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 - Jump Then Fall

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103

“Jump Then Fall” (2009)

Ironclad rule of pop music: Songs about jumping are never a bad idea. Dig that “listens to Sublime once” vocal.

Best line: “I watch you talk, you didn’t
notice.”

Taylor Swift - Breathless

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102

“Breathless” (2010)

Digging deep in the Nineties modern-rock crates, she does right by a previously obscure (to me) nugget from the New Orleans band Better Than Ezra – from 2005!, 10 years after their MTV hit! – as a charity benefit for the Hope for Haiti Now album.

Best line: “I’ll never judge you/I can only love you.”

Taylor Swift - Christmas Tree Farm
101

“Christmas Tree Farm” (2019)

Once upon a time, many Christmasses ago, the label made poor Taylor bang out a shoddy little holiday quickie in time for December. She must have wondered, “Why is this happening? Why am I singing ‘Santa Baby’? WTF, shouldn’t I be singing about how I literally grew up on a Christmas tree farm?” It took a few years, but she finally got to jingle all the way, with this impeccably cozy carol.

Best line: “Sweet dreams of holly and ribbon / Mistakes are forgiven.”

Taylor Swift - You Are In Love

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100

“You Are in Love” (2014)

Another through-the-years romance, featuring a snowglobe. This 1989 outtake was forgotten for years, until she cleverly interpolated it into the “Lover” video — where it all takes place inside the snowglobe. This woman sure knows how to play the long game.

Best line: “For once you let go of your fears and your ghosts.”

Taylor Swift - King Of My Heart

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99

“King of My Heart” (2017)

Love how this American queen pronounces “Jag-yew-waaar” – has she been listening to Hall & Oates, or has she just reached the English-accent point in her fame arc?

Best line: “Up on the roof with a schoolgirl crush / Drinking beer out of plastic cups.”

Taylor Swift - Superstar

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98

“Superstar” (2009)

“You smile that beautiful smile, and all the girls in the front row scream your name.” No relation to the 1969 Leon Russell and Bonnie Bramlett ballad immortalized by the Carpenters – except they’re both poignant ballads about groupies crushing on distant guitar boys. Well, as Journey warned, lovin’ a music man ain’t always what it’s supposed to be.

Best line: “You sing me to sleep every night from the radio.”

Taylor Swift - False God

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97

“False God” (2019)

Her wintry tribute to Eighties R&B — that sax sounds like it dropped in from a lost Sade album between Promise and Love Deluxe. The highlight of “False God” is the final 30 seconds, where she sings exactly like Drake. She’s showing off, but it’s all right.

Best line: “Staring out the window like I’m not your favorite town / I’m New York City.”

Taylor Swift - Crazier

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96

“Crazier” (2009)

Her ballad from Hannah Montana: The Movie, snagging her a cameo in the film. (But the highlight of the soundtrack will always be “Hoedown Throwdown.”) This is where Taylor and Miley crossed light sabers – although they’d meet again. Great title, too – even Taylor might probably admit Miley had her beat in this department, at least until the “Blank Space” video.

Best line: “Every sky was your own kind of blue.”

Taylor Swift - Innocent

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95

“Innocent” (2010)

Little-known fact: Did you know Kanye West once went onstage to interrupt Swift’s acceptance speech at the VMAs and threw a misogynist tantrum about how she didn’t deserve an award? Strange but true! “Innocent” was her song publicly forgiving him — nine freaking years ago — then they both released brilliant albums and we all moved on with our lives. Dear Lord, if only this story had ended there.

Best line: “It’s OK / Life is a tough crowd.”

Taylor Swift - Tied Together With A Smile

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94

“Tied Together With a Smile” (2006)

An unsung highlight of the debut – a teen pep talk about self-esteem.

Best line: “Seems the only one who doesn’t see your beauty/Is the face in the mirror looking back at you.”

Taylor Swift - Last Christmas

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93

“Last Christmas” (2007)

Tay does the Wham! legacy proud – she should have also covered “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.” The ache and quaver of her voice fit the George Michael melancholy; this might be the saddest “Last Christmas” since the original. Plenty of us communed with this version on Christmas 2016, the night we said goodbye to the guy who wrote it. R.I.P., George Michael.

Best line: “A girl on a cover but you tore her apart.”

Taylor Swift - Tell Me Why

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92

“Tell Me Why” (2008)

From Neil Young to the Beatles, “Tell Me Why” songs are tough to screw up, and even at 19, Tay’s too seasoned to let that happen.

Best line: “I need you like a heartbeat/But you know you got a mean streak.”

Taylor Swift - Paper Rings

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91

“Paper Rings” (2019)

“The moon was high like your friends were the night that we first met” is quite an opening line, and she lives up to it. A girl-group tribute with a pop-punk surge — a song Joey Ramone should have lived long enough to sing. “I wake up in the night and watch you breathe” is a bone tossed to all of us who still fall apart at the bridge of “Last Kiss.”

