When Taylor Swift first emerged as a 17-year-old country singer, not a whole lot of people would have expected her to become one of the most talked about and listened to pop stars of the decade. On the 13th of December, Taylor Swift turns 30 and we celebrate this with her 30 best songs so far.
Scroll all the way to the bottom for the Spotify playlist.
30. Back To December (2010)
Taylor Swift might have often been criticized for writing about her exes too much (which she fairly pointed out is never held against male artists), but she is not afraid to put the blame on herself when it comes to the end of a relationship. ‘Back To December’ is a heartbreaking ballad in which she admits to making a mistake breaking up with this guy who deserved better.
29. Teardrops On My Guitar (2006)
This was only the second single of her whole career (after the release of ‘Tim McGraw’), but it immediately showed off her potential. This country ballad made clear she already was a strong vocalist as well as a songwriter at a young age. Such a cute little song that still stands out in her discography.
28. Mean (2010)
As early as 2010, Taylor Swift made it pretty clear that she had no time for haters in her life. The singer wrote a lyrically sharp country tune titled ‘Mean’ about people who try to put her down. She packed a pretty serious message in a cute little song and the contrast makes it even better.
27. ME! (2019)
Taylor Swift made her comeback earlier this year with this duet with Panic! at the Disco’s Brendon Urie. It sure won’t go down in history as one of her best tunes and yes it is cheesy at times, but at the same time it serves irresistible positivity and promotes self love within relationships. It is also impossible not to sing along to the me-e-e who-o-o parts. Believe me, I tried.
26. Look What You Made Me Do (2017)
OK, admitted, this is not Taylor’s most interesting tune in terms of melody (there is hardly one there), but the production and of course the lyrical content is fire. This was quite the 180 degree turn in terms of her sound and image and that phone conversation in which she pronounces her former self dead is all kinds of brilliant. One of her best songs? No. One of her most effective ones? Totally!
25. Cruel Summer (2019)
‘Cruel Summer’, co-written by Jack Antonoff and St. Vincent, brings back the breezy light electronic pop that Swift introduced on her 1989 album. The chorus is larger than life, while the middle-eight, which is also used as an outro, is Taylor Swift at her best. She serves specific yet universally recognizable lyrics and challenges herself vocally with an expressive, almost screaming style. Can we still make this a single in summer 2020?
24. You Belong With Me (2008)
‘You Belong With Me’ was one of Swift’s first international hits and its cutesie high school aesthetic in both the song itself and the music video is simply impossible to resist. This is a warm love song with a chorus you won’t ever get out of your head after you heard it for the first time. This did not nearly age as horribly as I thought it did!
23. False God (2019)
The sexual tension on this track was mostly uncharted territory in her music before, but she pulls this sensual tune off convincingly. Her vocals are softer and more seductive than before and take the melodies to an even higher level and that saxophone is simply heavenly! We stan an artistic reinvention.
22. Shake It Off (2014)
Okay, admitted, ‘Shake It Off’ grew out to be one of Taylor’s most well known songs and it did its job of introducing her more poppy sound. It certainly is not one of the best songs on 1989, but that rap-like delivery in the middle-eight that tells us to ‘get down to this sick beat’ is a career highlight.
21. New Romantics (2014)
‘New Romantics’ was initially only a bonus track on the 1989 album, but received the single treatment in the end and deservedly so. It is one of her most unapologetically upbeat and uptempo tunes with a youthful enthusiasm that makes you want to go back to high school only to break out of class and go on a road trip with your friends.
20. The Man (2019)
Throughout her career, Taylor Swift has become more and more outspoken about the position of women in the music industry and society and that is exactly what she does on this track she created with Joel Little. She criticizes how she is seen as a serial dater while for men it is okay to ‘check out the field’ before they settle for someone. She draws a comparison to Leonardo DiCaprio’s turbulent dating life and it is spot on!
19. All Too well (2012)
‘All Too Well’ is easily one of Swift’s strongest lyrical moments of her career. The track sees her reminisce about a past relationship in both very specific and relatable wordings. The instrumental build up of the song is breathtaking and the feeling of not being able to let go of these memories is tangible in Swift’s tense delivery which slowly works towards an eruption too. Goosebumps every time!
18. Clean (2014)
Swift co-wrote and co-produced this 1989 album closer together with Imogen Heap. It is unlike any other of her ballads, but has an emotional intensity that won’t easily let you go. The lyrics about moving on are applicable to the end of a relationship, overcoming an addiction or any hardship and the production is A+.
17. Red (2012)
‘Red’ is the title track of Taylor’s fourth album, which was a big step in her transition from country singer to pop icon. The track is a little whirlwind of a pop song with clear country influences. The lyrics are loaded with metaphors which describe an intense love affair. That chorus is timeless!
16. Welcome To New York (2014)
‘Welcome To New York’ opened the legendary 1989 album with an absolute bang. The production full of synths and hand claps is exciting and that is exactly the vibe Swift gives off vocally. An uplifting anthem that makes you want to walk the streets of Manhattan while singing along.
