Top 10 Taylor Swift Songs
Taylor Swift songs have become some of the most beloved tunes by pop and country fans alike, and with good reason: The singer-songwriter is an incredible lyricist with a supernatural knack for melody and delivers exhilarating live performances.
Now, with four studio albums to her name, including the much more pop-swinging ‘Red,’ Swift has enough brilliant tracks in her catalogue to fill a few ‘Greatest Hits’ collections. Obviously, this makes choosing the best Taylor Swift songs an especially daunting task. From sweet pop to twangy bluegrass, here are our picks for the top 10 Taylor Swift songs.
‘Safe & Sound’
Taylor Swift’s sparse, haunting duet with the Civil Wars for ‘The Hunger Games’ soundtrack was delicate, fragile and terrifyingly authentic. It’s not pop and it’s not country. It was more like Swift and her cohorts’ take on Americana and folk. The song was a bare bones track where Swift’s voice and her words wrapped around one another with not much else. No window dressing. No gimmicks. No stunts. Just pure, beautiful emotion that begged to be sung by a fire on the frontier. It’s decidedly American.
’22’ is Swift at her frothiest. She’s not making any sort of for-the-ages philosophical declaration when she spouts off things she likes to do with her girlfriends (dress up like hipsters, make fun of their exes). It’s a summery, sun-splashed song, and it falls firmly outside of Swift’s wheelhouse as the poet laureate of the brokenhearted. That’s probably why we like it so much, because it proves that while Swift has a PhD in getting her heart ripped out, she also knows how to be a silly young adult who likes to goof off and bake treats with her girlfriends. It’s not all doom and gloom for this wordsmith.
It was the country-est Taylor Swift song on ‘Speak Now,’ but the twangy plucking of guitars and pop-bluegrass production gave ‘Mean’ major crossover appeal — and turned it into a battle cry against bullying and general hateration. Penned as a response to detractors (including one particularly nasty critic), it’s one of the most savage tracks ever recorded, but Swift gets the last laugh in the final bridge: “All you are is mean / And a liar / And pathetic / And alone in life / And mean.” In other words, stay mad — Taylor’s still on top.
A sweetly idealistic reimagining of an everyday romance as an old-fashioned fairytale (a common motif in Swift’s work), ‘Love Story’ is one of Swift’s biggest hit to date: It went quintuple platinum, selling over 5 million digital copies, and has earned a place in history as one of the best-selling singles of all time. But aside from its extraordinary commercial success, ‘Love Story’ has one of the most endearing and accessible messages of any Taylor Swift song.
‘I Knew You Were Trouble’
The ‘Red’ song is another example of Swift drifting further from country music turf into pop terrain. It’s a pop rocker about a boy who did her wrong, a familiar lyrical territory for her. However, Swift turns the tables and offers a verbal twist. When she scowls, “I knew you were trouble when you walked in / So shame on me now,” she points the finger inward and puts the blame on herself, since she shoulda known better than to succumb to this loser. Her lyrics reached out to people, namely her several million-strong female fan base. Only Taylor Swift “could make lying on the cold hard ground” sound fun by encasing it in cray cray catchy melodies.
The first single from ‘Speak Now’ saw Swift moving in a decidedly adult direction, and ‘Mine’ set the tone perfectly for the era that followed: Gone was the fairytale imagery, replaced instead with the realities of facing adulthood. Her fans loved ‘Mine,’ and it debuted at No. 3 on the Hot 100, but this top Taylor Swift song may be best remembered for what might just be the best couplet in any her songs: “You made a rebel of a careless man’s careful daughter.” Genius.
Taken from her sophomore album, ‘Fearless,’ ‘Fifteen’ is a fan favorite, and with good reason, since it perfectly encapsulates the experience of being young and lost and forging a way through the minefields of high school. With pitch-perfect attention to detail, Swift creates a world of innocence and excitement, then tears it down in the most perfect way with the devastating lyric, “And Abigail gave everything she had to a boy who changed his mind / And we both cried.” Thoughtful, compassionate, and knowing, ‘Fifteen’ shows a wisdom way beyond Swift’s years, and millions of listeners can relate.
Taylor Swift’s debut single became a huge hit on country radio, thanks to a sharp hook, twangy vocals, and the titular call-out to a country legend, and ‘Tim McGraw’ still sounds fresh today. But don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the song’s structure and melody, because it’s a decidedly meta track: “When you think Tim McGraw / I hope you think my favorite song,” Swift sings, referencing a country superstar as she herself becomes one.
‘You Belong With Me’
A triple-platinum smash from Swift’s album ‘Fearless’ that earned her three Grammy nominations, ‘You Belong With Me’ encapsulates everything that makes Taylor Swift so unique. This track, which tops our list of the best Taylor Swift songs, blends pop, country, and rock influences perfectly with lyrics that contain just the right amount of detail and a frustrated desire that’s totally universal. As confessional as a diary entry, but with the spunky production of the very finest pop songs, ‘You Belong With Me’ is almost Swift’s greatest song to date… but not quite.
‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’
The anthemic and cheerleader-y track was a watershed moment in Swift’s career, as she went full-blown pop on us. The slick, polished song is a kiss off to an ex — conventional wisdom suggests it’s about Jake Gyllenhaal. The ex tries to win her back, but she’s had enough. The roller coaster chorus, the real-time, voiceover conversation in the bridge and the instant relatability of the subject matter made it an easy smash and instant classic for T. Swizzle. Topping our list of the best Taylor Swift songs, ‘We Are Never…’ might have drawn her further away from the country genre, but it drafted her into service as a true pop star.