Best line: “I hate accidents, except when we went from friends to this.”

Taylor Swift - Beautiful Eyes

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90

“Beautiful Eyes” (2008)

If you’re a fan of Swift’s Nineties modern-rock radio jones – one of her most fruitful long-running obsessions – check out this shameless tribute to the Cranberries. (But did she have to let it linger? Did she have to? Did she have to?)

Best line: “Baby, make me fly.”

Taylor Swift - Speak Now

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89

“Speak Now” (2010)

In real-life weddings, the preacher hardly ever invites the groom’s ex up to interrupt the ceremony. But if you’re a fan of Tay in stalker mode, this is priceless – crouching behind the curtains in the back of the church, waiting to pounce. “Horrified looks from everyone in the room” – you don’t say.

Best line: “It seems I was uninvited by your lovely bride-to-be.”

Taylor Swift - Beautiful Ghosts

Universal Pictures

88

“Beautiful Ghosts” (2019)

Talk about a perfect title — how is it possible Taylor hasn’t already written a song called “Beautiful Ghosts”? She wrote this with Andrew Lloyd Webber for the Cats soundtrack — as she said, “If you can’t get T.S. Eliot, get T.S.” (Fact: Taylor could have done “The Waste Land” but Eliot couldn’t have done “Blank Space.”) How do we have to wait for a song called “Sad Beautiful Tragic Ghost Cats”?

Best line: “I watch from the dark, wait for my life to start / With no beauty in my memory.”

Taylor Swift - Everything Has Changed
87

“Everything Has Changed” (ft. Ed Sheeran) (2012)

She and Ed Sheeran wrote this duet together in her backyard while bouncing on a trampoline, because of course they did. Why is Ed always her best duet partner? Because you can hear that he’s really listening to her.

Best line: “All I’ve seen since 18 hours ago is green eyes and freckles and your smile.”

Taylor Swift - Better Than Revenge

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86

“Better Than Revenge” (2010)

One of the basic rules of stardom is “never punch down” – don’t go after somebody one-thousandth as famous as you – but rules were made to be broken, and Taylor is the girl made to break them. Here, she goes Bruce Lee on a sexual rival who may or may not be the actress who had Alyssa Milano as her babysitter in the erotic thriller Poison Ivy 2. But as usual with Swift, her self-owns are the funniest part of the song.

Best line: “She thinks I’m psycho because I like to rhyme her name with things.”

Taylor Swift - Dancing With Our Hands Tied

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85

“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.”

Taylor Swift - Shake It Off
84

“Shake It Off” (2014)

A clever transitional single – great verses, grating chorus, pithy lyrics with a shout-out to her obvious inspiration, Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own.” As a lead single, “Shake It Off” might have seemed meager after 1989 came out – she was holding back “Blank Space” and “Style” and (Lord have mercy) “New Romantics” for this? But “Shake It Off” got the job done, serving as a trailer to announce her daring Eighties synth-pop makeover.

Best line: “It’s like I got this music in my mind, saying it’s gonna be all right.”

Taylor Swift - Drops Of Jupiter

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83

“Drops of Jupiter” (2011)

I mistakenly thought this Train hit was deep-fried garbage until I heard Swift’s version and realized, “Hey, she’s right – this is the best soy latte I’ve ever had!” Props to Tay for bringing out the hidden greatness in this song – the stargazing lyrics and her voice go together like Mozart and tae bo. (The astrophysicist in my life would like me to point out that you can’t “make it to the Milky Way” because that’s the galaxy we already live in. In fact, you couldn’t leave the Milky Way if you tried. Science!)

Best line: “Tell me, did Venus blow your mind?”

Taylor Swift - Haunted

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82

“Haunted” (2010)

Enchanted to meet you, Goth Taylor. We’ll meet again.

Best line: “Something keeps me holding on to nothing.”

Taylor Swift - Today Was A Fairytale

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81

“Today Was a Fairytale” (2011)

Don’t let the title scare you away – it’s a plainspoken and genuinely touching play-by-play recap of a worthwhile date. In fact, “Today Was a Fairytale” and “If This Was a Movie” should trade titles, since this one feels realer and would make a better movie. It could rank higher, except she hugely improved it when she rewrote it as “Begin Again.” (Docked a couple notches for coming from the soundtrack of Valentine’s Day, which is the most dog-vomit flick Jessica Alba has ever made, and I say that as someone who paid money to see The Love Guru.)

Best line: “I wore a dress/You wore a dark gray T-shirt.”

Taylor Swift - All You Had To Do Was Stay

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80

“All You Had to Do Was Stay” (2014)

A 1989 banger that could have made an excellent single – it sounds a bit like “Out of the Woods,” except with a livelier chorus and a stormier range of electro-Tay sound effects.

