Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Taylor Swift’s two surprise albums this year took the world by storm. The pair started with Folklore in summer 2020, followed more recently by Evermore. Her lyrical genius,  impeccable storytelling, and divergence from her previous style have made these two works of art stand out. Many people, fans included, have pitted the two albums against each other and treated them as separate entities. However, as Swift has said herself, they are sister albums (and therefore part of the same era), so it’s only fair to rank them together as one. Think of it like two chapters of the same book, or a pt 1 and pt 2 of the same movie (very Deathly Hallows). 

[bf_image id="qdzlhy-b4dkw-fow0f9"]

33. Closure

In all honesty, this is my least favorite track. Although the lyricism is lovely, it is much too experimental for my taste. The different noises and track effects added distract me from the actual song, and it feels much too cluttered.

32. Epiphany

This song is beautiful, and Swift’s vocals are clear and melodic. However, despite the story being fairly clear, it has been hard to personally relate to the meaning. It is a quite slow and peaceful song, and while it is not a skip, it is not a particular stand out or repeats. Despite not being “attached” to the song, it earns a higher ranking than “Closure” because of the beautiful melody and sound.

31. Dorothea

“Dorothea” is a fun track, and I would categorize it as a “sweet” song. But unfortunately having great lyrics is not enough to rate it higher because Swift’s main talent is her songwriting capabilities. The song reminds me of summer, the public gardens, and crushes. It is just not very deep, and while that is perfectly fine, I prefer songs that I can connect to, or at least empathize with the characters in the story.

30. The 1

This is another “fun” song—or at least less complex than other tracks on Folklore and Evermore. However, it flows a bit better than “Dorothea” which is why it places higher. The reflection in “The 1” is mature in the way a 25-year-old might reflect on a relationship with her college sweetheart that ended. It is not mature in terms of reflection the way Swift’s other songs are—like a deep, hurting reflection—but the perspective and conclusion the character comes to is still interesting.

29. Coney Island

This track actually features The National, but does not add anything particularly amazing. The storytelling, however, is brilliant, which is why it is placed in this position. Swift’s vocals are soft and beautiful, and the imagery is clear as well. “Coney Island” is nothing spectacular in comparison to other sadder songs within Folklore and Evermore, but there is something melodic and special about the piece regardless.

28. Mirrorball

I love the metaphor within this song. The actual meaning of “Mirrorball” is both sad but truthful, and the fact Swift can convey changing and doing whatever she can to still be admired, loved, and cared about despite growing older is incredible. However, the melody and lyrics feel a bit circular and repetitive. While that may be the point, to me that can get a bit boring, which is why it is not a constant repeat to me. 

27. It’s Time to Go

This is one of the two bonus tracks on Evermore. Out of the two, it is my least favorite. The storytelling in this is fairly interesting, and the lyrics convey the pain of various characters. However, it is not a standout and I think I have only opted to listen to it maybe three times. 

26. Right Where You Left Me

This is the second bonus song off of Evermore. I love this song in regards to the story telling. It’s about a girl who had her heart shattered and has been frozen in time essentially right there in the diner. I think the concept is very creative, and something Swift is particularly strong at is in fact creating stories and characters with interesting histories. The melody is a bit… basic? A bit blah and unforgettable, but due to the lovely storytelling and catchiness, I find myself playing it much more often than “It’s Time To Go.”

25. Gold Rush

I really like this song actually. The chorus has really catchy lyrics and is well written. It encompasses the feeling of being absorbed by a crush, and if the song was a color (despite the name) I think it would be like an auburn, or maybe an orange-brown. It’s a fun sing-along and I don’t skip it when it comes on. I’ll give it that.

24. Mad Woman

“Mad Woman” used to rank higher on my list, but as more songs come out, things shift around. I especially love the lyrics. I would consider this to be the grown-up sister of Lover’s  “The Man,” however it is less about direct sexism and more about betrayal. Swift’s vocals are deep and low, with a sort of anger vibrating beneath her tone, and frankly, it is its own form of beautiful.

23. Cowboy Like Me

This track is one of those songs that doesn’t appear particularly unique or special on the first listen. However, after a couple of times, it truly proves itself to be a hidden gem on the album. The storytelling for starters is just impeccable. Honestly, I have no critique. The character is flawed, as is her love interest, and the melody and sound feel like they belong behind a black and white film. She incorporates lyrics that are nothing short of beautiful (such as “eyes like stars”) which on the surface seem simple, but hold deep meaning.

