A Grammy-winning singer, record producer, actress and philanthropist, Taylor Swift is one of the biggest pop stars of all time. She’s also a talented songwriter who is known for writing narrative songs about her personal life that have received widespread media coverage. Her music is widely acclaimed for its emotional intensity and lyrical complexity.
Whether you’re a long-time fan or are just becoming familiar with her work, it’s impossible to deny that Swift is an incredible storyteller. With 17 years of songwriting under her belt, she has a catalog that spans from wide-eyed teenage fairytales to 30-something late-night anxiety attacks. From country-folk ditties to moody synth-pop soundscapes, her music has evolved with every passing era.
Swift first began her career as a country musician, and it was in this early phase that she wrote some of her most iconic songs. In 2006, she signed a deal with Big Machine Records and released her self-titled debut album. The album was an immediate success, spawning five chart-topping singles throughout 2008 and 2009. Swift continued to write for other artists, including John Mayer, Boys Like Girls and Kellie Pickler, and contributed songs to the soundtracks for the movies Valentine’s Day and The Hunger Games.
By the release of her sophomore album, Fearless, Swift had established herself as a songwriter who could deliver on the promise of pure emotion. The album featured several ballads, but the highlight was probably the title track, which is a heartbreakingly beautiful story of love lost. It’s a powerful reminder that even when you’ve been hurt in the past, there is hope for finding true love in the future.
For her third album, 1989, Swift shifted gears and experimented with new sounds. The album features some of her most mature songs to date, and it’s when she started to really find her musical voice. The album is a departure from her previous releases in that it doesn’t rely on radio hits to get noticed. Instead, it has a more expansive sound and relies on a mixture of styles to grab listeners’ attention.
While some people might have viewed this as a risky move, it turned out to be a wise decision for Swift. The result was a breakthrough album that featured some of her most popular songs to date, such as “Blank Space” and “Bloodline.” It’s also the album that solidified her status as a pop powerhouse.
In 2016, Swift returned with her sixth studio album, reputation. While it didn’t reach the heights of her earlier albums, it was still a critical and commercial success, helped in part by its lead single “Look What You Made Me Do.” The single broke records for fastest rise to number one on Billboard Hot 100 as well as for most streams in a 24-hour period.
While revenge and calling out haters is an omnipresent theme in many of Taylor’s later works, the concept of karma is at the center of this song. It’s a complex narrative that references different shades of red (maroon, wine, burgundy and more) and explores the idea of good karma paying off in the end.