Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Culture > Entertainment

Ranking All of The Celebrity References in Taylor Swift’s Songs

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at NCSU chapter.

A hill that I will always die on is that Taylor Swift is the greatest songwriter of our generation. Her massive discography proves it, and her 12 Grammy awards speak for themselves. Something very common in her music is celebrity name-dropping. There are countless examples of her doing this, so I wanted to rank all 13 times she name-dropped fellow celebrities in her songs. This does NOT include people she dated, like John Mayer in Dear John or Harry Styles in Style, nor does it include songs she has written about people she dated. I am simply ranking all of the direct name drops in her songs.

13. Bobby Kennedy, Starlight

“I met Bobby on the boardwalk summer of ’45”

Starting off at number 13, we have her name drop of Bobby Kennedy in “Starlight,” which is about his relationship with his wife Ethel Kennedy. She wrote the song after seeing a photo of the couple. The song is cute, and I like that she resurrected their love story, but it is such a brief mention that I had to put it in last place.  

12. Tim McGraw, Tim McGraw

“When you think Tim McGraw, I hope you think of me”

 One of the more obvious name drops on this list is that of Tim McGraw in her song “Tim McGraw.” The entire song as a whole is an ode to McGraw, and I can’t lie, every time I see Tim McGraw, I think of this song.

11. Janet Jackson, Snow On The Beach

“Now I’m all for you like Janet”

The newest name drop in her discography is from her most recent album, Midnights in the song “Snow On The Beach.” The line is a play on the fact that Janet Jackson has a song called “All For You,” which I think is pretty clever.

10. Drake, I Forgot That You Existed  

“In my feelings more than Drake”

Like the Janet namedrop, Taylor included the name of one of Drake’s songs when she name-dropped him in “I Forgot That You Existed.” I can’t lie, I cringed a bit when I heard the lyric for the first time, but it has grown on me. 

9. Bruce Springsteen, London Boy

“I like Springsteen, faded blue jeans, Tennessee whiskey”

To emphasize her love for Americana, Swift name-drops classic American rocker Bruce Springsteen and makes sure to note that she loves him in her song “London Boy.” 

8. James Taylor, Begin Again

“You said you never met one girl who had, As many James Taylor records as you”

This is one of the cooler namedrops that Taylor does because she is actually named after James Taylor, so mentioning him in “Begin Again” is the ultimate flex. 

7. Stella McCartney, London Boy

“Like a Tennessee Stella McCartney”

Another namedrop from “London Boy” is of British designer Stella McCartney (daughter of legendary Beatle, Paul). This lyric is especially cool because, at the time of the song’s release, Swift did a collaboration with McCartney’s brand.  

6. Rebekah Harkness, The Last Great American Dynasty

Rebekah rode up on the afternoon train, It was sunny”

Yet another really cool namedrop is that of Rebekah Harkness in “The Last Great American Dynasty.” The song is the story of Harkness, who just happened to live in Swift’s Rhode Island home before her.

5. Bonnie and Clyde, Getaway Car

“We were jet-set Bonnie and Clyde”

In her song “Getaway Car” about a couple taking money and running, Swift drops the name of the legendary criminal couple, Bonnie and Clyde. This is one of my favorite songs of hers, and I can’t listen to it while driving for fear that I will begin speeding away.

4. Betty, James, and Inez Reynolds, Betty

Betty, I won’t make assumptions.” “You heard the rumors from Inez.” “She said, James, get in; let’s drive”

Now, these may not be “celebrities” by definition, but their parents are. In her song “Betty,” Taylor uses the names of best friends Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds’ children; James, Inez, and Betty. 

3. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Man

“I’d be just like Leo, in St. Tropez”

In her feminist anthem “The Man,” Swift divulges her career and how if she were a man, she would be treated completely differently. One of the biggest discussions about Swift is that she is a “serial dater.” She has not dated an astronomical number of men, but she is always flamed for the number. Leonardo DiCaprio, on the other hand, has dated dozens of women (all under 25 as he continues to creep into his 50s), and no one criticizes him for it. The music video pokes fun at his movie The Wolf of Wall Street, with Swift recreating one of the iconic office scenes.

2. James Dean, Style

“You got that James Dean, daydream, look in your eye”

I had a hard time picking between my top two, but honestly, these are tied for first. In her hit song “Style” (rumored to be about ex-boyfriend Harry Styles), Swift compares Styles to iconic 50s actor James Dean. He was known for his dreamy eyes, and the lyric is so catchy and will never get old.

1. Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, …Ready For It

“He could be my jailer, Burton to this Taylor, Every lover known in comparison is a failure” 

At number one, I have her absolutely ingenious lyric from “…Ready For It.” The song is about the start of a relationship and her excitement to begin it. She name-drops iconic celebrity couple, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Taylor was married multiple times, but it is widely believed that her soulmate was Burton. The lyric is a play on words because she is talking to her potential lover and saying that he could be the Burton to her Taylor, obviously because she is Taylor. She also mentions that every other lover that Taylor had was a failure, implying that he is already better than her former flames. SUCH A GENIUS LYRIC! 

Cameron Crews is the president of Her Campus at NC State. She is responsible for publishing all articles, leading meetings, encouraging all staff, and overseeing the entire chapter. This is her third year on Her Campus and her second year as President. Outside of Her Campus, Cameron was the Editor-in-Chief of her high school’s yearbook, which she helped lead to being awarded the best book in the entire state and honored at Columbia University’s scholastic journalism awards. She worked as an intern at Southpark Magazine in Charlotte, NC, where she edited articles, conducted interviews, and assisted the editors. In the Summer of 2023, she attended Regents University in London, England, where she took fashion classes from high players in the fashion industry who have worked with the likes of Andy Warhol, Alexander McQueen, Christian Siriano, and more. She also had the opportunity to interview Brendan Fraser immediately after he won his “Best Actor” Oscar at the 2023 Academy Awards. She is a junior at NC State University majoring in Communications with a minor in Journalism. After graduation, she hopes to move to New York, LA, Paris, or London and work in the fashion industry as either a fashion editor or celebrity stylist. Cameron was born and raised in Charlotte, NC, with her younger brother and dog, George Bailey. She enjoys shopping, watching movies, listening to music, writing, hanging out with friends, and traveling in her free time. She is a huge Taylor Swift and Harry Styles fan and has seen them both in concert multiple times. She is also a huge Timothee Chalamet aficionado and is a huge movie fan–with some of her favorites being Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood, Barbie, Lady Bird, the Breakfast Club, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.