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All 206 of Taylor Swift’s Songs, Ranked

From teen country tracks to synth-pop anthems and rare covers, a comprehensive assessment of her one-of-a-kind songbook through the Folklore and Evermore era

Image of Taylor Swift

From teen country tracks to synth-pop anthems and rare covers, a comprehensive assessment of her one-of-a-kind songbook through the 'Folklore' and 'Evermore' era

Taylor Swift the celebrity is such a magnet for attention, she can distract from Taylor Swift the artist. But Swift was a songwriter before she was a star, and she’ll be a songwriter long after she graduates from that racket. It’s in her music where she’s made her mark on history — as a performer, record-crafter, guitar hero and all-around pop mastermind, with songs that can leave you breathless or with a nasty scar. She was soaring on the level of the all-time greats before she was old enough to rent a car, with the crafty guile of a Carole King and the reckless heart of a Paul Westerberg — and she hasn’t exactly slowed down since then.

So with all due respect to Taylor the myth, the icon, the red-carpet tabloid staple, let’s celebrate the real Taylor — the songwriter she was born to be. Let’s break it down: all 206 tunes, counted from the bottom to the top. The hits, the flops, the deep cuts, the covers, from her raw 2006 debut as a teen country ingenue right up to Folklore, Evermore, and her Taylor’s Version series.

Every fan would compile a different list — that’s the beauty of it. She’s got at least 5 or 6 dozen songs that seem to belong in her Top Ten. But they’re not ranked by popularity, sales or supposed celebrity quotient — just the level of Taylor genius on display, from the perspective of a fan who generally does not give a rat’s nads who the songs are “really” about. All that matters is whether they’re about you and me. (I guarantee you are a more fascinating human than the Twilight guy, though I’m probably not.)

Since Taylor loves nothing more than causing chaos in our lives, she’s re-recording her albums, including the outtakes she left in the vault before. So far, she’s up to Fearless and Red. For the Taylor’s Version remakes, both versions count as the same song. It’s a tribute to her fierce creative energy — in the past couple years she’s released an avalanche of new music, with more on the way. God help us all.

Sister Tay may be the last true rock star on the planet, making brilliant moves (or catastrophic gaffes, because that’s what rock stars do). These are the songs that sum up her wit, her empathy, her flair for emotional excess, her girls-to-the-front bravado, her urge to ransack every corner of pop history, her determination to turn any chorus into a ridiculous spectacle. So let’s step back from the image and pay homage to her one-of-a-kind songbook — because the weirdest and most fascinating thing about Taylor Swift will always be her music.

How to Watch Taylor Swift’s Acoustic ‘Folklore’ on Disney+

From Rolling Stone US

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“Mad Woman” (2020)

“They say ‘move on,’ but you know I won’t” — yes, we know. She’s always had a knack for songs about unrepentant old ladies, ever since her teens, and this “Mad Woman” could be Betty or Inez a few years down the line. But she could also be the heroine of “Dear John” or “15,” all grown up.Best line: “Women like hunting witches too / Doing your dirtiest work for you / It’s obvious that wanting me dead has really brought you two together.

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“London Boy” (2019)

Nice one, London! You have inspired a Taylor Travelogue even more over-the-top than “Welcome to New York,” with visits to Camden Market, SoHo, Highgate, and everyone’s favorite tourist destination, Hackney. As the English are so fond of saying, she over-eggs the pudding, and no wonder some skeptics got their knickers in a twist, but her Britpop tribute evokes the louche music-hall parodies of London bands from Madness to Blur. (She’s clearly been bumping Side One of Parklife.) The best part of this song is its wide-eyed enthusiasm, the least London of emotions. We need more of these, please — maybe she’ll do “Paris, Je T’Aime” or “Arigato Kyoto.”Best line: “Stick with me, I’m your queen / Like a Tennessee Stella McCartney on the Heath.

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“The Moment I Knew” (2012)

A somber piano ballad about getting stood up on your 21st birthday. This song got a major boost from the sequel “Happiness,” which Taylor happened to release exactly ten years after the party — just in time for her 31st birthday. But it stands out even more on Red (Taylor’s Version), as a companion piece to the expanded “All Too Well.” Has there ever been a more momentous birthday party in music history?Best line: “There in the bathroom/I try not to fall apart.”

