- ruby crowhurst
RANKING EVERY TAYLOR SWIFT ALBUM
With Taylor Swift releasing the first of her re-recordings, what better way to celebrate than taking a look at all of Swift's albums and ranking them.
As one of the most versatile and ever-metamorphosing artists in the industry right now, it's difficult to truly put the albums in order of best to worst because each album is so different from the next. That being said, we've given it a go anyway, so take a look at the ranking below.
9. Taylor Swift (2006)
It's best to start by saying that inherently, none of Swift's albums are bad, which is one hell of an achievement. That being said, her debut album is the furthest away from being the pop-perfection or songwriting phenomena that the releases since were.
Taylor Swift introduces us to, well, Taylor Swift.
With this debut album, you can see 16-year-old Swift trying to play to the tropes of both the country music and the pop music that existed at the time. Sure, the album is undoubtedly a country album, but there's something about the energy and the sweetness that leans closer to that of the pop music that was seen on the charts in 2006-7.
The best thing about this album is also ironically the thing that holds it back and puts it as number 9 on the list - it is blatantly obvious that it was written by a 15-year-old. This brings a charming naivety to every track, about first loves and first heartbreaks, but it also presents as a little immature at points and doesn't present the distinguished artist and songwriter that we know Swift to be. That's no fault of Swift's though, as which one of us is a distinguished person at 15-16?
Overall, Taylor Swift is a good debut, but it doesn't represent Swift as she is now. Not in genre, not in lyricism, and not in...accent.
TOP 3: Our Song, Teardrops on my Guitar, Cold As You
8. Fearless (2008)
The album that made Taylor Swift famous (not Kanye West). Fearless brought into the world two of Swift's most iconic songs to date - 'Love Story' and 'You Belong With Me'. These songs were everywhere back in the day, and you don't need to be a Swift fan to know that.
With Fearless, Swift made another transition from being an up-and-coming star to a front-page celebrity, which perhaps is why Fearless feels so nostalgic and people keep it close to their hearts. It was the last album in which Swift was this small-town girl with a big dream. Swift refers to this feeling in the past tense in many of her future albums, but Fearless is the last time where it's in the reality Swift was living.
It makes sense, for the above reason, that this is Taylor Swift's first re-recording. There's a lot of nostalgia and love for Fearless, but it's pretty far from her best piece of work.
Fearless is also the album where Swift began to make the movement from country to pop. You can still hear some twangs of country, but it's a far cry from her debut release and this transition is clearly still being perfected.
The thing about Fearless is it was very good at the time, with how charming it was and its fairytale-esque stories of love and heartbreak. But, as we know Swift's writing has matured and got better over time, it makes Fearless seemed a little outdated.
TOP 3 TRACKS: Love Story, Fearless, The Way I Loved You
7. Lover (2019)
Lover was another a different turn for Swift. After the dark and edgy of Reputation, out came Lover. It's happy, poppy, all about being in love, and most importantly, the first of Taylor Swift's albums that she's actually owned the rights to. It's definitely possible that the tone of the album and this separation from Big Machine Records go hand-in-hand.
There's nothing inherently bad about Lover, but it's just not Swift's best work. The singles weren't good choices, with 'Me! (ft Brendon Urie)' arguably being one of her worst songs to date, and it feels like the reception of the album could have been a lot better if songs, like 'Cruel Summer' or 'Cornelia Street', had been chosen to introduce us to the Lover era. Hell, even if 'Lover' (the song) had been chosen as the lead single it would have shown a better summary of what the album really was about. Lover has some incredible tracks on it, and it's a shame that they weren't showcased.
It's clear what Swift was trying to do here, she was happy and in love and wanted an album to express this, which would be the first of its kind in her career. However, it didn't quite take off in the way it should have done, which is why it's down at number seven. TOP 3 TRACKS: Death By A Thousand Cuts, Cruel Summer, Cornelia Street
6. Reputation (2017)
Reputation. The comeback nobody expected from Taylor Swift. Reputation was announced out of nowhere and took a completely different turn for Swift's sound. It was darker, edgier and mixed in amongst it was the stories of finding love.
The issue with Reputation was that it, in some ways, feels like it's trying a bit too hard. Swift had a point to prove with this album, and it feels like more thought was put into the point being made than the crafting of the album. One thing we know about Taylor Swift is she can write a song, however, it's clear that on Reputation production took the top spot.
This all being said, Reputation is an example of one of Swift's iconic 'eras'. So judging the album alone, it's pretty low down the list, but if you judged the concept of the era, with its music videos and highest grossing tour of all time, then it could be placed even higher. If we were ranking 'eras', it would absolutely be at the top. But based on the album alone, it's placed down here at Number 6.
TOP 3 TRACKS: Don't Blame Me, Getaway Car, So it Goes
5. Speak Now (2010)
Speak Now is Swift's first, and only, completely self-written album. Yes, at 19 years old Swift decided to bite back at the critics saying she had too many songwriters and boy did she prove them wrong.
