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All 129 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 ‘Reputation’ 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 115 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 ingénue right up to Reputation. 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.

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46

“Starlight” (2012)

“Oh my, what a marvelous tune” seems like a dauntingly quaint chorus, yet she makes it stick, in what sounds like an F. Scott Fitzgerald-themed whirlwind romance. That hook comes straight from AC/DC (specifically, the opening lines of “You Shook Me All Night Long”) – the sign of a truly sick pop scholar.

Best line: “We snuck into a yacht-club party / Pretending to be a duchess and a prince.”

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45

“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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44

“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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43

“…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.”

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42

“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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41

“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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40

“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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39

“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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38

“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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37

“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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36

“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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35

“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.

Best line: “Drew walks by me/Can he tell that I can’t breathe?”

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34

“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 done live. 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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33

“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.” Here’s hoping she breaks out the electric guitar to rock it live, especially the witch-burning finale when she leaps into the “light me up” chant.

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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32

“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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31

“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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30

“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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