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“Dorothea” (2020)

Could this be a hidden sequel to the Romantic poetry fetish of “The Lakes”? Dorothy was Wordsworth’s sister, muse and closest companion, just as Augusta was Lord Byron’s sister. “Dorothea” is the flip side to “’Tis the Damn Season,” sending a long-distance dedication to an old flame who moved on to a shinier life in Hollywood.Best line: “The stars in your eyes shined brighter in Tupelo.”

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“You Are in Love” (2014)

Another through-the-years romance, featuring a snowglobe. This 1989 outtake was underrated for years, until she cleverly interpolated it into the “Lover” video — where it all takes place inside the snowglobe.Best line: “For once you let go of your fears and your ghosts.”

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“Love Story” (2008)

Romeo meets Juliet: Proof that star-crossed teen romances never go out of style. But changing the plot of Romeo and Juliet so these two crazy kids end up together — now that’s some endearing Taylor hubris. She keeps going back to the well of Shakespearean tragedy, quoting Julius Caesar in the “Look What You Made Me Do” video. It’s never been clear what the line, “I was a scarlet letter,” is doing in this song, but now it’s a hint that Tay was just a few years away from going Full Hester Prynne in “New Romantics.”Best line: “Just say yes.”

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Beth Garrabrant*


“Exile,” With Bon Iver (2020)

Back when Taylor broke up with that hipster dude in 2012, the one into “some indie record that’s much cooler than mine,” he was probably listening to Bon Iver. (“Beth/Rest,” damn.) She and Justin Vernon blend their very different voices, for the story of a Romeo and Juliet who never learned how to read each other’s minds. At first it sounded like their vocals just don’t fit together — yet that’s what the song is about. It really soars in the final minutes, as the piano and strings build.Best line: “Like you’d get your knuckles bloody for me / Second, third, and hundredth chances / Balancing on breaking branches / Those eyes add insult to injury.”

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“Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince” (2019)

She wrote this Lana-esque tale as a political allegory — looking at the whole country as one big high school where the damsels are depressed, and the mean cheerleaders leer at bad, bad girls.Best line: “The whole school is rolling fake dice / You play stupid games, you win stupid prizes.”

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“I Know Places” (2014)

She goes all Kate Bush, pursued across the moors by the hounds of love. This 1989 deep cut is underrated, but count on “I Know Places” to loom large in her canon over the years.Best line: “My love, they are the hunters, we are the foxes.”

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“Hoax” (2020)

A desolate break-up lament, lifted by Aaron Dessner’s melancholy piano. Every Taylor album needs a tragic New York City romance, and “Hoax” revisits the holy ground where she’s loved and lost before — even on her least metropolitan album. “You know you won so what’s the point of keeping score?” is an apt question from such a compulsive emotional score-keeper.Best line: “Don’t want no other shade of blue but you.”

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“Picture to Burn” (2006)

The dawn of Petty AF Tay, as she serves her ex beatdown threats. Every boy who ever complained when Taylor wrote about him – this is where you officially got fair warning.Best line: “Watch me strike a match on all my wasted time.”

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“The Best Day” (2008)

Her tribute to Mama Swift. A weapons-grade tearjerker and not to be trifled with in a public place. NSFW, unless you are a professional crier.Best line: “You were on my side/Even when I was wrong.”

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“The Story of Us” (2010)

You could credit this song with single-handedly driving John Mayer out of the pop heartthrob business and into the Grateful Dead – which is just one of the things to love about it. Along with the Joey Ramone-style way she says, “Next chapter!”Best line: “See me nervously pulling at my clothes and trying to look busy.”

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“Invisible String” (2020)

“Cold was the steel of my axe to grind for the boys who broke my heart / Now I send their babies presents” — let the record show that Taylor dropped this line into the world two days after Joe Jonas became a dad. It’s official: she plans literally everything. “Invisible String” revisits some of the places she’s traveled, with a color and a memory for each one, over acoustic finger-picking.Best line: “Green was the color of the grass where I used to read at Centennial Park.”

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“How You Get the Girl” (2014)

A seminar on girl hearts and the wooing thereof, with Coach Taylor offering a pep talk to girl-curious boys everywhere. She busts out her trusty acoustic guitar, teardrop stains and all, just to turn it into a beatbox.Best line: “Stand there like a ghost shaking from the rain / She’ll open up the door and say ‘Are you insane?’”

