A picture of Taylor Swift in a white low cut v-neck dress with gems adorning it. Her left hand is positioned on her hip and her right hand holds a sparkly white microphone to her mouth as she sings.
Image used under CC BY-SA 2.0; Credit: GabboT on Flickr

Global sensation Taylor Swift is set to perform shows throughout the United States next year for The Eras Tour. Since tickets have gone on sale, fans and critics have been debating which albums have been the most impactful.

Taking matters into my own hands, I have decided to discuss my personal ranking of the eras. Out of respect for Swift, “Fearless” and “Red” will be judged on their re-recording cycles.

For more staff opinions on Taylor Swift, take a look at the “42Swifties” podcast.

10. Fearless (Taylor’s Version) (2021)

After assuring fans that she was re-recording the records that she lost the masters to, Swift started off with the release of “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)”. The album is full of memorable country hits like “You Belong With Me” and “Love Story”, but Swift surprised fans by adding some unreleased songs from her music vault. The vault tracks, specifically “Mr. Perfectly Fine” and “We Were Happy” were nothing short of exciting to hear. Although it was refreshing to hear a more mature version of Swift’s signature country album, the roll out was her most underwhelming to date. Knowing that this record previously won Album of the Year at the 2010 Grammy Award Ceremony, you would expect bold promotion and visuals for the re-release. Sadly, the only new visual that we saw was the album cover. With the album not being her strongest, plus a lack of an exciting roll out, the era was not Swift’s best.

9. Taylor Swift (Debut) (2006)

Making her big break with her self-titled debut, “Taylor Swift” is a collection of songs that prepared audiences for the powerhouse that was in the making. With the release of unforgettable hits like “Teardrops On My Guitar” and “Our Song”, Swift gave the world a taste of her detailed songwriting and twangy vocals. The album is a very innocent take on high school romances and heartbreak. Songs like “Cold As You” and “I’m Only Me When I’m With You” show Swift at her best, creating songs with interesting storytelling that consistently build. The music videos for this era were budget-friendly, but still managed to gain a lot of attention from the public. As a whole, the era is nowhere near her best, but the album was essential for her to become the star that she is today.

8. reputation (2017)

Years after her feud with Kanye West, Swift returned to the scene with her most divisive album to date. Taking elements from trap music and electropop, “reputation” instantly grabbed the attention of listeners. Certain parts of the album have gone on to age well, while others have done the opposite. Songs like “Getaway Car” and “Call It What You Want” are peaks on the album, having distinct production and well-crafted songwriting. Moments on the album like “End Game” and “King of My Heart” have a lot of potential, but the final product ends up falling flat. Although the album was not as tasteful as previous releases, she managed to create a consistent aesthetic for this era. With dark color schemes and slithering snakes, Swift poked fun at the villain that the public painted her out to be. In the end, Swift won over the attention of the general public once again.

7. Midnights (2022)

Breaking records left and right, “Midnights” has shown that Taylor Swift is not going anywhere anytime soon. The critically acclaimed album goes in many different directions, covering topics like intimacy and nostalgia. “You’re On Your Own, Kid” is a personal favorite, which stands out for its melancholic feel and gut-wrenching lyrics about moving forward. Swift also decided to let loose with this album, using playful writing and instrumentation on tracks like “Karma”. Although the album has its very catchy peaks on songs like “Anti-Hero” and “Bejeweled”, certain parts of the album lack the substance that the rest of the record has. Specifically, tracks like “Vigilante S—” and “Question…?” are deep cuts that fall flat both lyrically and instrumentally. Despite questionable lows, this era has given audiences visuals filled with theatrics and hints at future releases. Mixing high-budget set designs with graceful outfits, Swift proved herself as capable of making her music an auditory and visual experience.

6. Lover (2019)

Swift completely changed the direction of her sound once again with the release of “Lover”. While listening to the carefree record, you hear Swift diving deep into the concept of affection.  The Grammy nominated album spawned charming hits “Paper Rings” and “Lover”. The record also approaches the idea of healing with personal favorites like “Daylight” and “Soon You’ll Get Better”. There are certain points in the record where the lyrics plateau, but the album is overall solid. In addition, the music videos for this era were top tier. The video for the title track, “Lover”, is a personal favorite from Swift’s entire discography. The color schemes and the aesthetics of each scene in the music video are mesmerizing, but still remain simple. Due to the spread of COVID-19, Swift had to cancel her tour for the safety of herself and her fans. Although the era was cut short, its legacy is remembered as an album for healing.

