Taylor Swift's Songs: All Ranked by Rob Sheffield - Rolling Stone
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All 153 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 153 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 Lover. 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.

Taylor Swift - 22
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.” Listen here.

Taylor Swift - Last Kiss

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Gett Images

21

“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.

Taylor Swift - Cornelia Street

Andrew H. Walker/Shutterstock

20

“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 haunted heartbreak hotel.

Best line: “Baby, I get mystified by how this city screams your name.” Listen here.

Taylor Swift - Ours
19

“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.” Listen here.

Our Song
18

“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.” Listen here.

Taylor Swift - Red

Amanda Schwab/Starpix/Shutterstock

17

“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.” Listen here.

Taylor Swift - New Years Day

Jun Sato/TAS18/Getty Images

16

“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.

Taylor Swift - Fifteen
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 years ago.

Best line: “We both cried.” Listen here.

Taylor Swift - Clean

Christopher Polk/Getty Images

14

“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.

Taylor Swift - Getaway Car

Jason Kempin/TAS18/Getty Images

13

“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 informs 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.

Taylor Swift - Enchanted

Larry Busacca/Getty Images

12

“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.

Taylor Swift - The Archer

Chelsea Lauren/Shutterstock

11

“The Archer” (2019)

For a few weeks last summer, this was the world’s favorite new Taylor song, until she dropped “Lover,” which stole all the thunder because it’s even better. So “The Archer” is underrated at this point. But it’s the ultimate Goth Tay powerhouse: obsessed with revenge and guilt, shooting poison arrows into her own heart, still trying to settle the score after the battle’s over. She’s an emotional Arya Stark who never gets to cross any names off her list, because she always needs to get in one more stab. (Taylor would be wiping the blood off her sword saying, “Oh, and another thing.” That’s why we relate, right?) One of the absolute most hair-raising moments in her music: when she switches from “they see right through me” to “I see right through me!”

Best line: “All of my heroes die all alone / Help me hold on to you.” Listen here.

Taylor Swift - Holy Ground

Ken McKay/Thames/Shutterstock

10

“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.

Taylor Swift - Dear John

Matt Sayles/AP/Shutterstock

9

“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.

Taylor Swift - We Are Never Getting Back Together
8

“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?” Listen here.

Taylor Swift - Blank Space
7

“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.

Taylor Swift - Long Live

Owen Sweeney/Shutterstock

6

“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.” Listen here.

Taylor Swift - Lover
5

“Lover” (2019)

Ladies and gentlemen, will you please stand? This mid-August bombshell is the kind of majestic 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.

 

Taylor Swift - Delicate
4

“Delicate” (2017)

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

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