22. Marjorie

This song is lovely, as it is personal to Swift because of its connection to her actual grandmother. It feels like the cousin of “Soon You’ll Get Better,” because not only the melody but the message are directed to a beloved family member (despite the latter being much sadder). “Marjorie” is unique in the way that the song title is only sung once, in reference to Swift’s grandmother signing her name. I think this is a really interesting choice, and it strengthens the core of the piece.

[bf_image id="q7jvwz-4pv4ag-dy1pxj"]

21. Peace

I think this is a really important track because it is not only Swift’s true writing voice, but it is the type of reflection that makes the listener reflect. “Peace” is Swift saying “look, I love hard and this relationship is great, but shit is difficult when you’re with me.” I think we all have moments where we know sometimes it isn’t the easiest being with us, due to external or internal factors. The melody is slow and steady but encased with gentle tones.

20. No Body, No Crime

I love this song. There is no other way to put it. I think the storytelling is perfect, and Haim is featured on the track as well. The melody is catchy, and Swift uses her lower register and tones throughout. However, it is nothing more than a story, and while I absolutely adore the song and play it a lot, there are more impactful songs lyrically as well as sonically. 

19. Long Story Short

“Long Story Short” is a bop. If it belonged on another album, it would be 1989. Despite both Folklore and Evermore being alternative/experimental, she included a track that was nothing more than pop. However, I think it was included because the perspective and lyricism is more mature than what went on 1989. It is almost like a breather, a fun song that still has great lyrics and reflection.

18. The Last Great American Dynasty

This is a story that is primarily about a real-life person who eventually connects to Swift herself. The reason why it ranks one over “Long Story Short” is due to nothing more than they can be interchanged. They both rank middle of the pack to me, however TLGAD has some really interesting vocals that make it feel more mature and sort of collected than LSS. It also has a slower melody, which fits better into this new aesthetic than a pop track.

17. This Is Me Trying

The reflection within this song almost is like a matured perspective looking back on innocent notions. The line “I was so far ahead of the curve, the curve became a sphere” is my favorite of the song. It is applicable to many different situations. It can be perceived as a love confession, and general reflection to someone, or even just speaking to themselves.

16. The Lakes

This is the bonus track off of Folklore. When I say this is one of the strongest songs between the sister albums lyrically, I mean it. Swift used intricate imagery and language to put together a beautiful love song. Despite being tinged with sadness, it is a love song at heart, and if it were a type of weather, it would be mist or fog rising over water at dawn with the light beginning to shine through.

15. Seven

This song is special because the genders of the two characters is never implied. When I listen to it, I see it as two girls who love each other, one with a homophobic and angry dad. However, because it is never specified, it can be interpreted in multiple ways. The storytelling once again is beautiful, and Swift perfectly encapsulates a love story told by a character in their youth. It is the sister to the song “Ivy” on Evermore.

14. Ivy 

This song is nothing short of a sparkling gemstone of work. It is clear in this song that it is about two girls who love each other but are married to other people. They have clearly had, or are having a love affair at some point. Not only is the story detailed, but the chorus just has something special about it. There is something new that can be learned each listen, and Taylor singing from the perspective of someone who loves someone that they can’t be in a relationship with is hauntingly perfect. 

13. ‘Tis The Damn Season

I believe that this piece is quite different in terms of the love story it tells. It is not exactly a pining song, but the hometown longing and love are evident within the lyrics. I think what is so special about these two albums is the complexity of the characters within the music. Swift writes like no other, and this song is proof of her ability to bring said stories legitimately to life.

12. My Tears Ricochet

This is a song that is tastefully about Swift getting screwed over by someone she never expected to do so. It is personal, vibrant, and full of crystal imagery. There is a line where she sings, “you wear the jewels that I gave you, as you bury me.” I do not think there is any better way to describe this form of betrayal than that. She once again masterfully describes a painful event in a way that most people can probably relate to.

[bf_image id="qf0pvk-4je8sw-3mj4a9"]

11. Cardigan

“Cardigan,” “Betty,” and “August” are all stories that intertwine, told from the perspective of three different characters. Cardigan is told from a grown-up Betty’s perspective. It is chock-full of metaphors and the video that is paired with it is visually spectacular. However, despite being one of my favorites, it is my least favorite out of the trio, giving it the number 10 ranking.

10. Betty

This is told from James’ perspective. The premise is a love triangle, and James essentially cheats on Betty with the girl in August. James’ perspective is pretty much what you would expect from a 17-year-old boy. I’m immature, I screwed up, I love you, take me back? He describes the entire scenario from his perspective, and quite honestly barely takes much accountability other than admitting to having some bad intentions. However, the way Swift is able to convey his immaturity (him being 17 and all) is done extremely well, and the melody itself is quite catchy. If it were to be on another album it would be on Speak Now (maybe Red).

