Ranking Taylor Swift's 8 Albums
All of Taylor Swift's albums are masterpieces. Ranking them from "best" to "worst" was an incredibly difficult task for me because it's like comparing apples to oranges. In my evaluations of each album, I tried to look at many different factors to determine where each album would rank on this list. Some of these factors included commercial success, critical success, the overall aesthetic, the creativity of the songs, and finally how much I enjoyed listening to the music. I tried not to be super biased and put my favorite albums first, but of course that played in a little too. That said, I'm sure after reading this list you will have your own opinions and thoughts, so make sure to share them with me in the comments.
Red was Taylor's fourth studio album and it is indisputably awesome. Released in 2012, it was Taylor's big breakthrough into the pop scene. With 16 stellar tracks and all-time favorites All Too Well, 22, I Knew You Were Trouble, Everything Has Changed, and Red, it's no surprise why this record is at the top of our list. Red is one of those few records that makes me cry, laugh, dance like nobody's watching, and scream the lyrics at the top of my lungs. The authentic and personal nature of this album combined with its upbeat sound is probably why it won The Billboard Music Award for Top Billboard 200 Album, The American Music Award for Favorite Album Country, and the Billboard Music Award for Top Country Album. The aesthetic of this album is also killer. Before Red, Taylor's fashion choices were more sweet and innocent, but the Red era brought bold colors, hip and rocker styles, and overall a more mature and rebellious look for Taylor. Plus, it was during this time that Taylor trademarked her signature red lipstick.
Taylor's most recent surprise album. folklore will be remembered as the best thing to happen during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. After breaking away from her original country style, with 1989, Reputation, and Lover, folklore was an unexpected turn of events but nonetheless appreciated. It's certainly not the kind of album you would play at a party, but it's also not completely depressing. Even the sad songs on this album seem to glimmer with a little bit of hope. In my opinion, this album is so impressive because it tells Taylor's whole life story instead of focusing on a one or two year period of her life or one specific relationship. I feel like if there was a soundtrack playing to Taylor's life this would be it. folklore was written and recorded completely during social distancing mandates, but that did not stop it from being the best-selling record of the year after just one week on sale. folklore may not get the most radio time, but that's okay because it feels like the most vulnerable of Taylor's albums and that's way more important. Every single one of the sixteen tracks is pure beauty.
1989 was a super successful album for Taylor. It won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album, Billboard Music Award for Top Billboard 200 Album, American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock Album, and the iHeartRadio Music Award for Album of the Year. Not too shabby if you ask me. Out of the 13 tracks, 6 of them had music videos and they were definitely some of her most fun too. 1989 was edgier than any other of Taylor's albums at the time, but it still had some more lighthearted tracks like Shake It Off, and Welcome to New York. The reason this album is placed at the number three spot is that almost half the songs became wildly popular with the public. I feel like everyone knows and recognizes Blank Space, Style, Shake It Off, Wildest Dreams, and Bad Blood. Like literally everyone. I wish Taylor had added a few more tracks to this record though because with only thirteen tracks it didn't feel complete to me.
This pop album earned Taylor three impressive awards, the American Music Award for Favorite Album Pop, People's Choice Award for Favorite Album, and the ARIA Music Award for Best International Artist. Sure, Me! and You Need to Calm Down got a little annoying after a while, but overall I don't get tired of listening to Lover. It's got a great mix of ballads and bops. The songs fit somewhat nicely together while the title and aesthetic are very effective. Unfortunately (or maybe not), the Lover era was cut short by folklore's surprise release. In comparison to folklore, Lover just isn't as moving or emotional. However, when I need a song to hype myself up to, I always turn on The Man or Cruel Summer.
Some people hate Reputation; some people love it. I *love* it. Sure, it didn't win any Grammys, but that's because the Grammys suck sometimes. Reputation was the top-selling album of 2017 and won both the American Music Award for Favorite Album Pop and the Billboard Music Award for Top Selling Album Pop. Taylor's vocals are super impressive on this album, and two albums later I often find myself going back to listen to my favorite tracks, Don't Blame Me and Gorgeous. This album's bitter at points, but Taylor's not hiding her feelings or being passive-aggressive, she's just telling it as it is even if it sounds harsh.
I love Fearless because it was the first CD I remember owning as a kid. It made me and many others fall in love with Taylor for the first time. The album is cohesive, lighthearted, and very successful. Did you know that You Belong With Me and Love Story still rank in Taylor Swift's Top 5 biggest Billboard hits? Fairly impressive for an album she recorded at eighteen and especially considering all of the songs she's produced since then. The music videos for this album are sweet and fun, with my favorites again being You Belong With Me and Love Story. Fearless is the best album to listen to when you are feeling nostalgic for 2008.
7. Speak Now
I know I'm going to get a lot of hate for putting this second to last, so let me just say first that I love Speak Now. I think Taylor's vocals matured and improved a lot between Fearless and Speak Now and so did her songwriting skills. Dear John was Taylor's first powerful song about a celebrity ex and it was, in a word, amazing. Every single one of the 19 tracks on this record was perfectly mixed and more than any of Taylor's other albums. Taylor really stuck to the same vibe throughout the entire album making it perhaps the most cohesive. The reason I didn't rank this album higher is that I don't find myself going back to listen to it as much as I do Taylor's other albums. I feel like none of her leading singles were as memorable as those from her other albums and as time has gone on I hear way less of Speak Now on the radio than I do Red. Speak Now maybe actually the best collection of solid songs, but it felt a lot like what Miley Cyrus was doing around that time making it perhaps less unique. I think the album cover for Speak Now wasn't interesting enough and it kind of looked like a pic from the Fearless photoshoot just with a purple dress instead of a white one. Sadly now it just seems everyone besides Swifties has forgotten about Speak Now.
8. Taylor Swift
I guess I kind of suck as a Taylor Swift fan because the only song I really remembered before researching this album was Teardrops on My Guitar. Unsurprisingly, my neglect of this record has caused me to miss out on some great music. The thing is, Taylor Swift is super country even more so than Fearless or Speak Now and I really enjoy a little more pop or rock thrown in with my country music. Taylor Swift is good for a country album by a sixteen-year-old, but Taylor's come such a long way in the last fifteen years and this album just doesn't measure up to the rest anymore.
Taylor Swift is a musical genius by all means. Each of her albums is unique and a joy to listen to, but some of them stand out more than others. Honestly, it's only been a few weeks since the release of folklore and I'm already anticipating her ninth album. What are your thoughts on this ranking? Which album is your favorite and when do you think the next T. Swift album will drop? Let us know in the comments.