Apr 15, 2024 - Business

Every Taylor Swift song ranked, from worst to best

Taylor Swift poses with eyes wide open.

Photo: Charley Gallay/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Taylor Swift's latest album "The Tortured Poets Department" has arrived, adding to a catalog that's made her one of the biggest stars of all time.

Why it matters: It's a new era for Swift, whose record-breaking tour returns to the states in October.

My thought bubble: As a longtime music critic, I've been covering Swift since she was the opening act for artists like Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban.

What I did: That qualifies me (or, at least, makes me crazy enough) to rank all 245 of Swift's songs.

  • The list features songs that Swift is credited as a lead artist on. I did not differentiate between original recordings and "Taylor Versions" of tracks, and I did not include cover songs, live versions or studio outtakes.
  • You can scream at me on social media @troylsmith.

The rankings:

245. "Better Than Revenge" (2010)

244. "Me!" (2019)

243. "Bad Blood" (2014)

242. "Vigilante Shit" (2022)

241. "thanK you aIMee" (2024)

240. "Glitch" (2022)

239. "London Boy" (2019)

238. "Look What You Made Me Do" (2017)

237. "Beautiful Ghosts" (2019)

236. "This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things" (2017)

235. "I Hate It Here" (2024)

234. "Christmas Must Be Something More" (2007)

233. "Paper Rings" (2019)

232. "Electric Touch" (2023)

231. "A Place in This World" (2006)

230. "Highway Don't Care" (2013)

229. "Welcome to New York" (2014)

The intrigue: Swift doesn't have bad songs per se, but a few of her revenge anthems — "Bad Blood," "Vigilante Shit," "Look What You Made Me Do," "thanK you aIMee" — can be grating depending on the listener.

Between the lines: "Welcome to New York" and "London Boy" are empty songs that fail to capture the essence of the cities they're named for, while "Paper Rings" walks a line between silly and corny.

Reality check: Tim McGraw gave Swift a co-lead credit on "Highway Don't Care," his single from "Two Lanes of Freedom," but it's his song even if Swift's blissful backing vocals are the highlight.

228. "You Need to Calm Down" (2019)

227. "So High School" (2024)

226. "Change" (2008)

225. "Don't You" (2021)

224. "Invisible" (2006)

223. "Only The Young" (2020)

222. "The Last Time" (2012)

221. "A Perfectly Good Heart" (2006)

220. "Superman" (2010)

219. "Crazier" (2009)

218. "No Body, No Crime" (2020)

The intrigue: Even Taylor Swift is prone to forgettable album cuts, a category "Superman" and "The Last Time" fall into.

Between the lines: There's a reason you probably don't remember Swift had a song ("Crazier") from the "Hannah Montana: The Movie" soundtrack.

Reality check: "No Body No Crime," a murder ballad featuring Swift's friends from HAIM, sounds exciting on paper but isn't all that gripping in execution.

217. "The Outside" (2006)

216. "Robin" (2024)

215. "Superstar" (2009)

214. "Fresh Out the Slammer" (2024)

213. "Dear Reader" (2022)

212. "Innocent" (2010)

211. "Cold as You" (2006)

210. "Beautiful Eyes" (2008)

209. "Come in With the Rain" (2009)

208. "Imgonnagetyouback" (2024)

207. "Christmas Tree Farm" (2019)

206. "Cassandra" (2024)

205. "Haunted" (2010)

204. "Eyes Open" (2012)

The intrigue: Swift unsuccessfully ventures out of her comfort zone into alternative rock on "The Hunger Games" soundtrack track "Eyes Open" and Evanescence-style goth rocker "Haunted."

Between the lines: Swift has yet to release a transcendent Christmas song. "Christmas Tree Farm," a song she wrote after releasing 2019's "Lover," certainly isn't it.

Reality check: Some of the songs on Swift's promising self-titled debut album, like "The Outside" and "Cold As You," feel a bit like generic country pop.