9. August

This is the last part of the trilogy and is told from the “other girl’s” perspective. She is never named, but within the fandom she has been dubbed “August.” She describes a summer affair, and admits to knowing that James was never hers to begin with. Despite this, August longs for him and clearly is more invested in him than he was in her. The juxtaposition between James saying he slept with her but he thought of Betty the whole time, and that August showed up like a “figment of his worse intentions” and August devoting her all to him, canceling plans just in case he wants to be with her is heartbreaking. They clearly had different ideas of the nature of their relationship, and views of each other. August is not the villain, and Swift portrays this girl’s pain in a way only Swift’s characterization and lyricism can.

8. Willow

Willow has extreme “Cardigan” vibes, except it is not about losing and refinding a love, and much more about being in love and in the relationship. Her vocals are low and throaty, yet tinged with softness. The lyrics (duh) are simply poetic, and the melody is catchy. What’s more to say?  

7. Hoax

I used to think this was the saddest song, but it has been beaten by a song higher up on the list. Despite this, Swift encapsulates extreme sadness within “Hoax,” and the lyrics are absolutely the strongest point of the piece. The feeling of being swallowed up by a wave and held under just a second too long before air fills your lungs again is how this song makes me feel. This is a song to cry to.

6. Evermore

This song and “Exile” both feature Bon Iver, and the collab is done extremely well. What is very striking about the blend is when Swift and Bon Iver sing together, their voices almost overlap each other, then do, then rush again, close but not overlapping. That particular production detail helps enhance the mood and message of the song. “Evermore” itself has a wonderful message of growth, in which the speaker believes the pain will last “evermore” but at the end realizes the pain would not last forever. In one word: beautiful.

5. Exile

Also featuring Bon Iver, this song tells the story from two perspectives—a broken-up couple reflecting on the girl getting in a new relationship essentially. It is done extremely well, effectively displaying that feelings do not just disappear after a break-up. The harmony during the bridge gives me goosebumps.

4. Happiness

When I say the self-reflection is strong within Folklore and Evermore, this song takes the cake for doing it in the most profound way. The piece is experimental in terms of the sonic layout. Swift’s vocals are the loudest, with delicate/subtle music backing it up. The song is a reflection of a relationship that has ended, and the speaker admits to her faults, apologizes for snarky anger, and all around it is a really mature and thoughtful piece.

3. Invisible String

So, sue me. I am a sap for love songs. However, what is so special about this love song is how it could have felt really immature and cheesy, but it’s quite frankly the opposite. What makes this song feel so special is how much of Swift and her heart is poured into the lyrics. The love she is talking about is the type that you find with a soul mate. Despite the lyrics seeming maybe a little simple at face value, that is not how I view them at all. They are a personal recount of falling in love and staying in that beauty with Swift’s (or the listener’s) person. It is pretty much impossible to not hear the admiration, love, and happiness.

2. Champagne Problems 

The storytelling in this song is impeccable. It is told from the perspective of a girl who turned down a proposal. Throughout the song, there is inter perspective conversation, and while admitting her flaws, somehow the listener still hurts for the character. Swift’s vocals in this are also extremely strong, and that is why it ranks in the top three.

1. Tolerate it

I cried the first time listening to this song. It is utterly heartbreaking. The perspective is a girl in a relationship with someone who tolerates her love and effort. She admits knowing she should be treated better, but regardless, she still seems to stay with him. The lyrics tell of the cold and indifferent treatment, and in the bridge it is implied he was not always like this to her. The bridge is the strongest lyrically and gives me chills. This ranks highest not only because it is flawless lyrically and sonically, but because anyone who has ever had a negative relationship as is described, whether it is romantic or not, will feel something. Scratch that. Even if the listener has not experienced something like “Tolerate It” describes, they will still feel something. 

And that is what is so impressive about Swift’s talent: her incredible ability to make her listeners truly feel something. Love her or hate her, there is a song she has put out that you can relate to and feel for, and I think that is a true demonstration of utter talent.

And that is what is so impressive about Swift’s talent: her incredible ability to make her listeners truly feel something. Love her or hate her, there is a song she has put out that you can relate to and feel for, and I think that is a true demonstration of utter talent.

Sascha Rifkin

Emerson '23

I'm a Writing, Lit, and Publishing major at Emerson College! Fashionista, book worm, and total romantic at heart.
Similar Reads👯‍♀️