The Best Songs by Taylor Swift

With a career that spans over a decade, Taylor Swift has had plenty of time to perfect her craft. The country star started her journey as a folky singer-songwriter before embracing pop, with each new release pushing her further into the mainstream. But no matter what genre she lands in, her songs always sound authentic. The polarizing pop star’s biggest hits reveal an artist with a talent for writing about love, both in its big and small moments.

The empathetic Taylor makes an especially convincing conduit for the grief of others on this song, a tribute to soldiers and frontline health-care workers who have lost loved ones in wars or natural disasters. She takes a risk with her vocal range, dipping into an Imogen Heap-style yawp, but the effect is moving. This is one of Swift’s most resonant ballads and a definite tearjerker.

During the RED era, Swift began exploring other genres, and this spooky track is a prime example. Its spooky synths and drums set the scene for a story about haunting memories, and her voice sounds a little different than usual, with a high-pitched vibrato that melds perfectly with Joy Williams and John Paul White’s hushed harmonies. The result is a stunningly effective collaboration and a unique moment in her catalog.

This early ballad, about a girl who is “so worried she’ll run out of words” and feels like a nobody at school, proves Swift has an instinctive facility for characterization. She might not have realized it at the time, but she was already experimenting with themes of introspection and self-awareness that would be prominent in her later work.

In the middle of the RED era, Swift took a bold step into pop territory by writing this earworm, which combines a dance-pop beat with a ballad-like lyric about an unrequited crush. The song’s popularity helped launch the multi-album 1989 project, her most successful to date. The album also features collaborations with artists like Ed Sheeran, Beyonce, and Kanye West.

Despite a turbulent few years in the public eye, Swift’s comeback was as resounding as it was unexpected. She’s re-released her top albums and hit the road with her reputation tour, where she brought back the old Taylor we all know and love. But the enduring appeal of her music lies in its timeless themes of love, loss, and loneliness. These 10 songs capture the most defining moments in her career.