203. "Peter" (2024)

202. "Foolish One" (2023)

201. "Alchemy" (2024)

200. "Castles Crumbling" (2023)

199. "Run" (2021)

198. "Mary's Song" (2006)

197. "Sad Beautiful Tragic" (2012)

196. "Breathe" (2008)

195. "Stay Beautiful" (2006)

194. "Right Where You Left Me" (2020)

193. "The Lucky One" (2012)

192. "Closure" (2020)

The intrigue: Songs like "Sad Beautiful Tragic" (from "Red") and "Breathe" (from "Fearless") aren't awful, they just don't hold up to other tracks from two of Swift's best albums.

Between the lines: "Closure" goes against the otherwise stripped-down vibe of "Evermore" with drum and synth sounds that distract from Swift's heartfelt songwriting.

Reality check: "Speak Now" is the longest of Swift's original albums. So, it makes sense that "From the Vault" leftovers like "Foolish One" and "Castles Crumbling" aren't earth shattering.

191. "The Tortured Poets Department" (2024)

190. "You're Not Sorry" (2008)

189. "Girl at Home" (2012)

188. "If This Was a Movie" (2010)

187. "Come Back…Be Here" (2012)

186. "Clara Bow" (2024)

185. "Epiphany" (2020)

184. "Stay Stay Stay" (2012)

183. "Tied Together With a Smile" (2006)

182. "I Don't Wanna Live Forever" (2017)

181. "I Heart?" (2008)

180. "Hoax" (2020)

The intrigue: It's a good thing "The Tortured Poets Department" morphed into a surprise double-album. Otherwise, "Clara Bow" would have a been a disappointing final track.

Between the lines: Though "You're Not Sorry" wasn't one of the standouts from "Fearless," it did get a remix to coincide with Swift's appearance on "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation."

Reality check: Even the dynamic duo of Swift and producer Jack Antonoff can't save "I Don't Wanna Live Forever," her bland electropop ballad with Zayn from the "Fifty Shades Darker" soundtrack.

179. "Wonderland" (2014)

178. "The Best Day" (2008)

177. "The Other Side of the Door" (2008)

176. "Say Don't Go" (2023)

175. "The Lakes" (2020)

174. "Mad Woman" (2020)

173. "Tell Me Why" (2008)

172. "Happiness" (2020)

171. "Bigger Than the Whole Sky" (2022)

170. "Chloe or Sam or Sophia or Marcus" (2024)

169. "I Know Places" (2014)

The intrigue: "Best Day" and "Tell Me Why" from "Fearless" show that even when Swift is tackling familiar material like family or a bad boyfriend, she has a knack for a catchy melody.

Between the lines: "Mad Woman" is "Folklore's" most haunting song that moves away from the rest of the album's indie folk in favor of goth energy.

Reality check: The angsty "I Know Places" from "1989" would have felt more at home on the inferior "Reputation."

168. "Nice to Have a Friend" (2019)

167. "Long Story Short" (2020)

166. "I Look in People's Windows" (2024)

165. "Ours" (2010)

164. "It's Time to Go" (2020)

163. "You're Losing Me" (2022)

162. "The Very First Night" (2021)

161. "The Great War" (2022)

160. "Sweet Nothing" (2022)

159. "Afterglow" (2019)

158. "Don't Blame Me" (2017)

The intrigue: "Afterglow" and "Nice to Have a Friend" may not live up to the best bops on "Lover," but they're two of the more unique songs in Swift's catalog.

Between the lines: "You're Losing Me", a bonus track on "The Late Night Edition" of "Midnights," finds her embracing Imogen Heap's downtempo electronica.

Reality check: The gospel-meets-electropop song "Don't Blame Me" is a microcosm of "Reputation," an album that's more ambitious than excellent.

157. "I'm Only Me When I'm With You" (2006)

156. "Starlight" (2012)

155. "Gold Rush" (2020)

154. "The Bolter" (2024)

153. "High Infidelity" (2022)

152. "Untouchable" (2009)

151. "This Love" (2014)

150. "Paris" (2022)

149. "The Prophecy" (2024)

148. "Labyrinth" (2022)

147. "You All Over Me" (2021)

146. "Coney Island" (2020)

The intrigue: "I'm Only Me When I'm With You," from the deluxe edition of Swift's debut album, is an early track that points towards her pop transition.

