Taylor Swift

Every Taylor Swift Album, Ranked by a Swiftie

I have unapologetically been a Swiftie since Taylor Swift’s country days. Since being subscribed to Apple Music, I have listened to 57,690 minutes of stories uncovering the meaning of love, heartbreak, and everything that falls in between. I have seen Taylor perform live twice, both of those nights being some of the most magical nights of my life. Out of my ten most-played albums, five of those spots are occupied by Swift; how could I choose a singular favorite? Today, I am attempting to do the impossible: rank Taylor’s eight albums, even though each one has helped shape me into the woman I am today.

Most music critics probably won’t agree with my ranking, just as some of my fellow Swifties won’t. To be honest with you, in a month from now, I may not completely agree with myself. This ranking is based on how each album has made me feel, helped me heal, and forced me to dance. My ranking is also influenced by song lyrics and the cohesiveness of each album. So, here it goes.

Speak Now

My favorite Taylor Swift album— and my favorite album of all time— has to be Speak Now. Swift wrote each song on the album completely on her own, as a response to critics who said she didn’t write her own music (what a power move). While some say the album isn’t very cohesive, I think it encapsulates the years of teen romance perfectly. From the magical feeling of meeting a lover for the first time as described in “Enchanted,” to the heartbreak after the end of a toxic relationship sung about in “Dear John,” each song tells a unique story. Swift leans into her country roots, but adds elements of pop which allow her to transition to her next album, Red. Although there is quite a bit of controversy about the misogynistic lyrics in “Better than Revenge,” I think the song is an example of the naivety that comes with being young and in love. “I was 17 when I wrote that,” Swift said when talking about “Better than Revenge.” “That’s the age you are when you think someone can actually take your boyfriend. Then you grow up and realize no one takes someone from you if they don’t want to leave.” All of the songs may not fit together perfectly, but the messiness and raw emotion of each lyric is reflective of how it feels to be young, confused, and in love. I see a bit of my high school self in each song and feel understood whenever I give Speak Now a listen. Favorite songs: “Sparks Fly,” “Back to December,” “Dear John,” “Enchanted”

1989

1989 never fails to make me get up and dance. My first concert was the 1989 World Tour, which is partly why this album has a special place in my heart and is the second album on this list. When you see songs performed live, you develop a new understanding and appreciation for them. Not only is 1989 a defining album when looking at the shift in Swift’s career from country to pop, but it also marks a shift in the way she handles hate from the media. “Blank Space” is featured as the second song on the album, and one of my favorite Taylor Swift songs of all time. She takes all of the media’s assumptions about her dating habits and uses satire to reclaim the power the media had over her love life. In “Shake it Off,” Swift addresses her haters and sings about shaking off any negativity. 1989 was Taylor’s first time experimenting with pop music, and it still managed to be one of the best pop albums of all time. Not to mention all three of the songs featured on the Deluxe version (“Wonderland,” “You Are In Love,” and “New Romantics”) match up to the energy and lyricism of the original. The vintage vibes are immaculate, and you can cry, laugh, dance, and enjoy being in love when listening to this album. It screams summer and simpler times; I can’t even begin to explain the joy and emotions that course through my veins when I hear any song off of 1989.  Favorite Songs: “Blank Space,” “All You Had to Do Was Stay,” “New Romantics (Deluxe),” “Wonderland (Deluxe)”

Folklore

Even though Folklore was released less than two months ago, it is already third on my list because it is just that amazing. Swift leans back into her country roots which I appreciate, and you can tell each song truly comes from her heart. Swift revealed that it took less than three months to create Folklore, which is something I still can’t wrap my head around. In this short period of time, Swift managed to complete her most sonically cohesive album yet. Not only that, but the story of a high school love triangle is hidden in the album. Swfities quickly discovered that the love triangle is explained through the songs “Cardigan,” “August,” and “Betty.” “Cardigan” is from Betty’s perspective and explains that she always knew her lover, James, would come back to her. James' perspective is shared in the song “Betty“, when he apologizes for his summer fling and reveals that he misses her. “August” is from “the other woman’s” perspective. We never learn her name, but know that she was more invested in the relationship than James ever was. The love triangle shows how detail-oriented Swift is, and that none of her choices go unthought about. Her ability to write lyrics about a story that isn’t hers further showcases her talent as a songwriter. Some of my favorite Taylor Swift lyrics of all time come from Folklore.  Can we just take a minute to appreciate “leaving like a father, running like water” and “back when I was living for the hope of it all?” Genius. Folklore was everything I needed during quarantine and during this pandemic: it is kissing your lover drunk in the rain, flowers placed in your hair, and an oversized cardigan wrapped around you in the fall. Favorite songs: “Cardigan,” “Seven,” “August,” “Betty”

