Tuesday, December 13, 2022

It's me. Hi. (Ranking Taylor Swift's albums)

Three years ago (on this very same, totally random date!) I ranked Taylor Swift's seven studio albums. Well, now she has added three more (and that's not even counting the re-recordings of two of her previous albums), so I have decided to rank her TEN studio albums.  

Here is a quick recap of my previous rankings:

7. Speak Now 
6. Taylor Swift aka Debut 
5. Fearless 
4. Red 
3. Reputation 
2. Lover 
1. 1989

Now here are my NEW rankings:
(Just a disclaimer before we get started: as I already reviewed her first seven albums before, I probably won't spend too much time on those, so I would recommend reading my original ranking that I linked above if you want to know more of my thoughts about a particular album).

10. Speak Now, 2010

Okay, I know people are going to be mad at me because I know the die hard Swifties LOVE this album, but, honestly, it's never done anything for me. That's not to say I don't like any songs on this album because I do: I really like "Mine", "Mean", and "Long Live". The last song is a great ender for the album and I truly understand why her fans love it so much. I love the line, "It was the end of a decade, but the start of an age."

There are a few songs I'm slowing coming around to. I have a love/hate relationship with Enchanted. While it is a pretty, dreamy, fairy tale, Disney Princess-esque song, it also is a tad eye-roll-y. It also cracks me up that it's about the dude from Owl City. It's like...what? 

I used to really dislike "Dear John", but I find it interesting, though "Would've, Could've Should've" from her most recent album eats that song for breakfast...WOW! I'm really interested to hear "Dear John" when she re-records the songs from Speak Now. In my last review, I criticized "Dear John" for being too long and boring, but I don't think that anymore. I think her re-recording is going to make me appreciate that song more. 

I do think "Last Kiss" and "Innocent" are still boring. You would think the latter should be anything but because it's about Kanye West, but yawn! I think it may be my least favorite TS song of all time. "Back to December" doesn't do anything for me either, but it's okay. 

Another song I don't like, but I'm really interested to hear when she re-records Speak Now will be "Better Than Revenge." That song was not one of her finest hours. Not only is she being petty in the song, but she's just being downright cruel with lyrics like, "She's an actress, she's better known for things she does on the mattress." Yikes! Will she change/delete those lyrics? Will she keep the song the same, but issue an apology? Will she just leave the song off the album? I am DYING to know and will listen to that song first once that album is released! 

All the other songs on the album I didn't mention are just meh. 

9. Taylor Swift aka Debut, 2006

This is her debut album. I have to admit I hardly listen to this and probably the last time I did listen to this was three years ago when I did my original TS album rankings.  I like "Tim McGraw", "Teardrops on My Guitar", "Our Song", and "Mary's Song (Oh My My)". The last song is criminally underrated and is absolutely adorable without being too saccharine. Well, maybe it's a tad saccharine. But it sure is darn cute! 

"I Should've Said No" and "Picture to Burn" are catchy little bops. I was pretty down on the latter in my 2019 review because of the cringe-y line, "So go on and tell your friends that I'm obsessive and crazy, that's fine. I'll tell mine you're gay." When I first ranked her albums, I was listening to the ones that I had bought, but now I'm listening to them on Apple Music and while listening to that song, noticed the lyrics had changed to, "So go and tell your friends that I'm obsessive and crazy, that's fine. You won't mind if I say, by the way." Apparently she changed it in 2008. I always listened to this song from the original album until very recently, so that's why I always heard the original lyric. I think I remember hearing she had changed that lyric, but didn't realize when. I think it was very smart of her to change it, especially since this is the same artist who will write and perform "You Need to Calm Down" in the future.  

"Stay Beautiful" is a cute little ditty, "Cold as You" is okay. All the other songs - "The Outside", "Tied Together With a Smile", and "A Place in This World" are totally forgettable to me. I even had to look at the album list to remember what these songs were called. 

