Taylor Swift's 10 Best (and Worst) Songs of All Time
From her euphoric bops to melancholic love songs and heartbreaking odes, Taylor Swift’s music has unquestionably defined the last decade of pop music. Over the past 10 years, Swift has grown up in the public eye all while writing and singing about her most intimate and gutting breakups and massive, fairytale wins. She’s made a career of exposing this innermost vulnerability, turning it into art, watching the public’s reaction to it, and then creating art about that public reaction. Her mind!
For that and many more reasons, I’m a diehard Swiftie. But even I can admit that the pop star has had a few missteps over the course of her career—usually when she sacrifices her signature authenticity for commercialism. Still, I believe there’s merit and goodness in her whole catalogue. Even the biggest missteps, in short, are worthy contributions.
Below, Taylor Swift’s best and worst songs of all time, told through the lens of a Swiftie lifer. But I must warn you: These aren’t the Swift songs that you've seen widely hailed or criticized in the past. Sorry for the drama.
10. “False God”
Sonically, “False God” is such a departure for Swift—the atmospheric, slow-swirling synths mixed with the sensual saxophone are unlike anything she's done before. But lyrically, the singer-songwriter maintains an intimacy that’s become custom to Swift’s catalogue.
9. “Dancing With Our Hands Tied”
Hearing Swift perform “Dancing With Our Hands Tied” acoustically on her Reputation tour made me realize just how melodic this moody, gloomy song is. The more secrecy and forbidden the love song on Reputation is the more I love it.
If her latest album, Lover, is known for its rainbow-sparkle-sunshine vibe and Reputation is known for moody synths, then Red is known for its evocative lyrics. The title track of the album is a Taylor Swift song in its purest form: a colorful, painted photograph of love and loss.
7. “Holy Ground”
Many Swifties and critics say “All Too Well” is the best song on Red—or, taken a step further, Swift's best song ever—but for me, it’s “Holy Ground.” With its heartbeat kick drum and vivid nostalgia, it’s my favorite song to scream-whisper while jogging.
6. “Bad Blood”
I’ve been roasted in the past for stanning “Bad Blood” as hard as I do, but I stand by my opinion: It’s a perfect pop song. Also, the star-studded music video was a revival of the music video as a Cultural Moment. I’d argue every scene of it made me gay.
5. “You Belong With Me”
If you’re this far in and thinking, “Gross, she only likes Taylor’s commercial hits” then back out now. “You Belong With Me” reminds me of simpler times, an ode to high school drama and being the girl who’s not like other girls. (A terrible and dumb message, but one that I no doubt played into in the aughts.) Plus, I’m such a sucker for a good music video—and this one won the MTV VMA in 2009.
Everyone has a Taylor Swift song they can’t listen to without crying. (I think.) “Enchanted” is mine, with those “wonderstruck” feelings of love at first sight which fully activates with the lyric from the bridge, “Please don’t be in love with someone else.”
3. “New Romantics”
An often shared sentiment amongst Swifties is that “New Romantics,” off 1989, should have been a single! 1989 has so many mega-hits—“Bad Blood,” “Blank Space,” “Shake It Off,” “Wildest Dreams”—but still, “New Romantics” is one of Taylor’s greatest, poppiest, danciest bops.
2. “Blank Space”
Speaking of which, I’ll never get over those unforgettable one-liners from “Blank Space.” Who amongst us could forget the “Starbucks lovers” confusion, or my personal favorite Swiftian illustrations: “cherry lips, crystal skies,” and “screaming, crying, perfect storms.”
Off Reputation, “Delicate” is perfect pop song through and through, from its poignant Imogen Heap-esque vocal effects to the masterful capturing of those most raw and vulnerable early moments in a relationship, when the slightest misstep feels like it could shatter everything.
10. “Only The Young”
Released with Swift’s documentary Miss Americana in January, “Only The Young” is meant to rouse young voters about getting involved and literally to “run” for office. I can be here for on-the-nose Swift lyrics—but this song is underwhelming and not as catchy as I would’ve hoped for.
9. “We Are Never Getting Back Together”
“We Are Never Getting Back Together” is simultaneously a terrible song and the best song from 2012—like Swift, it contains multitudes. I remember feeling very proud of myself for learning how to pluck the Red single’s melodic intro on guitar, but compared to the depth her other songs contain, this one just doesn’t hold up as well.
The release of “22” was the only moment in Taylor Swift history where I actually felt the abrasion that critics of Swift often gripe about. Lyrically, this radio hit just doesn’t feel like the real Taylor, and Swift is her best self when she’s being excruciatingly herself.
7. “I Wish You Would”
There’s something about the squeaky guitar riff of the “I Wish You Would” intro that scrapes the back of my skull in a deeply unpleasant way. I have nothing to say about this song other than that grossly subjective opinion.
6. “Look What You Made Me Do”
When Swift dropped “Look What You Made Me Do,” I really wanted to love its '80s-inspired beat and spoken word chorus, but I just found it somewhat repetitive. It was the first single release off Reputation, my favorite Taylor Swift album, which means it was her first single release since the massive, Grammy-winning 1989. ‘Twas a let down.
5. “Welcome to New York”
1989 is Taylor’s New York album, as she wrote and composed the album in Manhattan. While the first track, “Welcome to New York,” is meant to be an ode to the city I actually think the Lover song “Cornelia Street,” about love lost in her apartment on Cornelia Street, is truer to the city than this rose-colored glasses version.
4. “London Boy”
Part of me loves “London Boy” because it’s poppy and I love pop music, but it’s just so painfully goes to London once. I’m also a Kaylor—which means I ship Taylor Swift and Karlie Kloss, Swift's (rumored) former best friend and the subject of many Internet conspiracy theories—and this song is exclusively about her current boyfriend, Joe Alwyn. Dating a man and writing a song about him—in this economy?
3. “Paper Rings”
I definitely love the lyric, “I like shiny things, but I’d marry you with paper rings,” but, to me, “Paper Rings” sounds like Kidz Bop punk-pop. It’s too…happy? I think I’m just a miserable grump, but I don’t feel genuine human emotion in this Lover song.
2. “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever (feat. ZAYN)”
I’m a Directioner, a Swiftie, and an ironic fan of the Fifty Shades movies, of which “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” is soundtracked on. So in theory, I should love this meeting of the minds. But truth be told, I have never even gotten through this song all the way through one time. It’s “skip” bait for me.
I don’t think “ME!” is Taylor’s worst song ever—but it was her first major single release in the two-year gap between Reputation and Lover—a long wait for a superfan. To say this song was highly anticipated was an understatement: I watched a livestream that counted down to the music video release and tracked every clue Swift dropped about her upcoming single like fucking gay Dana Scully (so, Dana Scully). To say this song, which sounds Trolls-ian, didn’t deliver and extremely underwhelmed me is also an understatement. But whatever—8-year-old Swifties deserve something for them, too.
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