Taylor Swift is a twelve-time Grammy winner, an all-time Billboard “Woman of the Year” recipient and a multi-hyphenate who’s made an impact as a singer, songwriter, musician, producer, director, and businesswoman. She’s also the only artist to ever have four albums sell over a million copies in their first week of release (Speak Now, RED, 1989 and reputation).
Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, on December 13, 1989, Swift was raised on a Christmas tree farm in suburban Wyomissing with her younger brother Austin and sister Andrea. As a child, she performed in local talent contests and sang in the church choir. She began writing songs at the age of nine and, inspired by Shania Twain, signed a development deal with RCA Records and music manager Dan Dymtrow at 14. In 2004, she moved to Nashville where she spent two-hour sessions with a variety of professional songwriters. Her strongest connections formed with Liz Rose who was able to help her refine and shape her lyrics into the mature sound of her debut album, Speak Now.
Swift’s debut was a smash hit with the music world, propelling her to superstardom and spawning countless imitators. But it was her sophomore effort, Red that really changed the game for the young pop star. The album’s sugary sweet lyrics about butterflies in your stomach, slamming screen doors and running away to the hills were replaced with adult themes of relationships and heartbreak. And Red also marked the beginning of Taylor’s close collaboration with producer Jack Antonoff who would become her go-to guy for many future projects.
While it’s easy to focus on the Swift who’s a tabloid staple and red carpet icon, it’s important to remember that Taylor is first and foremost a songwriter and that her songs and lyrics are what truly set her apart from other artists. To celebrate the songwriter that she is, we’re counting down her best tunes from Speak Now all the way through Midnights and her recent re-release of RED (Taylor’s Version). So whether you’re a fan of the girl who grew up on a Christmas tree farm or the savvy 20-something with a penchant for throwing shade at the paparazzi, here are Taylor’s best songs.