8. Fearless (2008)

Okay, first of all, I love that she's re-recording her albums because I think she sounds crisper, her voice has gotten better, vocally, and just the overall quality is better. So I think FearlessTV is better than the original. That said, I still can't rank this higher because I just prefer the other albums I haven't ranked yet to this one. And that's saying something because I love "Love Story", "You Belong With Me", and "Breathe." "Breathe" is probably in my top ten of TS songs (I really need to sit down and do a ranking of my top ten TS songs, but that is so, so, so hard!) It was my favorite TS song until "All Too Well" came into existence. Count "Hey Stephen" as another of my favorite songs on this album; I've always enjoyed that song. 
7.  Red  (2012)

"All Too Well" is my favorite TS song of all time. (I know, how original!) "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" is my favorite first single of hers (although there are other contenders!) "Starlight" and "22" are fun bops. The album starts strong with "State of Grace", "Red", and "Treacherous". All the other songs, I can pretty much take or leave, ranging from it's okay to meh. I pretty much skip all the songs I haven't named.  I may have been a little harsh on "Begin Again" in my first ranking, but I still think it's one of her weaker album enders. I mean, at least compared to some of her other album ending songs.

However, when you add the bonus songs and the vault songs, I think it catapults the album a little more. "The Moment I Knew" is a bonus song I really like. The vault songs are ridiculous! (And I say that as a good thing!) "Better Man" and "Babe" were originally supposed to be on the original Red album, but they didn't make the cut so she gave them to Little Big Town and Sugarland, respectively. Okay, I actually think "Better Man" sounds better with Little Big Town singing it (not that Taylor's version is bad at all), but I'm kind of on the fence with "Babe". Both versions are really good. Taylor and Jennifer Nettles have very different voices so you're hearing the same song with distinct voices. Of course, with the Sugarland version you get both their voices since Taylor sings the background.

And don't get me started on the ten minute version of "All Too Well!" How long have we known there was a ten minute version out there? No, seriously, I'm asking. I'm honestly surprised she didn't wait to release Red as the final Tayor's Version album because getting the ten minute version of "All Too Well" has to be one of the top things her fans have been waiting for with bated breath. Not only did we get the song, we also got a video, excuse me, short film, for it! Now the real question is: do you associate Sadie Sink with "ATWTMV" or "Running Up That Hill?" 

I love the part where she goes, "YOU, that's what happened, yooooooooouuuu-oooouuuuuuuuuu." I also love the ending is pretty much a two-minute slow burn.
Even though there are some amazing songs here, this has to be her least cohesive album, she's got a lot going on here. There are a lot of songs I skip that I just couldn't place it too high.

6. Midnights, 2022

With her most recent album, I wasn't really sure where to place it. I like it, but I don't LOVE it. It's still fairly new, so it has the potential to go up a spot in the future...but just one spot. My top four is pretty rock solid. This is the first album on this list that wasn't on the original ranking I did, so let's go through the songs one by one:

"Lavender Haze" - I see a lot of people claiming this song as their favorite Track 1, but for me, it's probably in the middle. I mean, it's no "Mine", "State of Grace",  "Welcome to New York", "The 1", or "Willow" (Track 1s, I like better than this song - btw, I feel like I'm the only person who loves "WTNY"). I like this song fine; the drums are really cool. Reminds me of the cool drums in I Think He Knows. I have no idea what "Lavender Haze" exactly means, apparently she heard this phrase on an episode of Mad Men, a show I haven't seen. 

"Maroon" - I really love how this song sounds, but it sure is wordy! 

"Anti-Hero" - This was a good pick for her first single; it's very catchy and upbeat and the "It's me, hi, I'm the problem, it's me" lyrics are very ear-wormy. I think the lyrics to this song are very clever. I know a lot of people don't like the "sexy baby" line, which I get, it is super weird even though I know she's not referring to a literal baby. Honestly, the one lyric I'm not a fan of is "At tea time everybody agrees." I get that is rhymes and flows with, "It's me, hi," but this is going to age so poorly in the future! You know how nobody says "YOLO" or "FOMO" anymore (are those supposed to be capitalized? IDK)? I feel like that's going to be the same with "spilling the tea" in the future. But it's just a stupid little nitpick. I like how lets the s linger in the last chorus of "everybody agreesssssssssss."

"Snow on the Beach" - This is the song that features Lana Del Ray and the first time I heard it, I did not hear her at all. I was expecting her to have her own verse, but nope, she's just singing in the background. The next time I listened to it, I definitely heard her. She has a very distinct voice. Now I can probably only name three LDR songs, so I didn't really care that much she didn't have her own verse. This song is...not my favorite. I mean, it's okay. I think the "weird but f***ig beautiful" line is a bit jarring. Taylor cusses a lot on this album and this song probably gets the most cursing since it's in the chorus. It feels like she's trying to be cool and edgy. It kinda reminds me of how she kept talking about how she can drink alcohol in Reputation. I know she first started bringing out the swear words in Folklore and Evermore, but I feel like when she did that, it was more effective and impactful and it made sense for the cuss words to be there, but in this album (especially this song) it just feels forced, and, like I said, she's trying to be cool. LDR is listed as a writer on this song, so it's very likely she was the one who came up with the oh-so-thought provoking line, "weird but f***king beautiful." The edited version is actually better where they sing, "weird but it was beautiful". I think it flows better and it's not jarring and doesn't take you out of it. Somebody on reddit said they were disappointed that this song wasn't about cocaine. I know they were joking, but that had me laughing. 

"You're on Your Own, Kid" - The more I listen to it, the more I like it. 

"Midnight Rain" - Okay, if this song didn't have that weird distorted voice, I would like it a lot more. The weird distorted voice (which, apparently is Taylor's voice) just sounds sooo weird and takes me out of the song and it's the first thing you hear! At first, I thought maybe it was Jack Antonoff's voice because it sounds like a male voice. I knew it was clearly not someone's real voice because it's very obvious it's been filtered through a computer program. This weird distorted voice will show up in other songs, but it's the most prominent in this. It's like, Taylor, stay away from the electronic devices.

"Question...?" - I didn't like this song at first and I couldn't quite place my finger on why. It sounds like something that would be on Lover and (spoiler alert) I love that album. It could be that it's a bit on the juvenile side but so is"Bejeweled" and (spoiler alert) I like that song. I am coming around to it the more I listen to it. 

"Vigilante Sh*t" - This sounds like "Mad Woman" if it was on Reputation, if that makes any sense. While this song has a cool beat, "Mad Woman" runs circles around it. I feel like she was a little pretentious and trying to be edgy when she titled this song. She literally only says "vigilante sh*t" once in this song. She should have named it "Revenge" because she says that word about 300 times throughout the song! 

"Bejeweled" - I already mentioned I like this song. I love the way she says "Nice!"; it made me lol the first time I heard it. It has some kind of instrument (I'm terrible with trying to identify instruments) that evokes shimmering jewels. It's a fun, upbeat song with a catchy chorus. If I have to give a complaint, it would be "Familiarity breeds contempt, don't put me in the basement when I want the penthouse of your heart" is a little clunky (and a little hokey, let's be honest). Also, while looking at the lyrics, I heard 

And when I meet the band
They ask, "Do you have a man?"
I can still say, "I don't remember"


And when I meet the band
They ask, "Do you have a man?"
I can still say, "I don't", remember.

See, same words, but I heard the grammar differently! Like she's telling the guy, remember, I CAN tell the band I don't have a man. I think my way makes more sense. Who's going to forget if they're in a relationship? 

"Labyrinth" - This song is...okay. It has a very ethereal sound to it. I can't think of another song where her voice is high-pitched through the majority of it, but I'm probably missing an obvious one. There's also this weird sound that you hear every once in awhile. To me, it sounds like a horn fart...I really don't know how else to describe it. It's like this little "toot", if you will. Someone else on Reddit described it as a baby elephant which is also pretty accurate. It's just this weird, random noise and it distracts me from the song! Also, I wonder if Taylor really is scared of elevators, or, more likely, she was just using it as a metaphor. 

"Karma" - I love this song! OMG, when I was reading Reddit comments about this album, somebody posted Karma is a cat purring in my lap because it loves me! in font that size. I just laughed and of course I gave the comment an upvote! That is the most TS line if I ever heard one. Someone else on Reddit was complaining that she talks about her cats too much in her songs! WTF? She has only literally mentioned her cats in TWO songs (if there's others besides this one or "Gorgeous", let me know!) You know, when I think of karma, I think of it as having a negative connotation, but she sings it as a positive attribute (though not so positive for her foes!) I love the way she sings, "It's coming back.....around." I mean, I love the whole song, what's not to love? I think I just convinced myself this is my favorite song on the album. 

"Sweet Nothing" - This song is a sweet piano ballad, but if I'm being honest, it's usually a skip for me. 

"Mastermind" - So technically, if we're not including the 3 am songs aka the bonus songs, this is the closing song to the album. To me, this does not feel like a closing song for her album. Don't get me wrong, I do like this song, but it does not have the epic feeling or finality or sentimentality like a "Long Live" or "Clean" or "Daylight" or "New Year's Day" has. I also have a little quibble with this song: it totally contradicts "Invisible String"! That song is about how fate brought her and her boyfriend together; this song is about how she was the one who brought them together. Although I doubt a super-talented, extremely successful world-famous singer had to do that much to convince a not at all famous actor (I'm sorry, but he's not!) to fall for her. I do love how she manages to get the word "Machiavellian" in this song. Such a scholar, that Taylor Swift! 

There are quite a few bonus songs on this album. I always wonder why some albums don't have bonus songs (like Reputation) or some have a lot (like this one) of just one or a couple (like Folklore or Evermore). I really don't get how it works. 

My two favorite bonus songs are "Would've, Could've, Should've" and "Dear Reader". The former is a big sister to "Dear John" (and a much better song, IMO). It's a pretty powerful song. "Dear Reader", is the last song on the album (if you're listening to the 3 AM edition) and it feels more like a TS ending song, so I really like it. She uses the weird voice that she uses on "Midnight Rain" and "Labyrinth" (it's like, Taylor, put the vocorder (or whatever it's called) down!). However, and I know I'm being a total hypocrite here, but I really like how it's used in "Dear Reader!" I think it works! Maybe its because it's more in the background and the deep/distorted voice eventually becomes her voice while in the the other songs, she either starts the song with the weird voice or she's singing the chorus in so it's way more prevalent. IDK, I just don't mind it that much in "Dear Reader". 

Even though I'm impressed she rhymed "Paris" with "somewhere else", "Paris" and "Glitch" are my two least favorite bonus tracks. The line "All the outfits were terrible, 2003 unbearable" reminds me of something The Black Eyed Peas would sing. Probably because they sing that "I'm so 2008, you're so 2000 and late" line in one of their songs. "Glitch" just sounds weird. I get that's the point, but, eh, I'm not a fan.

5. Evermore (December 2020)

This is the sister album to Folklore, both released in 2020. I like Evermore, but I think Folklore is the superior album. I will say that I like "Willow", the first single from this album better than "Cardigan", the first single from Folklore (of course I still like "Cardigan"!) 

I do wonder if I would have liked this album better if it had come out before Folklore, but I don't know. 

I already mentioned I love "Willow", but if I had to choose my absolute favorite song on the album, it would be "Ivy." An amazing song I barely hear anyone mention or bring up when they're talking about their favorite TS songs from this album. This song seems to be as underrated as "Breathe"; another amazing TS song that never seems to be part of her discography greats conversation. 

I also love "Marjorie", which is about her grandmother (who passed away before Taylor was famous). I have to say, it's always a nice change of pace when she sings about something other than romantic love or heartbreak. According to the Wikipedia article (which was probably written by a Swiftie) the lyrics, "Never be so kind, you forget to be clever; never be so clever, you forget to be kind" was advice her grandmother gave to he and she incorporated it into the song. There's also "Never be so polite, you forget your power; Never weild such power, you forget to be polite." This woman had some very good, sound advice! This song is a very sweet tribute without being overly saccharine. It just feels very real to me. 

I love "Goodbye, Earl", so it probably comes as no surprise that "No Body, No Crime" is another one of my favorite songs on this album. It's about a woman who suspects her husband of cheating, then ends up missing and her friend (the singer) suspects the husband of killing her. I love the pov change where it goes from, "I think he did it, but I just can't prove it" to "They think she did it, but they just can't prove it" when the narrator tells us she killed the husband as revenge in the bridge and everyone suspects the mistress, then it goes to, "She thinks I did it, but she just can't prove it." This song is pretty much every true crime story where the wife of a husband ends up missing and 99.9% of the time the husband has a girlfriend he was cheating on the wife with. Then the wife is found dead and 99.9% o the time, it was the husband who killed her. When I first heard of this, my mind went immediately to Scott Peterson and the disappearance and murder of his wife. Crime Junkie did this "crime" as a podcast as an April Fool's joke and even Taylor commented about it on their Instagram. I mean, Crime Junkie is a super popular podcast, but I'm sure they were freaking out that Taylor Swift made a comment about that episode. 

I do like the other songs on the album (some more than others - the only songs I'm not exactly in love with are "Happiness" and "Closure". The former just hasn't grabbed me (yet) and the latter has a weird sound to it that isn't totally pleasing to my ears. Nonetheless, these songs aren't totally off-putting or anything). I feel like there's many tracks I'm going to appreciate a lot more in the future. 

4. reputation (2017)

It is an absolute miracle that this album is in fourth place and it beat out two of the three new albums she's released since 2019 (okay, in this scenario I'm not counting FearlessTV and RedTV as new albums, though technically they are, but I just mean albums with all brand new music). I say this because I did not like this album when it first released and it did take me awhile to warm up to it. I think this is because it came after an album that I absolutely LOVED and was obsessed with, so it was going to be hard to top it. (Okay, if you're reading this, you're probably a TS fan, so of course you know I'm talking about 1989!) This album definitely gets the reward for most improved! 

Now I admit I don't feel the love for Midnights as I do for many of her other albums, but I still like it, and I just think she has so many albums that are more superior to it and perhaps I just need to warm up to it. With reputation, I did not like it (except for a couple songs (I remember loving "Getaway Car", but who doesn't love that song?), but now look at it; it's number four! "Delicate" and "Call it What You Want" were songs I did not like (I know, what is wrong with me?) but now are they not only two of my favorite songs on this album, but they're two of my favorite TS songs. 

I was listening to a podcast where the three (maybe four; I don't remember) hosts were ranking her first tracks off of every album. When "...Ready For It?" was being discussed, one of the hosts mentioned they liked the line, "And he can be my jailer; Burton to this Taylor." Well, I just assumed they liked it because of the clever Ricard Burton/Elizabeth Taylor lyric, but no. They had no idea what that line meant, they just liked that she rhymed "jailer" with "Taylor." Oh, boy. Sometimes I forget how young her fans are. Luckily, there was someone else on the podcast who knew what Taylor meant!  

Songs I really love on this album include the aforementioned "Delicate", "Getaway Car, "Call It What You Want", "....Ready For It", plus  "Gorgeous", "This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things", "New Year's Day", "King of My Heart", oh, hell, all the songs are pretty good. I've even come around on "Look What You Made Me Do". It's still not my favorite TS song, but I do appreciate it more than I used to. 

Anyway, you can get more of my feelings on this album if you read my original ranking. 

3. Lover, 2019

I really love Lover; I was debating if I should put this at #3 or #2. Honestly, my third and second rankings could swap with each other; they're very close. 

-"I Forgot That You Existed"- Not the best song on the album, but a fun way to get it started and it's only going to get better from here. 
-"Cruel Summer" - One of her most catchy songs, right up there with "Blank Space" and "Getaway Car". How did this not become a single? It should have been the hit summer song of 2019! I love the part where she goes, "He looks up grinning like a devil!" 
-"The Man" - Super catchy. I like the end where they alter her voice to make it sound like she's waking up from a dream of pondering how her life would be different if she was a man. 
-"Lover" -  You can't help but sway when you're singing it. 
-"The Archer" - Very underrated track 5 song. Very underrated track in general. Seriously, I feel like a lot of people either don't like this song or are indifferent to it and I love it! I love the '80s dream pop vibe with the synthesizers and how it builds and builds.
-"I Think He Knows" -  I think I know this song is a banger and I love the drums after the bridge. This might be my favorite TS bridge just for those drums. 
-"Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince" -  Love the way she incorporates the "Go! Fight! Win" into the song as cheerleader chants.
- "Paper Rings" -  I mentioned this in my original ranking - it reminds me of something that would play during the prom scene in 10 Things I Hate About You.
- "Cornelia Street" - Amazing song. I was listening to this podcast where they were joking about the lyric, "I'd never walk Cornelia Street again" because it's a small street in New York and it's pretty easy to bypass if you need to. 
-"Death by a Thousand Cuts" - Another amazing song. I love the plucky instrument. In my original ranking, I said that "I ask the traffic lights it will be all right; They say, 'I don't know'" is my favorite line, which is still true, but I also love the bridge.
-"London Boy" - Taylor lists every famous thing about London! I love this song; it's so cute!
-"Soon You'll Get Better" - Kind of a downer in an album full of upbeat and happy (for the most part) songs, but still a beautiful song, nonetheless.
-"False God" - Such a cool vibe and that saxophone! This was the perfect song for her to sing on SNL when she was the musical guest during this time. 
-"Afterglow"- If I were to rank all the songs on this album, this might be in the lower half, but still a great song and a testament to how many amazing songs are on this album. 
-"You Need to Calm Down" and "Me!" are perfectly fine poppy and fine songs (I personally prefer YNTCD of the two) but I feel like she had much better songs to introduce as singles. 
-"It's Nice to Have a Friend" feels like filler. If I'm being an honest, this is one I usually skip (I also sometimes skip "Soon You'll Get Better" only because it's too sad to listen to.) 
-"Daylight" - Another amazing album ending song for her. I love the echo in her voice. 

Those were pretty short thoughts on each song, but I go into a little more detail on my original ranking. You know, if you need even more to read! 

2. 1989 (2014)

So this was my number one ranked Taylor Swift album since it came out in 2014. As you see, it is been demoted to number 2. (You can probably figure out what my #1 TS album is now!) Of course, this album is amazing and I feel like this is when I became a true TS fan. I had listened to her previous albums and I liked many of her songs, but I feel like this was the first time I truly loved an album of hers, if that makes any sense. That probably explains why her first four albums are ranked in the four last spots. I listened to this album every day for a year. It had so many great singles and so many great songs that could have been singles. Like, every single song on this album could have been released as a single Even the weakest song on this album, "Bad Blood" is still pretty damn catchy. Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone has ranked every TS song (literally an impossible job!) and he updates it every time she releases new content. He ranks everything - even her bonus songs, songs she does for movies, and holiday songs. "Bad Blood" is ranked dead last at #229. It's like, 'cmon. That is not her worst song. Not by a long shot. It's not even her pettiest song (I would give that to "Better Than Revenge"). It's fine to rank "Bad Blood" last if you're ranking her 1989 tracks, but out of all her songs? I mean, I know it's totally subjective, but a song from one of her best albums (and one that won a Grammy for Album of the Year!) should not be ranked DEAD last! 

I still hear her say "Got a lot of Starbuck lovers" when I listen to "Blank Space." I know now that isn't the lyric, but for the longest tine I DID think that was the lyric and while I thought it was a bit odd, I just accepted it. Then one day I looked it up and saw she was actually saying, "Got a long list of ex-lovers". 

"Clean" is not only my favorite TS album ending song, but in my top five....maybe, IDK! It's so hard to choose. 

It still cracks me up that "All You Had To Do Was Stay" (STAY!) is a track five because it is so poppy (and I freaking love it). There is absolutely no way she was aware that her tracks fives, up to the point, were ballads with more vulnerable lyrics. Obviously she figured that out after this album and before reputation

Again, if you want to read more about my thoughts on this album, go check out my original rankings.

1. folklore (July 2020)

This is the "indie record that's much cooler than mine", hee!

In a way, I'm kinda glad that another album topped 1989 as my favorite TS album. I think this shows that she can top an amazing album and that's good for everybody. In a weird way, if Covid hadn't happened, this album probably wouldn't have existed (neither would Evermore). She most likely would have gone from Lover to Midnights. So, uh, thanks - oh, never mind, I won't go there! 

I love every song on this album. There's only one I'm not so fond of (but we'll get to that later). Some songs I love more than others, but they're all so good.

This album gets most compared to Evermore which makes sense since they were both surprise albums released in 2020, the only bright spot in a year of darkness! Obviously, I like this album more than Evermore even though I still enjoy that one. In my Evermore review, I pondered if that album had come out before Folklore if I would have liked it better, but I don't know. I don't think so. If I were to do a track battle between the two albums, Folklore would beat Evermore in every one...except maybe Track 1 and Track 10. Even though I love "The 1" and think it's a great way to begin Folklore, I like "Willow" just a tad more...but just a tad! Also, "Ivy" is my favorite track from Evermore, but even so, if it was pitted against pretty much any other song other than "Illicit Affairs", that would be a tough choice! I like "Illicit Affairs", but it would probably be ranked in the latter half of my favorite songs from Folklore.

Obviously one of the big thing about this album is the trio of songs that make up a story. The first time I listened to this album, I honestly didn't even notice it. I think it was when I was on Reddit and several people mentioned it, so of course the next time I listened to the album, I paid extra attention to "Cardigan, August, and Betty." Oh, look, she rhymes "car again" with "cardigan" in "Betty". And who could forget when we connected "Remember when I pulled up and said, 'Get in the car'" from "August" to "Just thinking of you when she pulled up like a figment of my worst intentions. She said, 'James, get in, let's drive'" from "Betty".  I feel like if most artists were going to have a little teen drama mini series in their album, the trio of songs would be in chronological order and they would be in consecutive order. But not Miss Swift! The chronological order of the songs are "August", "Betty", and "Cardigan", but she has "Cardigan" as track 2, "August" as track 8, and "Betty" as track 14. Clearly she made "August" the 8th track for the same reason she made "Seven" the 7th track and "The 1" the first track, then she spaced out the other songs in the trilogy so there were five tracks between them. There is one thing I'm confused about. So in this teen love triangle, we know the players are Betty, James, and the girl James cheats on Betty with in "August." When this album first came out, I know a lot of people speculated the other girl was Inez who is mentioned in "Betty": "You heard the rumors from Inez, you can't believe a word she says." I agreed with the people who said that Inez was just the school gossip and not the other girl. Then, recently, I was listening to a podcast where they were discussing this trio of songs and someone mentioned the name of the girl was August and I was thinking, Wait a minute, I thought August was referring to the month, not a person. Also, the song is sung in her POV so why would she be referring to herself in the third person? I'm pretty sure we never actually learn the name of that girl.

Apparently, Taylor had always wanted to use the line "Meet me behind the mall" in a song which, of course, is used in "August." This gave me a slight chuckle because the line is nothing more than an instruction and she has much better lines in this album like "Tried to change the ending/ Peter losing Wendy" from "Cardigan" or, my personal favorite, "I was so ahead of the curve, the curve became a sphere" from "This is Me Trying."

Speaking of which, if I had to rank my top three songs from this album, they would probably be "This is Me Trying", "Invisible String", and 'The Last Great American Dynasty" (but not necessarily in that order!) I love the lyrics and sound of "This is Me Trying" and the way her voice has this dreamy/hazy aspect to it. "Invisible String" is a cute song about how fate, or an "invisible string" brought her and her boyfriend together. (Which is why "Mastermind" is such a contradictory song). I love the plucky guitar sounds, it's just such a happy-sounding song. So I have to laugh because somebody on Reddit (yes, I am a bit obsessed with Reddit, why do you ask?) was bemoaning about how some of her lyrics sound awkward on Midnights because she has them arranged in a way to get words to rhyme. I don't even remember the examples they gave because I honestly didn't think they were that bad. But man, that person must have hated "Invisible String" because she has the lyrics arranged in a certain way that certainly isn't how one would speak, but I personally love it:

"Green was the color of the grass...."
"Teal was the color of your shirt...."
"Bold was the waitress...."

I'm sure there's a term for whatever structure this is. Obviously, this is not how most people would talk, but I think it works quite well for the song and I like it. The only line that is a bit awkward is "Bad was the blood of the song in the cab on your first trip to LA".  Yes, it's fun she's referencing her own song, but I don't understand why she's referring to it in this way (actually, I do understand - she wants to keep the song structure). Also, I wonder if "Bold was the waitress on our three year trip getting lunch down by the lakes. She said I looked like an American singer" is a true story? I wonder if "an American singer" was replaced by "Taylor Swift"? I'm sure if this English waitress knew she was waiting on "an American singer", she probably realized it was Taylor Swift....I mean, c'mon. I feel like you would recognize Taylor Swift if you saw her - she is very tall! I totally bet you the waitress told her, "Hey, you look like Taylor Swift", rather than, "Hey, you look like an America singer." That just seems too vague. Honestly, I bet the waitress just asked her if she was Taylor Swift. Wow, I certainly got off on a tangent, didn't? Is there a Reddit AMA out there with someone claiming to be the waitress who's mentioned in the song? Probably not because how would you prove that? 

I absolutely love "The Last Great American Dynasty" and dare I say it's the most underrated song on this album? I got goosebumps when I first heard it. The first time you listen to this song you're just hearing about these crazy antics this rich woman named Rebekah (not Rebecca like I originally thought) does (like dye a little dog "key lime green" - heh, so apparently it was actually a cat this happened to. Leave it to Taylor, the friend of felines to change it to a dog!) Then the bridge comes:

"Fifty years is a long time
Holiday House sat quietly on that beach
Free of women with madness, their men and bad habits..."

And then you get the money line....

"And then it was bought by me."

Total goosebumps every time I hear that line! It's like a little twist the first time you hear it. It's that line when you realize she's talking about the mansion she owns in Rhode Island. Now I suppose there are little clues like "Rebekah gave up on the Rhode Island set" and "They picked out a home and called it 'Holiday House'". Now, I didn't know the house had a name, but it makes sense. I did know she had a seaside mansion in Rhode Island where she throws (threw? I don't know if she still does) 4th of July parties. If you go on Google maps and type in Watch Hill, RI, (it's located in southwest portion of the state) there is actually a little icon for "Holiday House" you can click on and not only does it give you the address (I'm sure Taylor loves that! Though I do wonder how often she stays there and when she does, you know that place is secured up to the wazoo!), but you can also read reviews of the place...please, like anyone is allowed to visit! It is super funny because all the reviews are just the lyrics to "The Last Great American Dynasty." 

I do love the pronoun change where, in the first verse, when she's talking about Rebekah, she sings, "There goes the maddest woman this town has ever seen, she had a marvelous time ruining everything", then, in the last verse she sings, "There goes the maddest woman this town has ever seen, I had a marvelous time ruining everything." Nice contrast comparing herself to the previous owner. 

Remember when she sang "Soon You'll Get Better" for that special where a bunch of artists performed something from their home when Covid was going on and everybody was in lockdown? This would have been before this album was released, but can you imagine if she had preformed "Epiphany"? Oh, man, the entire world would be drowning because everybody would be in tears! I have to admit this song was not on my radar the first few listens because it's more of a slow, serious song, but now I love it. While "Soon You'll Get Better" is an emotional song and makes sense why she would choose to perform that one (I mean she can't very well perform "Look What You Made Me Do"!), "Epiphany" was literally written because of Covid. Super emotional song that the whole world can relate to. 

So this is the first album where Taylor gets a bit of a potty mouth and starts cursing. However, unlike Midnights, I feel like the cursing is done in a way that fits the song (or the character who's narrating the song, such as in "Betty" with the line, "Would you tell me to go f*** myself?"). I think one of her best examples of cursing is in "Mad Woman", when she says, "Or does she mouth, 'F*** you forever'." It's very understated, but it's so much more effective than any of the curse words she uses in Midnights

Okay, so I mentioned there's only one song on this album that I don't care for and that is "Hoax". It's not her worst song, but on an album of amazing songs, this one falls a little short for me. It's too bad since that is the album ending and usually her last tracks are pretty strong. Maybe I just haven't learned to appreciate it yet. 

Thanks for taking the time to read all that! If you want the TL;DR version, my rankings are:

10. Speak Now
9. Debut
8. Fearless
7. Red
6. Midnights
5. Evermore
4. reputation
3. Lover
2. 1989
1. folklore

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