Continuing my experiment into current pop music that I have never listened to, I decided to hunker down and listen to all four of Taylor Swift's studio albums.
Full disclosure: I have never listened to a Taylor Swift song all the way through. I had no idea she had four albums. All I know is that she writes about boy problems. I went into this with an open mind hoping to be pleasantly surprised. Here goes nothing.
Album: Self-Titled, released in 2006.
"Tim McGraw": "When you think Tim McGraw I hope you think of me"? Great, now every time I think of Tim McGraw I'll picture you, Taylor. Also, so far this song isn't super memorable.
"Picture to Burn": Why wasn't this the first song? It starts strong and grabs your attention. Her accent is pretty thick on this too. She's really selling that Southern thing, ain't she?
"Teardrops on My Guitar" - Radio Single Remix: Who is Drew? How are teardrops getting on your guitar? Are you just standing over it crying? Again, WHO IS DREW?
"A Place in This World": Eh. This seems like the song she might play at a concert and her fans will be like, "Why'd she choose this one?"
"Cold As You": Were each one of these songs a single? Or is that just the way modern country is written? I also just looked at the album cover and thought, Wow, that's a lot of hair. She must go through tons of conditioner.
"The Outside": I honestly cannot figure out what this song is about. Is she an outsider? Was she jilted? So many questions.
"Tied Together with a Smile": OH MY GOD THIS IS LIKE ONE DIRECTION'S "WHAT MAKES YOU BEAUTIFUL." I'VE HEARD THAT SONG BEFORE.
"Stay Beautiful": I know that she was super young when wrote these songs, but this one has pretty mature and wise sentiment of "Hey, you do you. If we happen, great. If we don't, no biggie. You stay golden, Ponyboy."
"Should've Said No": Who are these dudes she is writing about? Is it still Drew? I hate Drew.
"Mary's Song (Oh My My)": Is she Mary in this song? Or is she singing to Mary? I hope it's the latter.
"Our Song": Cute.
"I'm Only Me When I'm With You": This isn't really country at all, is it? Oh, wait, I just heard a fiddle. Never mind.
"Invisible": AKA The Stalker's Anthem.
"A Perfectly Good Heart": This feels like an afterthought song. Like it was made out of leftover pieces of other songs. Not my favorite.
"Teardrops on My Guitar": Drew again? I like the Radio Single Remix version better, which is probably why this was tacked on at the end.
OK, it was better than I thought it would be. However, this album does nothing to disprove the fact that she only writes about boys and how they break her heart. Hopefully the next album will have some songs about parties and aliens or anything other than boys.
Album: Fearless Platinum Edition, released in 2008.
"Jump Then Fall": Am I crazy that I think her voice sounds different? Maybe it's just that the production value has increased? I dunno, but it is weirding me out.
"Untouchable": Again, is this a completely different singer? This song is actually all right. Not super country, but in a good way.
"Forever & Always - Piano Version": I will always have soft spot for any song that is stripped down, and I haven't even heard the original version yet. I'm cool with this song. I now believe that it is the same girl from the previous album.
"Come in with the Rain": This is weak compared with how great the preceding song was. Also, leaving windows open when it is raining is a bad idea and should not be endorsed.
"SuperStar": Sadly, not about the Molly Shannon movie of the same name. But I really hope someone has recut the trailer with this song playing over it.
"The Other Side of the Door": Is this an unreleased track from the last album? It feels a little out of place here — tonally, that is.
"Fearless": Title track! Not great, but I'm glad Drew hasn't been mentioned once so far.
"Fifteen": Was she really 15 years old when she recorded this? FML. At 15 all I was doing was eating Hot Pockets, going to punk shows, and trying to get a girlfriend.
"Love Story": Comparing your relationship to Romeo and Juliet and The Scarlet Letter is weird. In one, you both die, in the second, you are branded an adulterer. What the hell is with kids these days?
"Hey Stephen": First Drew, now Stephen. When will Taylor learn? Also, this song is boring. Sorry.
"White Horse": Another snoozer. "This ain't a fairy tale" or a very good song.
"You Belong with Me": I think I may have heard this song before. Pretty good pop song. I like it because it reminds me of John Hughes' Some Kind of Wonderful.
"Tell Me Why": This sounds like a Third Eye Blind song with a banjo. I do not mean that as a compliment.
"You're Not Sorry": Double Meh.
"The Way I Loved You": So you're just rubbing your perfect love in your friends' faces? Rude.
