Discography Deep Focus: Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift is a 32-year-old singer-songwriter from West Reading, Pennsylvania. At 14, her family relocated to Nashville for her to pursue a career as a country singer.
By 2005, Swift was signed to Big Machine Records, with whom she parted ways in 2018 and is now with Republic Records.
Swift has sold over 200 million records, won 11 Grammys (three of which are Album of the Year) and countless other accolades.
As Swift continues re-recording her first six albums, it’s a perfect time to take a deep dive into her discography.
“Taylor Swift”- 2006
Swift's self-titled eponymous album was released in 2006 and peaked at number one on the country album charts.
This album has countless classics notably, “Teardrops on My Guitar” and “Our Song.”
“Taylor Swift” is nowhere near Swift's best work, but her ability as a lyricist even at 15-16 years old is impressive. The production is at points iffy, and the weaker songs on this project are the worst in her discography.
“Fearless” marks Swift's second album and first awarded Album of the Year, which spent 11 weeks at number one.
This album is a significant improvement from Swift's debut album. From country ballads like “White Horse” or pop-rock-influenced “Forever & Always,” Swift’s lyricism matured greatly and these tracks remain some of the best in her discography.
“Fearless” is authentic and relatable and is the album that shot Swift into stardom.
“Speak Now”- 2010
Swift faced doubters who didn’t believe she was writing her songs amidst frequent praise for her songwriting. This influenced “Speak Now” as Swift is the sole writer on all tracks.
“Speak Now” spent six weeks at number one.
This album remains country-pop but takes rock influence in tracks like “Enchanted” and “The Story of Us.”
“Speak Now” is authentic but dramatic, vengeful but self-aware. Swift's creative freedom with this album paid off as this is arguably Swift's “no-skip” album.
“Red” is technically a country album, but it’s what bridged Swift from a country artist to a pop star. “Red” spent seven weeks at number one.
Tracks like “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” (Swift's first No. 1 single) and “I Knew You Were Trouble” are wholly pop songs. However, “Begin Again” and “Holy Ground” fall into the category of country.
Swift claims the different styles of songs are symbolic of a messy break-up. The tracklist is one of the only legitimate criticisms of “Red.”
“Red” is widely agreed upon as Swift’s best album and features “All Too Well,” which many consider Swift's best song.
Swift turned in her country influence for pop-synth with “1989” and won her second Album of the Year. “1989” may be Swift's most iconic and successful project.
Swift established herself as a legitimate pop artist with three number one singles in her first proper attempt at the genre.
Pop music isn’t known for solid lyricism, but Swift was able to master the genre without abandoning her forte. Tracks like “Clean” and “Out of The Woods” showcase that.
“1989” has Swift at her brightest, cleanest and sharpest. A cohesive album whose risks have paid off indefinitely.
Swift released “reputation” following scandal and a media blackout.
Although the lead single “Look What You Made Me Do” hit number one, it’s the album's biggest issue. It feels inauthentic and it isn’t the only song from this project to fall victim to this.
However, “reputation” features more vulnerable tracks like “New Years Day” and “Delicate,” which evolve the album into something different than its initial perception.
Bright colors, light tones and dream-pop created Swift's seventh album.
“Lover” is Swift's most inconsistent album. Songs like “Cruel Summer,” “Cornelia Street,” and “Daylight” are unique and lively. Contrastingly Swift's singles “ME!,” and “You Need To Calm Down” seem to confuse fun and immaturity.
The best songs on “Lover” are impeccable, but not cutting weaker songs undermines some of the album's flourish.
“Lover” was the best-selling album of 2019. It is also the first of Swift's projects that she owns.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Swift surprise dropped her album, “folklore.” The shift into indie-alternative allows Swift to thrive as a songwriter.
Swift explores escapism and nostalgia as very few songs on “folklore” are autobiographical, notoriously Swift's m.o. This proved to be triumphant as “folklore” creates interwoven storylines with songs like “betty” and “august.” This project is by far her smartest.
“folklore” spent eight weeks at number one and won Album of The Year.
“Evermore" - 2020
Months after releasing “folklore,” Swift dropped its sister album “evermore,” claiming she wanted to keep creating after completing “folklore.”
Thematically and sonically, “evermore” is consistent with “folklore.” At its worst, “evermore” feels like rejected “folklore” tracks. But songs like “champagne problems” and “gold rush” make it the perfect sequel.
Despite two weeks at No. 1, “evermore” is often overshadowed by its predecessor and the subsequent release of the re-recordings.
The Re-Recordings- 2021
Swift doesn’t own any album released before “Lover.” After being restricted from purchasing her masters, she decided to re-record and release them so she could own them.
In April 2021, she released “Fearless (Taylor’s Version”), and in November released “Red (Taylor’s Version).”
These albums are identical to the originals except for the “Vault Tracks.” Along with the original songs, Swift adds unreleased songs intended for the album or, as she puts it, “From The Vault.”
These re-recordings are the only re-recorded albums to chart at No. 1. This era has helped cement Swift's place as a music legend.
Essential Album: “Red (Taylor’s Version)”
Debatably her best album, “Red,” is the best at showcasing her entire skillset.
“Red” straddles country and pop and does so well. Swift's matured vocals and the “Vault Tracks” make the album much better.
“Red (Taylor’s Version)” contains Swift's magnum opus, “All Too Well (The 10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault),” the longest song to hit number one.
It’s the perfect album to represent Swift's discography.
Sophia D’Ovidio is a first-year majoring in communications. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.