Off the Record: Top 10 Taylor Swift Tracks
Jan 4, 2023
In honor of the release of Taylor Swift’s 10th original studio album, “Midnights,” Senior Staff Reporters Tyler Chapman and Marielsie Iglesias rank their Top 10 Swift songs in the first edition of “Off the Record.”
The Inkspot staffers pressed shuffle–diving into the pop diva’s discography. They searched all 229 of Swift’s songs, from features to covers; radio hits to deep cuts–each singling out their favorite of Taylor’s tracks.
Chapman and Iglesias countdown their top 10 Taylor Swift songs, giving the reasoning behind their rankings and sharing the lyrics that speak to them the most.
Tyler’s Top 10 Taylor Swift Tracks
10. Wildest Dreams
Favorite Lyric: “Standing in a nice dress / Staring at the sunset, babe”
“Wildest Dreams” was my favorite Taylor Swift song in 5th grade. It’s one of those songs that takes you back to the time of your life when it frequented the radio. The song is a time machine. The nostalgia factor here is definitely what convinced me to include it on the list.
9. tolerate it
Favorite Lyric: “I made you my temple, my mural, my sky / Now I’m begging for footnotes in the story of your life”
A stripped-down, piano-only song about feeling unappreciated by someone who means the absolute world to you? Yes, please. Piano and vocals are all that Swift needs to truly depict the confusion and heartbreak of the song’s breathtakingly painful lyrics.
8. I Bet You Think About Me (feat. Chris Stapleton)
Favorite Lyric: “Does it make you feel sad / That the love that you’re lookin’ for / Is the love that you had?”
This song has a lot of personality–Swift’s delivery of the lyrics, her intonation, her laugh adds extra meaning to the lyrics.
Chris Stapleton backs Swift on the song, bringing Taylor’s country roots to the front and center. Swift’s country sass (“Your million dollar couch/ your organic shoes”) is evident in the lyrics and their delivery in this vault song from “Red (Taylor’s Version).” I would absolutely love to hear a live version of this song.
7. Getaway Car
Favorite Lyric: “The ties were black, the lies were white / in shades of gray in candlelight”
Taylor Swift put her whole soul into writing “Getaway Car.” Its bridge is certainly one of her greatest, we all know Taylor is known for writing spectacular bridges. The song is the culmination of what her “reputation” album is all about: incredible pop hits that still maintain lyrical complexity and variety.
6. Run (feat. Ed Sheeran)
Favorite Lyric: “I could see this view a hundred times / Pale blue sky reflected in your eyes”
It’s practically a fact that Swift brings out the best of Ed Sheeran. This vault song from “Red (Taylor’s Version)” is clear proof of that. The soft vocals, acoustic guitar and Swift and Sheeran’s incredible chemistry make “Run” their best collaboration.
Favorite Lyric: “Carnations you had thought were roses, that’s us”
This song is my favorite off of “Midnights.” It has a really unique flow and a great backing track. Of course, like most Taylor Swift songs, the lyrics make it great. In an extremely creative use of color in her songwriting, Taylor uses about five shades of red to describe the spectrum of a relationship.
Favorite Lyric: “I’d give you my sunshine, give you my best / But the rain is always gonna come if you’re standing with me”
When Taylor slows down the pace and the acoustic guitar comes in, you know something great is about to come. You don’t need any fancy instrumentals when your songwriting is already perfect. And yes, “peace” is songwriting perfection for sure.
3. illicit affairs
Favorite Lyric: “Look at this idiotic fool that you made me / You taught me a secret language / I can’t speak with anyone else”
“illicit affairs” is a late summer night. It’s freedom; it’s discovery. It’s making mistakes and growing up. It’s doing something when you know it’s going to hurt you in the end, but you want to do it anyway. The song speaks for itself.
