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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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“New Year’s Day” (2017)

What a twist: the one-time poet laureate of teen crushdom turns out to be even sharper at adult love songs. “New Year’s Day” is her hushed piano-and-guitar ballad about two people waking up the morning after the party and getting back to the reality they share together. It captures the romance of mundane domestic details – sweeping up the glitter, rinsing out bottles, realizing this total nothing of a day is a memory you will cherish long after you’ve both forgotten the party. This is the kind of song she could keep writing into her forties and fifties.Best line: “Please don’t ever become a stranger whose laugh I could recognize anywhere.” Listen here.

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“This Is Me Trying” (2020)

How rude of Ms. Swift to write a song so full of lines I need to get carved on my tombstone — except it would take three or four tombstones to hold them all. The easiest Folklore song to underrate, because it seems so deceptively straight-ahead. But as in “Mirrorball,” the album’s other try-try-try song (also the other “I want you to know” song), her vocal goes right to the heart. Love the deadpan way she shrugs “I have a lot of regrets about that,” plus her very on-brand decision to sing the song in somebody’s doorway. “I was so ahead of the curve, the curve became a sphere” — what a math flex. Fact: Taylor could have invented geometry, but Euclid couldn’t have written this song.Best line: “They told me all of my cages were mental/So I got wasted like all my potential.”

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“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.

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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.”

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“Coney Island” (2020)

Twelve miles from Cornelia Street, but it feels a lifetime away. “Coney Island” is her duet with the National, trading verses with singer Matt Berninger, for an Evermore highlight that picks up the story from Folklore. “Coney Island” sounds like the “August” girl left her small town, forgot about James and Betty, moved to New York, found a hipster boy, figured everything would be different in the big old city, then found herself stuck in the same old story all over again. When you’re a grown-up, they assume you know nothing.Best line: “We were like the mall before the Internet/It was the one place to be/The mischief, the gift-wrapped suburban dream.”

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“Fifteen” (2008)

“In your life you’ll do things greater than dating the boy on the football team / I didn’t know that at 15.” Still south of her twenties, she sings her compassionate, sisterly yet hard-ass advice to her fellow teenage girls. (Spoiler: boys are always lying about everything.) Childhood pal Abigail Anderson will always be her coolest BFF of all time; Taylor was a bridesmaid in her wedding just a few years ago.Best line: “We both cried.” Listen here.

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“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.

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“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.

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“Right Where You Left Me” (2021)

Okay, so we already know Taylor gets a kick out of leaving great songs off the album — but this is ridiculous. Maybe even criminal. Yet perhaps “Right Where You Left Me” had to be a bonus track on Evermore, because hearing this song once means putting it on repeat and shutting down the flow of the album. A decade after Taylor was feelin’ 22, she gets trapped in 23, reliving the moment she got her heart broken, still sitting in that restaurant. (The same one where they had their first date in “Begin Again”?) Every time she gulps “you left me noooo,” it sounds more desperate, riding Aaron Dessner’s obsessive banjo hook. She feels paralyzed in the past, but his banjo keeps urging her to get running while she can. “Right Where You Left Me” is the only Swift song with an actual cry for help — twice — and it’s a startling sound. Repeat: she left this off the album.Best line: “Did you ever hear about the girl who got frozen?/Time went on for everybody else, she won’t know it/She’s still 23, inside her fantasy, how it was supposed to be.”

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“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.

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“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.

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“Marjorie” (2020)

The centerpiece of Evermore, an album full of haunted houses and eloquent ghosts. Taylor sings about her late grandmother Marjorie Finlay, an opera singer who used to play the San Juan supper clubs, with the key line, “If I didn’t know better/I’d think you were singing to me now.” Her hushed voice tells the story over pulsing vintage synths, in the minimalist mode of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians. At the end, she samples Marjorie’s soprano voice. A song about getting to know your loved ones better after they’re gone, giving them a home in your memory, turning their lives into folklore and passing them on like folk songs.Best line: “Never be so kind you forget to be clever/Never be so clever you forget to be kind.”

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“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.

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“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.