Photo from @taylorswift on Instagram
By: Macy Newman
I would like to preface this list by, first of all, saying that there isn’t a Taylor Swift album that I don’t like. The reason Taylor Swift is so special is because of her vast versatility when it comes to the different genres that each of her albums encompass. Each album’s structure, sound and storytelling creates its own unique environment for the listener, and it just so happens that I personally like some of those more than others.
One album had to take the number ten slot, and unfortunately that album is “1989.” Although I do believe that Taylor Swift’s so-called “1989 era” is one of the most widely recognized versions of Swift, especially since during this time she released some of her most popular songs such as “Shake It Off” and “Blank Space,”, there’s just something about it that feels off to me.
I was having trouble making this list until I thought about it in terms of which albums I’m drawn to the most. What albums do my fingers creep towards when I plug my phone into the aux and pull out of my driveway? Which ones take up the most space on my playlists? The answer is almost never “1989.”
I hate saying that this album is just too Pop for it to become a staple in my everyday listening, but it really is just too Pop. It’s fun and upbeat which pretty much goes against everything that does actually make its way through my ears on a day to day basis.
I like making myself sad. Sue me.
9. Fearless (Taylor’s Version)
I have similar issues with “Fearless” in terms of the overall corniness of the album, not that corniness is a bad thing. Again, it’s just not for me.
When this album was released two years ago, I had very high expectations for it since it was Swift’s first re-recording that she was putting out. I was especially excited for the “From The Vault” unreleased tracks that were set to be released with the album, but overall those tracks were mediocre at best and seemed to get lost within the hundred other songs in Swift’s overall discography.
Songs like “The Other Side Of The Door” and “The Best Day” are records that go severely unrecognized among the fanbase, and are what ultimately lead “Fearless” to just slightly beating out “1989” on my list.
8. Taylor Swift
As an avid hater of country music, I have to give Taylor Swift’s debut, and only complete country album, some credit just for containing country songs that are not only bearable, but actually enjoyable to listen to.
There’s not much more to say about this one other than I don’t hate it, which is certainly a sign that it must be some pretty good country music.
7. Speak Now
From this point on, we start getting into Swift’s more emotionally engaged albums, which is personally one of my favorite aspects of Swift’s songwriting. She’s able to convey her emotions through her lyrics in a way that I haven’t seen many other artists accomplish, and we start to really see this flourish for the first time in “Speak Now.”
Taylor Swift was known for writing breakup songs long before the release of “Speak Now,” but I personally think that this album is where her heartbreak songs stopped being about the typical and overused failed love tropes, and started being about her very real and personal experiences with the sense of loss and bitterness that a breakup can inflict on someone. It’s a really deep topic that Swift only just starts to tackle in “Speak Now,” and continues to expand on in her later albums.
Taylor Swift released “Reputation,” not only in response to the immense amount of hate she was receiving due to a scandal that involved her and Kanye West, but also after she had gone completely dark online for an entire year prior. This album was the first thing that anyone had heard from her after everything went down, and she didn’t choose to apologize or give in to the people that were bashing her online. Instead, she dropped what, in my opinion, is without a doubt her most iconic album to date.
The album explores the themes of the mistreatment of women in the music industry, vengeance and anger, all the while exploring the idea of finding love and intimacy in a time where one thinks that they might have suffered too much to ever be loved again.
With all this said, the multiple shots that she takes at Kanye West within the lyrics of the songs might just be my favorite part of the album.
“Evermore” is Taylor Swift’s most storytelling-based album, filled with poetic lyricism that simply forces listeners to create a world of their own as they listen to each track. There’s a certain ambience that comes along with listening to “Evermore” that I don’t think any other mainstream artist like Swift would be able to successfully capture in the way that she does.
The endless amount of time and self-reflection that Swift put into this album is not only extremely commendable, but it’s what makes the album so deeply personal and unique.
Its perfectly timed release during Coronavirius’ peak in 2020 is what, I’d like to think, kept me sane during the months spent in quarantine. Or maybe listening to it on repeat made me all the more insane. Either way, this album is the first one on this list that I can confidently call a perfect masterpiece.
4. Red (Taylor’s Version)
Although I thought that Taylor Swift just missed the mark with her “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” re-recording, she makes up for it with her second re-recording of “Red (Taylor’s Version).” Where the “Fearless” vault tracks are mediocre, the “Red” vault tracks are more than outstanding. Where the storytelling in “Fearless” is corny and overdone, the storytelling in “Red” is well thought out and beautifully broken in a way that makes you feel sorry for the freshly twenty year old Taylor Swift who wrote these songs.
I think that the most impressive part of the album is the non-cohesiveness of it all. Switching from emotion to emotion in such a quick amount of time is such a smart way of conveying the healing process of heartbreak. We, as listeners, experience the five stages of grief right alongside with Swift as she does so herself throughout each track, shedding just as many tears as I’m sure that Taylor herself did when she was going through the breakup on her own.
“Midnights” spent twelve consecutive weeks at the top of Billboard’s Top Album Charts for a reason.
Every album that Swift releases skillfully tops the previous one, and seeing as this is her most recent album I definitely think it’s objectively Swift’s most well-rounded, lyrically and sonically, album on her discography. It ended up at number three on my list purely due to personal opinion, but that doesn’t stop this from being an absolute beast of an album, completely plowing through every record that it could, including most songs occupying Billboard’s Top Ten Chart and most albums sold in the first twenty four hours.
I know that I said that corny and upbeat albums aren’t for me, but “Lover” is the one exception to this. I wasn’t lying when I said that I don’t normally like happy-go-lucky music, but there’s just something about this album. It’s like a guilty pleasure that I just can’t get enough of.
To me, “Lover” is the older, more mature and much less annoying sister to “1989.” It’s everything that “1989” is and more. It’s nearly perfect.
I’m not here to pretend that this isn’t an unpopular opinion. It definitely is. “Lover” is infamously one of the albums that fans tend to make fun of the most, but I just can’t help but be completely immersed in this album every time I listen to it.
Like I said, I like making myself sad, and “Folklore” is just the album for that. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of this album, whether it’s playing in the background while I’m doing homework or blasting through my headphones while I sit in the dark of my room and contemplate the meaning of life.
As devastating as this album is, it brings me a strange sort of comfort that keeps pulling me back into its arms. It’s ambitious. It’s incredibly descriptive. It’s painfully touching. It’s artistic expression at its finest.
It’s also the album that shaped my view on music, and still influences my listening habits to this day. No matter the occasion, you’ll always find me queuing up some “Folklore” to accommodate to my needs.