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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

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105

“King of My Heart” (2017)

Love how this American queen pronounces “Jag-yew-waaar” – has she been listening to Hall & Oates, or has she just reached the English-accent point in her fame arc?Best line: “Up on the roof with a schoolgirl crush / Drinking beer out of plastic cups.”

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104

“All You Had to Do Was Stay” (2014)

A 1989 banger that could have made an excellent single – it sounds a bit like “Out of the Woods,” except with a livelier chorus and a stormier range of electro-Tay sound effects.Best line: “Let me remind you this was what you wanted.”

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103

“This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” (2017)

The most “therein” moment on Reputation. Also the only song (after “Look What You Made Me Do”) devoted to the album’s alleged celebrity-complaints concept, though shrewdly playing it for kicks and giggles. “Therein lies the issue” is some quality Swiftian spite content, but it’s that sadistic tongue-clicking “mmm-mmmm” before the second chorus that really brings the Judgement Tay. “Here’s to my mama, had to listen to all this drama” – has your mom met you? She might be used to that by now.Best line: “Feeling so Gatsby for that whole year.”

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102

“Paper Rings” (2019)

“The moon was high like your friends were the night that we first met” is quite an opening line, and she lives up to it. Especially since those might be the same stupid friends who showed up later at Betty’s party. “Paper Rings” is a girl-group tribute with a pop-punk surge — a song Joey Ramone should have lived long enough to sing. “I wake up in the night and watch you breathe” is a bone tossed to all of us who still fall apart at the bridge of “Last Kiss.”Best line: “I hate accidents, except when we went from friends to this.”

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101

“Stay Stay Stay” (2012)

“Before you, I’d only dated self-indulgent takers” – but here she turns into a self-indulgent taker herself and (surprise!) she likes it, a phone-throwing nightmare dressed like a grocery-shopping daydream. But she’s more in love with more mood swings than she is with the guy.Best line: “You came in wearing a football helmet and said, ‘Okay, let’s talk.’”

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100

“I Think He Knows” (2019)

Lusty finger-snaps, crushed-out heavy breathing, skipping down 16th Avenue. (Isn’t that underwater in the Hudson River?) “It’s like I’m 17 / Nobody understands” is hilarious considering that when she was 17, she had the world wired to every teardrop on her guitar.Best line: “He’s so obsessed with me, and boy, I understand.”

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99

“Beautiful Eyes” (2008)

If you’re a fan of Swift’s Nineties modern-rock radio jones – one of her most fruitful long-running obsessions – check out this shameless tribute to the Cranberries. (But did she have to let it linger? Did she have to? Did she have to?)Best line: “Baby, make me fly.”

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98

“Everything Has Changed,” With Ed Sheeran (2012)

She and Ed Sheeran wrote this duet together in her backyard while bouncing on a trampoline, because of course they did. Why is Ed her best duet partner? Because you can hear that he’s really listening to her.Best line: “All I’ve seen since 18 hours ago is green eyes and freckles and your smile.”

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97

“Dancing With Our Hands Tied” (2017)

“Dancing With Our Hands Tied” has more of Romeo and Juliet‘s actual plot than “Love Story” did. She slips away in secret with a forbidden lover who paints her blue heart gold, over Eighties “Take On Me”-style beats. The saddest line Fiona Apple ever wrote – “I know I’m a mess he don’t wanna clean up” – finally finds a new home in a Swift song: “I’m a mess, but I’m the mess that you wanted.”Best line: “I’d kiss you as the lights went out / Swaying as the room burned down.”

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96

“You Need to Calm Down” (2019)

The first time I heard “Welcome to New York,” back in 2014, I thought people would freak out over the explicit pro-queer lyrics. (“Boys and boys and girls and girls” — she was not afraid to burn her bridges.) But of course, people slept on it. So I love how she just did it a little louder for the people in back. Eighties New Wave synth-pop was one of the gayest musical movements ever, but at the time, it was all hidden — virtually none of the genre’s (many) queer artists were out. So it’s fitting how her New Wave homage foregrounds the music’s LGBTQ roots. When she growls, “Damn, it’s 7 a.m.” we all know Taylor has been up pacing the floor at 2 a.m., because that’s what she does.Best line: “Can you just not step on our gowns?”

