Taylor Swift is often referred to as one of the music legends of this generation. For girls everywhere, she is the voice they listened to first on CDs, then iPods and eventually everywhere else.
Swift’s music is relatable. She discusses heartbreak, losing friends, growing up, and so much more in songs that you just can’t keep from belting along with. While the messages of these songs have pretty much stayed consistent, any original “Swiftie” would know that her first album sounds and feels very different from the music she has released over the past few years.
Taylor’s debut album, “Taylor Swift,” was released in 2006. At this time, Swift was only 16 years old, and wrote most of the songs during her freshman year of high school. It is a collection of mainly country music with a few songs that identify more with pop.
Lyrically, the topics are romance, friendship and her personal issues throughout her teenage years. Hits from this set include “Teardrops on My Guitar,” “Tim McGraw” and “Our Song.” This album launched her career in country music, receiving praise from critics and listeners alike.
I was in first grade when I first fell in love with this album. My mom and I, being big country fans, bought the CD and would listen to it on the drive to and from school every day. I still know what songs come next and listen to the CD often.
Two years later, Swift came out with “Fearless.” This album was a crossover of country and pop, making it very radio-friendly.
Swift mainly discussed romantic relationships in the songs, eight of which she wrote by herself. The popular tracks “Love Story,” “White Horse,” “Fearless,” “Fifteen,” and “You Belong With Me” topped the charts and this album was very transitional since it really launched her career as a pop star.
I am embarrassed to admit that there is still video footage of my childhood best friend and I doing our own rendition of “Love Story.”
Spoiler alert: I was Romeo, not Taylor.
Her next album, “Speak Now” (released in 2010), brought more of a rock side to her pop-country sound. This album was written entirely by Swift and aimed to address the topic of confession, while still incorporating romance and such. Some of the hit songs include: “Speak Now,” “The Story of Us,” “Mean,” and “Dear John.”
In fifth grade, I went to this concert with neon feathers in my hair and I remember getting my makeup done at a booth in the lobby feeling so grown up.
As Taylor and I both got older, she switched from being a country star to a pop star. I loved her old music, but wasn’t really a fan of her newer songs. Due to this, I wasn’t her biggest fan for a few years.
When her fourth studio album “Red” came out, I was bummed to see that it had the same combination of rock, pop and country. I knew actually a decent amount of songs from the radio, but never really listened to them on my own. While not one of my favorites, “Red” did great on the charts. Some of the popular songs were “We Are Never Getting Back Together,” “22” and “I Knew You Were Trouble.”
Two years later, “1989” — Swift’s fifth album — was released. “Shake it Off,” “Bad Blood” and “Blank Space” are all crowd favorites from this album.
There is a definitive shift in Swift’s message and perspectives on love and loss in these albums. The content feels more mature. Swift is no longer timid and sweet. She is confident and shows her anger.
Her sixth album, “Reputation,” was released in 2017. This album was very different from anything she had created before. Described by many as dark and heavy, it is known as Swift’s “comeback” album following “1989” and it really critiques, and somewhat bashes, fame. Swift is very honest with her listeners about her experience in the spotlight.
Then, “Lover” was released in 2019 and is the exact opposite of its predecessor. This album is, as explained by Swift, “a love story about love itself.”
Songs like “Me!” and “Lover” are lighthearted and playful. “The Man” sends a message about the lack of gender equality in today’s world. Swift really shows a new side of herself and she seems no longer constrained by what her fans, managers or critics think of her or wish for her.
In late July, when Swift was supposed to be on tour for “Lover,” she released a surprise album titled “Folklore.” The album was written entirely during quarantine for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through the acoustic sounds and raw lyrics, Swift reaches her audience in a more real and honest way than any before. Top songs include “August,” “Cardigan” and “Exile,” which features artist Bon Iver.
As someone who had stopped listening to her music — aside from what I would hear on the radio — in around 2012, this album made me into the biggest fan once again. To me, “Folklore” feels cathartic and nostalgic. It makes me think of my closest friends back home as well as some that I have drifted apart from. It is a 2020 must-listen.
Much like Swift and her music style, I have definitely grown and changed a lot in the past ten years.
While I wasn’t always a big fan of Swifts, I now listen to her music and am reminded of the best and worst of times, especially those in middle and high school. It feels comforting to listen to songs that describe some of the things I was feeling, but at the time couldn’t fully comprehend or express.
Years ago, her first few albums were just songs that I liked to sing along to. Now that I am older and have experienced love, loss, heartbreak, and other classic experiences synonymous with growing up, they are more personal.
Swift’s music has definitely taken a new form in my mind and role in my life. I listen to her songs often, and will probably always consider myself a fan.
To listen to some well-known Taylor Swift songs, or to check out some albums you may have missed, click here.