Ten Taylor Swift Songs That Just. Hit. Different.

When my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer my senior year of high school, I couldn't shake this worry that something awful might happen to her. The uncertainty was overwhelming, and I wanted more than anything for life to return to normal. Taylor Swift had put out Lover just a few months prior, and I became drawn to the song Soon You’ll Get Better featuring The Chicks. It felt like Taylor was speaking to my mom and I. Eventually, my mom recovered and is as strong as ever.

Like most people, I’ve grown up with Taylor Swift. I remember sitting in a car seat singing Love Story, not quite singing the right words, but the emotion and intention were there. I was drawn to her shiny tour outfits and her confidence. I wanted to be just like her. 

Navigating my life now, I understand there is a Taylor song for every situation, every feeling and emotion. From that love-at-first-sight enchantment, to asking the existential, late-night, “forever?” questions, to the breakup ballads that made more sense when I began collecting pieces of someone else’s wardrobe or walking past our favorite coffee place. Her “Maple Lattes” are my “Iced caramel with oat milk.”

Tay has held my hand for every moment -- picking up the pieces and giving me a hug through her bridges and choruses, mending a broken heart and wiping mascara-stained tears that I didn't think would stop. She brings clarity through every chord and a big-sister perspective to my situation as if she’d been by my side the entire time. So, if you need a Taylor song to get pumped up to, a song to cry to, or one to make you smile, here is my top ten list of Taylor Swift songs that just. Hit. Different.

 

  1. 1. Paper Rings

    A song I feel is often skipped over, a hidden gem within the glittery pastels of Lover. This is a song to sing when cleaning on a Saturday morning while making brunch, or even in the back of an Uber. In production, the snappy drums and tambourine hits give this song a live band feel. "Paper Rings" is perfect to sing to someone you love -- a bestie or lover, someone you know will stick by your side for worse or for better, “shiny things” or “paper rings.” 

    What makes this song so good: Jack Antonoff, who has helped Taylor produce her most recent albums from 1989 and on, counting “1-2-1-2-3-4!” which adds up to 13, her lucky number (her genius mind), and the call and response “Uh-huh”, “Alright”s round out the song nicely.

    Listen on Spotify here.

  2. 2. Don't Blame Me

    Serving as the fourth track on Reputation, this hard hitting, percussive track fits into the background for a girls night or getting ready for a night out. "Don’t Blame Me" has an icy cold sound, exploring dark undertones of deep love in a sexy and empowering way. Reputation closes the chapter on Taylor’s “good girl” image and shows us that you can bounce back from adversity and come out back on top.

    What makes this song so good: Taylor shows her incredible range in the bridge, something she doesn’t often showcase, cutting the music and bringing in layered harmonies. This is a perfect song to add to a winter playlist.

    Listen on Spotify here.

  3. 3. New Year's Day

    "New Years Day" has a tinny, sparkling sound that feels like the Sunday morning after a long night out. This song makes you nostalgic for early mornings, cleaning up red cups and hanging jackets, stashed away until the next Saturday, layered over a short dress and sneakers. This song is simplistic in its production, her effortless lyricism and voice carry the song without overpowering the soft piano.

    What makes this song so good: Lyrics like “I want your midnights//Please don’t ever become a stranger whose laugh I could recognize anywhere//You and me forevermore.” Such beautiful statements that are juxtaposed to the hard-hitting bangers of Reputation, like "Ready for It?" And "I Did Something Bad"

    Listen on Spotify here.

  4. 4. Treacherous

    Call me jaded, but this is my favorite Taylor song of all time. This one gives me butterflies, warm fuzzies, and reminds me that it’s okay to like that "Treacherous" feeling of the initial jump off the deep end when you begin to see someone. It’s diving in eyes closed, head first.

    What makes this song so good: “I hear the sound of my own voice, asking you to stay”//”forever going with the flow, but you’re friction.” Lyricism is obviously a skill that comes instinctually to Taylor. Red remains one of the best albums of the 2010s, giving a new definition to pop music. And the BRIDGE? Baby, the bridge. She just gets it right every time.

