The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday August 13th

Viewpoints: Our favorite Taylor Swift albums

Because Taylor Swift is our pandemic savior.

Taylor Swift performs at MetLife Stadium during her Reputation Stadium Tour in 2018. Photo courtesy of Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media
Buy Photos Taylor Swift performs at MetLife Stadium during her Reputation Stadium Tour in 2018. Photo courtesy of Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media

Taylor Swift released “Love Story (Taylor’s Version)” last Friday as part of her re-recording of “Fearless,” which could come out in April. This is her third major music release announcement since the pandemic began. 

To show our gratitude, the Editorial Board — joined by fellow members of The Daily Tar Heel staff — reflects on our favorite Taylor Swift albums. 

Anna Pogarcic, editor-in-chief: “Lover”

Confession: I am a newborn Taylor Swift fan. I recently rediscovered her after not listening to her since middle school because a certain managing editor of the DTH played her music nonstop during the fall semester. 

As I have cycled through her music to make up for lost time, I keep coming back to “Lover.” This may be controversial, but it has some of the most beautiful love songs I've ever heard. Within the same album, I can scream “Cruel Summer” at the top of my lungs while speeding down the highway, and in the next second, I can wistfully stare out the window appreciating what I have while listening to “Daylight.” 

Overall, the album makes love feel so real — you’re vulnerable, you give it your all. Sure, it’s not an entirely cohesive album, and some of the songs leave quite a bit to be desired musically. But to me, it feels like her most honest album: she was opening herself back up after closing herself off in “reputation.” 

Also: releasing “ME!” after the “reputation” era was one of the biggest flexes of all time. Y’all can come for me if you want, but I won’t apologize for being happy!

Favorite song: "Death by a Thousand Cuts"

Ben Rappaport, Editorial Board member: “folklore”

I know, I have an extreme case of recency bias, but Taylor’s leap into the indie-folk genre spoke to my soul. When it dropped back in July, "folklore" was the boost I needed to get me over my first pandemic wall. And now, as I have hit my second wall, it is there to pull me up again. 

I have vivid memories of walking through my neighborhood hiking trail with my dog, playing "folklore" on repeat. That feeling of wanderlust and exploration soothed me in a time when it felt like it was hard to escape the humdrum of the everyday. 

I listen to the high school love drama of Betty, Ines and James when I want to project my frustrations into a nonsensical tale. I learn of the oil tycoon in “the last great american dynasty” when I need a dramatic adventure. When I needed to be brought back down and reminded of my worth in a time of isolation, “this is me trying” had my back. 

"folklore" truly has it all — an exploration into the ethereal realm, the drama of a made up love triangle and even a reminder that you are enough. It was the ultimate saving grace at a time we all needed it. 

Favorite song: "this is me trying"

Maeve Sheehey, director of enterprise: "reputation"

Picture this: It’s August 2017. I’m sitting in Chase Dining Hall the morning before my 18th birthday. I get a text from my older brother: “Taylor just released a new single.” I power up Spotify and am transported into “Look What You Made Me Do,” the angriest Taylor Swift song I’ve ever heard. It’s perfect. 

“reputation” was one of the most iconic rebrands in music history. It was a shocking change in genre for Taylor, and it was proudly, transcendently petty. We are all “reputation” Taylor Swift, rhyming “face” with “face” and then driving away in a getaway car. That’s why I listen to this album pretty much every time I run — it’s cohesive, it’s upbeat and it’s just a little bit mean.

Sure, “Red” is beautiful, and I, like so many older Gen Zers, wore out my “Fearless” CD when the album first came out. But in Chase that morning in 2017, over a plate of the chewiest scrambled eggs on the planet, my love of Taylor Swift truly began. 

Favorite song: All of them. And “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”

Aditi Kharod, Editorial Board member: “Red”

Before "folklore" and "evermore," Taylor Swift’s album releases followed a set pattern. Ms. Taylor would write 13 to 18 incredible lyrical masterpieces, and then release the songs least representative of the album as a whole as singles. Non-Swifties would listen to the songs, say they sucked, and dismiss the album in its entirety. This is what happened with "Red," too! 