Between the lines: The National singer Matt Berninger's deep baritone feels like an odd pairing with Swift on "Coney Island," but it somehow works.

Reality check: Swift caused a stir by mentioning April 29 on "High Infidelity," which appears to be a reference to an interview given in 2016 by ex-Calvin Harris.

145. "Daylight" (2019)

144. "We Were Happy" (2021)

143. "Hits Different" (2022)

142. "This Is Me Trying" (2020)

141. "Bye Bye Baby" (2021)

140. "Message in a Bottle" (2021)

139. "Tolerate It" (2020)

138. "Babe" (2021)

137. "That's When" (2021)

136. "Forever Winter" (2021)

The intrigue: Fans got a barrage of songs "From the Vault" in 2021 with the releases of "Taylor's Version" of both "Red" and "Fearless."

Between the lines: "Forever Winter" from "Red (Taylor's Version)" is a powerful song about a friend of Swift's from high school who struggled with mental illness.

Reality check: "That's When," from "Fearless (Taylor's Version)," reunites Swift with Keith Urban, who headlined their 2009 Escape Together World Tour and played guitar on "Highway Don't Care."

135. "Suburban Legends" (2023)

134. "I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)" (2024)

133. "Carolina" (2022)

132. "The Way I Loved You" (2008)

131. "I Can See You" (2023)

130. "Today Was a Fairytale" (2010)

129. "Christmases When You Were Mine" (2007)

128. "I Almost Do" (2012)

127. "Jump Then Fall" (2009)

126. "Timeless" (2023)

125. "Guilty as Sin?" (2024)

124. "The Albatross" (2024)

123. "Last Kiss" (2010)

The intrigue: Some might see this as too low on the list for "Last Kiss," a fan-favorite slow-burner from "Speak Now" about her breakup with Joe Jonas.

Between the lines: "Christmases When You Were Mine" is Swift's best holiday song by a mile, mostly because she keeps it simple with an acoustic guitar and country twang in her voice.

Reality check: "Today Was a Fairytale" was featured in the 2010 film "Valentine's Day," which Swift also acted in. She'd written the song two years prior but ultimately didn't think it fit on "Fearless."

122. "Illicit Affairs" (2020)

121. "I Think He Knows" (2019)

120. "You Are in Love" (2014)

119. "Mr. Perfectly Fine" (2021)

118. "Sweeter Than Fiction" (2013)

117. "Evermore" (2020)

116. "Cowboy Like Me" (2020)

115. "My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys" (2024)

114. "Question…?" (2022)

113. "So It Goes" (2017)

112. "How Did It End?" (2024)

111. "Snow on the Beach" (2022)

The intrigue: "Midnights" is full of surprises, including the sultry Lana Del Rey collaboration "Snow on the Beach." There's even a "More Lana Del Rey" version.

Between the lines: "Cowboy Like Me" might suggest a return to Swift's country roots, but it's one of "Evermore's" purest folk songs and features Mumford & Sons singer Marcus Mumford.

Reality check: Swift wrote "Sweeter Than Fiction" for the 2013 British film "One Chance" and feels like a precursor to the bouncy pop of "1989."

110. "Slut!" (2023)

109. "Peace" (2020)

108. "I Bet You Think About Me" (2021)

107. "Who's Afraid of Little Old Me?" (2024)

106. "…Ready for It?" (2017)

105. "Dorothea" (2020)

104. "Fortnight" (2024)

103. "Exile" (2020)

102. "The Man" (2019)

101 "Loml" (2024)

100. "King of My Heart" (2017)

99. "How You Get the Girl" (2014)

98. "22" (2012)

The intrigue: "22" is probably your favorite song when you're a young adult heading out on the town with your besties. To anyone else, it may sound like a PG version of a Kesha song.

Between the lines: "Fortnight" may seem like an odd choice for the lead single from "The Tortured Poets Department." If only there was more Post Malone.

Reality check: "Exile" is one of two collaborations Swift has with Bon Iver (the other being the title track to "Evermore"), who was a clear influence on her indie-folk period.

