In 2006, Taylor Swift released her debut single “Tim McGraw,” unaware of what the future was to hold. 15 years later, Swift has had seven songs top the Billboard Hot 100, and she has won 10 Grammys, shattering countless records. Having released nine albums, her discography spans over three genres: country, pop, and folk. Her songs tell numerous stories from her own life and from the lives of others. Because ranking her entire discography by song would take forever due to my indecisiveness, I will be ranking each of her nine albums, from the self-titled Taylor Swift to the newest addition to her oeuvre, evermore.
Taylor Swift (2006). It has some fantastic songs that I still listen to regularly, but it is a little too country for my taste. Just to clarify, I’m that girl who says “I don’t listen to country, but I do listen to old Taylor Swift.” “Should’ve Said No” and “I’m Only Me When I’m With You” top my ranking of this album purely because they’re more on the pop side. “A Place In This World” is also a favorite, but this is probably because I associate it with the movie Ramona and Beezus. This is the song that plays when Ramona is trying to run away from home.
Fearless (2008). This album is filled with hits like “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me.” Personally, I overplayed “Love Story” way too much when I was younger, so I don’t listen to it as much anymore. However, it still deserves the recognition it receives. My issue with this album is that the songs all feel so similar. Lyrically, they’re all somewhat strong but seem to be lacking in the sophistication found in her later projects. However, the title track “Fearless” is a core memory of mine growing up. I used to randomly hear that song everywhere I would go, from CVS to Publix, and it hasn’t aged a day. Though it still has some great songs, I feel as though her later works were stronger lyrically and more polished.
evermore (2020). Don’t get me wrong, I love this album, but it hasn’t been out long enough for me to grow emotionally attached to any of the songs. I loved some of the songs from the first listen (“ivy” and “long story short”), but others grew on me over time (“cowboy like me” and “evermore”). I feel like after a few months, this could move up in my ranking, but songs like “closure” impede this potential as it lacks distinction between the other songs due to its middle-of-the-road beat and lyrics. Some personal favorite moments from this album would have to be the lyrically perfect bridge in “champagne problems” (the line “November flush and your flannel cure” never ceases to amaze me), the ever changing styles in “gold rush” (from slow and angelic to flowy and boppy and back again), and the simple yet so perfect production of “willow.” Lyrically, this is an extremely strong album, and it does differ sonically from its sister album folklore, but it’s just too recent for me to give it an accurate placement.
Lover (2019). Lover is an album that people hate on for no reason. I think this album may have gotten off on the wrong foot for some of its listeners because of the first single released off of the album, “Me!” Everyone seems to dislike it for being too bubblegum-pop, when in reality, it just showed off a new side of pop that she hadn’t quite utilized yet. Lover holds some of Taylor’s strongest songs like “Death By A Thousand Cuts” with its killer bridge and “Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince” with its high school storytelling. Don’t judge this album off of the singles because Taylor Swift telling you that “you can’t spell awesome without me” does not do it justice.
Red (2012). Red was Swift’s first official transition into pop music. Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t believe that the fan favorite “All Too Well” is her best song, or even deserves a spot in the top three off of Red. Everyone knows the singles (like “22”), but even the deeper cuts are becoming more and more known every day (“All Too Well” is now “all too well” known). Personally, I think that the deluxe version of the album is stronger than the original because the bonus tracks are the highlights. Off of the deluxe version, I love “The Moment I Knew” and “Come Back… Be Here,” and off of the original tracklist, “The Lucky One” was an immediate favorite. This song has one of my favorite lyrics of all time: “chose the rose garden over Madison Square.” There are a few boring songs off this album like “The Last Time” and “Everything Has Changed” (sorry not sorry), but the other tracks pick up their slack, resulting in this still being a strong album.
folklore (2020). folklore is arguably Swift’s strongest album lyrically. She created a whole storyline, known as the Betty-James-Augustine love triangle, to intertwine three of the tracks (“august”, “cardigan,” and “betty”), while also sharing her own experiences in other tracks (“mad woman” and “epiphany”). She even told the story of the past owners of her Rhode Island home in “the last great american dynasty.” With such a lyrically advanced album, be sure to have a dictionary nearby because I can’t help but wonder if my vocabulary improved with every listen (feel free to contact me if you’re ever wondering what “all my elegies eulogize me” means). Moving to this new genre of alternative/indie was definitely a big step for Swift to make, but I’m glad she did it.
Speak Now (2010). This was an incredibly hard decision to make because the emotion behind “Dear John” and “Innocent,” as well as the lighthearted energy of “Speak Now,” makes this album very compelling.. I can safely say that I am at least 10 times more energetic if you put on “Better Than Revenge” or “Sparks Fly.” This truly is such an impressive album for her to have written entirely alone so early in her career, and there is not one song on this album that you could justify skipping. It’s just that good.
reputation (2017). Though it is still one of my all-time favorite albums, something has to come in second place, and in this case, that is reputation. Holding my all-time favorite Taylor song “Don’t Blame Me” and other personal favorites, including “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” and “Getaway Car,” this album did not disappoint. Yet another album with no skips, I still love even my least favorite song (“New Year’s Day”). Production-wise, this is her strongest album (just listen to “So It Goes…”). There was so much effort put into this era of Taylor “reinventing” herself, and it truly paid off.
1989 (2014). As the album that properly introduced me to her music, 1989 is pure pop perfection. Every single off of this album is so widely known (like “Shake It Off” and “Blank Space”), and this is the project that I believe truly skyrocketed her to stardom. Having won album of the year among countless other awards, 1989 has received so much deserved recognition. Since its release, “I Know Places” has been a personal favorite, followed closely by “How You Get the Girl” and “Out Of The Woods.” As one of the strongest pop albums of all time and one of my favorite albums ever, 1989 let the world know that Taylor Swift was now a force to be reckoned with.
As Swift begins releasing her re-recordings of her first five studio albums, from Taylor Swift to 1989, fans all over the world will get to hear their favorite songs with a renewed currency while also getting to hear previously unreleased songs from her personal vault. In case you haven’t ever fully listened to Swift’s discography, the coming months are the perfect time to start with the re-recordings. There’s truly something for everyone.