    Listen on Spotify here.

  5. 5. You Are In Love

    This movie-scape, romantic, picturesque, deluxe edition track really just hits different, ya know? Taylor whisks you through the beginning stages of a relationship -- that wave of emotion that creeps up and hits you all at once -- you are in love. 

    What makes this song so good: This song makes you feel everything. The lyrics seem to complete each other -- “Morning, his place//Burnt Toast, Sunday.” Capturing the small, defining moments that make love worth it. This song should play in the background of all little moments -- slow dancing in the kitchen at 2 am and rainy, early mornings spent stirring creamer into hot coffee. 

    Listen on Spotify here.

  6. 6. Death By A Thousand Cuts

    While Lover is an album that encapsulates her relationship with longtime boyfriend, Joe Alwyn, Taylor still manages to write about heartbreak, just in a different perspective. This song is inspired by Someone Great, a movie about a last hurrah in New York City after a devastating breakup. 

    What makes this song so good: Taylor Swift and Jack Antonoff produce magic when in collaboration; this bridge is key evidence to support that. This is a song that hurts so good, described by Swift herself as “a sad bop.”

    Listen on Spotify here.

  7. 7. Invisible String

    In this folk-y, When Harry Met Sally, love letter of a song, Taylor conveys her love through references to older works like "Bad Blood" and "Delicate". This is the song for the person who ties you into a bow with a golden thread. "Invisible String" is one of the prettiest songs, detailing small moments of her relationship through their lives separately and now together. 

    What makes this song so good: The indirect shade towards former boyfriend Joe Jonas, showing how she has grown and matured and how we bear witness to that through her songwriting.

    Listen on Spotify here.

  8. 8. Delicate

    On Reputation, this is the first track where she appears open and vulnerable. Taylor has an ongoing theme of the fifth track on each album being the saddest; previous tracks including "All Too Well" and "Dear John". This is one of my favorite songs, and it sounds like the beginning stages of a relationship. Sonically, the distortion of her voice through vocoder paired with layered harmonies helps to redefine her sound, attacking pop music from a completely different angle. 

    What makes this song so good: The profound imagery of meeting someone and getting nervous about whether or not they will like you. As juvenile as it sounds, everyone experiences this feeling at some point, giving the song a relatable quality.

    Listen on Spotify here.

  9. 9. Last Kiss

    Damn this song is sad. Like so unbelievably sad that I have received texts asking if I was okay because my friends saw I was listening to this on my Spotify. One comforting aspect is that Taylor Swift, a powerful and confident woman who runs the music industry, also goes through messy breakups. She has experienced desperation, hopelessness, she’s been exactly where we all have. 

    What makes this song so good: “I hope the sun shines and it’s a beautiful day // and something reminds you, you wished you had stayed” After the sadness begins to wash away, it is okay to accept losses, reflect, and want the best for someone, regardless of how things ended. Give yourself one or two days to listen to this and feel the emotions pour out, but then after that, it’s time to boss up and put on Reputation.

    Listen on Spotify here.

  10. 10. Cruel Summer

    This should have been a single on Lover and I fully stand by that. This woman knows how to write a bridge; there’s so much conviction paired with vulnerability and uncertainty that one would find “in breakable heaven.” I know I am not the first to say this, some of the lyrics simply don’t make sense, but the song is so damn good. This is a windows-down driving, shower-singing anthem that can only be sung in a single breath performance. 

    What makes this song so good: Wicked lyrics like “Devils roll the dice, angels roll their eyes” and the height of the bridge, a passionate “He looks up grinning like a devil!” Hitting this impressive climax before the music explodes back into hot, hazy reality. This is a song that I don’t mind at all having stuck in my head, and now have gotten it stuck in everyone else’s.

    Listen on Spotify here.

I can't just leave you with ten songs, so here's a full playlist of my favorite songs of hers: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7voEyCcSXSX5ndAHLccMLA?si=BqDRg3C3RoOW...