97. "Mastermind" (2022)

96. "I Can Do It With a Broken Heart" (2024)

95. "Mirrorball" (2020)

94. "End Game" (2017)

93. "Sparks Fly" (2010)

92. "I Wish You Would" (2014)

91. "Should've Said No" (2006)

90. "Would've, Could've, Should've" (2022)

89. "The 1" (2020)

88. "The Black Dog" (2024)

87. "You're on Your Own, Kid" (2022)

86. "I Forgot That You Existed" (2019)

The intrigue: Swift can be heavy-handed at times when taking down an ex. "I Forgot That You Existed" — the opener from "Lover" — features her doing it in a more carefree manner over enticing house production.

Between the lines: It's no "Dear John," but "Would've, Could've, Should've" feels like a song about John Mayer ("And I damn sure never would've danced with the devil at 19…").

Reality check: Future's feature on "End Game" may seem surprising, but Swift and longtime pal Ed Sheeran had been talking about working with the rapper for years and reached out while recording "Reputation."

85. "Now That We Don't Talk" (2023)

84. "Marjorie" (2020)

83. "The Story of Us" (2010)

82. "'Tis the Damn Season" (2020)

81. "When Emma Falls in Love" (2023)

80. "Seven" (2020)

79. "Everything Has Changed" (2012)

78. "Never Grow Up" (2010)

77. "My Tears Ricochet" (2020)

76. "I Did Something Bad" (2017)

The intrigue: The electropop of "Reputation" can take some getting used to, but when it works — like on the exploding chorus of "I Did Something Bad" — it's pure rapture.

Between the lines: Swift's breakup songs aren't just about boyfriends. "My Tears Ricochet" is an imposing post-mortem to her split with Big Machine Records.

Reality check: Not only is "Marjorie" about Swift's grandmother, an opera singer who died in 2003, but it also features a vocal sample from Marjorie in the background.

75. "Mean" (2010)

74. "New Romantics" (2014)

73. "Begin Again" (2012)

72. "All You Had to Do Was Stay" (2014)

71. "Bejeweled" (2022)

70. "False God" (2019)

69. "Better Man" (2021)

68. "Call It What You Want" (2017)

67. "Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince'' (2019)

66. "The Moment I Knew" (2012)

The intrigue: "The Moment I Knew" is one of Swift's most gut-wrenching songs, about how her boyfriend (Jake Gyllenhaal) pulled a no-show at Swift's 21st birthday party, a scene that would take visual form in "All Too Well: The Short Film."

Between the lines: The breezy synth-pop anthem "New Romantics" is one of the best-known bonus cuts of Swift's career, released as an iTunes exclusive in 2015 as part of the "1989" promotional push.

Reality check: Swift doesn't name the inspiration for "Mean," but it's fairly common knowledge the song was inspired by longtime music critic Bob Lefsetz, who wrote a scathing review of Swift's 2010 Grammy performance with Stevie Nicks.

65. "Speak Now" (2010)

64. "Teardrops On My Guitar" (2006)

63. "Dancing With Our Hands Tied" (2017)

62. "Shake It Off" (2014)

61. "Soon You'll Get Better" (2019)

60. "Safe & Sound" (2011)

59. "Long Live" (2010)

58. "Florida!!!" (2024)

57. "Holy Ground" (2012)

56. "Hey Stephen" (2008)

55. "The Manuscript" (2024)

54. "The Last Great American Dynasty" (2020)

The intrigue: Swift outdoes herself in terms of storytelling on "The Last Great American Dynasty," a folk-meets-electronica song about American socialite Rebekah Harkness, who once occupied Swift's Rhode Island mansion.

Between the lines: Though she's dabbled in pop on "Red," the fun "Shake It Off" — with its "Mickey" inspired cheerleader breakdown — was Swift's first unabashed foray into pop.

Reality check: If "Tim McGraw" was the table setter, "Teardrops on My Guitar" knocked it out of the park, earning Swift her first top-20 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.