Best line: “Let me remind you this was what you wanted.”

Taylor Swift - Eyes Open

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79

“Eyes Open” (2012)

Finally, her long-overdue metal move, from The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond.

Best line: “Every lesson forms a new scar.”

Taylor Swift - This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

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78

“This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” (2017)

The most “therein” moment on Reputation. Also the only song (after “Look What You Made Me Do”) devoted to the album’s alleged celebrity-complaints concept, though shrewdly playing it for kicks and giggles. “Therein lies the issue” is some quality Swiftian spite content, but it’s that sadistic tongue-clicking “mmm-mmmm” before the second chorus that really brings the Judgement Tay. “Here’s to my mama, had to listen to all this drama” – has your mom met you? She might be used to that by now.

Best line: “Feeling so Gatsby for that whole year.”

Taylor Swift - Stay Stay Stay

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77

“Stay Stay Stay” (2012)

“Before you, I’d only dated self-indulgent takers” – but here she turns into a self-indulgent taker herself and (surprise!) she likes it, a phone-throwing nightmare dressed like a grocery-shopping daydream. She finally meets a guy who can roll with her mood swings – even if she’s more in love with the mood swings than with the guy.

Best line: “You came in wearing a football helmet and said, ‘Okay, let’s talk.'”

Taylor Swift - You Belong With Me
76

“You Belong With Me” (2008)

One of her most pop-friendly early hits, singing in the role of a high school geek crushing on her best guy friend. When he comes out in college, they’ll have a few laughs about this. And never let us forget the wisdom of Alicia Silverstone in Clueless: “Searching for a boy in high school is as useless as searching for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie.”

Best line: “She wears high heels, I wear sneakers/She’s cheer captain, and I’m on the bleachers.”

Taylor Swift - So It Goes

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75

“So It Goes…” (2017)

She falls under the hypnotic spell of a magician, who gets her heart trip-trip-tripping and skip-skip-skipping. For a magic trick of her own, she stops the music cold to whisper “one-two-three.” A great moment that lets you know Swift – like the rest of us – has been listening to Lorde lately.

Best line: “I’m so chill but you make me jealous.”

Taylor Swift - You're Not Sorry

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74

“You’re Not Sorry” (2008)

A dramatic piano-and-strings ballad from Fearless, showing off how much her voice has deepened between her first two albums.

Best line: “It’s taken me this long, baby, but I figured you out.”

Taylor Swift - Bette Davis Eyes

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73

“Bette Davis Eyes” (2010)

Her kickiest left-field cover, from Speak Now Live. “I’d love to play you some music that I’m a fan of that’s come from L.A. – is that OK?” she asks the West Coast crowd, strumming her guitar. “This one came out in 1981 – eight years before I was born!” Virtually nobody seems to recognize it or sing along. Kim Carnes hit Number One with “Bette Davis Eyes,” but it was written by the great Jackie DeShannon, the only songwriter to collaborate with both Randy Newman and Jimmy Page. (Page wrote “Tangerine” for DeShannon!) The fact that Swift loves this classic ode to romantic espionage explains a lot.

Best line: “She’s pure as New York snow/She’s got Bette Davis eyes.”

Taylor Swift - The Lucky One

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72

“The Lucky One” (2012)

She’s so lucky, she’s a star. For the record, T.S. did cover “Lucky” live once (and damn well, too), as a Britney tribute in Louisiana back in 2011.

Best line: “It’s big black cars and Riviera views/And your lover in the foyer doesn’t even know you.”

Taylor Swift - Gorgeous

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71

“Gorgeous” (2017)

Swift hits the club with her older boyfriend and gets her pheromones scrambled by the sweet young thing across the room. 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. This song could rate higher, except she basically did an even better version with “You Need to Calm Down.”

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

Taylor Swift - I Think He Knows

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70

“I Think He Knows” (2019)

Lusty finger-snaps, crushed-out heavy breathing, skipping down 16th Avenue. (Isn’t that underwater in the Hudson River?) “It’s like I’m 17 / Nobody understands” is hilarious considering that when she was 17, she had the world wired to every teardrop on her guitar.

Best line: “He’s so obsessed with me, and boy, I understand.”

Taylor Swift - Come Back Be Here

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69

“Come Back…Be Here” (2012)

A yearning prayer for a rock & roll boy on tour, weak in the knees as she pleads for him to jet back on any terms he chooses.

Best line: “I guess you’re in London today.”

Taylor Swift - Starlight

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68

“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.”

Taylor Swift - Don't Blame Me

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67

“Don’t Blame Me” (2017)

She tries on the moody “bad girl goes to church” vibe of Madonna circa Like a Prayer – addicted to love, falling from grace, going down on her knees to beg for one more kiss.

Best line: “My name is whatever you decide.”

