People all over the globe love Taylor Swift’s catchy pop/country songs and approachable character, making her one of the best-selling musicians worldwide. Ever since she started opening for other country musicians, fans everywhere began falling in love with her music–but what are some essential hits that every Swift fanatic should know about?
Whether you’re a long-time fan or a newcomer looking to get familiar with her eclectic musical style, you’re bound to love these top 15 Taylor Swift songs!
15 Taylor Swift Songs You’ll Enjoy
1. “Fearless” – 2008
As anyone who’s even slightly familiar with Taylor’s music knows, she writes a lot about the tough complexities of love–as well as the strength that it takes to pick yourself up after a period of heartbreak. With “Fearless,” the hit single from her album of the same title, Taylor explores the fearlessness that it takes to face the idea of falling in love again after having been hurt in the past.
Interestingly, Taylor was single when she wrote “Fearless,” and her introspection led her to describe her ideal first date.
2. “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” – 2012
This song is undoubtedly one of the very first that comes to mind for many Swift fans–after all, it sold 623,000 units during its first week out! This insanely popular lead single from her album “Red” takes the often disheartening subject of ex-partners and presents it through a fun lens with an upbeat chorus.
Taylor earned her first #1 spot on the Hot 100 with this song, and for good reasons. Many fans love this song for its touch of mystery, since it’s not completely clear who it’s about. However, many more love the way that it can empower someone to take their life back after a bad breakup.
3. “Our Song” – 2006
Taylor Swift’s self-titled debut studio came out featuring “Our Song,” which she had originally written and performed for a high school talent show. The lighthearted theme of a couple crafting a song together based on events from their own lives conveyed a message that reaches far beyond the usual country music audience. People of all types have found enjoyment in this song, not to mention the inspiring backstory of how a bright teenage girl was able to break into the music industry and become a star.
Taylor also intentionally put this song last on her album as a little hint: The last line of the song says “Play it again!”
4. “Mine” – 2010
Written for “Speak Now,” her third studio album, Taylor Swift’s song “Mine” is another signature romantic piece that addresses the trials and tribulations of young love. As it happened, Taylor had a flood of inspiration and wrote nearly all the songs during her “Fearless” tour–and wrote the entire album by herself.
“Speak Now” is meant to illustrate Taylor’s pattern of running away from love out of a fear of heartbreak. To add a more optimistic note, it’s also about finding that special someone that might make it worthwhile to break the pattern and stick around despite a fear of commitment.
5. “Look What You Made Me Do” – 2017
This lead single from her “Reputation” album shows Taylor taking a more vicious stance towards people who have slighted her as she sings about taking revenge against her wrongdoers. Alongside the aggressive message that contrasts with Swift’s ethereal image, fans also remember this piece for its fast-paced electronic beat that clearly takes after “I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred.
People have plenty of theories about who the people are that Taylor goes after in this song. But no matter who they are, she sends them the powerful message that she’s no one to mess with!
6. “Tim McGraw” – 2006
During the early days of Taylor’s career, she released the song “Tim McGraw” in her self-titled debut album. Word has it that she actually came up with the tune and concept for this song in her freshman-year math class as she mulled over the realization that she and her current boyfriend would break up when they parted ways for college.
She quietly hummed and thought of all the things that would later on remind her of their time as a couple after they’d inevitably broken up: And, you guessed it, one of Taylor’s anticipated memory capsules was Tim McGraw’s music!
7. “Shake It Off” – 2014
Taylor dives into the pop side of her musical expression with “Shake It Off,” which appears on her album “1989”–the first album that she marketed as pop instead of country. The lyrics highlight her readiness to let criticism and negativity roll off her back, offering a different take than her earlier single “Mean” from 2011, which takes a stab at critics who give nasty, unhelpful feedback.
The catchy title phrase, “shake it off,” invites listeners to join in as it’s repeated 36 times throughout the song. Taylor specifically stated that she wanted to share this positive message with her fans and move on from directing messages towards critics.
