Upon brainstorming for this article, I had no idea what I was getting myself into by ranking every piece of art by the singer-songwriter goddess herself–Ms. Taylor Swift. How is this even possible? Not one of her articles is trash, and each one has its own unique style, it is hard to choose the best of the best.
However, a few factors that I considered were the influence the albums had on pop culture, songwriting ability, and thematic elements that set it apart from other “eras” that Taylor Swift has created.
So, without further ado, here is my ranking of Taylor Swift’s albums from good to best (because none of them are bad).
8. Speak Now (2010)
Let me start off by saying that I love all of Taylor Swift’s albums. I know Swifties everywhere are going to attack me for putting this in the bottom, but I promise I’m not throwing rocks at things that shine! This album is amazing, in terms of songwriting and some catchy bops. However, compared to the other eras, this one doesn’t exactly stand out in terms of creative concepts.
I think Taylor wanted to focus on the fact that people were criticizing her after the success of Fearless. Did she actually write her own songs? Was she writing from a personal place or emulating the experiences of other country artists? I think she nailed it when it came to relaying the message of establishing herself within the music industry. I just wish she came up with a concept that differs from Fearless, versus sounding like a continuation of it.
I do think it’s also important to note that she wrote this album at a very young age as she was still discovering who she was at that time and that this was an album she worked on alone. My top five favorites from this album are “Sparks Fly,” “The Story Of Us,” “Haunted,” “Last Kiss,” and “Long Live.”
7. Taylor Swift (2006)
This self-titled record is the first of Taylor Swift’s albums. It’s the spark that started it all. From the moment I heard “Tim McGraw” on the radio, I knew she was going to be a big name in the music scene. For someone who was writing in their teenage years, the tracks on this connected with everyone, regardless of age. The girl can write a song about types of heartbreak she hadn’t even experienced yet.
I think when I listen to this album now, I’m instantly transported back to my high school days. Things were easier and butterflies in your stomach were actually a real thing when it came to classroom crushes. Overall, it’s a mellow sound with some bops that make you want to hate that stupid old pickup truck your ex never let you drive.
I also miss a lot of the violin and banjo sounds that she doesn’t use as often in her newer works. If you asked me what my top five songs are from this album, I would have to say they would be “Teardrops On My Guitar,” “Cold As You,” “Should’ve Said No,” “Our Song,” and “Invisible.”
6. Lover (2019)
One of my favorite things about Taylor Swift’s albums is that they tell stories about her life and what she’s experiencing. This was the first album I heard from her where I could tell she was genuinely happy with how things were holding up for her. She found self-love, she found romantic love, she found new ways to portray her love for her fans. It’s the perfect album to have on when you’re just looking to be in a great mood.
I absolutely loved the Easter egg hunt she sent everybody on when she was promoting it. From artistic murals to pictures of palm trees and fence posts, the internet went insane with theories from the moment she started ringing in the new era. With all the fun and excitement, we got some exciting bops and lines like, “Spelling is fun!” that made us want to jump around in joy and hug all the people around us.
We also got some great collaborations with The Chicks and Brendon Urie from Panic! At the Disco, along with a whirlwind music video featuring everyone’s favorite gay icons to promote support for The Equality Act. It’s a bubblegum sweetener that was needed after the dark age of her reputation album, where snakes exploded into butterflies. None of us were calm at all. My top five from this album include “Cruel Summer,” “The Man,” “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince,” “Cornelia Street,” and “Death By A Thousand Cuts.”
5. 1989 (2014)
Remember that era that made us want to pack up our things and move straight to New York? Taylor Swift’s albums always make us want to dance, but this album is an entire dance floor. It’s an album that frees you from expectations to just be happy and celebrate life. With anthems to shut out the haters, rules to explain how to mend relationships, and tracks that can’t take themselves seriously, it’s no wonder that 1989 received as many Grammy Awards as it did.
This was also the beginning of the infamous “Secret Sessions” that everyone is dying to be a part of at some point in their lives. It’s the album that brought back polaroid cameras and vintage t-shirts that never go out of style. It was also the beginning of a beautiful collaboration between Taylor and Jack Antonoff that would rock future albums to come. If you ask me what some of my favorites are, my top five would be “Blank Space,” “Out of the Woods,” “Bad Blood,” “Wildest Dreams,” and “Clean.”
4. Fearless (2008)
1989 was not the first album that won “Album of the Year” at the Grammy Awards. Let’s remember the breakout album that shot Taylor straight to the top of the charts from radio play, album sales, and more. It is, in my opinion, a true country album from Swift. Taylor Swift’s albums always have romantic storylines play out. There’s a romanticism that can be felt in every song, no matter how sad or how melancholy it may seem.
Out of all of Taylor’s pre-pop albums, this is by far my favorite. I love listening to it on the way to work in the morning because it just sets the mood for a cheerful day full of daydreaming and nostalgic memories. It makes you look at love in a completely different way. My top five songs from this album are “Fifteen,” “Love Story,” “White Horse,” “You Belong With Me,” and “Change.” These songs will give you the bravery you need to conquer any bad day.
3. Red (2012)
I could care less what critics said about this album “not being cohesive.” It’s the perfect example of a true heartbreak album. Heartbreak is messy. Grief is not consistent. There is mourning, there is anger, there is pain, there is joy, there is healing, there is even dancing with friends in the middle of the night.
This was the first of Taylor Swift’s albums to walk the line of country and pop, and I’m so glad she experimented with her music in this way. There were songs that made me cry and there were songs that made me want to go out with friends and talk mess about my exes. It’s one of her best-written albums despite the differences in sounds throughout the record.
My top five songs are “State Of Grace,” “I Knew You Were Trouble.,” “All Too Well,” “The Last Time,” and “Holy Ground.”
2. reputation (2017)
If you haven’t seen her concert performance of this album on Netflix, you’re missing out. It’s the greatest narrative of a celebrity wrapped in betrayal and scandal to ever hit our time. This album is a caricature of how we expect celebrities to live and what happens when we believe everything we read or hear about another person.
Filled with snakes and bangers, this is the second-best album she has ever created. That’s coming a lot from someone who loves all of Taylor Swift’s albums. My favorite songs from this record are “…Ready For It?,” “End Game,” “Don’t Blame Me,” “Getaway Car,” and “New Year’s Day.”
1. folklore (2020)
No words. Listen for yourself. It’s the BEST songwriting of our generation and it puts all of her other amazing albums to rest. It is a godsend. I can’t even pick just five songs from this one because I’m in love with every single one of them.
What do you think of my ranking? What’s your favorite Taylor Swift album? Let me know in the comments below!
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Scott Hill is a former middle school educator and current poet with multiple self-published collections. He has a degree in English Literature and Psychology from the University of Houston and resides nearby where he can be seen tending to plants at his job, snuggling with his dog on the sofa, or spending time with loved ones. He enjoys whiskey and wine nights and loves writing about other poets, personal life experiences, mental health, food, and sometimes Taylor Swift. Feel free to follow him on Instagram @scotthillpoetry!