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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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58

“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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57

“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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56

“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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55

“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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54

“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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53

“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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52

“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.”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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51

“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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50

“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 Nathan Chapman 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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49

“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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48

“Safe and Sound,” With the Civil Wars (2012)

This hidden jewel took on a whole new luster after it became her blueprint for Folklore. “Safe and Sound” ventures into rootsy folkie territory, on the Hunger Games soundtrack. She explores crevices in her voice she’d never opened up before, teaming up with the Civil Wars and producer T-Bone Burnett. The Swift-Burnett connection raises the question of how long it’ll take her to collaborate with Elvis Costello, a songwriter with whom she shares some fascinating affinities. At the very least, Tay should cover “New Lace Sleeves.”Best line: “Don’t you dare look out your window, darling/Everything’s on fire.”

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47

“My Tears Ricochet” (2020)

What a ghostly scene: a spectre watches her funeral, haunting her enemies, friends, and lovers. “I didn’t have it in myself to go with grace” — maybe not a huge surprise. One of her spookiest Goth Tay ballads, especially when she admits, “I still talk to you,” and the ghost choir adds, “When I’m screaming at the sky.”Best line: “If I’m dead to you, why are you at the wake cursing my name?

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46

“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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45

“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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44

“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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43

“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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42

“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.”

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41

“Dress” (2017)

Swift is no stranger to getting emo over her dresses, but this time it’s different: “Only bought this dress so you could take it off.” Her most carnal slow jam is also one of her saddest – the ache in her voice, the yearning in those synth sparkles. There’s something so “Little Red Corvette” in the way she interrupts her own wordplay with forlorn sighs. As for that golden tattoo – hold on, we’re going home.Best line: “I don’t want you like a best friend.” Listen here.

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40

“This Love” (2014)

A meditative 1989 nocturne – half acoustic introspection, half electro reverie – as she genuflects in the midnight hour.Best line: “I could go on and on, on and on/And I will.”

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39

“Mean” (2010)

A banjo-core Tay-visceration of people who are mean, liars, pathetic, and/or alone in life, including the ones who live in big old cities. Always a live highlight on her early tours, showcasing her murderers’ row of a band, the Agency.Best line: “Drunk and grumbling on about how I can’t sing.” Listen here.

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38

“I Knew You Were Trouble” (2012)

It slams like a lost Blondie hit, from somewhere between Parallel Lines and Eat to the Beat. The way she sings the word “drown-i-i-i-ing” alone makes it.Best line: “He was long gone when he met me/And I realize the joke is on me.” Listen here.

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37

“Tim McGraw” (2006)

We knew she was trouble when she walked in – or at least we should have guessed from her debut single. You couldn’t make this up – a nervy high school kid shows up with a country ballad she whipped together after math class one day, about slow dancing in the moonlight to the pickup truck radio: “When you think Tim McGraw/I hope you think of me.” Within a couple of years, she’s an even bigger star than McGraw is.Best line: “He said the way my blue eyes shined/Put those Georgia stars to shame that night/I said, ‘That’s a lie.’” Listen here.

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36

“Call It What You Want” (2017)

Always here for the Taylor castle metaphors. The warmest Rep electro-ballad, about how exotic it feels to give up worrying about judgy strangers and start living a damn life. “Call It What You Want” celebrates a mature relationship — the kind where you turn off your phone for hours at a time and pull down the shades and risk letting yourself get a little known.Best line: “Not because he owns me / But ’cause he really knows me.” Listen here.

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35

“Betty” (2020)

The Betty/Inez/James love triangle is at the heart of Folklore, inspiring three of its best songs. Every aspect of “Betty” sounds designed to explode when she finally gets to take it to the stage, from the “Thunder Road” harmonica to the most shameless lighters-up key change of her career. Picture all the beer that will get sloshed on you when it’s So I Showed Up To Your Party o’clock. (Her live version at the Academy of Country Music Awards in September 2020 was an arena-rock blast, for the year with no arenas.) Also love how when Taylor steps into the mind of a 17-year-old boy, the first thing she fantasizes about his male privilege is the right to make unchallenged assumptions. If James is a boy, that is. (Taylor takes care to leave it open — but has any boy in her songs ever stopped at a streetlight?) Key question: Was James in his car driving around the party listening to 1989? Because he follows all the advice she gives in “How You Get the Girl” and (surprise) it works.Best line: “Will you kiss me on the porch in front of all your stupid friends?”

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34

“Style” (2014)

Not always a subtle one, our Tay. This extremely 1986-sounding synth-pop groove is full of hushed-breath melodrama, where even the guy taking off his coat can feel like a plot twist. (Why would he keep his coat on? This is his apartment.) And the long-running songwriting badminton between her and Harry Allegedly is pop call-and-response the way it ought to be – no matter how much misery it might bring into their personal lives, for the rest of us it means one great tune after another.Best line: “You got that James Dean daydream look in your eye/And I got that red lip classic thing that you like.” Listen here.