8. “Begin Again” – 2012
Taylor Swift actually first gave her fans a preview of this song during “Good Morning America” on ABC in 2012, offering everyone a glimpse of another piece that explores the feeling of falling in love again after a breakup. This country ballad of loss and newfound love appears on her album “Red” and focuses on that key point of bravery and recovery: Going on a first date after having endured the end of a previous relationship. Additionally, Taylor sings about finding wonderful, new qualities that were lacking before.
9. “Teardrops on My Guitar” – 2006
Those who have felt unrequited love may find solace in this song from Taylor Swift’s debut album, which she wrote with Liz Rose. This song, which broke Taylor into the Mainstream Top 40 as a crossover pop artist, addresses the hurt that she felt when she had a crush on a classmate in school–but he was already in a relationship. To make matters even tougher, he often told Taylor about his girlfriend and the times they spent together! She played this powerful song during her debut “Fearless Tour”.
10. “Wildest Dreams” – 2014
Another hit from her “1989” album, this song shows Taylor taking a more realistic, practical approach to love than she had in the past: She stated that she used to enter relationships with fantastical, idealistic visions of the future, but now she looks at new relationships differently and considers everything from flaws in human nature to the demands of her musical career.
Taylor actually used her own heartbeat as the beat for this song, lending a creative twist of authenticity to the piece. The music video also caught people’s attention, featuring her as a 1950’s actress caught up in an ill-fated romance in Africa.
11. “Back to December” – 2010
This song was written for Taylor’s album “Speak Now” and features a number of graceful orchestral elements alongside her signature country sound. Taylor says that she used this poignant song to deliver her genuine apologies to a real person she used to date, stating that he’d been good to her and that she regrets the way she handled the relationship.
Fans went wild speculating who the song was about, and many of them were sure that it was about the actor Taylor Lautner. Sure enough, he eventually confirmed the theory!
12. “I Knew You Were Trouble” – 2012
Another hit from the album “Red,” this song is well-known just about everywhere. Plus, it acts as a powerful warning for her fans: Taylor wrote this song about the frustration that she felt, both with her circumstances and herself, after pushing ahead with a relationship that was riddled with red flags from the start.
She warns listeners to heed red flags when they see them, instead of hoping to be the exception and fix everything to make it work anyway. Otherwise, Taylor says, you’ll make the same mistakes again and regret it.
13. “Love Story” – 2008
Taylor based this song off of the real-life experience of falling in love with a guy that her parents didn’t approve of, and she fought hard to get her recording company as hyped about the song as she was. Her persistence paid off, and the song came out on her “Fearless” album, telling the story of a forbidden love that had to stay hidden and referencing the iconic story of Romeo and Juliet. However, Taylor brought her idealistic side into play while writing this song, giving it a much happier ending than Shakespeare had!
14. “You Belong With Me” – 2009
Another hit from her “Fearless” album that fans can never get enough of, this song came to be after Taylor heard a friend apologizing profusely while his girlfriend yelled at him on the phone. The song is written from the perspective of a girl-next-door who has feelings for a guy she knows well and cares about, but who’s forced to wait on the sidelines while he goes for a more popular girl who treats him poorly instead.
Swift has referred to this song as one of her early pieces that shows her how far she’s come, reminding her of how it felt to write about school crushes without realizing how it would feel to be famous for it.
15. “Red” – 2012
No list of Taylor’s top songs would be complete without the title single of her “Red” album, which sold a jaw-dropping 1.208 million copies during its debut week alone! The song “Red” names several colors as representations of Taylor’s emotions about one of her exes. Various fans have theorized that the song references synesthesia, leading them to wonder if the song is about Taylor’s past relationship with John Mayer.
No matter who the song is about, Swift’s fans appreciate her creative blend of country and pop elements in the sound, alongside the compelling imagery.
These excellent Swift hits are just the tip of the iceberg! If you love any of the popular tracks on this list, then you’re bound to enjoy more of Taylor’s music as well. There’s plenty of her work out there to discover, and hopefully some new material coming out in the future as well!
Featured image is a Photo by Raphael Lovaski on Unsplash
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.