Taylor Swift's 75 best lyrics definitively ranked, including 'Midnights'
From "I hope you think of me" to "all's well that ends well to end up with you," Taylor Swift’s lyrics have “enchanted” us for more than a decade and a half.
Taylor Swift's years in the spotlight have taken listeners from her country roots in 2006's self-titled "Taylor Swift" to pop stardom, then surprise quarantine albums "Folklore" and "Evermore, a triumphant return to her past with "(Taylor's Version)" re-recordings, and now the vulnerable pop grooves of "Midnights."
Crossing genres and countless style choices, Swift has taken her place as a music icon. Longtime listeners know her discography all too well: They associate certain albums with specific periods of their lives and tether some of her most memorable lines to moments of their own.
"I have this formula for music. If I continue to write songs about my life, and my life is always changing, then my music will always be changing," Swift told USA TODAY in 2010. She was right.
We ranked Swift's 75 best song lyrics from over the years – some heartbreaking, some triumphant – all works of lyrical genius that her biggest fans can't help but to sing again and again.
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75. "Karma is the guy on the screen coming straight home to me" – "Karma" from “Midnights”
We don’t even care if the "Conversations With Friends" PR team put her up to this one.
74. "Lord, what will become of me / Once I've lost my novelty?" – "Nothing New (feat. Phoebe Bridgers) (Taylor’s Version)" from "Red (Taylor's Version)"
Also us every time we update this article. Thanks for reading, everyone!
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73. "Don’t treat me like some situation that needs to be handled / I’m fine with my spite and my tears, and my beers and my candles" – "Closure" from "Evermore"
A line that will go down in Swift’s breakup song hall of fame.
72. "While he was doing lines and crossing all of mine / someone told his white collar crimes to the FBI" – "Vigilante S---" from "Midnights"
Is "No Body, No Crime" … not a work of fiction? For those keeping score at home, this is the first cocaine reference of Swift's discography.
71. “No amount of freedom gets you clean / I’ve still got you all over me” – “You All Over Me (feat. Maren Morris) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” from “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)”
We can never run away from our problems; Swift (and Morris) articulate that like the country queens they are.
70. "Your faithless love's the only hoax I believe in" – “Hoax” from "Folklore"
Believing in “faithless” love?! We have no choice but to stan a paradoxical queen.
69. “The skeletons in both our closets plotted hard to f--- this up” – “Cowboy Like Me” from “Evermore”
Two people finding love against all odds: we love to see it.
68. "I find it dizzying / They're bringing up my history / But you weren’t even listening" – "Lavender Haze" from "Midnights"
Longtime boyfriend Joe Alwyn doesn’t care that she’s got a big reputation.
67. "You understand now why they lost their minds and fought the wars / And why I've spent my whole life trying to put it in words." – "You Are in Love" from "1989 (Deluxe Edition)"
Putting specific and universal feelings into words: What Swift does best.
66. "You play stupid games, you win stupid prizes" – "Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince" from "Lover"
All other games and prizes are canceled.
65. “Sorry, I can't see facts through all of my fury” – “Happiness” from “Evermore”
Self-aware self-correction: classic Swift.
64. "Spiderboy, king of thieves / Weave your little webs of opacity" – "Karma" from "Midnights"
The only version of "Spider-Man" we accept as canon at this juncture.
63. "It only hurts this much right now / Was what I was thinking the whole time / Breathe in, breathe through, breathe deep, breathe out / I'll be getting over you my whole life" – "Labrynth" from "Midnights"
One of several lyrics Swift teased months prior in her New York University commencement speech.
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62. “Clover blooms in the fields / Spring breaks loose, the time is near” – “ivy” from “Evermore”
Spring breaks? Get it? We sure do.
61. "Familiarity breeds contempt / So put mе in the basement / Whеn I want the penthouse of your heart" – "Bejeweled" from "Midnights"
The casts of "Selling Sunset," "Selling Tampa" and "Selling the O.C." should be shaking.
60. “Did you hear about the girl who lives in delusion? / Breakups happen every day, you don't have to lose it / She's still 23 inside her fantasy” – “Right Where You Left Me - Bonus Track” from “Evermore”
Another case of tongue-in-cheek self-awareness from the queen of breakup songs reminds us that we're totally fine living inside the fantasy of Swift’s discography.
59. "I had a marvelous time ruining everything" – "The Last Great American Dynasty" from "Folklore"
Go ahead and save this one for your next Instagram caption.
58. "Please don't ever become a stranger whose laugh I could recognize anywhere" – "New Year's Day" from "Reputation"
Squeeze our hand three times, why don't you.