Red

All Swifties stan Red, and that is no mistake. While the album is country, the elements of pop that Swift incorporates into her music become more apparent in this masterpiece. “All Too Well” is a reason to praise Red alone. The song takes you through the timeline of a relationship that initially feels safe and like home, and then quickly turns toxic. The line “maybe we got lost in translation, maybe I ask for too much” highlights the concept of initially blaming ourselves when a relationship fails. “I Knew You Were Trouble” is a song that almost everyone can relate to, and “22” never fails to make people scream out it’s lyrics. While listening to Red, you can feel the pain in Swift’s voice especially in “The Last Time” when she is begging her lover to prioritize her. The album concludes with “Begin Again”, giving us hope that there is love after heartbreak. Red feels like all things Autumn: leaves changing colors as fast as relationships, an old lovers sweatshirt, and a cool breeze that inevitably brings change, whether you are ready for it or not. If the eight minute version of “All Too Well” is ever found and released, this album just might jump up higher on my list.  Favorite Songs: “Red”, “All Too Well”, “I Knew You Were Trouble”, “Holy Ground”

Fearless

Fearless is such a solid album. The growth in Swift vocals and songwriting ability since her debut album Taylor Swift is apparent. According to Billboard, seven of the tracks on Fearless were written by Swift without co-writers, as opposed to just three songs on Taylor Swift. Similarly to Speak Now, Fearless tells the story of what it means to be young and love (or feelings one interprets as being in love). I think the song that best captures this ideal is “You Belong with Me”. So much of our teen years are spent trying to prove to our love interests that we are the one, and that we are worthy of their love and attention. The music video for the song is one of my favorites because of the fact that Taylor plays both the nerdy and the popular girl that are sung about. Another one of Swift’s most iconic songs, “Love Story” is on this album, which makes the album rank highly for me alone. Swift rewriting one of the most famous yet tragic love stories of all time showcases her creativity as a songwriter. Not to mention “Love Story” is still often a part of Swift’s setlist, and even those who aren’t Swifties know this bop. The passion felt when listening to “The Way I Loved You” also contributes to making Fearless an unforgettable and timeless albums; I can relate to the lyrics as I did when I was fifteen.  Favorite Songs: “Love Story”, “You Belong With Me”, “You’re Not Sorry”, “Forever and Always”

Lover

While there are several songs I love from Lover, the album is not high on this list for several reasons. As far as the singles off the album go, I do not like “ME!” and while the message of LGBTQ+ allyship in “You Need to Calm Down” is great, I don’t like the production of this song. The Lover Era marks the beginning of Swift speaking out on politics (we love a politically active and woke queen), but in all other aspects, the era feels unfinished. There was no hype for a large tour as there had been since Fearless, and Lover Fest got canceled due to COVID-19. Also, I feel cheated because we never got “Cruel Summer” as a single. Even so, there are several songs on Lover that make my heart happy and that I personally connect with, which puts it higher than the last two albums on this list. I’ve cried along to “Death by a Thousand Cuts” more times than I’d like to admit and I regularly listen to “Cornelia Street” as I walk the city of Boston. And I mean, is there any better way to get a serotonin boost then blasting “Cruel Summer?” Favorite Songs: “Cruel Summer,” “Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince,” “Cornelia Street,” “Death by A Thousand Cuts”

Reputation

Swifties have mixed opinions about Reputation, but here is my take. 1989 is one of my favorite pop albums of all time, making it almost impossible to live up to. I love Taylor Swift’s music for so many reasons, but she is my favorite artist primarily because of her lyrics. Lyrically, I just do not feel that Reputation lives up to the previous albums on this list. The message of the album however, is genius. Swift takes being called a snake and uses it as her branding and really plays into this image, but not in the negative way that Kim and Kanye intended it to be. The Reputation Stadium Tour is my favorite concert I have ever been to, and “Getaway Car” makes me feel emotions I can’t explain, but this is about all this album does for me. None of the songs are bad, but none of them stick out in my mind when thinking about my favorite Taylor songs. Favorite songs: “Getaway Car,” “Don’t Blame Me,” “Dancing with Our Hands Tied”

Taylor Swift

I never listen to country music unless it’s Taylor Swift. There is nothing wrong with Taylor’s debut album; however, I would never think to listen to it in its entirety as I do with her other albums. “Picture to Burn” is iconic, and when I was on Tinder, my bio said “if you know the lyrics to our song, you already have my heart.” I think it just might be Taylor’s cutest song ever.  Favorite songs: “Our Song,” “Picture to Burn”