Deep dive into underrated Taylor Swift songs
Updated: Aug 9, 2021
Taylor Swift's songwriting has defined a whole generation, inspiring new artists such as Olivia Rodrigo, Conan Gray and even Billie Eilish. While some of her top pop bops such as Love Story, You Belong With Me, Blank Space, ME!, Shake It Off, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together or 22 (among others) might be some of her most well known songs, there are some hidden gems amongst her discography that are there for everyone who is willing to discover.
In this blog I will be talking about my favorite underrated Taylor songs, the ones I wish the fandom could pay more attention to, as well as analysing some of their lyrics in order to attempt to explain why I consider them masterpieces and nothing less than that.
Forever & Always (Piano Version) (Taylor's Version)
No, the Piano Version is not the same as the regular version for those of you who might know the original song. This is one of the reasons why this one is slept on: why would you like to listen to the same song again in Fearless when you already got it there?
Personally, I'll always prefer Forever & Always (Piano Version) over the original. Maybe it's because I listened to this one first, but who knows? Either way, what I'll try to explain now are some of the differences between the two.
The first one is obvious: this is accompanied by piano. Forever & Always aims more at a pop type of tone, the kind of song that would play on radio stations and people could move their heads to. What I love about the piano version is that it creates a more emotional, intimate setting. The song is slowed down and it allows Taylor to get deep into her feelings. It might have some similarities with White Horse, from the same album, but for me the topics vary.
In this song, Taylor talks about the way she believed a relationship would last forever and, instead, sees it crumbling down to pieces right in front of her eyes. She can't help but question and blame herself, trying to make sense of what happened:
"Was I out of line?
Did I say something way too honest, made you run and hide
Like a scared little boy"
At the same time, she demands explanations from her ex lover for misguiding her into believing that their love would be everlasting and never ending:
"'Cause I was there when you said, "Forever and always"
You didn't mean it baby, I don't think so"
The song is chaotic, in a sense, as I believe it describes perfectly the way in which a relationship is falling apart while one of the people involved tries to do their best to rescue it, to understand, to make the other person stay and save the love they once had. In theory the original version, with more movement and rhythm and anger, would fit this purpose a lot better. However, what makes the piano version so special for me is the feeling of sadness and desperation it transmits: the relationship is over and she knows it. As much as she tries, there's nothing she can do to avoid the plane crash from happening.
So, while the normal Forever & Always approaches the breakup in a more "fuck you stupid liar" type of way, this version is more heartbroken and vulnerable. And this is what I love so much about it.
If there's anything I love is a good classic vulnerable Taylor song that I can cry my eyes out to.
What can I say about this song? It truly doesn't get the recognition it deserves.
From the very beginning, I believe this song makes a statement. The mood is created flawlessly with the companion of the violins in the introduction. All of a sudden you are immersed in an otherworldly and eerie narrative, almost like a movie, and the lyrics encapsulate the experience even more. With them, Taylor tells a story about ending a relationship that she knows will never be able to forget. Part of it will always remain inside of her, like a memory or a constant reminder, haunting her:
"Come on, come on, don't leave me like this
I thought I had you figured out
Can't breathe whenever you're gone
Can't turn back now, I'm haunted"
In a way, it also reminds of a part of the bridge in cardigan, from folklore:
"But I knew you'd linger like a tattoo kiss I knew you'd haunt all of my what-ifs The smell of smoke would hang around this long 'Cause I knew everything when I was young I knew I'd curse you for the longest time
Chasin' shadows in the grocery line"
She talks about the type of relationships that have such a big impact in our lives that we can never forget. And, in Haunted, Taylor also talks about the confusion of losing that relationship. What is it there to do, now that it's all over?
The most heartbreaking thing is that throughout the song Taylor cries desperately for her lover not to leave her. Similar to Forever & Always, she wants to understand what went wrong and do better. Instead, he leaves her clueless. And the memory of that failed relationship hovers all around her like a ghost.
What I like the most about this song is the instrumentation. I feel like it manages to convey the message even more efficiently than the lyrics. About this, Taylor said:
I wanted the music and the orchestration to reflect the intensity of the emotion the song is about, so we recorded strings with Paul Buckmaster at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles. It was an amazing experience – recording this entire big, live string section that I think in the end really captured the intense, chaotic feeling of confusion I was looking for.
