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|Taylor Swift Ranked|
The Swift obsession continues with this updated ranking of her discography.
This is Swift's pop magnum opus. On the heels of Red, which could not commit to a style, 1989 was a breakthrough. The melodies here are her most infectious, buoyed by an energy unheard elsewhere in her catalog. "Blank Space", "Style", and "New Romantics" are among the best pop tracks of the decade, while radio staples like "Shake It Off" and "Wildest Dreams" guarantee this album's place in pop culture lore. Swift has partaken in multiple pop outings following 1989, but none have matched it in quality or relevance.
Depending on your preference (pop vs. country), this could easily be considered Swift's best. This record is the optimization of her mainstream country sound, featuring the very best of her storytelling lyrical approach and a plethora of unforgettable melodies/choruses. "Mine", "Sparks Fly", "Back to December", and "Mean" are country-pop classics, while "Enchanted" is her best song outright - capturing the magic of newfound romance in an awe-struck, resplendent 6 minutes. In between the hits are soft-spoken gems such as "Last Kiss", which keep you hooked from start to finish.
The album that launched Swift to fame remains one of her best records, despite being buried by recency bias and dismissed by some folks after the radio wore its best singles thin. Regardless, there's no denying the fairy tale atmosphere and overall infectiousness of "Love Story", the upbeat, youthful naivety of "You Belong With Me", or the sad, breathtaking "Breathe." In terms of a front-to-end listen, Fearless is Swift's most consistent work because every song is decent and it never deviates from the country-pop aesthetic upon which she built her brand.
Despite many publications claiming that this is a groundbreaking folk experience, it's really just a collection of slow pop songs executed in typical Swift fashion. Although Dessner bringing over his influence from The National, any of these tracks could have been sprinkled throughout Lover, Reputation, or 1989 as "ballads" and nobody would have batted an eye. With that said, it's almost uniformly great. One of Swift's recent issues has been consistency, but folklore remedies that with an album that is listenable from beginning to end. Standout tracks include "mirrorball", "cardigan", "betty", "august", "illicit affairs", and "seven".
Reputation will forever be Swift's black sheep record. It was almost universally mocked because of the "bad girl" image that she tried to adopt, but anyone who listened should have been able to pick up on the irony/tongue-in-cheek nature. Regardless, this album is brimming with bops and bangers, ranging from the gleeful melody of "Getaway Car" to the slow, nuanced club beat of "Delicate." The album is also far better lyrically than it gets credit for, dealing with witch hunts/accusations ("I Did Something Bad"), isolation ("Call It What You Want"), and unwavering commitment to a relationship ("New Years Day"). This falters with an inconsistent and bloated tracklist featuring many questionable hip-hop/trap influences, which sinks it a bit in this ranking.
While Lover has grown on me in recent months, it still might be her most bloated record to date. About a third of the album's 18 tracks are throwaways. However, its peaks ("Cornelia Street", "Cruel Summer", "Paper Rings", "I Think He Knows", "Death By a Thousand Cuts") are downright brilliant slices of upbeat, summery pop. This album is on par with Reputation in terms of relative quality, although it is its aesthetic opposite (bright/poppy to Reputation's darker vibes). Reputation edges Lover because it does not have quite as much filler.
For many people this will seem far too low, but Red has always been a disappointment to me. It flashes brilliance ("All Too Well", "Begin Again", "Red", and the underappreciated gem "The Lucky One"), but the rest of the album is an identity crisis between country and pop whose issues are compounded by the fact that the songs themselves are rarely memorable. Most of the country, acoustic styled songs float by without any great hook or lyrical moment, and the bids for huge, anthemic pop ("I Knew You Were Trouble", "22", "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together") are more often irritating than anything else. At 16 tracks it is also a little bit overstuffed (did we really need a Snow Patrol feature, or Ed Sheeran's snoozer "Everything Has Changed"?) which is all par for the course with Swift.
While there's nothing explicitly wrong with Taylor's debut, it is clearly an entire echelon below the rest of her career achievements. It's very basic, uninteresting country pop with a few exceptions ("Our Song", "Should've Said No", "Pictures to Burn"). This is nice as a reminder of her humble roots, but there's not much here that wasn't done leagues better on Fearless or Speak Now.
|I've been listening to a lot of Taylor Swift lately, OK?|
|you explain your ranking well. don't get why you reject red's pop singles, all three rule and would have been highlights on the forthcoming records. not surprised that folklore slipped a bit after the initial hype (same for me), i'm interested to see if it rebounds. where she goes next will inevitably recontextualize it (as is the case with every step of her career). the sweeping narrative across the discog is intriguing |
|I still gotta jam Lover but 1 is 1 for me as well |
|Thanks. I have never been a fan of Red (although my 2/5 review for it is transparently biased and a little childish - it's a 3.5 for me these days). WANEGBT is kind of fun if you're in the right kind of mood, Trouble's dubstep beat annoys the hell out of me, and 22 is ok I guess but just seems like an anthem for post-teen shenanigans which I guess I'm too old for now. The more subdued moments from Red are the best IMO (how come practically nobody shares my enthusiasm for "The Lucky One"?). folklore is still a 4/4.5 for me because I'm a Swiftie, but yeah it's middle of the pack in her discography and not an 89 on metacritic. She really didn't change anything about her sound, she just adopted The National to soundtrack her usual pop. At least all the songs are good. |
|Her recent album scores have definitely benefited from the poptimist trend in music criticism. |
I actually like "Everything Has Changed" lol
|I agree Chan. I think folklore is quite good, but the accolades it's getting are ridiculous. folklore prompted me to revisit her entire discography, and listening to Fearless -> Speak Now -> 1989 in succession really lowered my opinion of what she's become since Reputation. I still enjoy a lot of her songs, but she has clearly regressed lyrically and relies far too heavily on production to cover up songwriting flaws. As much as I dislike large swaths of Red, her recent trend of valuing aesthetic over substance has given me a new appreciation for that album's songwriting skills.|
|Although I love folklore (as you could tell from my review), I can get behind this ranking. I'm a sucker for the more atmospheric production and minimalist songwriting so I don't have an issue with it, but I definitely love those top 3. Might have to go through all her music again soon to get a grasp on how I rank her stuff|
|Yea I owe her discog a full run|
|More Swift love! I'd go 1989 > Speak Now > Folklore > Fearless > Red > Reputation > Self-titled > Lover.|
|Darius The Imposter|
|at least u got 1 right|
|The 1 is never in question but l honestly gotta put the new one at 2. It's great. |
|folklore is great for sure and I can see why people like it so much, but it's got nothing on speak now. fearless is debatable, but I prefer the stripped back country pop sound over the glossy faux-folk (which I'm still a sucker for)|
|I just listened to Red again and really enjoyed it. Yeah the only slight weakness is the cohesion of the songs, but there were more gems than I remembered. It also starts off with the underrated State of Grace, which nods slightly to U2.|
It is hard to rank them, but it would probably go:
2. Folklore (up there with 1989 but so new)
3. Speak Now
|That's a respectable ranking. Lover has really been growing on me lately.|