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95

“Shake It Off” (2014)

A clever transitional single – great verses, grating chorus, pithy lyrics with a shout-out to her obvious inspiration, Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own.” As a lead single, “Shake It Off” might have seemed meager after 1989 came out – she was holding back “Blank Space” and “Style” and (Lord have mercy) “New Romantics” for this? But “Shake It Off” got the job done, serving as a trailer to announce her daring Eighties synth-pop makeover.Best line: “It’s like I got this music in my mind, saying it’s gonna be all right.”

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94

“Drops of Jupiter” (2011)

I mistakenly thought this Train hit was deep-fried garbage until I heard Swift’s version and realized, “Hey, she’s right – this is the best soy latte I’ve ever had!” Props to Tay for bringing out the hidden greatness in this song – the stargazing lyrics and her voice go together like Mozart and tae bo. (The astrophysicist in my life would like me to point out that you can’t “make it to the Milky Way” because that’s the galaxy we already live in. In fact, you couldn’t leave the Milky Way if you tried. Science!)Best line: “Tell me, did Venus blow your mind?”

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93

“Haunted” (2010)

Enchanted to meet you, Goth Taylor. We’ll meet again.Best line: “Something keeps me holding on to nothing.”

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92

“Today Was a Fairytale” (2011)

Don’t let the title scare you away – it’s a plainspoken and genuinely touching play-by-play recap of a worthwhile date. In fact, “Today Was a Fairytale” and “If This Was a Movie” should trade titles, since this one feels realer and would make a better movie. It could rank higher, except she hugely improved it when she rewrote it as “Begin Again.” (Docked a couple notches for coming from the soundtrack of Valentine’s Day, which is the most dog-vomit flick Jessica Alba has ever made, and I say that as someone who paid money to see The Love Guru.)Best line: “I wore a dress/You wore a dark gray T-shirt.”

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Beth Garrabrant*

91

“The 1” (2020)

The one Folklore track that sounds like a continuation of Lover, with its languid finger-snapping Motown slink. “Roaring Twenties, tossing pennies in the pool” — Taylor’s long-term relationship with The Great Gatsby just keeps on giving. She closes the book on her twenties, while kissing off this “not exactly roaring at the moment” decade.Best line: “In my defense I have none, for digging up the grave another time.”

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90

“Speak Now” (2010)

In real-life weddings, the preacher hardly ever invites the groom’s ex up to interrupt the ceremony. But if you’re a fan of Tay in stalker mode, this is priceless – crouching behind the curtains in the back of the church, waiting to pounce. “Horrified looks from everyone in the room” – you don’t say.Best line: “It seems I was uninvited by your lovely bride-to-be.”

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89

“Afterglow” (2019)

An ode to making up after a fight that was all your fault: “Tell me that I’m all you want / Even when I break your heart.” In a good old-fashioned Taylor metaphor party, she compares herself to an arsonist, a wrestler, an island, a prison warden and an ambulance siren.Best line: “Fighting with a true love is boxing with no gloves.”

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88

“You Belong With Me” (2008)

One of her most pop-friendly early hits, singing in the role of a high school geek crushing on her best guy friend. When he comes out in college, they’ll have a few laughs about this. And never let us forget the wisdom of Alicia Silverstone in Clueless: “Searching for a boy in high school is as useless as searching for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie.”Best line: “She wears high heels, I wear sneakers/She’s cheer captain, and I’m on the bleachers.”

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87

“So It Goes…” (2017)

She falls under the hypnotic spell of a magician, who gets her heart trip-trip-tripping and skip-skip-skipping. For a magic trick of her own, she stops the music cold to whisper “one-two-three.” A great moment that lets you know Swift — like the rest of us — has been listening to Lorde.Best line: “I’m so chill but you make me jealous.”

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86

“You’re Not Sorry” (2008)

A dramatic piano-and-strings ballad from Fearless, showing off how much her voice has deepened between her first two albums.Best line: “It’s taken me this long, baby, but I figured you out.”