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57. "How can a person know everything at eighteen / But nothin' at twenty-two?" – "Nothing New (feat. Phoebe Bridgers) (Taylor’s Version)" from "Red (Taylor's Version)"
Spoiler alert: It only gets messier from there. We see you and thank you, Taylor.
56. "Untouchable, burning brighter than the sun / And when you’re close I feel like coming undone" – "Untouchable" from "Fearless"
Snappy, romantic, poetic: The Taylor Swift trifecta.
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55. "You drew stars around my scars but now I’m bleeding" – “Cardigan” from “Folklore”
OK, the rhyming of “stars” and “scars” on its own is enough to send our hearts all a-flutter. But the violent shift to “bleeding” shows how even though we may heal, it doesn’t take much to send us spiraling now and again. We’re bleeding (metaphorically) with you, Taylor.
54. "Barefoot in the kitchen / Sacred new beginnings / That became my religion, listen" – "Cornelia Street" from "Lover"
Swift's storytelling works best with tiny details like these.
53. "I could build a castle out of all the bricks they threw at me" – "New Romantics" from "1989"
This is a very tall castle, if you think about Scooter Braun, Katy Perry and Kimye.
52. "My castle crumbled overnight / I brought a knife to a gunfight / They took the crown but it's alright" – "Call It What You Want" from "Reputation"
Referencing your own lyrics? Ultimate power move.
51. "So make the friendship bracelets, take the moment and taste it / You've got no reason to be afraid / You're on your own, kid / Yeah you can face this" – "You're On Your Own, Kid" from "Midnights"
We love this moment in the song where terror twists into triumph.
50. "Back then we didn't know / We were built to fall apart / We broke the status quo / Then we broke each other's hearts" – "The Very First Night (Taylor's Version) (From The Vault)" from "Red (Taylor's Version)"
Could this be the prequel to "Out of The Woods?" Again, referencing your own past lyrics is simply iconic, legendary behavior.
49. “He's got my past frozen behind glass / But I've got me” – “It’s Time To Go - Bonus Track” from “Evermore”
This melancholy summation of Swift's public battle against music executive Scooter Braun for her masters (the reason she's rerecording her first six studio albums) is heartbreakingly weary. Luckily, her rerecordings have begun to serve as a triumphant reclaiming of the old works that got her here.
48. "And if you never saved me from boredom / I could have gone on as I was / But, lord, you made me feel important / And then you tried to erase us" – "Would've Could've Should've" from "Midnights (3am Edition)"
The Dear John letters continue — and only get more vitriolic.
47. "Cold was the steel of my axe to grind for the boys who broke my heart / Now I send their babies presents" – "Invisible String" from "Folklore"
From exposing your teenage ex-boyfriend for dumping you over the phone to sending gifts to his newborn: That's forever and always for you.
46. "He says he's so in love / He's finally got it right / I wonder if he knows he's all I think about at night" – "Teardrops on My Guitar" from "Taylor Swift"
No, you're crying over a musical instrument.
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45. "Back then I swore I was gonna marry him someday but I realized some bigger dreams of mine / And Abigail gave everything she had to a boy who changed his mind" – "Fifteen" from "Fearless"
Bigger dreams? Try 11-time winner and 41-time nominee at the Grammys, two-time Time 100 Most Influential People recipient and 2019 American Music Awards Artist of the Decade honoree. Wish you could go back and tell yourself that.
44. "Back when you fit in my poems like a perfect rhyme" – "Holy Ground" from "Red"
In the first moments of her first pop-but-not-technically-pop album, Swift proved to naysayers that her lyrical genius isn't defined to one genre.
43. “’Cause it's all over, it's not meant to be / So I'll say words I don't believe” – "Bigger Than the Whole Sky" from "Midnights (3am Edition)"
A perfect distillation of how we try and rationalize heartbreak. We’re taking notes.
42. "I once believed love would be burning red / But it's golden" – "Daylight" from "Lover"
Acknowledging she's grown from "Red" but appreciating it as a part of her past enough to include it on her latest album? We don't know a better person.
41. I think I've seen this film before / And I didn't like the ending / You're not my homeland anymore / So what am I defending now? – “Exile” from “Folklore”
A classic excellent Taylor Swift lyrical run. Defend us, Taylor, please!
40. "He said the way my blue eyes shined / Put those Georgia stars to shame that night / I said, 'That's a lie'" – "Tim McGraw" from "Taylor Swift"
No offense to Georgia stars, obviously.