53. "State of Grace" (2012)

52. "Clean" (2014)

51. "Lavender Haze" (2022)

50. "Is It Over Now?" (2023)

49. "Treacherous" (2012)

48. "White Horse" (2008)

47. "But Daddy I Love Him" (2024)

46. "Gorgeous" (2017)

45. "Nothing New" (2021)

44. "Picture to Burn" (2006)

43. "Midnight Rain" (2022)

The intrigue: Swift ventures into Prince territory on "Midnight Rain" by distorting her vocals to produce a duet feel is a bold move that pays off, delivering one of the best R&B gems of her career.

Between the lines: Swift channels her inner teenager (and a line from "The Little Mermaid") to weave a compelling tale about delusional love on "But Daddy I Love Him."

Reality check "Picture to Burn," from Swift's debut album, is the prototype for all the kiss-off-to-an-ex anthems that would dominate her career.

42. "Ronan" (2012)

41. "Down Bad" (2024)

40. "Death by a Thousand Cuts" (2019)

39. "Getaway Car" (2017)

38. "Forever & Always" (2008)

37. "Karma" (2022)

36. "Enchanted" (2010)

35. "Lover" (2019)

34. "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" (2012)

33. "The Archer" (2019)

32. "Tim McGraw" (2006)

The intrigue: Swift wrote "Tim McGraw" during her freshman year of high school, but it isn't just an ode to her love of Tim McGraw's music. It's the first showcase of a rising star about to conquer Nashville.

Between the lines: "We Are Never Getting Back Together" may seem like it exists in an early 2010s time capsule, but it fits with the year 2012 that featured other playful pop hits like "Call Me Maybe" and "We Are Young."

Reality check: The soaring "Getaway Car" might be one of the lightest songs ever inspired by Bonnie and Clyde, the violent criminal couple of the 1930s.

31. "Willow" (2020)

30. "Out of the Woods" (2014)

29. "Dress" (2017)

28. "August" (2020)

27. "So Long, London" (2024)

26. "Anti-Hero" (2022)

25. "Champagne Problems" (2020)

24. "Wildest Dreams" (2014)

23. "Betty" (2020)

22. "Fifteen" (2008)

21. "I Knew You Were Trouble" (2012)

The intrigue: "I Knew You Were Trouble" kicks off in mainstream country mode before production duo Max Martin and Shellback dial up the dance-pop on what may be Swift's most explosive chorus.

Between the lines: "So Long, London," is the best song from "The Tortured Poets Department" with gut-wrenching heartache that approaches "All Too Well" levels.

Reality check: The stunning and remorseful "Betty" was initially thought to be about a queer relationship until Swift clarified it is about the fictional relationship between a girl and the boy who cheated on her.

20. "Delicate" (2017)

19. "Mine" (2010)

18. "Fearless" (2008)

17. "Red" (2012)

16. "Back to December" (2010)

15. "Invisible String" (2020)

14. "The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived" (2024)

13. "Cornelia Street" (2019)

12. "Ivy" (2020)

11. "Dear John" (2010)

The intrigue: The first two singles from 2010's "Speak Now" — "Mine" and "Back to December" — were a one-two punch with the former showing Swift's perfection of country pop and the latter marking her transition into writing pop epics.

Between the lines: "The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived" is a contender for Swift's best diss song with lyrics like "You didn't measure up in any measure of a man."

Reality check: Consider mesmerizing "Cornelia Street" a do-over for "Welcome to New York." The song refers to a street in New York's Greenwich Village where Swift's townhouse was located.

And now … the top 10:

10. "New Year's Day" (2017)

The intrigue: The best song on "Reputation" doesn't sound like anything else on the album. Closer "New Year's Day" strips things down as Swift embraces her emo influences with vivid storytelling.

Between the lines: "Please don't ever become a stranger whose laugh I could recognize anywhere," ranks up there with the most powerful lyrics of Swift's career.

Reality check: Co-writer/producer Jack Antonoff said the recording process for "New Year's Day" was inspired by the work of Joni Mitchell, a worthy comparison given the song's intimacy.

9. "Our Song" (2006)

The intrigue: It doesn't take long into "Our Song" to realize you're enjoying one of the best country songs of the 21st century from one of the most relatable artists of her generation.

Between the lines: Swift wrote the song for a ninth-grade talent show. Uh, what were you doing during your freshman year of high school?