"Forever & Always": Yep, the piano version is def better. Like, by a million times.
"The Best Day": If you told me Beck wrote and produced this I'd believe you. Actually, Beck covering this would be pretty rad.
"Change": Nope. Should've ended with the last one.
I'm torn. The first album was way more country-sounding and had more of an authenticity. This one feels like she was being pulled in two different directions. We'll see what the next one has to offer.
Album: Speak Now, released in 2010.
"Mine": This is how you start a record! Good job!
"Sparks Fly": This could've started the album too.
"Back to December": I started checking my email during this, if I'm being honest.
"Speak Now": Is this the plot to 27 Dresses or something?
"Dear John": Is this the one about John Mayer? I loathe John Mayer. Team Swift represent! "The girl in the dress cried the whole way home"? What did you do, John? WHAT DID YOU DO?
"Mean": This is a nice little change of pace. Just pure country, nothing fancy. I actually like it.
"The Story of Us": Is this Taylor Swift or Paramore? Plus, who is Paramore?
"Never Grow Up": I'm thinking about my best friend's baby and getting misty-eyed. BRB.
"Enchanted": I feel like this is a song that depends on having a video attached to it, like where Taylor is dressed like Rapunzel or something.
"Better Than Revenge": I am not a fan of these attempts at rock. Is she calling out Katy Perry and John Mayer in this song? I mean, vintage clothes don't "buy you any class"? Taylor doesn't take any bullshit, does she?
"Last Kiss": You can do better than this, Taylor. Step it up.
"Long Live": I hope this isn't a warning of things to come on Red.
This album was way better than Fearless, hands down. More cohesive and with a clearer point of view. There were a few duds, but all in all more enjoyable. I'm curious to see how the two years between this album and the next will have changed Ms. Swift.
Album: Red, released in 2012.
"State of Grace": What the hell? This is like a completely different artist, and I mean that in the best way possible.
"Red": Title song! Eh, this sounds like the last album. I like the experimental Taylor more.
"Treacherous": I thought I was in for something new. What gives?
"I Knew You Were Trouble": OMG I totally thought this was two different songs. I've only heard it in pieces, so I thought the beginning of the song was a completely different song then the quasi-dubstep chorus part. Mind. Blown.
"All Too Well": A little too anthemic for my taste.
"22": This is fun. Remember when she was all serious on "Fifteen"? Sounds like she learned her lesson with Stephen and Drew and has decided to finally have fun for once.
"I Almost Do": I don't really understand songs like this. They aren't wholly bad or anything, but it doesn't have a sound that says "This is Taylor Swift." It could be any random female country singer singing for all I know.
"We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together": This is the other big hit, right? She sounds like she's having fun, which translates to the listener. I'm fine with it. It's catchy.
"Stay Stay Stay": This what I would call a "fun lil' ditty."
"The Last Time": I don't know who Gary Lightbody is. Should I? The second part gets a little too U2-esque, IMO.
"Holy Ground": I'm digging this. Was this a single?
"Sad Beautiful Tragic": The opening reminds me of Morrissey's "Seasick, Yet Still Docked." Pretty good song.
"The Lucky One": I actually dig this. The story structure harkens back to her Country roots and is something you don't see much of anymore in mainstream music. Respect.
"Everything Has Changed": I should probably admit I have no idea who Ed Sheeran is. Did he win American Idol or something? Anyway, I've already forgotten about this song.
"Starlight": This sounds like it should've been on the last album. I feel like she would moved past this sort of song by now.
"Begin Again": Was the guy impressed by all the James Taylor records or put off? Well, whatever. I don't think this was the best choice to close the album with since it sort of just ends with a whimper and not a bang. Not a bad song, just not the last impression I would've liked to leave with.
Red is the most artistically challenging of the bunch, for sure. It's cool to see that she isn't afraid to take chances, for better or worse.
Conclusion: Taylor Swift is an artist and deserves respect. I remember the whole Kanye "Immaletchafinish" fiasco and laughing, because I thought, Yeah, who does she think she is, Kanye? You interrupt her all you want! He, like me, had preconceived notions of her as just some young girl singing about boys who was winning awards for god knows what reason. Yes, she is a young woman who writes songs about boys being good to her/being bad to her, but that doesn't make her any less an artist than Kanye writing songs about Kim Kardashian. She may not be my particular cup of musical tea, but I wish her nothing but the best and am curious to see how she grows as an artist. And hopefully, she'll finally find a nice boy who will treat her right.