5. Speak Now (2010)

With thousands of misogynistic comments being thrown in her direction, Swift decided to write an entire album all by herself. The singer gained the respect of the public and critics, by proving headlines and publications wrong about who writes her songs. The visuals for this era were nothing notable, but the album itself was a huge turning point for Swift. The album gained a new level of commercial success, selling over 1 million copies in its first week. The album’s tracklist is nothing short of dynamic. Songs like “The Story of Us” and “Haunted” continuously build, and are overflowing with energy. The album switches moods entirely with songs like “Last Kiss” and “Dear John”, being slow songs that make the listener want to scream the lyrics into their pillowcase.

4. evermore (2020)

Following the success of her previous 2020 release, Taylor released her record “evermore” as the “sister album” to “folklore”. Like her last project, the album was met with general praise from fans and critics. The visuals for this era were simple, yet mesmerizing. In the music video for “willow”, small details and well-edited visuals helped the audience to get a glance of what this roll out was going to bring. The record has a cozy feel to it that has aged well, which makes it more addicting to go back and listen to. Songs like “dorothea” and “right where you left me” standout on the album, by focusing on the concept of memories and longing. On tracks like “no body, no crime”, Swift played around with the idea of perspectives. This, as well as detailed imagery, made her songwriting have the ability to tell stories. The record is nothing short of a great listen, but it still feels a bit too similar to her “sister album” at certain points.

3. Red (Taylor’s Version) (2021)

After months of speculation, Swift posted a video of the vault tracks for “Red (Taylor’s Version)” on her Instagram. Later in 2021, the release of the album broke the internet. From having the Empire State Building light up their building in red lights to live forecasters sneaking song titles into their weather reports, the album took the world by storm. Hearing a mature version of songs personal favorites like “Holy Ground” and “State of Grace” made the listen both refreshing and familiar. The release of “All Too Well: The Short Film” enhanced the era even more, giving a fan favorite song a visual experience to follow it. The re-release gained Swift notable accolades, including her most critically acclaimed album to date. From the vault tracks to the visuals, Swift managed to make an old era feel brand new again.

2. folklore (2020)

During the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, “folklore” was released as a surprise album for fans struggling at that point in time. With a minimalist sound, and fitting visuals that accompanied the record, Swift managed to win over the likes of the general public and critics. The pop star’s songwriting on this record is undeniably her best to date, showcasing her ability to create storylines and unique imagery at the same time. Fan favorites like “the last great american dynasty” and “invisible string” are standouts on the record, displaying her detailed and clever way of songwriting. Emotional deep cuts like “my tears ricochet” and “hoax” show how diverse her songwriting can be by creating a darker side to the record. The album has no skips, from beginning to end, and is personally my favorite album by Swift. The simplistic, yet effective, roll out of this album broadened Swift’s discography, as well as her fanbase.

1. 1989 (2014)

Full of memorable songs that sparked conversations everywhere, “1989” is arguably Swift’s most risky album. Ditching her signature country sound entirely, the singer decided to redirect her sound by creating a synth-pop record. The themes displayed throughout the album are the perfect mix of playful and emotional. Tracks like “Blank Space” and “Clean” stood out for her songwriting, showing that her penmanship was nothing short of well-thought out. The album was rightfully applauded by both fans and critics, notably earning her the Album of the Year award at the 2016 Grammy Awards Ceremony. The music was one of the many elements that made this era as memorable as it was. From the album cover to music videos, Swift used elements from previous decades to create timeless visuals. The singer gained widespread praise from these visuals, including the Video of the Year award for “Bad Blood” at the 2015 MTV VMA’s. From start to finish, the era was what solidified Taylor Swift as a household name.

Being in the spotlight for almost two decades, Taylor Swift has proven herself as a staple in modern music. Whether Swift drops an album with a release date or not, her notable career has audiences intrigued about what she will do for her next era.

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Hi, my name is Payton Barry. I am a senior at OHS, and this is my first year being a part of the staff at 42Fifty. I am involved in some of our school's extracurricular activities, which include Commotion and Theater. I adore music, pop culture, and I am beyond excited to be an Arts & Entertainment editor!


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