Taylor Swift

100 Best Albums

Essential Albums

About Taylor Swift

The country world feigned surprise when, after three albums of Music Row-indebted songcraft, Taylor Swift formally embraced pop on 2012’s Red. But no one should have been shocked: Any 14-year-old capable of persuading her parents to move from suburban Pennsylvania to Nashville for her career clearly has ambition to burn. And the thrill of following Swift’s rise has been watching her execute it flawlessly, largely because her melodic intelligence is equal to that ambition. Her early, youthful love songs heralded 2010's newly self-possessed Speak Now—which showed off her scathing wit—and evolved into knowing, ironclad pop fare that held its own against boisterous Max Martin production on 1989, her fifth album, titled after her birth year. Throughout, her songwriting has blurred the lines between the public and private, burying enough real-life clues (about, say, scarves and Starbucks) to make clear that only Swift can own her narrative, thank you very much, while still retaining a lyrical elegance. Though 2017’s reputation might have been perceived as a gorgeously constructed piece of dramatic theater—its attendant heroes and villains all real-life characters from Swift's public feuds—all that spectacle proved an attention-grabbing cover for her most romantic album yet. She turned up the romance even more on 2019’s Lover, but it was 2020’s folklore and its companion, evermore—ruminative, relatively lo-fi albums written and recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic—that earned her the Apple Music Award for Songwriter of the Year. She followed those up in 2022 with Midnights, which she wrote and produced with Jack Antonoff, and described as "the stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life." In 2023, Swift undertook one of the most ambitious road shows of all time: the multi-year Eras Tour, which saw her presenting new and classic material across more than 100 locales worldwide. It was just one of many reasons she was named Apple Music's Artist of the Year for 2023. Swift returned to the soft, comfortable, bed-like sonics of Midnights for her 11th album, 2024’s THE TORTURED POETS DEPARTMENT. A study in extremes and heightened emotions, the record—which features guest turns from Post Malone and Florence + the Machine—is her most specific, candid, and unsparing work to date.

West Reading, PA, United States
December 13, 1989
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