Friday, February 3, 2012

Top 10 Taylor Swift Songs

I wasn’t one of the first Taylor Swift fans ever, but I’ve liked her music for a while. My introduction to her was totally involuntary. It was 2007 and the radio at my work was stuck on the country music station for most of the year. I groaned inwardly at the prospect of coming to work and listening to fiddles and twangs all day, but after a while I didn’t really mind it. I realized that country music these days is just another subgenre of “pop music,” and no more unlistenable than top 40 stations or a hip-hop channel or whatever.

I eventually came to recognize and actually like some of what I was hearing. Miranda Lambert, Sugarland, and Alan Jackson were all ok in my book. But the song that absolutely wowed me was “Our Song” by a Ms. Taylor Swift. I loved that song. I’d find myself waiting for the song to be played and, when it came on, stopping everything to listen to it. It was pretty popular; I got to hear it three or four times a day.

After a few weeks, I decided that it was time to buy her album. I went to Best Buy and bought the deluxe edition of her self-titled debut album for $15. (Yes, the same one that routinely goes for $100 these days. Not stocking up on those and not buying Apple stock when it was $80 a share—my two great regrets of the last five years.) I took it home, played it, and loved everything. I don’t think I listened to any other music for months.

That year, I made a little 5 song CD to give to everyone at Christmas. It was the Best Songs of 2007, according to me. “Our Song” was, of course, number one. (Kanye’s “Stronger” was number two. J) (And lest you think it’s cheating to put it on a 2007 list since Taylor Swift was a 2006 album, I’d like to remind you that it was #1 on the country charts when I gave out the CD, so I think it’s fair to consider it a 2007 song.) It’s funny thinking back on that Christmas because at the time nobody had heard of Taylor. They all agreed that her name sounded made up. J It’s almost hard to believe that there was a time when people didn’t know who Taylor Swift was.

She’s certainly come a long way since, becoming a Global Megastar with three albums under her belt. I’ve obviously kept up with every release and I have to say she’s getting better and better. If she tops herself again with her next release—which should come out later this year—it will be really amazing.

Here is a list of my personal top ten favorite songs of hers…

♥♪ The Other Side Of The Door ♪♥

This is a bonus track on the Platinum Edition of Fearless. It’s such a sweet makeup song, told from the perspective of someone who is fighting with her boyfriend, but it’s the kind of fight that both parties wish they could end if they just knew how. The final lines are really cool—they reference a bunch of her old songs, like “Tim McGraw” and “Beautiful Eyes.”

♥♪ Jump Then Fall

Another bonus track off Fearless Platinum. (She has a predilection for putting really great songs as bonus tracks. “I’m Only Me When I’m With You”—from Taylor Swift Deluxe—is fantastic, and she liked “Ours” enough to make a video for it.) This song is so good, it could’ve easily been a top ten single.

♥♪ Sparks Fly ♪♥

This one had been floating around a while before Taylor put it on an album. It got such a positive reaction at concerts that she just had to make a studio recording of it eventually. The final version does not disappoint…it’s amazing.

♥♪ Long Live ♪♥

She’s described “Long Live” as about her fans, for her fans. It’s the final track of Speak Now and it’s got such a nice epic sweep to it, a sort of culmination of all the success she’s had in her career thus far. There’s even a nice melancholic moment toward the end—a reminder that nothing lasts forever, which gives it a poignant touch.

♥♪ Speak Now ♪♥

Her storytelling prowess is on full display here. The scenario she paints is so vivid, and the song is like an explosion of colors in music form. There is real emotion at the core of this fun song, and you have to love the giggle 3/4ths of the way in.

♥♪ Fearless ♪♥

This might be the perfect evocation of reckless young love. Her lyrics are direct and powerful, and the music complements it perfectly by not being too airy or frivolous. The whole song feels strong, sturdy… it’s a song that demands to be taken just as seriously as the sentiment it is attempting to convey.

♥♪ Love Story ♪♥

This is the song even people who aren’t Taylor Swift fans love. It’s just about the perfect pop song imaginable, just really catchy with an indelible chorus. An impeccably constructed gem of a song.

♥♪ Last Kiss ♪♥

She’s probably never been better lyrically than with this song, which has lines in it like “How you kissed me when I was in the middle of saying something / There’s not a day I don’t miss those rude interruptions.” The emotions go beyond callow sadness, into the deeper realm of mature regret. Pretty startling when you first hear it, and ultimately unforgettable.

♥♪ Enchanted ♪♥

Whether it’s “A Day In The Life” or “Like A Rolling Stone,” a great 6-minute song usually marks an evolutionary leap for a music artist, and “Enchanted” is Taylor’s great leap forward. It’s a perfectly modulated song, building at just the right pace to an awe-inspiring emotional peak. Taylor had never shown such masterful control of a song before this incredibly moving expression of yearning, and hopefully it’s a sign of even more tremendous things to come.

♥♪ Our Song ♪♥

This is still the one for me, almost 5 years after hearing it for the first time. I’ve never gotten sick of it; I could listen to it over and over again, still. It never fails to make me smile and feel happy. She really captured a magical sound with “Our Song” that continues to resonate with me and probably always will. “Play it again…oh yeah…”

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