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“Renegade,” With Big Red Machine (2021)

Good question, Taylor: “Is it insensitive for me to say, ‘Get your shit together so I can love you?’” She joins her kindred spirits Aaron Dessner and Justin Vernon in their band Big Red Machine, in this highlight from their album How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last? “Renegade” is a love story where she’s trying to brighten the world of somebody who’s in love with the darkness. It could be her answer song to the Eagles’ “Desperado,” except with a bit more in the human compassion department.Best line: “There was nowhere for me to stay/But I stayed anyway.”

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“Hey Stephen” (2008)

Loaded with classic girl-group flourishes, right from the opening “Be My Baby” drum beat. Plus, it begins and ends with her finest humming solos. If she wanted to hum on every song, she could make that work.Best line: “All those other girls, well, they’re beautiful/But would they write a song for you?”

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“Babe” (2021)

Taylor wrote “Babe” with Train’s Patrick Monahan, but tossed it to the babes of Sugarland. She sang lethal back-up vocals on their 2018 hit version — not to mention playing the femme-fatale supervillain in the Mad Men-style video. But it was worth the wait to get her own version on Red (Taylor’s Version), with Tay lingering over the “promises, promises” hook.Best line: “This is the last time I’ll ever call you ‘babe.’”

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“Should’ve Said No” (2006)

A pissed-off highlight of the debut, with an Oasis-worthy chorus. Savor the perfect Liam Gallagher way she milks the vowels of “begging for forgiveness at my fee-ee-eet.”Best line: “It was a moment of weakness, and you said yes.”

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“White Horse” (2008)

Teen Romantic Tay meets Bitter Adult Tay in a superbly disenchanted breakup ballad that gives up on princesses and fairy tales.Best line: “I’m not the one you’ll sweep off her feet/Lead up the stairwell.”

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“Illict Affairs” (2020)

A cheating ballad that can turn me into a godforsaken mess any time. The guitar has a wistful “Last Kiss” tinge, except instead of sneaking peeks at an ex’s social-media photos, it’s all sordid meetings in the parking lot, where all getaway cars end up. The muted regret boils over in the bridge, as she snarls: “Don’t call me kid, don’t call me baby.” The definitive version is from The Long Pond Studio Sessions, with Aaron Dessner stretching out on guitar.Best line: “Take the words for what they are/A dwindling, mercurial high/A drug that only worked the first few hundred times.”

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“Come Back…Be Here” (2012)

A yearning prayer for a rock & roll boy on tour, weak in the knees as she pleads for him to jet back on any terms he chooses.Best line: “I guess you’re in London today.”

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“Teardrops on My Guitar” (2006)

One of her defining early smashes – and the one that marked her crucial crossover to the minivan-mom adult audience, where country stars do most of their business. It also inspired the first anti-Taylor answer song – Joe Jonas sang, “I’m done with superstars/And all the tears on her guitar” in 2009, on the JoBros’ instantly forgotten Lines, Vines and Trying Times. She added a P.S. years later in “Invisible String,” after she and Joe became friends again — proof that her songs just go on rewriting themselves.Best line: “Drew walks by me / Can he tell that I can’t breathe?”

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“Sad Beautiful Tragic” (2012)

She must have heard a Mazzy Star song on the radio that morning and thought, “Hey, this sounds like fun.” All the details are in place, from her woozy Hope Sandoval mumble to the way it nails Sandoval’s exact tambourine sound. Such an underrated Red gem, one she’s almost never sung live, but it was one of her templates for the sound of Folklore — Mazzy Swift rights forever. Would any other songwriter on Earth have the sheer gall to get away with that title? Let’s hope nobody tries.Best line: “You’ve got your demons, and, darling, they all look like me.”

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“It’s Nice to Have a Friend” (2019)

The most divisive track on Lover — but for those of us who cherish this song, it’s a tiny little haiku miracle. That harp. Those steel drums. That creepy Lost Boys choir. That “Moonlight Mile” guitar. The childhood vibe evokes the White Stripes’ “We’re Going to Be Friends,” but it’s all her. Also, love how this story starts with a lost glove — seven years after the lost scarf in “All Too Well.” Best line: “Call my bluff / Call you ‘babe.’”