39.“I want auroras and sad prose / I want to watch wisteria grow right over my bare feet / ‘Cause I haven’t moved in years / And I want you right here” – “The Lakes” from “Folklore”
Swift waxes poetic about finding happiness in quiet moments of solitude with her “lover,” and we couldn’t be happier for her.
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38. “It takes everything in me just to get up each day / But it’s wonderful to see that you’re OK” – "Mr. Perfectly Fine (Taylor's Version) (From the Vault) from "Fearless (Taylor's Version)
The sarcasm jumped out and did a backflip. How perfect(ly fine).
37. "I snuck in through the garden gate / Every night that summer just to seal my fate" – "Cruel Summer" from "Lover"
Who wouldn't want to traipse around through gardens all summer long?
36. "But she wears short skirts / I wear T-shirts / She's cheer captain / And I'm on the bleachers" – "You Belong With Me" from "Fearless"
Before "Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince," there was "You Belong With Me." Swift captures the high school experience so effortlessly it's like we never graduated.
35. "I never grew up, it's getting so old" – "The Archer" from "Lover"
In which Swift lays out in eight words just how aware she is of all the criticisms thrown at her (and also sneaks in a reference to "Never Grow Up" track from "Speak Now").
34. “You booked the night train for a reason / So you could sit there in this hurt” – “Champagne Problems” from “Evermore”
We imagine this is what it would sound like if Journey actually did stop believing.
33. "And I was never good at telling jokes, but the punchline goes / I'll get older, but your lovers stay my age" – "All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor's Version)" from "Red (Taylor's Version)"
Hell hath no fury like a Taylor Swift scorned. Of all the daggers she's written over the years about former flames, this is one of her most pointed.
32. "But I took your matches before fire could catch me / So don't look now, I'm shining like fireworks over your sad, empty town" – "Dear John" from "Speak Now"
Talk about a Dear John letter. Ouch.
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31. "Take the words for what they are: A dwindling, mercurial high / A drug that only worked the first few hundred times" – "Illicit Affairs" from "Folklore"
"Look at this godforsaken mess that you made me" – us, after listening to Swift sing about the devastation of feeling like you're losing the person you love.
30. "You did a number on me / But honestly, baby, who’s counting?" – "So It Goes..." from "Reputation"
Taylor reinvented math with 11 iconic words. Who is counting?
29.“I made you my temple, my mural, my sky / Now I'm begging for footnotes in the story of your life” – “Tolerate It” from “Evermore”
Death by a thousand cuts in a single sentence, from, yes, the singer of “Death By a Thousand Cuts.” Honorable mention to the line that follows: “Drawing hearts in the byline,” which we can only assume was about us.
28. "I knew you dancing in your Levis, drunk under a streetlight" – "Cardigan" from "Folklore"
Swift loves writing these tiny details about knowing someone intimately. And we love her for it.
27. "That night we couldn't quite forget / When we decided to move the furniture so we could dance / Baby, like we stood a chance" – "Out of the Woods" from "1989"
Getting lost never sounded so good.
26. "It never ever occurred to you / That I can't say 'hello' to you / And risk another goodbye" – "I Almost Do" from "Red"
Those chills you feel? Yeah, we get those reading these every time. "Hello" and "goodbye" never seemed so loaded.
25. "And if I get burned, at least we were electrified" – "Dress" from "Reputation"
This girl is on fire, indeed.
24. "From sprinkler splashes to fireplace ashes" – "You’re On Your Own, Kid" from "Midnights"
Did Taylor watch "Call Me By Your Name" before writing this one?! We couldn’t help but get lost in these spellbinding scenes.
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23. "Just between us, did the love affair maim you too?" – "All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor's Version)"
Lines like this in the 10-minute version have us feeling all too unwell.
22. “Should've kept every grocery store receipt / 'Cause every scrap of you would be taken from me” – “Marjorie” from “Evermore”
From the woman who brought you “I’m a crumpled up piece of paper lying here,” we bring you this glorious run. This song hits particularly different during the coronavirus pandemic as a nation overrun with morbidity turns to music for solace.
21. "I didn't have it in myself to go with grace / 'Cause when I'd fight, you used to tell me I was brave – “My Tears Ricochet” from "Folklore"
The “used to” does all the work here. Our tears haven’t stopped ricocheting since listening.
20. "The monsters turned out to be just trees / When the sun came up you were looking at me" – "Out of the Woods" from "1989"
"Where the Wild Things Are" got the rewrite it never asked for, and we are not complaining.
19. "I’m damned if I do give a damn what people say" – "Lavender Haze" from "Midnights"
Oh Tay, you just don’t miss. The word "damn" never held so much power.
