Home Music Music Lists

All 173 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 ‘Lover’ 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 173 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. Every fan would compile a different list – that’s the beauty of it. 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.)

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.

From Rolling Stone US

Play video

Christopher Polk/Getty Images


“Clean” (2014)

Love is the drug. “Clean” is the stark synth-folk ballad of an infatuation junkie struggling through some kind of detox, with a big assist from Imogen Heap. An intense finale for the all-killer homestretch of 1989.Best line: “Ten months sober, I must admit/Just because you’re clean don’t mean you don’t miss it.” Listen here.

Play video

Beth Garrabrant*


“The Last Great American Dynasty” (2020)

There goes the loudest woman this town has ever seen. So many heroic witches, widows, crones, and madwomen on Folklore, but this one steals the show. “The Last Great American Dynasty” initially seemed more a gimmick than a song, with a clever twist that would wear off fast. But the intricate details just grow over time — melodically, production-wise, most of all vocally. Taylor’s in a haunted house where Rebekah is just one of the madwomen in the attic, and the ghosts make her feel right at home. Imagine singing “marvelous” in one song in 2012, tucking the word in your back pocket for the revenge sequel, then waiting eight years for the right moment to play that ace. Dali or no Dali, this woman will never lose a card-game bet in her damn life.Best line: “I had a marvelous time ruining everything.”

Play video

Larry Busacca/Getty Images


“Enchanted” (2010)

The moment where this bittersweet symphony leaps from a nine to a 10 comes at the 4:25 point, when it feels like the song has reached its logical conclusion, until the Interior Monologue Voice-Over Taylor beams in to whisper: “Please don’t be in love with someone else/Please don’t have somebody waiting on you.” In the final seconds, for the coup de grace, she duets with herself.Best line: “The lingering question kept me up/ 2 a.m, who do you love?” Listen here.

Play video

Ken McKay/Thames/Shutterstock


“Holy Ground” (2012)

Nobody does zero-to-60 emotional peel outs like our girl, and “Holy Ground” is her equivalent of Evel Knievel jumping the Snake River Canyon. Note the sly brilliance of how she steals that Eighties guitar riff from none other than Billy Idol, making this her “White Wedding” as well as her “Rebel Yell.” (Though the lyrics are about dancing with herself.) A highlight on the Red tour, showcasing Tay’s drum-solo skills.Best line: “Hey, you skip the conversation when you already know.” Listen here.

Play video

Emma McIntyre/AMA2019/Getty Images


“Cruel Summer” (2019)

For the first 98 seconds, “Cruel Summer” is merely a perfect Taylor Swift song. Then for the bridge, she takes off into a deranged greatest-hits album’s worth of choruses from brilliant songs she hasn’t written yet. You could write a whole dissertation on the erotics of windows in Taylor’s songs — no poet since Keats has been so obsessed with the kind of desire that doesn’t dare use the door. “Cruel Summer” is about sneaking around and feeling ashamed of her secrets, but also feeling proud of how ashamed she is, until she finally yells her dirtiest secret out loud: “I love you — ain’t that the worst thing you ever heard?” But make no mistake, she loves her secrets more than she’ll ever love this guy.Best line: “I snuck in through the garden gate / Every night that summer just to seal my fate.” Listen here.

Play video

Matt Sayles/AP/Shutterstock


“Dear John” (2010)

A slow-burning, methodical, precise, savage dissection of a failed quasi-relationship, with no happy ending, no moral, no solution, not even a lesson learned – just a bad memory filed away. “Dear John” might sound like she’s spontaneously pouring her heart out, but it takes one devious operator to make a song this intricate feel that way. (“You are an expert at sorry and keeping lines blurry and never impressed by me acing your tests” – she makes all that seem like one gulp of breath.) Every line stings, right down to the end when she switches from “I should have known” to “You should have known.”Best line: “I’m shining like fireworks over your sad empty town.” Listen here.

Play video

“Blank Space” (2014)

A double-venti celebration of serial monogamy for Starbucks lovers everywhere, as Tay zooms through the whole cycle – the high, the pain, the players, the game, magic, madness, heaven, sin. Every second of “Blank Space” is perfect, from the pen clicks to the “nasss-taaaay-scarrr” at the end. The high might not be worth the pain, but this song is.Best line: “Darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream.” Listen here.

Play video

“Lover” (2019)

Ladies and gentlemen, will you please stand? This bombshell is the kind of twangy guitar ballad people thought she didn’t feel like writing anymore, except she’s celebrating the kind of adult passion people assumed wasn’t melodramatic enough for her to bother singing about. But when she hits those high notes in the chorus, it’s like the sensation at the top of the roller coaster when you realize you’re zooming all the way down. “Lover” sounds like a sequel to “Last Kiss,” but with a decade’s worth more soul going into it. She reclaims the cringiest noun in the language and makes it credible for the first time since Prince sang, “I Wanna Be Your Lover.” Great video too, especially when she goes into Sad Blue Violin Pluck mode. Imagine ending your twenties with a song this masterful. Imagine heading into your thirties the same way.Best line: “With every guitar-string scar on my hand.” Listen here.

