with ‘Safe & Sound’. Taken from the soundtrack to The Hunger Games, this pretty, stripped-back track is enthralling.
The hair-whipping, chorus-screaming title track of Swift’s fourth album is an adrenaline-charged ride.
‘Gorgeous’ is about having your head turned. It’s about seeing somebody who is so unbelievably hot that you develop a massive crush, existing partner be damned. It’s the perfect song to soundtrack a particularly juicy episode of Love Island and comes with a killer chorus to-boot.
36‘Today Was A Fairytale’ (2010)
Written for the soundtrack to 2010 film Valentine’s Day, this song was one of the only redeeming moments of the trite rom-com. A classically Swiftian country ballad stuffed full of romantic lyrics, it’s lovely.
35‘Forever & Always’ (2008)
On ‘Forever & Always’ Swift manages to evoke the crushing feeling of a crumbling relationship in under four minutes, but no couplet cuts as deep as the utterly millennial “And I stare at the phone, he still hasn’t called / And then you feel so low you can’t feel nothing at all”.
34‘The Story of Us’ (2010)
Swift was inspired to write ‘The Story of Us’ after running into an ex at an event and both of them trying to ignore the other. A break-neck tune, it’s a catchy nugget of country-pop.
33‘New Romantics’ (2014)
‘New Romantics’ was done dirty. The stomping synth-pop knockout was relegated to bonus track on ‘1989’, when it deserved pride of place. Hell, it should have even been a single! The sparkling success is pure euphoria.
32‘Dancing with Our Hands Tied’ (2017)
This electronic, beat-heavy song from ‘Reputation’ is basically as close as we’ve ever come to a Swiftie club remix.
31‘Invisible String’ (2020)
Filled with unusual turn of phrase (“Green was the colour of the grass / Where I used to read at Centennial Park“), ‘Invisible String’ is a sweet ode to Swift’s past relationships, and how they lead her to where she currently is.
30‘Illicit Affairs’ (2020)
Taken from Swift’s most recent record ‘Folklore’, ‘Illicit Affairs’ is a heart-wrenching story of complicated infidelity. Over scintillating stripped back production courtesy of Jack Antonoff, Swift manages to spin a whole tale of secret meetings, lies and clandestine romance, and the emotional impacts it can have.
29‘Tim McGraw’ (2006)
Swift’s debut single ‘Tim McGraw’ isn’t actually about country legend Tim McGraw, but instead about a boyfriend she had whilst at school who was a senior. In it, she warmly reminisces on their past relationship, with Swift knowing he was going to break up with her when he headed off to uni. It’s pretty emotionally astute stuff for the then-teenage songwriter.
The dual-Grammy winning celebration of self-empowerment sees Swift slamming bullies over joyous banjo strums, reminding them that: “Someday, I’ll be living in a big old city / And all you’re ever gonna be is mean”.
Before ’22’ nobody cared when you celebrated your 22nd birthday – but then along came this gargantuan cut of bubble-gum pop, and somehow Swift turned it into a milestone.
26‘Sparks Fly’ (2010)
Swift wrote ‘Sparks Fly’ when she was only 16 years old, when she performed at small bar shows back in the late noughties. A video of one of these SHOWS made it onto the internet and fans started to request she released it. This lead to her reworking it for her third album of the same name, with euphoric results.
25‘Wildest Dreams’ (2014)
Channelling her inner Lana Del Rey, this breathless ‘1989’ moment is a synth-pop beauty.
24‘Speak Now’ (2010
‘Speak Now’ features some of Swift’s most vibrant storytelling. With lyrics that detail a wedding, giving you the full picture of the snotty bride “dressed in a gown shaped like a pastry” and how the groom’s marrying the wrong girl, it’s a brilliantly intricate story.
23‘The Man’ (2019)
A searing take-down of sexist double standards wrapped up in a synth-pop bow, ‘The Man’ sees Swift getting seriously feminist.
22‘You Belong With Me’ (2008)
A country-pop thumper from Swift’s second album ‘Fearless’, Swift was inspired to write ‘You Belong With Me’ after hearing a friend arguing with his girlfriend on the phone. Rotten for him – but we got this catchy number out of it.
‘Enchanted’ is one of Taylor’s most underrated songs. A fairy-tale epic that acts as an elder sibling to ‘Love Story’, it captures the dizzy infatuation of a new romance, with huge swooning instrumentals and a heartfelt chorus.
20‘Exile’ feat. Bon Iver (2020)
2020’s been a strange year and brought with it a ton of surprises – one of these being Taylor Swift’s eighth album, and another that she managed to wrangle Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon for a guest appearance on the cinematic ‘Exile’. The gorgeous duet sees the two singers singing over each other, as the two portray ex-lovers seeing each other after a breakup. It’s an emotive cut, and one of Swift’s most impressive collaborations.
