Taylor’s top 13: Our modern-day Emily Dickinson’s must-listen list


Swift’s most recent album, “Red (Taylor’s Version)” is her latest in her countermeasure against the changed ownership of the masters of her first six albums. Photo courtesy of Genius.

Lin Luo, Former Multimedia Editor

This previously ran in our December 2021 print issue.

Taylor Swift: icon, legend, former tabloid-staple, the modern-day Emily Dickinson. Her hits span genres and subjects — emotionally excessive heartbreak ballads, confessionals of finding sacred love, and tales of killing cheating men. The number 13 is a strong symbol in Swiftie (folk)lore, being both the date of her birthday and Swift’s famous “lucky” number. In honor of such, as well as December being her birthday month, here are the best 13 songs from her vast discography:

1. “Enchanted”

Finally getting its due respect from TikTok, “Enchanted” is not simply a song, but an experience. The perfect hopeless romantic anthem, every lyric rings exorbitantly true to the experience of having a crush take over every aspect of your thought. 

Best Line: “Please don’t have somebody waiting on you.”

2. “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)”

This song is the epitome of the “good for her” phenomenon. Imagine dating someone for three months, and 10 years later you get utterly dragged for your questionable dating preferences. Well, Jake Gyllenhaal can do just that. 

Best Line: “and I was never good at telling jokes, but the punchline goes/‘I’ll get older, but your lovers stay my age.”

3. “Blank Space”

“Blank Space” perfectly dismantled and reconstructed the public’s perception of Swift. By leaning into the misogynistic caricature of a clingy, jilted ex-girlfriend, she was able to take the reins of her own narrative, heightening the standards for what it means to be a 21st-century pop star. 

Best Line: “cause darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream.”

4. “cardigan”

The fact that the up and down emotions associated with young love are likened to the feeling of a once-forgotten cardigan is pure poetic genius — and pure Swift. 

Best Line: “I knew you’d linger like a tattoo kiss.”

5. “tolerate it”

This slow and emotionally wrenching ballad builds up to perhaps one of the most heartbreaking bridges in all of Swift’s discography.   

Best Line: “break free and leave us in ruins/take this dagger in me and remove it.”

6. “champagne problems”

Hailed as a ballad of disenchantment, this song is a superb example of Swift’s storytelling ability, telling the tale of a rejected marriage proposal. Highlighting the complexities of mental health and romantic relationships, the lyrics hold so much empathy that neither character is framed as the enemy. 

Best Line: “what a shame she’s f*cked in the head.”

7. “Cruel Summer”

Toeing the line between agony and ecstasy, “Cruel Summer” exhibits Swift’s pop abilities at their peak. Underneath the infectious synth and distorted vocals rests a narration of cruelly fragile summer romance laden with yearning.

Best Line: “‘I love you ain’t that the worst thing you’ve ever heard’/he looks up grinning like a devil.”

8. “no body, no crime”

Relive your Gone Girl fantasy with this standout from evermore. Alongside her collaborators HAIM, Swift masterfully crafts a true-crime documentary-level story contained in just three minutes. 

Best Line: “She thinks I did it but she just can’t prove it.”

9. “State of Grace (Taylor’s Version)”

“State of Grace” is no doubt the best opening song in all of Swift’s albums, re-recorded or not. With the sharp lyrical verses building up to the emotionally agonizing bridge, the experience of falling into a treacherous love is perfectly encapsulated.

Best Line: “love is a ruthless game/unless you play it good and right”

10. “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)”

Although “Love Story” completely disregards plot points of several high school English-required novels, it’s stunning in the sense that it truly does tell a love story. The heartwarming premise draws the listener into a romantic fairytale world. 

Best Line: “you were Romeo I was a Scarlet Letter.”

11. “Forever and Always (Taylor’s Version)”

The lyrics, albeit relatively simple, still hold true to the torturous feeling of waiting up to a text from a special someone.

Best Line: “it rains in your bedroom/everything is wrong.”

12. “Style”

Who doesn’t want to get into a doomed-to-fail relationship with Harry Styles? Although not all of us are blessed to be his type, we can still live the experience vicariously through this dreamy song. Not only is it just the perfect 2010’s pop anthem, but we must also give props to Swift’s cleverness for her title choice. 

Best Line: “you got that James Dean daydream look in your eye.”

13. “Wildest Dreams (Taylor’s Version)”

Although the synth-pop style of production draws parallels to the signatures of Lana Del Rey, Swift was successfully able to literally put her own beat to it (her heartbeat, that is). It’s been given a second life from TikTok, supporting the notion that this song only gets better and better with every listen. 

Best Line:You’ll see me in hindsight/Tangled up with you all night/Burnin’ it down.”