Even though Speak Now was released all the way back in 2008, it has very good staying power. 'Enchanted' is the best description of love-at-first-sight, you might ever hear in a song, and 'Last Kiss' is one of the best-written songs about the little mundane things you miss after a break-up. And who can forget Dear John, the heartbreaking ode to a toxic relationship which called out an ex-boyfriend by name.
Speak Now Swift was ballsy, from name drops to writing the album solo, to the intensity of the songs themselves. Personally, this is the album I think I'm most excited about in the re-recordings. It's been so long since the original recording, that to hear Swift's voice 10 years later singing a song like Long Live, the emotions will be running high.
TOP 3 TRACKS: Enchanted, Sparks Fly, Last Kiss
4. Red (2012)
Red can be identified as Taylor Swift's midway between pop and country, and the album that really made her a worldwide success. Swift described this album herself as 'the only real break up album' she's ever released, and it shows.
Many people think that Red was snubbed at the Grammys, however, I would quietly disagree for the same reason it's put at number 4 here: it's not really cohesive. Red goes up and down like a yoyo in not only it's mood, but genre, lyrical quality etc. I mean, the chaos can easily be explained by the fact 'All Too Well' is followed by catchy pure pop track '22'.
However, despite this chaos, Red does home some of not only the best songs Swift has written, but also some of the best break-up songs period. 'All Too Well' is the pinnacle of heartbreak, frustration, and storytelling. 'Treacherous' is an ode to knowing someone is wrong for you but still being charmed by them anyway, then 'I Knew You Were Trouble' is the iconic song that describes the crashing end of that same relationship. All of this is the reason Red has been placed midway through the albums. The highs are highs but the lows are, well, still pretty good but just shift the energy to somewhere you don't want to be in that moment.
There is a theory that the up-and-down can be explained by Swift's old label requiring her to have less break-up songs and more radio play singles, which would make sense. However, we have to judge Red on face value right now.
TOP 3 TRACKS: All Too Well, I Almost Do, Treacherous
evermore, aka the younger and more magical sister of folklore. evermore is the warm and whimsical to folklore's chill and heartbreak. evermore is positioned in number 3 on this list, as it has the same incredible songwriting that can be found on folklore, but it's a little more chaotic and doesn't quite flow as well.
evermore is still an incredible album, which showcases Swift's songwriting to an incredible standard. Some of the tracks on this album are absolutely some of the best Taylor Swift has ever released (see the Top 3 tracks below as examples), but as it's not quite as consistent as the top two, it stays firmly at three.
There's also something to be said about how this album was made in the matter of a couple of months, randomly, during a pandemic after the release of the first surprise album. If there's one thing we can't fault Swift on, it's her productivity.
TOP 3 TRACKS: gold rush, champagne problems, right where you left me
2. 1989 (2014)
Putting 1989 above evermore may be a bit controversial, but I stand firm. 1989 was the album that made me turn from a casual listener to a certified Swiftie.
The transition from country music star to pop star was distinctly made with the release of 1989.
1989 wasn't just an album, it was an era, and it was an era that changed pop music going forward. Swift brought back into the mainstream the synth sounds that hadn't really been heard in pop music since the 80s which can be found in a hell of a lot of music now. The single releases were strategic and clever, arguably being the best picked of any of her album releases.
After the arguable snubbing of Red, Taylor Swift was determined. She took the criticism that came from red, mainly that it wasn't cohesive enough, and made 1989 her most cohesive yet experimental album to date.
'Style' is an example of the perfect pop song, as are 'New Romantics', 'Blank Space', 'Out of The Woods', the list goes on. Coming of age had come and gone, and Swift made the perfect album for those going through the trials and tribulations of being in your 20s, and with that came much more mature depictions of relationships and emotions, all to thumping synth-style instrumentals.
Working with Jack Antonoff and Max Martin allowed Swift to really strike gold and make this album the no-skip release it was. The three of them working together made magic, and have continued to do so since 1989. 1989 is fun and heartbreaking all at the same time, and it had huge commercial and critical success.
It deserves a high ranking, which is why it's been placed in the second spot.
TOP 3 TRACKS: Style, Out of The Woods, You Are In Love
1. folklore (2020)
folklore: the surprise drop in 2020 that nobody asked for but everybody needed.
Swift takes a journey into a new genre for her, acoustic folk, and it completely and utterly worked for her.
More than anything, Swift is a wordsmith. Even from her very early releases, the production or the genre or the instrumentals may not have been right, but damn this woman can write a song, and that's what Swift set out to showcase in folklore.
Swift admits she took a step back from thinking how songs would sound on the radio and be performed and focused just on the songwriting for songwriting's sake and it shows exactly what she can do.
'this is me trying' is up there with my absolute favourite songs Swift has ever written. Consistency has sometimes been Swift's issue, and the best of her albums are her most consistent, which folklore absolutely embraces. folklore is a near-perfect album, and that's why it's at number one!
TOP 3 TRACKS: this is me trying, exile ft bon iver, my tears ricochet,
So, that's that! Do you agree? Disagree? Are you screaming justice for one of the albums that's been rated low? Join in the conversation on Instagram: @rubyonmusc_