Taylor Swift is a record-making machine. Between her early country records to her pure pop LPs, newer amorphous music, and re-recorded masterpieces, she doesn't skip a beat. We believe Taylor Swift has such a dedicated fanbase because her albums aren't just normal albums. They are "eras" that define her personality and motivations during that particular time period.
Taylor Swift has done the impossible: she's made a seamless transition from country music into pop stardom. The Pennsylvania singer-songwriter is known for her personal lyrics, ability to play several musical instruments, activism, and love of cats. At the time of publishing, she has 11 Grammys to her name, and several of her albums have platinum status or higher.
We know Taylor Swift will be putting out more work in the near future. Not only is she releasing original material, but she's also re-recording her old albums in order to obtain the masters to her songs. For this list, we'll be mentioning both her original records and Taylor's Version updates. However, we'll be including the originals and Taylor's Version re-do's under one title. (You'll see what we mean down below.) Here's Live365's picks for the Top 10 ranking of Taylor Swift albums!
10. reputation (2017)
This album had Taylor Swift taking on the haters in a whole new persona. Three years after 1989, Swift released reputation in 2017. It came after several public grievances with rival celebrities, including Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Calvin Harris, and Katy Perry. Ultimately, the album was an attempt to clear Swift's name and misconstrued public image.
Swift described the record as a tale of "finding love throughout all the noise," referring to how the album transitions from discussing her "evil" persona to falling in love with British actor Joe Alwyn. On its first day of sales, reputation sold 700,000 physical copies. It debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, having sold more copies that week than the other 199 listed albums combined. reputation is also certified triple Platinum.
So why is it last on our list? Compared to other Taylor Swift albums, reputation's tracklist isn't so memorable. The most well-known single from the album, "Look What You Made Me Do" has been criticized for its lack of melody in the chorus. Songs like "...Ready For It" and "Getaway Car" are pleasant, but not enough to stand out in Swift's discography.
Ultimately, the release of reputation was more about reclaiming Swift's name rather than lyrical aptitude, and that failure was made clear when reputation was infamously snubbed at the 2018 Grammy Awards. After her publicist told her the bad news, Taylor Swift said over the phone, "I need to make a better record."
9. Taylor Swift (2006)
Taylor Swift's first album, titled after her own name, was released back in 2006. It was her glowing debut to the mainstream world of music - particularly country music.
Swift was only a freshman in high school when she penned the songs on this album, and her lyrical naivete shows. Still, there are plenty of memorable jams on this one, including "Tim McGraw," "Picture To Burn," "Should've Said No," "Our Song," "I'm Only Me When I'm With You," and of course, "Teardrops On My Guitar."
While Taylor Swift has outgrown her curly-haired country girl past self from 2006, her self-titled album is still important because it set up her future success. Clearly, it made a good impression on the public.
8. Lover (2019)
Lover is the follow-up to reputation. Sonically, they couldn't be more different. The chill, colorful vibe of Lover is a complete contrast to the harsh, black-and-white tones of reputation. If you need proof, just take a look at their album covers!
Lover was the first album Swift released with Republic Records after her departure from Big Machine Records in 2018. Swift indirectly announced Lover when she posted a thirteen-day countdown to social media. It was also featured on billboards in cities like New York and London.
After posting the countdown, Swift uploaded new pictures to social media daily leading up to the release of the lead single, “ME!,” featuring Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco on April 26th. Besides "ME!," Lover has other memorable songs including the title track, "The Man," and "You Need To Calm Down."
While Taylor Swift never got to go on her Lover tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lover became the top-selling 2019 album in the U.S. It sold 450,000 copies in its first day alone, and is Swift's sixth #1 album on the Billboard 200 chart. On September 27, 2019, the album was certified Platinum.
7. evermore (2020)
Hardcore Swifties say evermore isn't as strong as Swift's first pandemic project, but it's still a noteworthy record full of deep songs and awesome collaborations.
Her second major release of 2020, Taylor Swift dropped evermore as a sister album to her first 2020 release, folklore. evermore is a continuation of the themes explored in folklore. Like folklore, evermore was revealed via social media 16 hours prior to its release. Shortly after the announcement, Swift explained her reasoning for surprising fans with a second pandemic album:
"Ever since I was 13, I’ve been excited about turning 31 because it’s my lucky number backwards, which is why I wanted to surprise you with this now. You’ve all been so caring, supportive and thoughtful on my birthdays and so this time I thought I would give you something!"
According to a tweet Swift posted, she dedicated the album to "any of you out there who turn to music to cope with missing loved ones the way I do, this is for you." It was a perfect dedication for a bleak, lonely holiday season.
Like folklore, the writing on evermore was a collaborative effort between Swift, Aaron Dessner (The National), Jack Antonoff, William Bowery, and Bon Iver. The album also contains three artist features (HAIM, The National, and Bon Iver), the most of any of Swift’s studio records. Notable tracks include "willow," "champagne problems," and "evermore (feat. Bon Iver)."
6. Speak Now (2010)
The last of Swift's country albums, Speak Now saw Taylor Swift sending open letters to loved ones, those who hurt her, and those who she hurt. She even wrote a song to the media for the first time: the banjo-filled single "Mean."
Speak Now was the first album where every song was written by Swift alone (excluding the track "If This Was a Movie" from the deluxe version of the album). She originally claimed it was because there were no co-writers around while she was on her Fearless Tour in 2009. However, she later revealed to TIME in 2014 that she wrote every song herself in order to fend off critics who claimed she used ghostwriters.
