Home Music Music Lists

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.

Play video
26

“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.'” 

Play video
25

“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. (Yeah, OK, plus the one about the snowmobile.)

Best line: “You got that James Dean daydream look in your eye/And I got that red lip classic thing that you like.” 

Play video
24

“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.”

Play video
23

“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.”

Play video
22

“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.”

Play video
21

“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. (The new Waxahatchee album has another excellent song called “Sparks Fly” – no relation.) 

Best line: “Just keep on keeping your eyes on me.”

Play video
20

“Gorgeous” (2017)

Swift hits the club with her older boyfriend and gets her pheromones scrambled by the sweet young thing across the room. A rare L.A. interlude on this most New York album – Sunset and Vine is where James Dean used to hang out, in case you’re still filling out your Haylor bingo card. Dig those Eighties synth tones – straight from the first Howard Jones album. Tragic fact: seven years after she wrote “Enchanted,” Taylor still has zero “find out if dude has a freaking girlfriend” game. The shout-out to her cats Meredith and Olivia is such a cheap ploy, and you know what? It works brilliantly, as cheap ploys usually do when this is the woman working them.

Best line: “You should take it as a compliment that I’m talking to everybody here but you.”

Play video
19

“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.”

Play video
18

“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 four 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.”

Play video
17

“Call It What You Want” (2017)

Always here for the Taylor castle metaphors. The warmest moment on Reputation, about how exotic it feels to give up worrying about judgy strangers and start living a damn life. “Call It What You Want” celebrates adult romance – 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.”

Play video
16

“Ours” (2010)

Like so many of her songs, “Ours” sounds like it could be channeling the 16-blue mojo of the Replacements’ punk-rock bard Paul Westerberg. (Melodically, it evokes “When It Began,” though it feels more like “I Will Dare.”) Especially the best line, which is possibly the best-est “best line” on this list, and which I sing to myself a mere dozen times a day.

Best line: “Don’t you worry your pretty little mind/People throw rocks at things that shine.” 

Play video
15

“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 months ago.

Best line: “We both cried.”

Play video
14

“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?”

Play video
13

“Our Song” (2006)

The hit that made me a Swift fan, the first moment I heard it in 2007 – it knocked me sideways in the middle of lunch. (The CW played it as interstitial music between afternoon reruns of the Clueless sitcom and What I Like About You.) “Our song is a slamming screen door,” what a genius hook. I Googled to see who wrote this; it turned out the songwriter was also the singer and – how strange – she was just starting out. I hoped she might have at least another great tune or two in her. This song and that voice have kept slamming those screen doors ever since.

Best line: “We’re on the phone, and you talk reeeeeal slow/’Cause it’s late and your mama don’t know.” 

Play video
12

“Red” (2012)

The mission statement for Red, this century’s most ridiculously masterful megapop manifesto. Eurodisco plus banjos – the glitter-cowgirl totality Shania Twain spent years trying to perfect, with a color-tripping lyric worthy of Prince Himself, faster than the wind, passionate as sin. Plus, her all-time gnarliest pileup of Swiftian metaphors. (Nitpick: What kind of crossword puzzle has no right answer? What self-respecting puzzlemaster would sign off on that?)

Best line: “Lovin’ him is like driving a
new Maserati down a dead-end street.”

Play video
11

“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.”

Play video
10

“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.”

Play video
9

“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.”

Play video
8

“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.”

Play video
7

“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” (2012)

Like, ever. Her funniest breakup jam, because it’s her most self-mocking. She could have made the guy in this song a shady creep—a cheater, a liar, a scarf-stealer, etc. But, no, he’s just a needy little run-of-the-mill basket case, exactly like her, making the same complaints about her to his own bored friends, though his complaints can’t be as catchy as this chorus. And the video is a gem, especially when she’s wearing the Tay Is Seriously Mad Now glasses. Where is that indie-rock bar that still has a pay phone?

Best line: “And I’m like, I mean, this is
exhausting, OK?

Play video
6

“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 her last album, 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.”

Play video
5

“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.”

Play video
4

“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.”

Play video
3

“Delicate” (2017)

“Is it cool that I said all that?” A little late for that question, Tay. But “Delicate” is her triumph on Reputation, 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?”

Play video
2

“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.” 

Play video
1

“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.”

Show Comments