Taylor Swift is arguably one of the strongest songwriters in the music industry, both past and present. Her prose, metaphors, and allusions set her apart from other artists and songwriters. I mean the simple metaphor of comparing Betty to an old cardigan brought on a cardigan renaissance in the fashion industry. All this being said, I will attempt to present my top ten songs from Taylor’s discography. I say attempt because she has so many illustrious songs–exactly 295 pieces, give or take two–that it is difficult to pick just ten. So I now present my top ten songs in her discography, in no particular order:
Mirrorball – This song single-handedly gaslit all of us to think a disco ball is actually called a mirrorball–but I’m not upset about it. This song represents the idea that we put on a show for other people around us; Taylor reveals that she “can change everything about [her] to fit in.” The mirrorball illustrates how she reflects other people’s personalities so they can see what they want to see in her. In an even more cynical revelation, she recalls people going on with their lives even though she is shattered “in a million pieces,” and when they “burn the disco down,” she is still there trying to get others to look at her. No matter how many times I listen to this song, it crushes me that Taylor has experienced this to the point of writing a song about it, and then it crushes me even more because I can relate to it. The release of folklore and evermore during the pandemic definitely did some damage to all of us.
The Archer – This song is representative of anxiety, but specifically insecurities in a relationship. She begins the song questioning her abilities for combat, which is a metaphor for relationships and continues to doubt herself. During the bridge, she repeatedly asks if people can “see right through [her],” almost like she has a panic attack. She finishes the song by asking, “who could stay?” followed by “you could stay,” concluding that she is ready for combat or a relationship. I find this song to be very powerful because of how villainized Taylor is by the public because of her relationships, and when this song was released, she had been dating her now-boyfriend of three years already. This song represents her apprehensiveness about being in a relationship after how she was treated by both the media and her past partners. I really appreciate this song because I think anxiety isn’t usually represented in music, but she encapsulates it well.
Long Live – I find this song to be very underappreciated. At this point in Taylor’s career, she had major success with Fearless, and she assumed that that would have been the peak of her career–obviously, she could not have been more wrong. She wrote “Long Live” as a goodbye letter to her fans. The song recounts her memories with her fans and her music career. Also, as we all know, Taylor loves a well-hidden message, and this song’s secret message spelled out “For You,” meaning for her fans. One of my favorite lyrics is, “when they point to the pictures, please tell ‘em my name.” I have my fingers crossed that this will be the final song of her setlist on the Eras tour!
All Too Well (10-Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) – I mean, this is the greatest break-up song ever written. It is not even debatable. “All Too Well” changed the world when it was released, and then she released the 10-minute version and changed the world AGAIN! I remember where I was when I listened to it for the first time, and there may or may not be a video of my jaw dropping at the added line, “I’ll get older, but your lovers stay my age.” I also find it funny that Jake Gyllenhaal talks badly about this song; even though Taylor doesn’t mention his name once, he knows it’s about him. The devil works hard, but Taylor Swift works harder.
Marjorie – This song is so effortlessly beautiful. It is about her grandmother, Marjorie, who passed away in 2003. Taylor credits her as an inspiration that made her want to pursue music, as she was an opera singer. However, I can only listen to it a few times because of how emotional I get when it plays. The tribute to her grandmother includes Taylor’s favorite things about her and how her spirit lives within Taylor. This song is for all the granddaughters who love their grandmother with all the beauty of the amber skies.
Blank Space – This is definitely a controversial opinion. Yet, this song definitely deserves a top-ten spot. Taylor took the serial dater image the media portrayed her as and created this satirical song to take back her power from them. I particularly love this song because of Taylor’s ability to show the public that she doesn’t care about their opinion and will keep doing as she pleases. Also, this song is absolute pop perfection. The bridge always hits hard when you are screaming along to it in the car with your friends. 1989 was when I realized who Taylor Swift was, so this song also brings me back to when I first fell in love with her music.
Fearless (Taylor’s Version) – This song is pure nostalgia and pure Taylor Swift. It has the young country star mixed with teen girl angst that, perfectly represents Taylor’s start to her career. Taylor once said that being fearless is not the lack of fear but rather living despite the fear. I think life is always a little better with the fear of the unknown and what might happen.
Mastermind – When I first listened to Midnights, I knew “Mastermind” would be my favorite. I love the idea of her scheming, not just as an artist for her fans, but to ensure she and her boyfriend would get together. At the end of the song, she reveals that she planned out how they would get together but realizes that he knew all along. I think that perfectly represents how well Joe Alwyn, her boyfriend, knows her; he knows she loves to scheme and believes she was planning it all out, but in reality, he was already hers. In a more cynical love for this song, the lyric “no one wanted to play with me as a little kid, so I’ve been scheming like a criminal ever since/to make them love me and make it seem effortless” is so heartbreaking and relatable. Taylor’s recurring motif is wearing a mask so others will love her for what they want her to be, not who she is, which makes the ending of the song even better because it shows Joe always loved her for who she was.
New Year’s Day – This song is very reminiscent and encapsulates holding on to memories, both good and bad. I think that this is such a perfect song to end Reputation with because it shows how she will forgive but not forget everything that the media did to shame her; she is ready to move forward with those that “will be cleaning up bottles with [her]” even after the party is over. This song reminds me a lot of the scene in Everything Everywhere All At Once, where the characters are in an alternate universe, and one says, “In another life, I would have liked just doing laundry and taxes with you.” Something about doing mundane things with another person as a display of love is so sincere and eloquent.
Out Of The Woods – This song is about struggling and waiting in anticipation to get out of the woods into the clear. She recounts memories with someone that were positive, but they soon turned darker. She fights through the woods, the darkness, and the uncertainty but then finally comes to a clearing and can see in clarity goodness and love. How she recounts the good and bad memories of a relationship but ends with her in the clear with the sun shining down on her shows how relationships really are, there are ups and downs, but in the end, it will hopefully work out. Plus, it’s a perfect song to scream to in the car