How did I come up with my ranking? If you're not interested, move along, but if you are... [My process]Well, firstly, I used the same scale to rank each song that I did for folklore on every album (all 8 studio albums, but not her two EPs--including her Holiday EP) and that scale is:
1 = Bad | 2 = OK | 3 = Good | 4 = Great | 5 = Awesome | 6 = Masterpiece
I've already listened to all of her songs dozens upon dozens upon dozens, et al. times over the years. However, for this, I re-listened to each album at least three times, reading the lyrics, and then rated them. I included any song that was part of the deluxe, special editions--but I only included acoustic, piano or pop versions of songs if they were noticeably differently from the originals. After that, I broke the ratings into half per album. Ratings 1-3 (i.e., Bad to Good) on one side, and 4-6 (i.e., Great to Masterpiece) on the other. Then, I ranked the albums by which side was higher. The album that had more on the 1-3 ranked lower, the album with more songs on the 4-6 side ranked higher, and the number determined the album's placement.
Yes, I understand that she has a different number of songs on her albums, but all of the albums were between 15-18 songs (with the exception of "Fearless" Deluxe with 20 and "Red" Deluxe with 22). Frankly, it was the best way I could figure out how how to fairly do it. So, my ranking.
Some of these may be controversial (haha!), but this is just my opinion.
Score: 8 | 6
Spotlight: "Mary's Song" -- This is just a lovely, bouncy song celebrating the life of a true love that began in childhood and lasted an entire lifetime. (And it's based on a true story.) It makes me smile every time I get to the end of it. I love it.
Highlights: "Invisible," "Should've Said No," "Picture To Burn"
Lowlights: "A Perfectly Good Heart," "Place in the World"
Overview: Taylor Swift's eponymous debut album is quite good. She's got the teenage yearning down-pat, and the highs, lows and heartbreak of young love covered. Despite this being at the bottom of the ranking, this is still a good album and that's because even with her early writing--and she wrote on all of these songs in her early to mid-teens--she's very good with turns of phrase, to either tell a story or paint a mood and finding a way to connect. (And to be fair the lowlights are low simply because they're forgettable and rather bland.)
Score: 12 | 6
Spotlight: "White Horse" -- I honestly think that this is Taylor Swift's most underrated song. She deconstructs the entire "fairytale" motif that she sings about so often--one that was famously created in her "Love Story" video. The small change in the last chorus where she shuts her ex down and realizes her own awesome is such a powerful statement. This is one of Taylor's top five songs.
Highlights: "Forever and Always" (both versions), "Love Story," "Fifteen"
Lowlights: "Superstar," "Beautiful Eyes"
Overview: Fearless has a lot of good songs. It's tied with Red in my ranking with seven (and Red has two more songs on its tracklist, but the latter is weighted much more heavily in the great to awesome range of songs, literally the double amount that Fearless has). My point being that Fearless is a good album. It has some great songs on it, a few standout pieces, but mostly, it's a good album that showcased Taylor Swift with the right tracks at the right time. (Those would be "Love Story" and "You Belong With Me.")
Score: 8 | 7
Spotlight: "Getaway Car" -- The lyrics in this song are absolute genius. I love the melody and certainly get swept up singing along every time it comes on, but just as much I marvel at the lyrics because they are so damn clever from the get-go: "It was the best of times, the worst of crimes / I struck a match, and blew your mind / But I didn't mean it, and you didn't see it / The ties were black, the lies were white" and we're off. And then by the time the ending hits, I'm lost in the melody because she's completely captured me there with the rising crescendo of "ridin,' cryin," dyin' in a getway car." It's such a rush.
Highlights: "Ready For It?," "I Did Something Bad," "Delicate"
Lowlights: "Gorgeous," "King of My Heart"
Overview: Reputation feels like Taylor is trying to find her voice after losing her footing. Many songs on this album have great verses, a great chorus, or bridge, but they don't work together. The transitions don't flow and so songs that would be great or even better if the verses, choruses and bridges felt like they were smoothly part of the same song are less than. So, yeah, instead they feel like they're at odds with one another... which is likely where Taylor herself was at when recording this album. Still, Reputation does have some fantastic songs on it; it just has more weaker than stronger ones.
Score: 7 | 7
Spotlight: "Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince" -- I know that Taylor has said this song has dual meanings (a love story/politics), but frankly, it works so brilliantly in terms of the political landscape circa 2016 that I can't see it any other way. There are so many lyrical touches that are metaphors for the state of the United States during the 2016 presidential election and the country since then ("Boys will be boys, then / Where are the wise men?" -- pointing to the whole #MeToo movement for example). And the overall vibe of the song is one of hopelessness in the verses ("my team is losing, the damsels are depressed, I don't wanna...") HOWEVER, and this is what elevates the song to brilliance, there are the cheers. That hopeless line "I don't wanna win" is changed to "I don't wanna (win!)" because the "win" is a determined, enthusiastic cheer. We are GOING to prevail. And that aspect changes everything. Those cheers punctuating the helplessness change the tone to one of hope. "GO!" "FIGHT!" "WIN!" It's a brilliant juxtaposition and illustrates not only the divisiveness that this country is filled with, but also the fighting spirit that the United States was built upon. Just awesome.
