Today I’m going to talk about Taylor Swift. Hopefully I don’t get sued.
So far, Taylor has been around for over a decade and has released 6 studio albums, 49 singles and 44 music videos. All but maybe two singles are certified at least platinum if not 4x platinum She’s gone on five concert tours in support of her albums Fearless through her newest, Reputation. She’s won numerous awards, is regarded as one of the best singer/songwriters of our time and has undoubtedly earned a lot of money. To say she’s successful is an understatement.
Clearly, she’s extremely talented and certainly worked hard to get to where she is today. She plays multiple instruments and writes almost all of her music which is extremely remarkable and rare in itself. She was someone I looked up to for years and unfortunately, I’ve recently fallen off of the T. S. bandwagon. Regardless, there are some records by her that I still love like no other and revisit quite frequently. Today, I want to talk about those albums.
Here I present to you, all of Taylor Swift’s six records ranked from worst to best (obviously my personal opinion, I’m not here to offend anybody).
- Taylor Swift, 2006
Alright, if I’m being completely honest here, this is one of her records that I just don’t listen to. I’m not a huge fan of country music but besides that, there’s not really anything that sticks out on this one. It sounds like plenty of other country music past and present and this was a record that I could never fully enjoy, no matter how much I liked a few songs. “Teardrops On My Guitar”, “Stay Beautiful” and “Our Song” are all great and memorable tracks but at the end of the day, they’re pretty easily replaceable by any other country artist. The only highlights I can take away from Taylor Swift is her vocal ability and songwriting skills. It’s amazing to see how big of an artist she is now but based on this album, she blends in with the rest of the country crowd, producing a pretty weak debut.
- Reputation, 2017
Reputation is such a taboo album and I was reluctant to even rank all of T. Swift’s albums specifically because of this one because I just really didn’t want to talk about it. I’ll just cut to the chase: I’m not particularly a fan of this. Now, that doesn’t mean I hate the record by any means; there are some very good moments on here that I will admit I’ve listened to on repeat numerous times. My problem with this record actually isn’t even one problem; it’s quite a few. To begin with the biggest issue, some songs are just so hateful and negative that listening to them once or twice is okay but after a few listens being so angry just starts to get old. “Look What You Made Me Do” and “I Did Something Bad” were instant favorites for me because this was released at a time in my life where I could relate. But once those feelings went away, so did my desire to listen to those songs. Another thing that makes me not want to listen to these songs is the words that go along with them. “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” is atrocious in every aspect, “Delicate” is cute by rather empty, and even though “Dress” is one that I actually enjoy out of the fifteen songs on here, that one even gets extremely repetitive. This is Swift’s weakest lyrical attempt and it’s such a shame because she is truly an exceptional song writer. I’d also like to point out that a collaboration with Ed Sheeran and Future on the same track just doesn’t need to exist. Along with that, even though the production is not exactly horrible, some of the songs don’t seem to fit together and move rather awkwardly from verse to chorus to bridge (LWYMMD and IDSB are prime examples of this). Even fun tracks that are reminiscent of the “old Taylor” such as “Gorgeous” and “Call It What You Want” are so great upon the first few listens but after a few times, I started to realize how weak they were in the lyric and vocal department. While we’re on the topic of vocals, I’d also just like to mention how dead and bored Swift sounds on this entire thing. It’s like she’s trying too hard to show her “haters” how much she doesn’t care but really all it does is take away from her star ability. Reputation isn’t the worst thing Swift could have put out but we all know she could have done a lot better.
- Red, 2012
The Red era was one of those weird transition moments in Swift’s career and even though it was good there are definitely some less cohesive parts and random moments throughout. The entire thing wasn’t exactly country based nor was it entirely pop either; rather most of the songs have elements of both. While the two genres blend together pretty well, the reason this worked simply is because she is Taylor Swift. No other artist would be able to bounce from acoustic guitar/ synth laden “22” to bubble television commercial sounding “Stay Stay Stay” to something like “Sad Beautiful Tragic” which is slow and ballad like. In addition to the heterogeneous mixture of sounds, the hit singles from this record such as “I Knew You Were Trouble” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” are ridiculously annoying years after the fact and have really lost the potential they once held. They worked for a time but really haven’t aged well and while there are so many better songs on here, they’re not pop radio worthy which is extremely unfortunate. With that being said, this album is simply spectacular in the lyric and vocal department. I do have to say that this is Swift’s best work vocally; her voice sounds very natural and clean, and it’s very pleasant to listen to. “Starlight”, “The Lucky One”, “State Of Grace”, and “Begin Again” are all great samples of Swift’s ability to write songs in a way that could be read out of a story book. This collection of songs individually all held a lot of promise but for a piece as a whole, it leaves the listener in a strange mind set after the record is over. It’s like eating a full appetizer sampler but not feeling satisfied afterwards.
- Fearless, 2008
Quite possibly one of the best coming of age records ever which spawned the hit song “You Belong With Me” among many other memorable one, Fearless truly does leave the listener feeling fearless. A litter bolder lyrically however still rather careful in terms of music composition, Fearless came as a follow up to her debut Taylor Swift. It still also continues along the country route but it’s a little more defined in her own sound this time and shows us who Taylor Swift really is. At the time of this release, Swift was 18 years old so it’s no surprise there are themes of heartbreak and love, high school, friends, and following your dreams. She might as well have named this album Teenage Cliché BUT it turned out to not to be so bad after all. All of these songs make so much sense together and portray an image of youth but in the best possible way. With Swift’s story like songwriting and well put together background instrumentals, the record is balanced and smooth, yet fun without sounding immature. Each song is different in terms of type of instruments used, tempo, and even the level of background vocals; this keeps the record consistent but each song easily identifiable on its own. “Your’e Not Sorry” begins with a piano intro whereas songs like “Forever & Always”, “Love Story” and “White Horse” are all mostly acoustic based. Even “Change” is more rock oriented than country and provides a pleasant uplifting at the end of this almost entirely acoustic album. Even Swift’s vocals, which had more of a country twang on her previous release, are improved and more confident. This is one of those records that I could go back to and feel nostalgic if I want or just enjoy the music for what it is. It’s dynamic in the sense that even though it’s set at a very specific point in time, it doesn’t necessarily have to feel that way. That’s what I like best about this album; the ability to revisit these songs without feeling irritated or bored. I do have to say that even though Red is better in terms of content, that is the sole reason Fearless is ranked higher than Red.
- 1989, 2014
Most others would regard this as Swift’s best work and I’m not going to deny the greatness that is 1989 but for me, there are a few missing pieces that the number one spot has that this one doesn’t. Nonetheless, this is absolutely amazing and I think this record was something we all needed in 2014. It was a clear departure from her country roots which left many fans shook and critics unaware of what was coming next. “Shake It Off” was released as the lead single and proved to be an instant hit along with many others over the next few years including “Blank Space”, “Style” and “Bad Blood”. This record was apparently inspired by the 80’s, hence the name 1989, but besides the opening track “Welcome To New York”, I’m not really feeling that vibe. The synthesizer never becomes too heavy or extremely dance oriented as with most 80’s pop and the record feels more modern than anything. But I’m not mad. We have enough 80’s pop to go around and this record has so much more to offer. The musical aspect is calm and features more natural instruments than you’d think at first and Swift’s vocals aren’t as processed as one might assume at first either. “I Know Places” begins with a small piano melody, “How You Get The Girl” and “This Love” feature an acoustic guitar and you can even hear the electric guitar in “Style” that plays throughout. The songs all combine together to form one united piece of work and the lyrics are perfectly crafted to match the mood of all of them. This record features more guest writers than her previous ones including lead singer of One Republic, Ryan Tedder, and Max Martin (who wrote Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time”). With a combination like this, you know the lyrics are going to be more than worthy. Of course one of the best lines on the entire record is from “Blank Space”, “Darling I’m a nightmare/ Dressed like a daydream”, which I’ve seen in one too many Instagram captions. However, some other remarkable ones include “When I was drowning/ That’s when I could finally breathe” (“Clean”), “The rest of the world was black and white/ But we were in screaming color” (“Out Of The Woods”), and basically all the words to “All You Had To Do Was Stay”. 1989 is obviously a full blown pop record but still represents Taylor Swift for who she is even if it doesn’t sound exactly like she used to. Change and growth are good things and can be difficult at times but Swift made her transition into the pop realm as seamlessly as possible.
- Speak Now, 2010
Speak Now is such a good record it honestly makes me want to scream. Let’s just begin with the fact that this album was released around the time Swift was twenty years old and that she wrote literally THE ENTIRE THING. All of the lyrics are entirely her own. I can barely spell my name right and here she goes and writes 14 full length tracks (the deluxe editions feature one more co-writer but I’m just talking about the standard edition here). Now, I’m not saying that to be a recognized artist you’re going to get bashed for not writing your own music because there are plenty of phenomenal artists who don’t write their own material. But the fact that she was so young and so early into her career to do something like that is so impressive. In terms of the content itself, the lyrics are very story telling oriented (of course) and talk about a handful of things including her signature love songs. There are themes of friendship, loss, youth, and every emotion every human has ever felt. This album is so full of life with the words and especially in the musical department. “Back To December” and “Haunted” integrate orchestral instruments and are quite possibly some of the more dramatic songs on here. “The Story Of Us” and “Better Than Revenge” are both extremely upbeat and more on the pop rock side of things while “Mean”, Mine”, “Sparks Fly” are all country inspired. “Enchanted” and “Innocent” are both absolutely gorgeous songs that have such a smooth build up and fade out, and can elicit so much emotion from the listener in just a few minutes. These two songs especially deserve more recognition. Even “Dear John”, which clocks in at almost seven minutes long, is simply so pretty and balanced that it doesn’t even feel like it’s twice as long as the rest of the tracks on the record. “Dear John” even includes that impressive vocal run after the bridge which is an addition to many impressive vocal moments which have yet to be replicated on another record. This is quite possibly Swift’s most dynamic yet cohesive record she’s put out and is quite honestly stunning in terms of songwriting, instrumentation and vocals.