See exactly when it became a “Mastermind” musical.
Taylor Swift celebrates its eras, and so do we, by collecting and categorizing all of Taylor Swift’s albums. In solidarity with the artist, we, like the fans, consider Taylor’s versions over the original recordings when possible. In ascending order, here are all of Taylor Swift’s albums, ranked.
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Taylor Swift Albums, Ranked
10.Taylor Swift, Taylor Swift
It’s a small nod to Swift’s career that this critically acclaimed country record, which helped the artist earn his first Grammy nod, ranks last. What’s so special Taylor Swift— and one of the main reasons she’s bonded with fans of the jump — is the way she weaves sophisticated songs with unapologetic teenage musings. Much of her fanbase grew up with Swift; Taylor Swift was a high-profile sleeper hit—Billboard’s longest-running album, in fact—released while she was still in high school.
Taylor Swift makes a lot of parallels with the years 1983 Madonna: some songs really stand out, it’s clear she was warming up, and there’s very clearly something here that stands out from everything else on the charts.
Best Song: “Our Song”
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After a more furious departure from an album on Reputationand a very successful world tour that surely revitalized the artist, “The Old Taylor” reappeared on Lovera triumphant return to form that’s long, a little fuzzy, and best enjoyed as the sum of its parts.
The highlights of Lover go very high: “Paper Rings” is a retro explosion. Country ballad “Soon You’ll Get Better,” about mother Andrea Swift’s health issues, poignantly weaves mature lyrics about uncertainty with luminous harmonies of Chicks. On the title track, the heartbreaking kid pledges long love in a big slow dance. “The Man” displays the bite that made Reputation such a treat, and the music video directed by Swift, much like the wolf of Wall Street in drag, is one of his best.
Best Song: “The Man”
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The peaks of 1989 are so high it’s safe to call them historic: “Blank Space” is a delightful and even fascinating dissection of Swift’s public image, “Shake It Off” is an anthem in a way that almost no song does. aspire to be. “Wildest Dreams” is top notch country on a pop record, “Style” is deservedly timeless.
Not all titles are at this level: “Welcome to New York” is ethereal. “Bad Blood” was a big hit; there’s also a case to be made that it’s Swift’s least substantial song. 1989 is an undeniably alluring pop confection. It just doesn’t cut as deep as some of Swift’s best records.
Best Song: “Shake it Off”
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After the whole summer 2016 fiasco (won’t even dwell on it here), Swift, the biggest name in music, disappeared from the public eye for about a year). His career took a strange but rewarding turn the following August, when (underrated) “Look What You Made Me Do” kissed the snake. It’s an exciting middle finger; giving off a welcome aggression that is present throughout the record. She also has a lot of fun here.
Reputation is grumpy, often glorious – and frankly, it’s even better than 1989 in many ways. For all of 1989The bops and symmetry of , it felt like she was holding herself back. Sometimes spirit and attitude matter as much as songwriting when it comes to pop music.
Best Song: “Delicate”
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6. Fearless (Taylor version)
Intrepid take what worked so well Taylor Swift and sharpen it. Following the ruthless sale of his life’s work, Intrepid (Taylor’s version)was the first release in an ambitious effort to re-record its back catalog. In his movements for public power and in his profession, the artist has always had a way of transforming negatives into unexpected victories. Here, she re-recorded a Grammy-winning landmark with a richer voice.
Critics and listeners probably started floating around words like “brain” or, dare “musical genius” around the time when sticky lines like “she wears high heels/I wear sneakers/she’s a captain/ and I’m on the bleachers” appeared for the first time. Intrepid is full of stars: “Fifteen” is touching, “Hey Stephen” is playful.
Best Song: “You Belong With Me (Taylor’s Version)”
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The follow-up and accompanying piece to folklore was arguably more of a surprise than its predecessor. Really, two folk albums in five months? Once the novelty wears off, the raw skill and invention on display begins to soak in. Always is about as good as folklorewith an even stronger and more coherent sense of identity.
Everytime always threatens to become repetitive, there is a curve. “No Body, No Crime” with HAIIM is a winning channel from Swift’s idols, TheChicks. With producer ETco-screenwriter Aaron Desner, bewitching and romantic “willow” is a highlight of this era. It’s just great, stripped down songwriting.
Best Song: “Willow”
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4. Speak Now
Intrepid was a considerable step forward from Taylor SwiftAnd Speak Now into superstar territory. There was hardly a shortage of rising pop stars at that time (notably, Lady Gaga was exploding), but storytelling being the name of the game, Swift stood out from the early years. Almost all the songs on Speak Now has a ruthless hook, a compelling narrative, and personality. Most pop artists do a lot more outsourcing for their biggest hits. Speak Now made it more apparent than ever just what a tremendous one-woman hit factory this artist is.
As his country sound flirted more with pop, the lyrics became more personal, even emotionally brutal. By practically telling us who the most heartbreaking songs were about, Swift’s tracks became their own PR reps, generating buzz across the culture as critics failed to heap praise. Some references were more veiled than others, the least of which was probably “Dear John,” rumored about his relationship with John Mayer.
Best Song: “Dear John”
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We’ve all tried to make the most of the peak pandemic era; Taylor Swift has made two surprise albums. Not only that; there was a sharp pivot in a folksy direction with limited theatrics. With a sharp, inspired and idiosyncratic production flourishes, especially from Jack Antonoff, the whole enterprise is spellbinding. The worst that could possibly be said of folklore it’s that he sometimes wears his influences on his sleeve. Ultimately, it’s a bold career high. This record reminds us that while she’s one of the most famous people in the world, she’s always been about Swift’s music.
Rapid form changes throughout folklorethe most rewarding on betty, a seductive and serious ballad of a heartbreaking 17-year-old boy. It’s funny, sad and utterly compelling.
Best Song: “Betty”
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The dust has barely settled Midnights‘ release; maybe it’s a little early to rank it so high, but damn it Midnights isn’t where pop and singer-songwriter art collide in a shimmering bombshell, to deliriously enjoyable effect. Midnights is a great record that several great Taylor Swift records have promised, airtight and adventurous.
His country roots are still on display, most notably on the love-lost centerpiece “Midnight Rain.” “Lavender Haze” rocks, and she saves the best for last with “Mastermind” (“I’m only enigmatic and Machiavellian because I care”). Midnights works like a concept album, and each song is sticky as hell on its own. Swift mastered pop songwriting a long time ago. Trust is what takes Midnights in the stratosphere.
Best Song: “Mastermind”
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1. Red (Taylor’s version)
Even in its original incarnation, Red was already Swift’s best album, a sensational step into adulthood – or at least 22 – with powerful choruses throughout and deft mastery of genres. Among the bangers was her first Billboard number one, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”
In a historic triumph of art over industry, Red has gotten much, much better in the fall of 2021. There are 30 trails on Red (Taylor’s version) altogether, and Redhas been improved in many other ways than that. There’s a fuller sound to the instrumentation and more emotional vocals from Swift and many collaborators.
Of course, it’s ultimately the ten-minute version of “All Too Well.” It is his magnum opus; it would be anyone’s magnum opus. In 2012, “All Too Well” was freshly bitter. Here, it’s a lap of honor. This whole record is a victory lap, finding a greater second life through an artist as powerful and in control as any in history.
Best Track: “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)”
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