Reality check: At 17, "Our Song" made Swift the youngest person to write and sing a No. 1 song on the Hot Country Songs chart.

8. "Love Story" (2008)

The intrigue: With a simple ode to "Romeo and Juliet," Swift made her transition from country sensation to pop star with the song cracking the top five on the Billboard Hot 100.

Between the lines: For anyone who thinks Swift songs are only for young girls, I give you this amazing scene from Season 2 of FX's "The Bear."

The bottom line: "Love Story" was such a massive hit that Big Machine Records mixed a version of the song specifically tailored towards pop radio.

7. "Blank Space" (2014)

The intrigue: With "Black Space," Swift used all the media scrutiny on her love life as fuel for one of her biggest bops.

Between the lines: The song's signature lyric, "Got a long list of ex-lovers/They'll tell you I'm insane" even confused Swift's mother, who thought it was actually "all the lonely Starbucks lovers."

Reality check: "Shake It Off" may have marked Swift's official turn to pop, but "Blank Space" cemented her rule over a new genre with a seven-week run atop the Billboard Hot 100.

6. "Maroon" (2022)

The intrigue: "Maroon" shows Swift's full grasp of electronic music, delivering a seductive vocal performance with complex production and some of the most evocative lyrics of her career.

Between the lines: Whereas "Welcome to New York" and "Cornelia Street" paint a pretty picture of Swift's time in New York, "Maroon" is a darker story of romance that didn't work out.

Reality check The song blew up Reddit pages and blogs speculating whether "Maroon" was a sequel to one of Swift's previous songs, considering maroon is a darker shade of red.

5. "Cardigan" (2020)

The intrigue: Two songs in and you know "Folklore" was a different kind of Swift album thanks to the stripped-down "Cardigan."

Between the lines: It features some of Swift's most poetic songwriting and the first track she worked on with The National's Aaron Dessner.

Reality check: "Cardigan" is part of a "Folklore's" love-triangle trilogy that also includes the fantastic "August" and "Betty."

4. "Style" (2014)

The intrigue: "Style" is the song that most sounds like "1989" with an intro similar to that of Miami Sound Machine's "Bad Boy" and builds to one of Swift's most infectious choruses.

Between the lines: The song's signature guitar sound was created by producer Ali Payami and guitarist Niklas Ljungfelt, who were fans of Daft Punk's 2013 funk-driven album "Random Access Memories."

Reality check: Swift has never confirmed who "Style" is about, but she did date Harry Styles, who had a James Dean, daydream thing going on when they were together.

3. "You Belong With Me" (2008)

The intrigue: "You Belong With Me" is Swift's "Since You Been Gone" moment, an endlessly catchy song people who don't like anything else in her catalog dig.

Between the lines: Swift paints a relatable picture of high school, from the female best friend competing with the cheerleader girlfriend to the contrast in styles between short skirts and T-shirts.

Reality check: "You Belong with Me" earned Swift her first nominations for Song of the Year and Record of the Year at the Grammys, two awards she still has yet to win.

2. "All Too Well" (2012)

The intrigue: Considered by many to be Swift's greatest song, "All Too Well" takes her lyricism and its imagery to a new level, turning something like a scarf left at someone's house into a pop-culture sensation.

Between the lines: If you didn't already consider "All Too Well" the most epic of all Swift epics, the 10-minute version in 2021 confirmed it.

Reality check: "All Too Well" was a reunion between Swift and Liz Rose, the co-writer on Swift's early hits like "Tim McGraw," "Teardrops on My Guitar," "White Horse" and "You Belong With Me."

1. "Cruel Summer" (2019)

The intrigue: "All Too Well" may be Swift's most monumental achievement, but "Cruel Summer" is her desert island song — a bop that clocks in at under three minutes and has an unlimited amount of replay value.

Between the lines: It's also the signature Jack Antonoff production, blending a contemporary pop element with flourishes of electropop like that captivating "Yeah" vocoder effect.

Reality check: The pandemic thwarted "Cruel Summer" becoming a single in 2020.

  • However, the song's placement early on in Swift's Eras Tour setlist would make it a viral sensation and No. 1 hit in 2023.
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