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33

“State of Grace” (2012)

She opens Red with one of her grandest love songs in arena-rock drag, and the U2 vibe makes sense since she’s also got a red guitar and the truth. If “State of Grace” is her U2 song, what’s the U2 song that sounds most like Taylor? Probably “All I Want Is You,” though you could make a strong case for “A Sort of Homecoming.”Best line: “Up in your room and our slates are clean/Twin fire signs, four blue eyes.” Listen here.

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32

“Sparks Fly” (2010)

“Drop everything now! Meet me in the pouring rain!” Oh, this girl loves her precipitation scenes, but “Sparks Fly” really brings the thunder. It shows off her uncanny power to make a moment sound gauchely private and messily public at the same time. (Waxahatchee has another excellent song called “Sparks Fly” — no relation.)Best line: “Just keep on keeping your eyes on me.” Listen here.

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31

“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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30

“Begin Again” (2012)

“You said you never met one girl who had as many James Taylor records as you,” indeed. Sweet Baby Tay drops a deceptively simple ballad that sneaks up and steamrolls all over you, as an unmelodramatic coffee date leads to an unmelodramatic emotional connection. She’s always been outspoken about her mad love for her namesake JT and Carly Simon, but “Begin Again” could be the finest collabo they never wrote.Best line: “You don’t know why I’m coming off a little shy/But I do.” Listen here.

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29

“Fearless” (2008)

Oh Fearless, it’s easy to take you for granted sometimes. The first time I heard her sophomore record (the record company literally played it over the phone for me because they were so afraid of it leaking) I thought, “Holy cats, this is a perfect pop album. She’ll never top this.” Then she topped it six times in a row, to the point where it’s one of history’s most curiously overlooked perfect pop albums. The title anthem gathers so many of her favorite tropes in one chorus — rain, cars, fancy dresses, boys who stare at her while driving instead of watching the damn road, shy girls posing as brave and faking it till they make it — and builds up to a swoon.Best line: “You’re just so cool, run your hands through your hair / Absent-mindedly making me want you.” Listen here.

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28

“22” (2012)

Approximately 22,000 times more fun than actually being 22. The best song about turning the double deuce since Neil Young’s “Powderfinger,” if not the Stratford 4’s “Telephone,” it’s also her first shameless disco trip, with that Nile Rodgers-style guitar flash. But the power move is that “uh oh” into the chorus – the oldest trick in the book, except she makes it sound brand new every time.Best line: “This place is too crowded, too many cool kids.” Listen here.

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27

“Getaway Car” (2017)

One of Swift’s most endearingly McCartney-esque traits is the way she goes overboard with her latest enthusiasm and starts Tay-splaining it as her personal discovery. On 1989, she informed us all what New York is; on Reputation, she breaks down the concept of “alcohol.” (Wait, you can drink beer out of plastic cups? Tell us more!) Hence “Getaway Car,” where Film Noir Tay makes her big entrance, knocking back Old Fashioneds at the motel bar, a femme fatale playing two fall guys against each other. In the glorious final minute, she decides to sell them both out and speeds off to her next emotional heist.Best line: “Nothing good starts in a getaway car.” Listen here.

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26

“Last Kiss” (2010)

Toward the end of Speak Now, when you’re already wrung out from sad songs and begging for mercy, this six-minute quasi-doo-wop ballad creeps up on you to inflict more punishment. One of those flawless Nathan Chapman productions – so sparse, so delicate, flattering every tremor of her voice.Best line: “I’m not much for dancing, but for you I did.” Listen here.

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25

“Cornelia Street” (2019)

A ballad about how scary it is to realize how much you have to lose — how the brand-new-crush tingle of “Holy Ground” eventually turns into the place where you have to build a life. She looks around an apartment where she’s memorized every creak in the floor, a neighborhood full of romance, and comprehends how fast it all could turn into a heartbreak hotel.Best line: “Baby, I get mystified by how this city screams your name.” Listen here.

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24

“Cardigan” (2020)

The sweater left behind under someone’s bed, like the lost scarf in “All Too Well” or the lost glove in “It’s Nice To Have a Friend.” (Or the ex-wife’s dress left in the closet in Fiona Apple’s “Ladies”?) Swift sorts through the memories that go with breathing in the scent of a remembered lover, over brooding piano. “I knew you, leaving like a father, running like water” sure jumps out of the song, as startling as the “careless man’s careful daughter” in “Mine.” The day she wrote this song with the National’s Aaron Dessner, she posted a photo with the caption, “Not a lot going on at the moment.” Why do we ever believe a word she says?Best line: “Chase two girls, lose the one / When you are young they assume you know nothing.”