Highlights: "Cruel Summer," "Paper Rings," "Cornelia Street," "Death By a Thousand Cuts, "Soon You'll Get Better"
Lowlights: "It's Nice To Have A Friend," "London Boy"
Overview: I honestly feel that Lover has been unfairly maligned because its first single "ME!" was not well liked (to put it mildly) and its second--"You Need To Calm Down"--didn't do all that much for people either (pandering, too in your face, more of the same sound as "ME!"). However, there are so many heartbreaking songs, catchy songs, beautiful love songs and just damn great songs on Lover. I truly believe that looking back this will be *the* underrated album of Taylor's career.
Score: 10 | 12
Spotlight: "All Too Well" -- This song is crammed with so many little details that make this relationship real, the scarf, dancing in the refrigerator light, the call where he was casually cruel in the name of being honest. Because she knew it all too well, now so do we and it is absolutely heartbreaking. This is the last song (and the only song on this album) that Taylor Swift wrote with Liz Rose. She went out on a high because this is arguably (inarguably?) Taylor Swift's best song ever. Not many will disagree with this assessment, I don't think.
Highlights: "State of Grace," "The Last Time," 'The Lucky One'
Lowlights: "Girl At Home,' "Sad Beautiful Tragic"
Overview: Red feels like a turning point album for Taylor. That makes sense because it's the album between her country and pop eras, but more than that, this is also the album where Taylor first presented herself as a woman, and there is a greater depth, more reflection in the tracks than we'd seen before. There are still songs that are on the more juvenile side--albeit with a great lyric here or there--but Taylor's growth is on vivid display.
Score: 6 | 10
Spotlight: "Enchanted" -- This song captures the giddiness and yearning of falling in love and the imagined feel that one might have of love at first sight. It also, more than any other song by Taylor has that 'fairytale' hyper-sense of surrealism about it that it practically glows.
Highlights: "Mine," "Dear John," "The Story of Us"
Lowlights: "Innocent," "Superman"
Overview: This is the one album that Taylor wrote every song solo (but for one on the Deluxe edition), and it's one of her best albums. Taylor Swift is a good song writer. She knows how to take common phrases, thoughts and turn them into lyrical content. That's not as easy as some people think, and she also knows how to put them to melody with good hooks. Again, not that easy. This album is proof of how talented Taylor Swift is. There are songs of love--new, broken--inspiration, regret, forgiveness. No, they aren't all perfect, but more than a few are fantastic. As is Speak Now overall.
Score: 7 | 10
Spotlight: "my tears ricochet" -- This song is just amazing. The lyrics, the imagery, the build-up of the melody, the way Taylor sings the words, the delivery, the bite, the softness, the back and forth that reflect the love, the pain, the pettiness, all of it is reflected in every word, every note, all of it. This song is a masterpiece. I just... there is nothing about this that isn't just perfection.
Highlights: "epiphany," "illicit affairs," "cardigan," "hoax," "mirrorball"
Overview: This is simply lovely. folklore takes advantage of Taylor Swift's strong lyrical ability, her musical craftsmanship and how well she's able to tell a story through song. Overall, it's an impressive album and repeated listenings have only enhanced my enjoyment of the majority of the songs. With the exception of one song, her vocals are the strongest and most suited for the material as they've ever been.
Score: 5 | 11
Spotlight: "Clean" -- There is a soothing simplicity to this song that is almost aching in its perfection. Just as Taylor sings of feeling clean, the song itself gives the listener that very same feeling. It's absolutely resplendent. Every note, every lyric, every metaphor hits exactly right to land with such delicate precision that it's haunting, it's exquisite, it's... clean. This song is a masterpiece.
Highlights: "Blank Space," "Style," "Out of the Woods," "This Love," "New Romantics"
Lowlights: "Bad Blood"
Overview: With the exception of two of her biggest hits (ironically) and truth be told I enjoyed both (although, the "Bad Blood" remix is way better than the original which is the only one on any album version thus the only one rated), pretty much everything on 1989 is good to awesome or better ("Clean"). The production is fantastic, the lyrical flows, the melodic builds are beautifully done. The use of repetition is just right to create momentum in certain songs, while in others, so many details paint vivid pictures in your mind. Cheeky ("Blank Space") to romantic ("This Love/"You Are In Love") to anthemic ("New Romantics") to dreamy ("Style") to perfection ("Clean"), the list goes on of everything that is so great about 1989, Taylor Swift's best album, in my opinion.
I did enjoy doing this, like I had fun doing the folklore< review and the responses I got, so I was thinking of doing more of these types of posts. Your thoughts?
Should I review all Taylor Swift albums (like the folklore review)
Should I do album rankings of other artists?
Should I do album reviews of other artists?
Sources: My opinion, Google search for Taylor Swift album covers (and a good 1989 outtake), my graphic skillz!
And that's all she wrote. Again, my opinion, I know ya'll won't agree. So, ONTD, what's your favorite TSwift album?