Play video

Owen Sweeney/Shutterstock


“Long Live” (2010)

This is her “Common People,” her “Born to Run,” her “We Are the Champions.” An arena-slaying rock anthem to cap off Speak Now, for an ordinary girl who suddenly gets to feel like she rules the world for a minute or two. “Long Live” could be a gang of friends, a teen couple at the prom, a singer addressing her audience. But like so many songs on Speak Now, her secret prog album, it reaches the four-minute point where it feels like it’s over and she’s bringing it in for a landing – except that’s when the song gets twice as great. In the final verse, she makes a gigantic mess. (Actual lyric: “Promise me this/That you’ll stand by me forever.” WTF, girl, you were doing so well there.) Yet that’s the moment that puts “Long Live” over the top – a song nobody else could have written, as she rides those power chords home. That’s Taylor: always overdoing it, never having one feeling where six would do. Long live.Best line: “I had the time of my life fighting dragons with you.” Listen here.

Play video

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP


“August” (2020)

“August” feels like such a simple tune, yet it’s one of the craftiest creations in the Swiftian Multiverse. She mourns a summer fling that slipped away like a bottle of wine, over Nineties soft-rock guitars, full of Mazzy Star/Cranberries “late afternoon set at Lilith Fair” energy. (Also, that “do you remember?” at the end seems to beam in straight from LFO’s ‘Summer Girls” — the mark of a truly pop music scholar.) She tries to kid herself it’s enough to live for the hope of it all, but she keeps running over her same memory again and again, trying to make it add up to something different. The tension culminates in the heart-stopping moment where she lunges back for one more “get in the car,” as if maybe this time it’ll actually take her somewhere. She might sit there alone behind the mall all night, waiting for a lover she knows won’t show up, but she makes it sound like the most romantic possible place to be.Best line: “So much for summer love and saying ‘us’ / Because you weren’t mine to lose.”

Play video

“Delicate” (2017)

“Is it cool that I said all that?” A little late for that question, Tay. But “Delicate” is her triumph, a whispery vocoder rush that sums up everything she’s about. She steals away for a late-night hoodie-shrouded rendezvous at her local dive bar, trying to play jaded and cool. But because she’s Taylor, she can’t stop constantly pointing out how chill she’s being, elbowing you in the ribs with those “isn’t it? isn’t it?” chants. (I count 24 “isn’t it”‘s in this song and I am feeling every one of them.) She spends “Delicate” talking herself out of that midnight confession, but when it spills out — “I pretend you’re mine all the damn time” – the moment feels cataclysmic. As ever, the girl sets strict emotional rules for herself and then trashes them all. Let’s face it, Tay will always fail spectacularly at playing it cool, because she will never be able to resist saying way too much of All That. Yet as “Delicate” proves, All That is what she was born to say. Isn’t it?Best line: “Is it chill that you’re in my head?” Listen here.

Play video



“Mirrorball” (2020)

Taylor shines like the disco ball gazing down on the dance floor, wondering why everybody else looks so confident and imagining how that feels. A seething ballad about a loner feeling a little too loud and a little too bright, afraid everyone’s staring at her flaws yet feeling invisible anyway. “Mirrorball” revisits the party vibe of “New Romantics” from another angle, with Taylor twirling on high heels, spinning like a girl in a brand new dress, hating herself for being so desperate to sparkle for strangers. This is the kind of vulnerable teen sensibility that got her started writing songs in the first place (i.e. most of her debut album). But in classic Swift style, she decides exactly what she’s going to allow herself to feel, then wonders why she feels the exact opposite. She’s the same girl in the swing from “Seven,” grown up yet still feeling like she’s dangling in mid-air, never touching ground. Who else has a songwriting mind like this? Queen of Concept.Best line: “I’m still a believer but I don’t know why / I’ve never been a natural, all I do is try, try, try.”

Play video

Charles Sykes/Invision/AP/Shutterstock


“New Romantics” (2014)

The way Taylor exhales at the end of the line “I’m about to play my ace-aaah” is perhaps the finest moment in the history of human lungs. “New Romantics” is where she takes the Eighties synth-pop concept of 1989 to the bank, with a mirror-ball epiphany that leaves tears of mascara all over the dance floor. She tips her cap to the arty poseurs of the 1980s New Romantic scene – Duran Duran, Adam Ant, the Human League, etc. – yet sounds exactly like her own preposterously emotional self. (One of my weirdest moments of recent years: explaining this song’s existence to the guys in Duran Duran.) “New Romantics” is hardly the first time she’s sung about crying in the bathroom, but it’s the one that makes crying in the bathroom sound like a bold spiritual quest, which (when she sings about it) it is. The punch line: Having written this work of genius, exceeding even the wildest hopes any fan could have dreamed, she left it off the damn album, a very New Romantic thing to do.Best line: “We show off our different scarlet letters/Trust me, mine is better.” Listen here.

Play video

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images


“All Too Well” (2012)

So casually cruel in the name of being awesome. This towering ballad is Swift’s zenith, building to peak after peak. For “All Too Well,” she teams up with her trustiest collaborators – songwriting sensei Liz Rose, producer Nathan Chapman – to spin a tragic tale of doomed love and scarves and autumn leaves and maple lattes. It’s full of killer moments: the way she sings “refrigerator,” the way she spits out the consonants of “crumpled-up piece of paper,” the way she chews up three “all”s in a row. No other song does such a stellar job of showing off her ability to blow up a trivial little detail into a legendary heartache. (That scarf should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, though in a way it already is.) You can schaeden your freude all over the celebrity she reputedly sings about, but on the best day of your life you will never inspire a song as great as “All Too Well.” Or write one.Best line: “Maybe we got lost in translation/Maybe I asked for too much/Maybe this thing was a masterpiece till you tore it all up/Running scared, I was there, I remember it all too well.” Listen here.