Top 10 Taylor Swift Songs (2020)
State of Grace
Featuring pounding, upbeat drums and airy guitars, State of Grace is Taylor’s best intro track on any album. It’s about the time when you first fall in love and there are boundless possibilities ahead; good and bad. The vocal layering makes for a grand and symphonic chorus, with the drum beat keeping momentum and building intensity. Taylor pulls off a stadium sound without being gaudy by drawing elements from rock, while still putting her own spin on it. The acoustic version is also amazing, with its slowed tempo and more vulnerable feel.
Ours is a fun and light song with a strong and relatable message. Taylor is vouching for a partner that people don’t approve of. I think most people in a relationship can relate to this in some way. It's a timeless theme with a catchy tune that doesn't get tiring even after 100 listens. It's one of the most stripped down songs on Speak Now in terms of instrumentation, but it prevents the message and mood from being too overbearing.
Never Grow Up
I love the wistful tone of the track, where Taylor recalls small but critical moments of her childhood. She comes off very mature, being able to look back on her past youth and see the fleetingness of her life and the memories that have gone by. The hyperbole of wanting to “never” grow up emphasizes Taylor’s yearning for a simpler time, as well her futile grasp onto temporary worldly things. It’s inherently a very sad song, but I think there’s a deep truth to be learned from her message. The lone guitar plucking has a nursery feel to it, adding to the nostalgic tone of the track.
The Best Day
Personally, this song is a real tearjerker. Taylor writes from the perspective of her younger self as she reflects on her mother's support and love for her growing up. By having very simple, childlike lyrics, she describes in an endearing way the issues she had when she was younger. She also captures the meaningful impact her mother had on her in dealing with those situations. Her reflection extends to a universally relatable theme of the transcendental nature of parental love. A key aspect of this song is the lo-fi quality of Taylor’s voice along with a subtle reverb, which creates this old, 2000s VCR vibe that fits perfectly with the song's music video.
This song manages to sound both new and like an old classic at the same time, even on repeat listens. The verse lyrics perfectly and succintly capture essences of a couple growing together, covering the passing of time, innocent jealousy, and owning a home. The chorus is super catchy but does not get repetitive. All in all this is and will be a great song for years to come.
New Year's Day
This song proves that Taylor can still get in her bag and write elegant, simple, and relatable lyrics. Featuring a slow ballad piano as the instrumental, this track has plenty of empty space for Taylor’s lyrics and raw delivery to shine. I love the theme of permanence and how it’s tied in with the idea of New Years Eve being a build-up and closure of a given year. She contrasts that idea with New Year’s Day, referencing a continuation of commitment throughout the new year. Taylor delivers some of her best and haunting lyrics with the bridge and outro.
This is one of her best closing tracks. She paints a hopeful and raw view on a transformative relationship, with a slow bobbing cadence and simple yet poignant lyrics. The bridge is the best part, where the overlaying lyrics and increased cadence deliver a more confident and celebratory depiction of the song's theme. Finally, there is a cheeky voice memo at the end which summarizes the concept of the album well: "I wanna be defined by the things that I love; Not the things I hate; Not the things I'm afraid of"
This song is the quintessential country ballad of Swift's early career. It is the title track for one her best albums ever, and represents the unabashed belief in love despite having doubts or being hurt. It serves as the anchor to all the other heartbreak songs on the album, saying that regardless of all those pitfalls, love continues to be fearless. It features an iconic guitar riff from the get go of the song and uses her most common song formatting, which includes a guitar solo before the bridge. This is a fan favourite of many, as it should be.
This song is about being ready to be in a relationship after a tough, jading break up. Starting the song with back to back verses, Taylor compares her previous relationship to a current, budding one. Combined with the light guitar arpeggio and country string instrumentation, she creates a sense of renewed hope in love. I think Taylor is the strongest when she uses specific occurrences in her life to paint an overarching theme or mood. Without relating to these events, you can still get a good sense of the feeling she's getting across. This is a personal favourite of mine, which is why it’s at number 3.
All Too Well
This song features some of Taylor's best songwriting, as she reflects on a past relationship with great vulnerability and depth. I love the progression of the song, from the various choruses to the crescendo of energy building up to the electrifying and cathartic bridge (featuring some of her most gutting lyrics). Her performance of this song at the 2014 Grammys is worth checking out. All Too Well strikes a perfect balance between having a memorable tune without being too overbearing or dramatic (cf. Enchanted). Because of this, it has great replay value and versatility while still being able to hit hard emotionally in the right listening situation.
Honorable Mentions: Afterglow, Stay Beautiful, Sparks Fly, Last Kiss, White Horse, End Game, How You Get The Girl
I also have a Spotify playlist below for convenience: