Taylor Swift, Always in ‘Style’

As Taylor Swift vies for six awards at next Sunday’s Grammy Awards, the Wildcat ranks the artist’s albums, from 2006’s debut ‘Taylor Swift,’ to 2020’s ‘folklore.’


Makayla Huerta

At next Sunday’s Grammy Awards, Taylor Swift will vie for six trophies, including Best Album and Best Song for 2020’s ‘folklore.’

Since her debut album Taylor Swift in 2008, the superstar singer-songwriter has been nominated for an eye-popping 41 Grammy Awards, but it’s been five years since she last took home a gold gramophone trophy, when 1989 earned Swift awards for Best Album, Best Pop Vocal Album, and Best Video (for “Bad Blood”).

But Swift is poised to be awarded again at next Sunday’s Grammy Awards with a total of six nominations for her eighth studio album folklore: Best Album, Best Song (“cardigan”), Pop Vocal Album, Pop Duo/Group Performance (“exile”), Pop Solo Performance, and Song Written for Visual Media (‘Beautiful Ghosts” from Cats).

With folklore, followed closely by its sister album evermore, Swift has a total of nine studio albums which span a variety of genres, from country to pop to indie-folk, and often include scenes from her own life during her 13-year singing career. 

Swift’s genre versatility and relatable and poetic lyricism earned her an Artist of the Decade award at the 2019 American Music Awards, and it’s easy to imagine that in 2029, the 31-year old will again be recognized.

Wildcat Lifestyle and A&E co-editor Katie Kudron ranks and discusses Swift’s impressive 13-year discography.

  1. REPUTATION  (Nov. 10, 2017) 

After Swift’s biggest scandal — a phone call with Kanye West that erupted into a he said/she said public debate about a lyric in West’s song “Famous”  — she disappeared from the music scene and wasn’t seen for a year. With comments of snake emojis flooding her social media because of her perceived dishonesty, her comeback album reputation had an obvious snake motif. She cryptically deleted all posts off of her social media and flooded her Instagram page with snake imagery to announce reputation.  

Similar to 1989, in the lead single “Look What You Made Me Do” music video, she poked fun at how she’d been seen through the public’s eyes. reputation had many successes — it was the best selling album by a female artist in 2017, and the album’s world tour became the highest grossing North American tour ever. 

reputation ranks first out of Swift’s nine albums because of how iconic her comeback was. This album was completely unsuspected and the music she created in this completely private period explores themes of revenge and karma (in “Look What You Made Me Do”) but also themes of love and relationships (in songs like “Gorgeous” and “Dress”). Many favorite Taylor Swift songs are from this album including “New Years Day,” “King of my Heart,” and “Dancing With Our Hands Tied.”

If only one Taylor Swift album can be recommended, reputation is it. There is definitely a song for everyone, another reason reputation earns first place. 

  1. FOLKLORE  (July 24, 2020) 

Swift’s eighth studio album folklore was a complete surprise to fans. During the first few months of quarantine, Swift was inspired to create this indie-folk album. (You could say that Taylor Swift created the “indie record that’s much cooler than mine.”) Much different from her past albums, folklore is a melancholy and slow-paced album. 

folklore sold over two million copies in the first week, spent eight weeks at number one, and is next weekend will vie for six Grammys. 

Throughout folklore Swift uses her beautiful lyricism to story-tell from multiple perspectives. In the songs “betty,” “august,” “cardigan,” and “illicit affairs,” she tells the story of a love triangle between three teenagers. “betty” is through the eyes of James who had an affair with an unnamed girl, dubbed “August” or “Augustine.” “august,” and arguably “illicit affairs,” are told through the eyes of the unnamed girl. “cardigan” is through the eyes of Betty as she has since grown up and is now reflecting on the situation. All four songs include ties to the others and are so well- thought out and beautifully written. 

This is by far one of Swift’s best crafted albums which is why it ranks second out of her nine albums. It is wonderfully written, with songs like “exile,” a collaboration with Bon Iver, which is reminiscent of her Red track “The Last Time.”  

  1. LOVER  (Aug. 23, 2019) 

Just like reputation, Swift’s seventh studio album Lover was a dramatic change for the singer-songwriter. For this album announcement, instead of posting snakes, Swift started posting images consisting of pink, glitter, butterflies, and cats to announce her leading single “ME!” (featuring Brendan Urie). Swift, who is known for dropping easter eggs before albums, even had a butterfly mural created in Nashville, Tennessee with “ME!” written on it one day before the single was released. Swift wanted this song and music video to be fun and filled with things she loves, which stays consistent throughout the album. 

The lighthearted album has many songs about her boyfriend Joe Alwyn and one about her mother. Swift, who had broken her silence and started speaking on politics, as seen in her Miss Americana documentary on Netflix, used another single, “You Need To Calm Down” to promote a petition she created to urge the Senate to support the Equality Act, an issue that Swift cares deeply about. 

Lover was certified double platinum and all of its 18 tracks charted on the Hot 100, breaking the all-time record for most simultaneous entries. 

Lover is such a happy, fun album which is why it ranks third place. “I Think He Knows,” “Cruel Summer,” and “Paper Rings” are personal favorites off of this upbeat album. The romantic, fun lyricism in these songs are a complete turn around from her previous album which shows how versatile Swift’s writing is. 

  1. SPEAK NOW  (Oct. 25, 2010) 

Speak Now was an extremely risky move for Swift. Not only was the pressure to create an album that could top the success of Fearless, but 21-year old Swift decided to write the whole album independently because of speculation that she was not involved in the writing process of her hit songs. Swift originally wanted to name the album Enchanted, but because her team feared it sounded too childish, it was instead named Speak Now. This love-and heartbreak-themed third studio album by Swift was a success, and critics praised Swift’s songwriting abilities.  

Speak Now spent six weeks at number one, made Rolling Stone’s 2012 list of “50 Best Female Albums of All Time,” and won two Grammy awards out of her three total nominations. 

Favorites from Speak Now include “Dear John” and “Last Kiss,” which capture Swift’s genius lyricism. This album places fourth out of nine albums because this is by far her best country album and there is not one bad song on the entire album. 

  1. EVERMORE  (Dec. 11, 2020) 

evermore, Swift’s surprise ninth studio album was released only five months after folklore. Taylor Swift announced it with a note that explained that they could not stop writing and that she was releasing it as a sister album to folklore. Like its sister album, evermore includes stories of a broken engagement, infidelity, a thrilling song on murder, and a touching song about her grandmother. It seems that maybe Swift has found her style, as folklore and evermore are her only two albums who have such a similar sound. 

It made Swift the first woman to have eight consecutive number one debuts on the Billboard 200 chart in U.S. history, along with breaking several other world records. 

One of the reasons this album was so well received was due to it’s variety of slow and upbeat songs. Songs like “gold rush” and “no body, no crime” balance out the sad, slow songs like “happiness.” 

All-time favorite Taylor Swift song, “champagne problems” is included on this album along with other album favorite songs such as “tolerate it,” “evermore,” and “cowboy like me.” This album ranks fifth because of the thought provoking lyricism and emotion.

  1. 1989  (Oct. 27, 2014) 

1989 was Swift’s official introduction into the world of pop. Swift’s fifth studio album spent eleven weeks on Billboard 200’s list and sold over 10 million copies worldwide. Swift also became the first female solo artist to win Album of the Year twice when 1989 won Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album at the 2016 Grammy Awards. 

1989 is inspired by 1980’s synth-pop which is very different from her past success as a country artist. A part in this shift is Jack Antonoff as his use of synth helped reinvent pop after 1989 with this ’80s-inspired tone.

Swift also alludes to the media’s perception of her many times throughout the album. In “Shake It Off” she’s “shaking” off the mean comments and hate she gets for her dating life, songwriting, etc. In a satire piece, “Blank Space,” she depicts herself as the crazy, serial dater the media often portrays her as. 

1989 is one of a kind, but one of the albums has to be ranked sixth place. Favorites include “I Know Places,” “I Wish You Would,” and the bonus track “New Romantics.” Its fun, upbeat sound is best reflected in “Style” and “Welcome To New York.”

Another reason this album is spectacular is because she was able to switch genres completely and still have an incredibly successful album with seven hit singles. 

  1. RED  (Oct. 22, 2012) 

Swift’s fourth studio album Red, her last official country album, generated The Red Tour, the most successful country tour ever, bringing in $150 million. The album spent seven weeks on the US Billboard 200 and made Swift the first female artist to have three consecutive albums spend at least six weeks at number one.

This last country album arguably served as a transition to pop, as the album features both a country and pop sound, which is unique and makes this album stand out in a way the others don’t. 

Lately, teens and Taylor Swift fans have rekindled their love for this album’s track five, “All Too Well,” because of its authenticity and emotion. So naturally “All Too Well,” along with “Stay Stay Stay” and bonus track, “The Moment I Knew,” are favorite Red songs. However, Red ranks lower, coming in at seventh out of nine albums, because other Swift albums get more play on my Spotify account. 

  1. FEARLESS  (Nov. 11, 2008) 

Just like Swift’s debut album, her second studio album, Fearless, is filled with nostalgic songs and was extremely successful, winning Album of the Year at the Grammys, the Country Music Association Awards, and the Academy of Country Music Awards. Powered by hits such as “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me,” Fearless was the best-selling album of 2009 and Swift, only 19 at the time, became the youngest artist to have a best-selling album. Favorite Fearless songs are the upbeat “The Way I Loved You,” and “Fearless,” and the break-up song “Forever and Always.” 

Despite the mammoth success of Fearless, it’s ranked eighth because Swift’s talent has grown exponentially with the albums that follow. Just like her debut album, Fearless feels young, but Swift’s maturity is once again on display in lyrics like “say you’re sorry, that face of an angel, comes out just when you need it to,” from the single “White Horse.” 

  1. TAYLOR SWIFT  (Oct. 24, 2006)  

Swifts self-titled first album is filled with nostalgia-triggering songs most of us can remember hearing on the radio as far back as 15 years ago. With hit songs such as “Teardrops on my Guitar,” which was the album’s best-performing song, Taylor Swift spent 48 weeks on the Hot 100 chart. Swift became the youngest person to write and perform a number one song on the Hot Country Songs Chart with “Our Song,” along with the charting “Picture to Burn.” This album even gave young Swift a nomination for best new artist at the 2008 Grammy Awards. Favorite songs from this album are “Tim Mcgraw,” “Stay Beautiful,” and Swift’s first top-20 hit “Teardrops on my Guitar.” 

Out of her nine studio albums, this album is Swift’s least polished and doesn’t quite measure up to future masterpieces. However, the album is still great because it explores her own experiences in high school and relationships. Because she wrote this album during her freshman year of high school (with co-writer Liz Rose), and was only 16 when it was released, it’s especially relatable to high school students.  

The 63rd Annual Grammy Awards streams on CBS on March 14 at 5 p.m.