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Taylor Swift’s 13 Most Underrated Songs, in Celebration of Red (Taylor’s Version)

These days, Taylor Swift is so popular that it’s hard to say if any of her songs are underrated. There are her evergreen pop hits—think “I Knew You Were Trouble,” “Blank Space,” and “22”—heard on the radio a thousand times. Then there’s classic Taylor Swift, country-esque jams that hover in the Spotify queue at any dance party (“You Belong with Me,” “Love Story,” “Picture to Burn”). The fandom has its hallowed favorites, including “All Too Well,” “Clean,” “Betty,” and a few others. And of course, most Taylor Swift listeners have their own personal ballads, the songs that got them through the past fifteen years. (For me, it would be “Long Live” and “Invisible,” among others).

Once you add up all of those favorites, it starts to look like Taylor’s entire discography is included! But in honor of Red (Taylor’s Version) debuting last week to rousing success, I want to take a moment to look back on some of her songs that don’t quite get the love they deserve.

  1. A Place in this World: Back to the beginning! This song off Taylor’s debut is simple and one of the shortest on the album. You can hear Taylor’s young, country voice and it becomes apparent that yes, a sixteen-year-old recorded this. But the challenge it speaks to isn’t a fleeting teenage worry: it’s a very present one still! I don’t know what’s down this road—do you? We’re all just walking, and trying to find a place in this world. It’s a college girl anthem. 
  2. Tied Together with a Smile: Another song I didn’t understand in elementary school, when I was listening to this album on my iPod touch. It’s poignant, and speaks of perfectionism. We can’t depend on other people for our self-worth and happiness, Taylor says. Smile for yourself, not the people who might see.
  3. The Way I Loved You (Taylor’s Version): This song is popular, but it deserves so much more. It’s a perfect song for emphatically dancing with friends or alone in your dorm. Even if you’ve never experienced a wild, crazy, frustrating, intoxicating, complicated, got away by some mistake breakup like this one  (which I haven’t, and I’m not sure Taylor had when she wrote this song), you can still sing your lungs out. Every word hits.
  4. Untouchable (Taylor’s Version): I am forever an advocate for this song. It’s a long, slow burn. The lyrics and sound are delicate: “A million little stars spelling out your name” is so pretty. Sometimes, you need to be swept away by a gradual ballad, the slow buildup to unrequited yearning, the hopefulness still underneath it. Come on, come on!
  5. Forever and Always (piano version) (Taylor’s Version): I know you know this one. This was the song I was most excited for on Taylor’s re-recording of Fearless, because it is so beautiful. I’m a sucker for piano and acoustic versions of songs, but this one is particularly special. The patterns on the piano, rather than plain chords, and Taylor’s light, wrenching voice—enough said. Go listen!
  6. Innocent: Another slow song, this one from Speak Now. My personal taste may be showing through. Fans often say Innocent is about Kanye, but when I hear “Time turns flames to embers / You’ll have new Septembers / Everyone of us has messed up too” and “Today is never too late to be brand new,” I hear a reminder that all of us can change, and do change. You don’t have to have stormed on stage during the VMAs to resonate with the need for forgiveness, to be told that it’s okay to make mistakes.
  7. Girl at Home (Taylor’s Version): Specifically the re-recording for this one, because it is an absolute gem. Taylor electronified this song for her new version, a very wise choice. It’s fun and empowering and catchy. It sounds, in this new iteration, like it could have been on 1989.
  8. I Wish You Would: Speaking of 1989, I have to recommend the least streamed song on the album. It is a celebration of Taylor’s pop era and a reminder that it is okay to take joy in pop music! Not all hours are indie-girl sad hours. The modulations, rhythmic layering, and clean synth (thanks, Jack Antonoff) are all ingredients for a joyous experience. Now you can stop listening to Bad Blood, finally!
  9. You Are In Love: I misspoke—this song is actually the least streamed on 1989, the deluxe album. Somehow, I didn’t hear it until 2018, four years after its release. It’s again full of lovely synth, this time soft and gentle. And it’s so hopeful and yearning; you can hear Taylor Swift manifesting, wishing, hoping for true love, whispering into the void.
  10. Dancing With Our Hands Tied: This is my favorite Taylor Swift song of all time. All time! On the Reputation tour, she played a heavenly acoustic version, although I would have loved to hear the original song fill up a football stadium. It’s also a nostalgic reminder of late 2017 and Taylor’s return (and the TSL app, which I sometimes think was a fever dream)…
  11. Afterglow: Afterglow isn’t my top song off Lover, but I have to shout it out for its vulnerability and lyrical topic: a couple recovering from a fight, and being honest enough to apologize and admit wrong. It’s mature, and contemplative, and pretty. 
  12. peace: Perhaps controversial, but I think peace is the best song on folklore. Again, this song feels exceedingly honest and vulnerable, and it’s not overstated. It feels like a true, messy, mature love song. And Taylor’s voice is impeccable. 
  13. ‘tis the damn season: Lastly, number thirteen, is Taylor’s perfect, contemplative Christmas tune off evermore. I highly recommend going on a brisk fall walk (while the sun is still up) and listening to this. It’ll make you long for the holiday season and rethink your entire life at the same time, something only Ms. Taylor Swift could accomplish.

Hi! I am a creative writer and runner at Brown University. I love to study language from all angles. On the weekends, you can find me biking around Providence or exploring new food adventures.
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