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 - 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

Robert E Klein/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

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

Matt Sayles/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

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

John Shearer/Getty Images

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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