Speak Now debuted at #1 on the U.S. Billboard 200, selling over 1 million copies in its first week. What makes Speak Now so good is its emotional honesty. Songs like "Dear John," "Back To December," and "The Story of Us" reveal Swift at some of her most vulnerable moments. It's Swift finally mastering her lyrical craft, and a great album to listen to for those who've just been through a breakup.
5. Fearless (2008)
The original Fearless album marked Taylor Swift's meteoric rise as a mainstream artist. Even many years after its breakthrough release, it's not uncommon to still hear songs like "You Belong With Me" and "Love Story" over the radio.
Fearless has the distinction of being the most awarded album in the history of country music. It won Album of the Year at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards, 2009 American Music Awards, Country Music Association Awards, and Academy of Country Music Awards.
Besides awards, Fearless also became the best-selling album of 2009, selling over 6.95 million copies in the United States alone. It gave Swift, who was 20 years old at the time of the album's release, the distinction of being the youngest artist in history to have the year’s best-selling album.
The original Fearless was an international success, achieving multi-platinum status in six countries. Besides the two songs previously mentioned, tracks like "Fearless," "Fifteen," "Hey Stephen," and "White Horse" perfectly encapsulate the excitement and anxieties of being a teenager. Also, whenever it's Mother's Day, we recommend playing Swift's song "Best Day" for your beloved mom. We promise you it will make her cry.
In 2021, Swift created Fearless (Taylor's Version). Compared to the 2008 version of the record, it has improved audio quality and even more tracks. The new Fearless includes updated versions of every song on Fearless Platinum Edition, plus standalone single “Today Was a Fairytale” from the 2010 movie Valentine's Day. There are also six songs Swift cut from the original album.
4. Midnights (2022)
When Midnights was released, it practically broke the internet. Between Taylor surprise-announcing the record at the 2022 VMAs, the album becoming the most-streamed record in a single day on Spotify and the whole Eras Tour Ticketmaster fiasco, it's safe to say there was Midnights mania when the LP dropped.
But is Midnights actually worth the hype? While we don't think Midnights is THE absolute best Swift album, we do think it can be categorized as one of the best. The LP takes on an amorphous pop sound that feels mature for Swift. She doesn't even hold back from swearing in her lyrics!
Swift describes the project as being about “the stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout [her] life,” and thanks to standouts like "Anti-Hero", "Lavender Haze", "Karma", "Maroon" and "You're On Your Own, Kid", listening to Midnights feels like nothing short of a dream. Three hours after the release of Midnights, Swift unveiled Midnights (3 am Edition), which includes sonically darker tracks that were left out of the original album.
Thanks to contributions from Jack Antonoff, Lana Del Rey, Zoë Kravitz, Joe Alwyn (under his pseudonym William Bowery), and more, Midnights has shaped up to be a Swift staple. This is an album we wouldn't mind getting insomnia for if it meant we could listen to it again.
3. folklore (2020)
The first of Swift's sister pandemic albums, folklore is a departure from Swift's tradition of telling her own stories and instead focuses on the stories of others. It's got a darker feel compared to her previous albums, which is appropriate considering the time of its release. Also, some credit this album with influencing the recent cottagecore aesthetic trend.
To date, folklore is Swift's most critically acclaimed album. It has a solid grade of 88 on Metacritic and nearly universal praise from reviewers. It also sold a million copies in three months: the only album in 2020 to do so in the United States. On top of that, it took home a golden gramaphone for Album of the Year at this year's Grammy Awards.
While Swift wrote folklore "in isolation," it features some great collaborations with Aaron Dessner of The National, Bon Iver, and even her boyfriend Joe Alwyn who went under the pseudonym "William Bowery." Songs like "cardigan" and "exile (feat. Bon Iver)" are sure to get stuck in your head.
2. Red (2012)
Red was an important album in Taylor Swift's career. It marked the beginning of her crossover from country music into mainstream pop music, and has a pretty impressive tracklist to boot. Some of those tracks include "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," "22," "Red," and "I Knew You Were Trouble." There's also "All Too Well", which performed okay on the original Red but became a standout once Swift expanded it to 10 minutes on Red (Taylor's Version).
The album is inspired by intense emotions Swift associates with the color red - like romance, frustration, disappointment, and nostalgia. "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" was Swift's first #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 and Red sold a total of 1.21 million copies during its first full week of sales in the U.S.
While the original Red was nominated for both Best Country Album and Album of the Year at the Grammys, it didn't win either award. The losses inspired Swift to try out something new, and gave her the push she needed to create her most beloved album...
1. 1989 (2014)
1989 was Swift's dazzling entrance into the pop world. It also cemented her status as a musical juggernaut, as it was the only album of 2014 to sell over a million copies in its first week of sales.
Unlike Red, 1989 was awarded the Grammy for Album of the Year, thus proving all Swift needed was a change in sound to win. The win made her the first woman to win the award twice, as well as the first person to win the award for both pop and country albums.
Swift began the 1989 era with a livestream and the release of the album's lead single “Shake It Off.” It became one of her biggest hits and earned Swift her first Diamond single by March 2020. In 2015, Swift began the album's tour. It became the highest-grossing U.S. tour of all time, earning over $250 million, until reputation's tour in 2018.
Besides "Shake It Off," other 1989 songs like "Blank Space," "Style," "Bad Blood," "Wildest Dreams," "Out Of The Woods," and "New Romantics" help make this record a staple of popular music from the 2010s. According to a hardcore Swiftie we interviewed for this Top 10, it's the album's "aesthetic" - an aesthetic Taylor Swift has grown into gracefully - that makes it a classic.
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Article Image: Taylor Swift performing in Shanghai, China in 2014. (ChinaImages via DepositPhotos.)