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“I Did Something Bad” (2017)

Wait, she fell in love with a narcissist? Who saw that coming? Despite the Eurodisco bleeps and bloops, this is a total Nineties grunge-rock rager – she switches into Eddie Vedder/Scott Weiland mode when she growls that “over and over and over again if IIII could.” This is just waiting for her to turn it into a head-banging live guitar monster.Best line: “I never trust a playboy but they love me / So I fly ’em all around the world and I let them think they saved me.”

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“Mine” (2010)

“You made a rebel of a careless man’s careful daughter” is one of those hooks where she seems to cram a whole life story into one line.Best line: “I was a flight risk with a fear of falling.”

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“The Lakes” (2020)

Let’s face it: Swift has trained us to expect the unexpected, but nobody guessed she’d crown Folklore with the best song ever about 19th century Romantic poets. (Only competition: Van Morrison’s “Summertime in England.”) In “The Lakes,” she wanders the Windermere Peaks in the footsteps of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It’s her answer to Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey,” as she roams the wide open spaces so she can listen to “the still sad music of humanity.” As a Wordsworth fanatic, I’m grateful this song exists (“Peele Castle” Hive, rise!) and Tay should keep it going with the lit fan-fic — maybe Emily Dickinson or Gertrude Stein next?Best line: “I want auroras and sad prose/I want to watch wisteria grow.”

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“The Man” (2019)

Imagine a timeline where Taylor released this as the first single from Reputation, instead of “Look What You Made Me Do.” It’s safe to say people might have gotten the message faster. “The Man” is the sharpest feminist anthem she’s written (so far). The unspoken subtext: If these dudes had to spend a day in her shoes, they’d crumble like a soggy chunk of feta cheese.Best line: “When everyone believes you, what’s that like?” Listen here.

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“Mr. Perfectly Fine” (2021)

The opening act of Mr. Casually Cruel, a guy Taylor has kept meeting in her songs ever since. How did she possibly leave a song this strong off Fearless? Because she clearly figured that she needed to save “casually cruel” for an even better song a few years down the road. (One Mr. Casually Cruel wears “a well-pressed suit,” the other wears plaid shirts.) Poor Joe Jonas—now all her exes know that Taylor sends their babies presents, it means there’s a song on the way. “Mr. Perfectly Fine” was the song that truly proved her Taylor’s Version project was for real—the outtakes from her vault weren’t leftovers or juvenalia, but bona fide Swift songs. Never be so casual you forget to be cruel; never be so cruel you forget to be casual.Best line: “Sashay away to your seat/It’s the best seat in the best room.”

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“Cowboy Like Me” (2020)

Taylor never really had a thing for cowboys, even in her country days, so it makes sense she’d rather be the cowboy than rope one for herself. She’s a grifter swindling her sugar daddies, until she falls for a fellow con artist. But they don’t know if they can give up the thrills of the chase — the same old dilemma of “you love the players and you love the game.” Aaron Dessner’s guitar adds the right touch of country-rock. “I’m waiting by the phone like I’m in an airport bar” is one of the best old-media jokes on an album that also has centerfolds and VHS tapes.Best line: “The skeletons in both our closets plotted hard to fuck this up.”

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“Wildest Dreams” (2014)

You rang, Goth Taylor? At first this might have seemed like a minor pleasure on 1989, but it really sounds stronger and stronger over the years, especially when she hiccups the words “my last request ih-is.” The video features giraffes and zebras.Best line: “He’s so tall and handsome as hell/He’s so bad, but he does it so well.”

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Beth Garrabrant*


“I Bet You Think About Me,” With Chris Stapleton (2021)

This rowdy hell-raising saloon sing-along about a rich ex is a delightful honky-tonk jam — the kind of straight-up Nashville vibe she was about to leave behind. In the classic “Friends in Low Places” country tradition, she taunts him for his “organic shoes” and “cool indie music concerts.” Which in 2012 meant he was into the National and Bon Iver.Best line: “The girl in your bed has a fine pedigree/And I bet your friends tell you she’s better than me.”

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“Daylight” (2019)

The finale of Lover, and a passionate sequel to “Clean.” “Daylight” takes off in the final minute when she gives a soliloquy that sounds like one of those 2 a.m. voice memos you forget about until you find them on your phone weeks later. “I wanna be defined by the things I love, not the things I’m afraid of” — it’s an affirmation to believe in.Best line: “I once believed love would be burning red, but it’s golden.”