2. State Of Grace (Acoustic Version)
Favorite Lyric: “So you were never a saint / And I’ve loved in shades of wrong / We learn to live with the pain / Mosaic broken hearts”
With some acoustic guitar and a much, much slower tempo the upbeat, lovey-dovey starting track on Red is transformed into a sad, painful love story. The struggle and pain heard in Taylor’s vocals seem to change the entire meaning of the song. It becomes more about the fight to keep the love alive than the love story itself. The beauty of this song is almost unmatched.
1. New Year’s Day
Favorite Lyric: “Please don’t ever become a stranger / Whose laugh I could recognize anywhere”
The love song of all love songs. January 1, New Year’s Day, is about looking to the future, and in “New Year’s Day” Taylor compares that to a relationship that she sees herself staying in. She promises always to be there and begs her significant other never to leave. It’s the perfect combination of desire and desperation that a true love story needs.
Marielsie’s Top 10 Swift Songs
10. Cruel Summer
Favorite Lyric: “He looks up, grinning like a devil”
“He looks up grinning like a devil”–that line gets me every time. When Taylor sings the lyric, I have to sing (or scream) along. That verse alone (I’m drunk in the back of the car/ And I cried like a baby coming home from the bar) is primarily why “Cruel Summer” makes my top ten; add in the song’s catchy melody and it’s a clear favorite.
Favorite Lyric: “This is me praying that / This was the very first page / Not where the storyline ends”
The book lover in me loves this song because of the story throughout it’s lyrics–Swift’s storytelling is something I admire overall about her. The emotion in this song–the yearning in it–really strikes a chord with me (no pun intended).
8. Nothing New (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)
Favorite Lyric: “How can a person know everything at 18 but nothing at 22? / Will you still want me when I’m nothing new?”
This song hits so hard. I have a playlist titled “when i’m in my feels,” and this is one of the songs I put on repeat when I listen to it.
I’m also a crazy Phoebe Bridgers fan, so this song gets extra points for featuring Bridgers.
Favorite Lyric: “And the touch of a hand lit the fuse / Of a chain reaction of countermoves / To assess the equation of you”
“Mastermind” scratches the itch in my brain that I didn’t know needed scratching. There is something about the writing and the story that just feels right.
The tempo, the lyrics, everything is a masterpiece written by a mastermind.
6. Love Story (Taylor’s Version)
Favorite Lyric: “’Cause you were Romeo, I was a scarlet letter”
This is the song that made me realize deep down I may actually be a hopeless romantic. The narrative in the lyrics makes me feel invested in a love story that only lasts three minutes and 56 seconds. The plot twist at the end only adds to the satisfaction of that storyline.
5. The Archer
Favorite Lyric: “All the king’s horses, all the king’s men / Couldn’t put me together again / ’cause all of my enemies started out friends”
I’m more in love with the instrumentals of this song than anything else–the lyrics are sweet, but the background instrumentals complement Swift’s singing, elevating her voice to another level.
Favorite Lyric: “…then someone screams out / “She’s laughing up at us from hell”
After my first listen of “Midnights,” this song stuck out to me. The way Swift carves out her insecurity and puts in on show for the whole world to see is a true tribute to her amazing song writing skills and her willingness to be vulnerable.
3. Back to December (Acoustic)
Favorite Lyric: “You gave me all your love and all I gave you was goodbye”
There’s a difference between the acoustic and the original album version of this song–the acoustic is far superior. It’s more raw. The story feels that much more real, more authentic, with the stripped-down version, highlighting the acoustic guitar in the background.
2. Don’t Blame Me
Favorite Lyric: “I once was poison ivy, but now I’m your daisy”
“Don’t Blame Me” is one of the best songs on “reputation”–my favorite Swift album. The contrast of sounds–the reverb, the distortion, the synthesizers, the layers of Swift’s vocals– are a recipe for success. The production of this song is what makes it stand out from Swift’s other work.
1. I Did Something Bad
Favorite Lyric: “This is how the world works / You gotta leave before you get left”
Before I die, I want to see Swift perform this song live. I don’t necessarily care if I have to sell my liver or a lung in the process. This song has quickly become my anthem, and if I a person could have a theme song, I might wish this was mine.