18. "The night you danced like you knew our lives would never be the same / You held your head like a hero / On a history book page / It was the end of a decade / But the start of an age" – "Long Live" from "Speak Now"
Production on this album began in 2009, the year Swift turned 20, and wrapped in 2010. What a decade – and an age – the 2010s have been for her.
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17. "'Cause I hear he's got his arm 'round a brand-new girl / I've been pickin' up my heart, he's been pickin' up her" – "Mr. Perfectly Fine (Taylor's Version) (From the Vault) from "Fearless" (Taylor's Version)
We're not sure how Swift pulled this off but she actually picked up our hearts and threw them on the ground while we listened to these lyrics. All "Mr. Perfectly Fine" fellas out there should take notes.
16. "I can't decide if it's a choice: getting swept away" – "Treacherous" from "Red"
15. "No one wanted to play with me as a little kid / So I've been scheming like a criminal ever since" – "Mastermind" from "Midnights"
We could really pick any run from this song, but wow, do we vibe with this honesty. If there’s a single line to sum up Swift’s career, it may be this one.
14. "With every guitar string scar on my hand / I take this magnetic force of a man to be my lover" – "Lover" from "Lover"
For longtime Swifties, there's nothing sweeter than hearing her triumphantly declare she's in love.
13. “And you wanna scream, ‘don't call me kid, don't call me baby / Look at this godforsaken mess that you made me’” – “Illicit Affairs” from “Folklore”
If you’re not screaming along to these lyrics every time, you’re doing it wrong.
12.“The road not taken looks real good now” – "‘Tis the Damn Season” from “Evermore”
Robert Frost who? Anyone else’s spin of the oft-referenced poem would come off as cliché. But Swift’s artful turn of phrase has us over here thinking about our (non-toxic) exes.
11. "It's me / Hi / I'm the problem, it's me" – "Anti-Hero" from "Midnights"
Our therapists will be hearing about this.
10. "They say all's well that ends well, but I'm in a new hell / Every time you double-cross my mind" – "All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor's Version)" from "Red (Taylor's Version)"
The WORDPLAY. William Shakespeare himself could never.
9. "Time won't fly, it's like I'm paralyzed by it / I'd like to be my old self again, but I'm still trying to find it / After plaid shirt days and nights when you made me your own / Now you mail back my things and I walk home alone" – "All Too Well" from "Red"
It's a testament that we can't cut this down any shorter. "All Too Well" – and its extended cut – wins everything. End of story.
8. "You held your pride like you should have held me" – "The Story of Us" from "Speak Now"
Savage, before savage became a part of our mainstream lexicon. Swift is the queen of the snappy turn of phrase.
7. "They told me all of my cages were mental / So I got wasted like all my potential" – "This is Me Trying" from "Folklore"
Another beautifully written turn of phrase. She's still got it, 10 years later.
6. "You kept me like a secret, but I kept you like an oath" – "All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor's Version)" from "Red (Taylor's Version)"
We cannot wait to scream this in a (fully-vaccinated) crowded bar ASAP. Now that’s an oath.
5. "I'm still a believer but I don't know why / I've never been a natural / All I do is try, try, try – “Mirrorball” from "Folklore"
That repetitive “try, try, try” sends us spinning. We recommend checking out the Las Culturistas analysis of “Folklore” track-by-track, if you haven’t already, for an apt take on “Mirrorball” and Taylor Swift’s incredible work ethic.
4. "You said it was a great love, one for the ages / But if the story’s over, why am I still writing pages?" – "Death By a Thousand Cuts" from "Lover"
The queen of breakup songs used to worry about what would happen when she was happily in a relationship, but rejoiced when she woke up one day with lyrics in her mind that would eventually become "Cuts."
"I was like, 'it's still here! Yes!" she said in her NPR Tiny Desk Concert. "This song is my proof. I don't have to stop writing about heartbreak and misery. Which, for me, is incredible news."
3. "You can plan for a change in weather and time / But I never planned on you changing your mind" – "Last Kiss" from "Speak Now"
Don't mind us, but we'll go sit on the floor, listening to this one on repeat.
2. "You made a rebel of a careless man's careful daughter / You are the best thing that's ever been mine" – "Mine" from "Speak Now"
Eat your hearts out, careless men.
1. "You call me up again just to break me like a promise / So casually cruel in the name of being honest" – "All Too Well" from "Red"
This gem of a lyric has everything you could possibly want. Simile? Alliteration? Heartbreak? Check, check, check.