I’m not saying “I Knew You Were Trouble” and “22” aren’t bops. I turned 22 this past year and played “22” on loop the entire day. But if you were to rank all the songs on an album filled with some of Taylor’s BEST songwriting, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” would fall right at the bottom. 

“Treacherous,” “Holy Ground,” “I Almost Do,” “The Lucky One” and “The Last Time” are, dare I say, perfect songs. The only thing better than “State of Grace” is “State of Grace (Acoustic Version).” And, we cannot forget “All Too Well,” which critics have called the best song in Taylor Swift’s entire catalog.

This album deserved a Grammy. It was robbed. Justice for "Red."

Favorite song: "The Last Time" ft. Gary Lightbody

Annie Grace Plott, Editorial Board member: “Fearless”

"Fearless" is, hands down, Taylor Swift’s best album. (Obviously, it must be since she is releasing it as her first re-recording.) This album truly has a song in it for everything, spanning multiple genres from country to pop. 

Messy breakups, those horrendous teen years, a story about growing up (if you don’t ugly sob to “The Best Day," are you even a real fan?). This album alone is also home to two of her biggest hits: “Love Story” and “You Belong with Me." As an OG Swiftie, this is her best work.  

"Fearless" was the first album that me and many of my friends owned, and it was really her breakout piece. If you need further convincing, the album won her the Grammy for Album of the Year in 2009 — which made her (at the time) the youngest artist to ever win the award.

Favorite song: "The Way I Loved You"

Maddie Ellis, University desk editor: "1989"

I have to say something: Taylor Swift did not raise me. Miley Cyrus raised me. While I admittedly sang “Love Story” for my fourth-grade talent show, the 2008 hit album "Breakout" featured the most played songs on my blue iPod. 

But "1989." 

"1989" made me love Taylor Swift. 

I have been told by certain people in this office (*cough cough* Brandon Standley and Will Melfi) that "1989" is her WORST album. This is absurd. "1989" marks her essential transition to true pop music, the kind of pop music that is accessible and approachable to all. If it were on the radio in a crowded car, there would be so few complaints. 

(Important side note: When I say "1989," I mean the "1989" deluxe edition, obviously. If you’re going to listen to it, listen to it right.)

Some might say "1989" isn’t “cohesive.” I disagree. The whole album has a very specific vibe: it feels like arriving in a new place, trying to get acquainted with new sights, sounds, faces — and making the most of it, anyway. 

"1989" is about growth and change, and still finding the idealism in it. Acoustically, the '80s synth throughout makes this album perfect for dancing it out in the kitchen, long car rides and karaoke. 

"1989" is like if Taylor went to college. Of course, she had some low points (sorry, “This Love”), but she had some really high highs (literally every other song on the album). 

Favorite song: "Clean"

Brandon Standley, editorial managing editor: "Red"

I’ve been a Taylor fan since before I can remember, and it’s so freaking hard to pick one album that is my favorite. I’ve been with Taylor from self-titled all the way to “evermore” and soon, re-released “Fearless.” But, when I am asked about my favorite album, my answer is always “Red.” 

Don’t get me wrong, “Speak Now” has bops across the board, and “Fearless” makes me flashback to days in elementary school, singing “You Belong with Me” to the boys who I thought I was in love with. Every single one of Taylor’s albums is special to me. 

But “Red.” Oh, “Red.” 

Nothing can beat “Red.” 

Maybe it’s because I still get shivers when I hear the intro to “State of Grace” because of the stellar theatrics of Taylor’s “Red” Tour.

Maybe it’s because I’ve spent many nights speeding down the interstate and sobbing to “All Too Well” over a boy I now hate, and then later went to sing “I Knew You Were Trouble” about that same boy days later. 

Perhaps it’s because Gary Lightbody in “The Last Time” speaks to my soul, or “22” gives me life as I am in my 22nd year of existing. 

Or maybe it’s just because this album is the one I can feel the most connected to Taylor in. 

The lyrics are a masterpiece, the beats and rhythms are soulful and perfectly placed and the voice of Taylor speaks — not sings — to me.

Whatever the reason from me, “Red” is my favorite album — and it must be yours too. Need I say more? 

Favorite song: Is there just one? If so: “The Lucky One” 


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