Taylor Swift- Forever and Always

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66

“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?”

Taylor Swift - Back To December
65

“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.”

Taylor Swift - Ready For It
64

“…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.”

Taylor Swift - Out Of The Woods
63

“Out of the Woods” (2014)

If she follows through on her threat to remake her entire catalog, this song stands to gain most. Jack Antonoff was just learning how to record her voice, and wow, he wasn’t even halfway there yet — it’s the production equivalent of a snowmobile wreck. Why did he think this tune needed male Tarzan yodels? The song deserves a do-over, since the lyrics are packed with poignant details — did they take the Polaroid couch selfie before or after they moved the furniture so they could dance? The best version is live at the Grammy Museum in 2015 — no yodels, just Taylor emoting at her piano.

Best line: “Two paper airplanes flying, flying, flying.”

Taylor Swift - Death By One Thousand Cuts

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62

“Death By a Thousand Cuts” (2019)

The saddest break-up song ever inspired by a movie where Gina Rodriguez plays a Rolling Stone music critic, in Jenn Kaytin Robinson’s Oscar-worthy Netflix comedy, Someone Great. Good question: “If the story’s over, why am I still writing pages?” Taylor, have you met yourself?

Best line: “I asked the traffic lights if it’ll be all right / They say ‘I don’t know.’”

Taylor Swift - I Almost Do

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61

“I Almost Do” (2012)

We’re already at the zone on this list where every song seems like it should be ranked even higher, except it’s just so crowded at the top. For almost any other artist, “I Almost Do” would have been a career peak. A Red slow jam that could have worked even better sped up into a punked-out rocker — though it’s plenty affecting as is.

Best line: “Every time I don’t, I almost do.”

Taylor Swift - Welcome To New York

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60

“Welcome to New York” (2014)

People sure do love to complain about this song – in fact, the most authentically New York thing about it is how it sends people into spasms of mouth-foaming outrage. An explicitly queer-positive disco ode to arrivistes stepping out in the city that invented disco – “You can want who you want, boys and boys and girls and girls” – that will be bugging the crap out of you in rom-coms for years to come. (It made me throw a napkin at my in-flight screen during How to Be Single, when Dakota Johnson’s cab is going the wrong way on the Brooklyn Bridge – and I love this song.) Bumped up a few bonus notches for pissing everyone off, since that’s one of this girl’s superpowers.

Best line: “Searching for a sound we haven’t heard before/And it said welcome to New York.”

Taylor Swift - Wonderland

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59

“Wonderland” (2014)

Why did it take her five albums to get to Alice in Wonderland? Needless to say, Taylor Alison Swift fits right in on the other side of the looking glass, with white rabbits and Cheshire cats. Feed your head!

Best line: “It’s all fun and games till someone loses their mind.”

Taylor Swift - Afterglow

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58

“Afterglow” (2019)

An ode to making up after a fight that was all your fault: “Tell me that I’m all you want / Even when I break your heart.” In a good old-fashioned Taylor metaphor party, she compares herself to an arsonist, a wrestler, an island, a prison warden and an ambulance siren.

Best line: “Fighting with a true love is boxing with no gloves.”

Taylor Swift - Love Story
57

“Love Story” (2008)

Romeo meets Juliet: Proof that star-crossed teen romances never go out of style. But changing the plot of Romeo and Juliet so these two crazy kids end up together — now that’s some endearing Taylor hubris. She keeps going back to the well of Shakespearean tragedy, quoting Julius Caesar in the “Look What You Made Me Do” video. It’s never been clear what the line, “I was a scarlet letter,” is doing in this song, but now it’s a hint that Tay was just a few years away from going Full Hester Prynne in “New Romantics.”

Best line: “Just say yes.”

Taylor Swift - Treacherous

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56

“Treacherous” (2012)

“Put your lips close to mine/As long as they don’t touch” – now there’s an entrance line. Taylor braves the ski slopes of love, with a seething acoustic guitar that finally detonates halfway though. A weird sonic detail: if you play this immediately after Joni Mitchell’s “People’s Parties,” the transition is almost frighteningly perfect.

Best line: “Nothing safe is worth the drive.”

Taylor Swift - Miss Americana

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55

“Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince” (2019)

She has explained that this Lana-esque tale is a veiled allegory about the midterm elections, but it hits home as a “Fifteen” sequel, looking at the whole country as one big high school where the damsels are depressed, and the mean cheerleaders leer at bad, bad girls.

Best line: “The whole school is rolling fake dice / You play stupid games, you win stupid prizes.”

Taylor Swift - I Know Places

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54

“I Know Places” (2014)

She goes all Kate Bush, pursued across the moors by the hounds of love. This 1989 deep cut is underrated, but count on “I Know Places” to loom large in her canon over the years.

Best line: “My love, they are the hunters, we are the foxes.”

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