15. You Need To Calm Down (2019)
Taylor Swift was long criticized for not speaking out politically, but when she did, she went all out. ‘You Need To Calm Down’ is a sassy lgbtq+ anthem with a drum and synth heavy production and excellent lyrical references. Swift just targeted keyboard warriors, homophobes and sexists in the music industry in one song. You can’t go wrong with that!
14. Love Story (2008)
With ‘Love Story’, Taylor had her first proper international hit. The Romeo and Juliet themed lyrics might sound cheesy to some, but the whole thing is just too sweet to resist. All teen romance vibes aside, that chorus still stands to this day. A classic!
13. …Ready For It? (2017)
For those who weren’t surprised enough by comeback single ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ yet, Taylor had another shocker coming. She released the bass and drums heavy anthem ‘… Ready For It?’ next. It is one of the biggest bangers of her career so far and sounds like nothing else in her discography, but she sure pulls it off convincingly.
12. I Know Places (2014)
This 1989 album track was an easy standout in an already more than excellent pop record. There is something about that powerful chorus and those lyrics about sticking together as a couple when the rest of the world seems out to get you. “They are the hunters, we are the foxes, and we RUN!” is a moment every pop song should aspire to have!
11. Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince (2019)
‘Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince’ sounds like a high school drama on first listen, but has some political views hidden in the lyrics in a creative and non-preachy manner. The cheerleader theme running through the chorus is genius and that melody is impeccable. This is Taylor Swift at her finest.
10. Wildest Dreams (2014)
I think it is safe to say that every contemporary pop lover has channeled their inner Lana Del Rey every once in a while, but when Taylor Swift does so, the result is a beautifully floating love song that gives you a warm and nostalgic feeling inside. The Lana-isms are obvious, but Swift manages to make them her own. Stunning!
09. State of Grace (2012)
What a way to start off a career defining album! ‘State of Grace’ is one of these songs that grabs you by the throat from the first moments on and keeps you on your toes while it keeps building towards an oh so satisfying climax. This track packs some of her finest melodies and lyrics and deserves a spot amongst her classics.
08. Getaway Car (2017)
Taylor is queen of metaphors in her lyrics and ‘Getaway Car’ has an excellent one! The same goes for its melody actually! The whole song builds up to the emotive finale in which she sings she was both crying and dying in said car. Oh, the feels! Not only a clear highlight of her Reputation album, but also of her career.
07. I Knew You Were Trouble (2012)
‘I Knew You Were Trouble’ was a key track in Taylor’s transition from country girl to pop star and let’s underline here that it’s basically the perfect pop song. The drop, the screams, that hook, it just works. She sounded more feisty than she did before and it almost felt like she became the pop star she is today right when recording that song!
06. Lover (2019)
If there is a musical equivalent of a warm bath, it is ‘Lover’ by Taylor Swift. It is not easy to write an original love song these days, but Swift wrote one that is refreshing, heartfelt and universally relatable. The middle-eight where she asks people to stand for the ‘magnetic force of a man’ she calls her lover is a stunning pop moment. Also, ‘I swear to be overdramatic and true to my lover’ is one of her best lyrics yet.
05. Style (2014)
With 1989 single ‘Style’, Taylor submerged herself in the world of smooth and sensual synth pop. The Max Martin production was effortlessly on trend with some hints of 80s glory and a thick beat. Swift herself explored more sensual territory in her lyrics even though her partner only seemed to take of his coat in the lyrics. The ‘I heard that you been out and about with some other girl’ line is hauntingly beautiful though. A triumph from start to finish.
04. We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together (2012)
Her record label must have had their doubts when she came up with the long title for this lead single, but I am pretty sure that chorus took all their worries away. This is probably one of the catchiest pop hits of the decade. You would think it has the potential to get on your nerves easily, but it never really did on mine. Taylor’s delivery of the lyrics is perfectly sassy and it truly was the start of a new, bigger chapter in her career.
03. Blank Space (2014)
The release of ‘Blank Space’ was another big moment in the career of miss Swift. Literally every single lyric of that song is meme-able and every shot of the music video was screaming to be a gif. Taylor and her team created something that had all the elements to become a viral hit and so it did. Oh, and let us not forget that melody and production were excellent here too.
02. Out of the Woods (2014)
For me, hearing ‘Out Of The Woods’ was the moment I realized that Swift was on her way to become possibly the biggest pop star on the planet. The track showed that she could create something that was predicting a trend as well as staying true to who she is as an artist. The banging electronic production full of echoes, the detailed personal lyrics and that tornado chorus with the ad libs in the last round… I can never play this song just once. It is made to be kept on repeat.
01. Delicate (2017)
Like no other song, Taylor Swift’s ‘Delicate’ describes the insecurities, excitement and butterflies of the early stages in a love affair that is hopefully building towards a relationship. The light and airy production perfectly complements that feeling of being in love, but trying not to lose yourself in it completely just yet. This song has the ability to take you away and see things from Taylor’s perspective and it is a beautiful one. A breathtaking pop song that many artists would have died to come up with.