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85

“Bette Davis Eyes” (2010)

Her kickiest left-field cover, from Speak Now Live. “I’d love to play you some music that I’m a fan of that’s come from L.A. – is that OK?” she asks the West Coast crowd, strumming her guitar. “This one came out in 1981 – eight years before I was born!” Virtually nobody seems to recognize it or sing along. Kim Carnes hit Number One with “Bette Davis Eyes,” but it was written by the great Jackie DeShannon, the only songwriter to collaborate with both Randy Newman and Jimmy Page. (Page wrote “Tangerine” for DeShannon!) The fact that Swift loves this classic ode to romantic espionage explains a lot.Best line: “She’s pure as New York snow/She’s got Bette Davis eyes.”

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84

“The Lucky One” (2012)

She’s so lucky, she’s a star. For the record, T.S. did cover “Lucky” live once (and damn well, too), as a Britney tribute in Louisiana back in 2011.Best line: “It’s big black cars and Riviera views/And your lover in the foyer doesn’t even know you.”

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83

“Peace” (2020)

The most stripped-down confession on Folklore, just her solo voice and a few guarded hopes for the future. She tries to scale her dreams down to a graspable size, asking, “Would it be enough if I could never give you peace?”Best line: “Our coming-of-age has come and gone.

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82

“Death By a Thousand Cuts” (2019)

The saddest break-up song ever inspired by a movie where Gina Rodriguez plays a Rolling Stone music critic, in Jenn Kaytin Robinson’s Oscar-worthy Netflix comedy, Someone Great. It really soars in the live acoustic version from her Paris concert special, especially the hyperventilating bridge. Good question: “If the story’s over, why am I still writing pages?” Taylor, have you met yourself?Best line: “I asked the traffic lights if it’ll be all right / They say ‘I don’t know.’”

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81

“Eyes Open” (2012)

Finally, her long-overdue metal move, from The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond.Best line: “Every lesson forms a new scar.”

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80

“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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79

“Starlight” (2012)

“Oh my, what a marvelous tune” sounds like a quaint chorus, yet she makes it stick, in an F. Scott Fitzgerald-themed whirlwind romance. This Red deep cut just sat there waiting for its moment to shine, until it blew up into “The Last Great American Dynasty,” with a nastier perspective on the same ritzy social scene. Nobody knows how to play the long game like Taylor.Best line: “We snuck into a yacht-club party / Pretending to be a duchess and a prince.”

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78

“Don’t Blame Me” (2017)

She tries on the moody “bad girl goes to church” vibe of Madonna circa Like a Prayer – addicted to love, falling from grace, going down on her knees to beg for one more kiss.Best line: “My name is whatever you decide.”

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77

“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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76

“Forever & Always” (2008)

She added this to Fearless at the last minute – just what the album needed. It’s a blast of high-energy JoBro-baiting aggro on her most anomalously shade-free album. “It rains in your bedroom” is a very on-brand Tay predicament.Best line: “Did I say something way too honest? Made you run and hide like a scared little boy?”

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75

“Back to December” (2010)

One of the rare ballads where she goes crawling back to an ex she treated like dirt – and she’s surprisingly effective in the role. Although breaking into the guy’s house is a little extreme. (If she’s blocked by the chain on his door, that means she already picked the lock, right?) And sorry, but you’re seriously dreaming if you think I’m bothering to Google the name of that Twilight guy, don’t @ me.Best line: “It turns out freedom ain’t nothing but missing you.”

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74

“…Ready for It?” (2017)

Baby, let the games begin. Her island-breeze bass blast was a major rebound from her previous hit, one week earlier. (If by “it” she meant “literally any song that’s not ‘Look What You Made Me Do,’” the answer was “extremely ready.”) It stands up to heavy rotation, too, with clever details like the way Ms. I’m Not Much For Dancin’ clears her throat before the first line. The chorus has a little air in the mix, giving the room she needs to pull off her intricate breathy effects; Max Martin really knows how to shape a production around her voice. “He can be my jailor / Burton to this Taylor” – Liz and Dick got married and divorced twice, so those are some hardcore relationship goals.Best line: “I keep him forever like a vendetta.”