19‘Our Song’ (2006)
Taylor wrote ‘Our Song’ as she needed something to perform at her high school talent show. Built around a jangling banjo riff, with bouncing vocals which see Swift dissect how her and the lad she was dating didn’t have a song, it went down such a treat with her classmates that she stuck it on her debut album. With its enthralling lyrics, that paint a vivid picture of the young couple, it was an early indicator of Swift’s songwriting capabilities.
18‘Shake It Off’ (2014)
There’s no two ways about it: ‘Shake It Off’ is a stone-cold smash. It’s got bolshy brass, several hooks that are catchier than a rash and Tay Tay even does a rap. The uptempo tune ushered in Swift’s sixth album ‘1989’, paving the way for her new era of pop belters – but none of them slapped quite this hard.
17‘Teardrops On My Guitar’ (2007)
Swift’s breakthrough single, ‘Teardrops on My Guitar’ is pure country-crossover star. With its soft guitars, and Swift’s early earnestness, unrequited love has never sounded so good.
‘Clean’, the Imogen Heap co-written closer to ‘1989’, is an understated moment of clarity. It’s the feeling when you’ve started to move on with your life post-breakup and you realise you haven’t thought about your ex for several weeks, and when you do, you don’t want to key their car. With chiming soft-rock instrumentals, and gorgeous layered vocals, it’s an unfussy song that’s filled with Swift’s impressive turn of phrase, including the particularly devastating: “Ten months sober, I must admit/Just because you’re clean, don’t mean you don’t miss it”.
15‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’ (2012)
There’s a lot of reasons that Swift’s Billboard Hot 100 topping, Grammy-nominated ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’ is excellent. There are the snarky lyrics, the ear-worm guitar riff and the megalithic chorus. But perhaps the best moment in the entire song is the delicious spoken word interlude in the middle-eight, where Swift deadpans: “Ugh, so he calls me up and he’s like, “I still love you” / And I’m like… I mean, this is exhausting, you know?/ Like, we are never getting back together – like, ever.” Wickedly savage.
14‘I Knew You Were Trouble’ (2012)
Back in 2012 things were different. David Cameron was still Prime Minster; Corona was only a type of beer and Taylor Swift experimented with dubstep. ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’ was a bold step for Swift, marking a departure from her trademark country crossover songs, but somehow the genre-melding smasher just works. From the icy kiss-off lyrics that raise a middle finger to fuck-boys everywhere to the thumping dub bass, it’s Swift’s most brilliantly bombastic release.
13‘The 1’ (2020)
“I’m doing good, I’m on some new shit” Taylor begins on ‘The 1’. It’s a punchy way to begin a song, let alone ‘Folklore’. The new shit could be Swift accepting her past fights over her discography, or the indie-folk direction she took for her most recent album. But whatever “new shit” TayTay is on, if it means she makes songs as good as this, we back it.
The slow-dancing title track of Swift’s seventh album is a celebration of being smugly, head-over-heels in love. Ready-made for waltzing at a wedding, this enchanting, romantic tune is a sepia-tinged dream.
The lead single from ‘Speak Now’ is pure Swift. In under four minutes Swift manages to spin an expansive story of a girl who’s parents’ broken marriage caused her to put up walls and avoid putting themselves out there – who gradually falls in love and has to deal with the fear of something potentially going wrong. It’s a country-pop epic, with more of a narrative in each verse than an entire Nicholas Sparks novel.
This vocoded beauty was a highlight of ‘Reputation’. Whilst the bulk of Swift’s seventh album was bold and brash, ‘Delicate’ offered a gorgeous moment of vulnerability. From the exposed opening (“This ain’t for the best / My reputation’s never been worse, so /You must like me for me…”) to the lush instrumentals that mesh the woozy vocals with tropical twinkles and slinky house beats, ‘Delicate’ is dazzling.
This slice of ’80s pop from ‘1989’ embodies the change in Swift’s sound for her fifth album. Filled with chugging synths, strutting guitar licks and glittering production, it’s an effervescent, hook-laden nugget filled with sleek electronics that dissects an unhealthy on-again off-again relationship (that “never goes out of style”). It’s Swift at her best: clever lyrics? Check! Earworm melodies? Check! A chorus that you want to sing at the top of your lungs? You bet.
8‘State of Grace’ (2012)
Ever wondered what Swift singing a massive arena-rock song would sound like? Well, just listen to ‘State of Grace’ and you’ll find out. The huge, U2-flecked opener to ‘Red’ is filled with guitar reverb and vocals that are meant to be screamed back by a stadium full of fans.
7‘Out Of The Woods’ (2014)
With shimmering indie-tronica-laced production and its anthemic, exhilarating chorus, ‘Out of the Woods’ is another belter from ‘1989’. Written about a high-profile relationship that was cut short due to fear of the media’s reaction to it (Swift explained it “that song touches on a huge sense of anxiety that was, kind of, coursing through that particular relationship”), it’s a breathless, honest depiction of a lost relationship; and one of Swift’s greatest triumphs.
6‘Cruel Summer’ (2019)
‘Cruel Summer’ should have been a single. It could have been the lead single. We all know it’s true; yet it was cast aside for the likes of ‘Me!’ and ‘You Need to Calm Down’. A standout moment on Swift’s seventh album ‘Lover’, this synth-pop bop was co-written with indie legend St Vincent and Jack Antonoff.
It was written about “the feeling of a summer romance, and how often times a summer romance can be layered with all these feelings of pining away and sometimes even secrecy”. Swift recounts the feelings of anxiety and uncertainty that plague a new relationship; before revealing her feelings and finding them reciprocated: “And I scream, ‘For whatever it’s worth/I love you, ain’t that the worst thing you ever heard?’”
It’s the musical version of a perfect romantic comedy ending, complete with a chorus perfect for riding off into the sunset on a lawnmower a la Can’t Buy Me Love.
5‘Love Story’ (2008)
What would you do with a spare 20 minutes? Watch an episode of Friends? Aimlessly scroll through Instagram? Well, if you’re Taylor Swift, you can use that time to write ‘Love Story’. Her 2008 country-pop fairy-tale epic remains one of her biggest hits – climbing charts worldwide and receiving near-constant radio rotation. It’s still one of the biggest-selling songs ever. With its Shakespearean narrative (it sees Swift reinterpret Romeo and Juliet), and huge, megawatt chorus, ‘Love Story’ remains a classic from Swift’s bountiful back catalogue.
The lead single from Swift’s latest record is a swirling amalgam of glittering production, swooning strings with flickering piano, and lyrics that evoke the pain of young love. From the searing “When you are young, they assume you know nothing”, to the heart-wrenching “And when I felt like I was an old cardigan / Under someone’s bed / You put me on and said I was your favourite”, Swift conjures up a story of teenage love and betrayal, all anchored by the Aaron Dessner’s jittery production.
We’ve all felt like someone’s old cardigan at one point in our lives, and Swift stunningly manages to convey these complex mixed emotions – the hurt, jealousy and heartbreak – in a gorgeous folk-laced package.
3‘Blank Space’ (2014)
Swift’s got a lot of chart-smashing pop gems in her armoury, but ‘Blank Space’ is surely one of her crown jewels. This megawatt electro-pop tune sees her most cutting, satirising the media’s perception of her dating life and relationships. Knowingly spitting out wry couplets that hit back at the media’s portrayal of her reputation as a man-eater (“Got a long list of ex lovers / They’ll tell you I’m insane / But I’ve got a blank space, baby / And I’ll write your name”), it’s brilliantly wicked – and it absolutely slaps! A work of art.
2‘The Last Great American Dynasty’ (2020)
Swift’s latest album, ‘Folklore’, saw her write more regularly from the point of view of other people, telling their stories as opposed to her own. ‘The Last Great American Dynasty’ was an intriguing case of this – as Swift depicts the life of American artist and socialite Rebekah Harkness, who had previously owned Swift’s Rhode Island, dubbed ‘Holiday House’. Detailing how Harkness married into a wealthy family, was hated by the town and then blamed for the downfall of the Harkness family (including the death of her husband) , Swift pithily compares her scrutiny in the media to the criticism Harkness has experienced.
It’s an impressive song, managing to communicate a huge amount of Harkness’ life across in only a few minutes; and Swift does all of this and tops it off with a banging chorus.
1‘All Too Well’ (2012)
‘All Too Well’ is Swift’s magnum opus. Beginning life as a deep-cut on ‘Red’, it’s become a favourite of both critics and fans – and there’s good reason for it: it’s the perfect example of Swift’s song-writing skills. On it she movingly conveys the heartbreak of a painful break-up, spinning a tale of lost scarves and autumn days as she jumps between different points – both good and bad – in a relationship.
There’s a focus on small, painful details, which are offset by some of Swift’s best ever couplets: “And you call me up again just to break me like a promise / So casually cruel in the name of being honest” can’t be beaten, can it?. Swift takes you on the entire journey of a relationship, and its masterful – just as we’ve come to expect from her.