Stay Stay Stay
Enough with the sadness (at least for now). I truly don't know why the fandom hates this song so much when I find it utterly beautiful. It's playful, it's fun and it's lovely. Sure, it might not be best in terms of lyrics but what about it? I still enjoy it. This song, for me, is the epitome of what being in love feels like.
Contrary to the previous two songs I talked about, in Stay Stay Stay Taylor doesn't blindly believe that their love will last forever. In fact, she is quite confident that their relationship was about to end as stated from the very first lyric of the song:
"I'm pretty sure we almost broke up last night"
The song starts describing a fight that the couple went through and how the other person decided to stay instead of leaving.
"I was expecting some dramatic turn away
But you stayed"
Throughout her discography, there are many songs that show the act of staying as a major proof of love for Taylor. And it is understandable: it must be hard to find someone who'll stick with you through thick and thin when your life is always appearing in national news and you are involved in rumors and scandals that are anything but true.
To understand how important 'staying' is for Taylor Swift, maybe we should look at a lyric from The Archer:
"Who could ever leave me, darling?
But who could stay?"
In this one, similar to the others, she wants to make things better. The difference is that with Forever & Always and Haunted she is expecting her lover to explain what went wrong, while in this song she takes action and confronts the problem herself:
"This morning I said we should talk about it
'Cause I read you should never leave a fight unresolved"
For me, this change shows how her perspective of relationships is evolving and becoming more mature through the years, especially if we take into consideration the fact that Stay Stay Stay belongs to an album released after Fearless (where Forever & Always comes from) and Speak Now (where Haunted comes from): Red.
But that's not all. In this particular song Taylor also reflects on her past relationships and she's happy that she finally found someone good and trustworthy that loves her:
"Before you, I'd only dated self indulgent takers
Who took all of their problem out on me
But you carry my groceries and now I'm always laughing"
In a sense, I believe the song is a perfect parallel to The Way I Loved You, from the album Fearless, where Taylor sings about finding a reliable partner but missing the thrill and excitement and pain of a turbulent previous relationship:
"But I miss screaming and fighting and kissing in the rain
And it's 2:00 a.m. and I'm cursing your name"
"And you were wild and crazy
Just so frustrating, intoxicating, complicated"
How beautiful is it to finally find that special person that makes you laugh and who you feel comfortable with? All that excitement and love and trust and hope for the future is, in my opinion, perfectly reflected in Stay Stay Stay.
"You took the time to memorize me My fears, my hopes and dreams I just like hanging out with you All the time All those times that you didn't leave It's been occurring to me I'd like to hang out with you For my whole life"
I mean, just look at the beauty of that bridge!
This is a happy song. And I'm just going to say it: anyone who doesn't like it might just be a bit bitter.
Sad Beautiful Tragic
That was too much happiness. Time to go back to sadness, just as the title hints!
This song destroyed me! Teared me apart! Took all of my emotional stability! Broke my heart! And what do I say to Taylor Swift after that? Thank you! Because, as I mentioned previously, there's nothing I love more than a sad beautiful tragic Taylor Swift song.
On a more serious note, this might be my favorite song from Red.
About this song, Taylor said:
I wanted to tell the story in terms of a cloudy recollection of what went wrong. It’s kind of the murky gray, looking back on something you can’t change or get back.
Remember all the happiness of Stay Stay Stay? Well, forget about it. Sad Beautiful Tragic is a song about a relationship falling apart for a vast number of reasons, but still being able to reflect on the good parts and appreciating the beauty and magic that it once held, as said in the chorus:
"We had a beautiful magic love there What a sad beautiful tragic love affair"
We have seen how in other songs Taylor does her best to understand and save the relationship. And in those, the thing that stops her from reaching her goal is usually the other person. Not in this song, tho. The impediment here is time. They've just got the wrong timing, so even if they try to fix the relationship they are unable to do so.
"Words, how little they mean
When you're a little too late"
Then, the song deals with how difficult it is to be apart from each other.
"We both wake
In lonely beds
In different cities
Is taking its sweet time erasing you
And you've got your demons
And darlin' they all look like me"
But the saddest thing, the one that has the power of breaking my soul in a million pieces is the bridge. That damn bridge showing the whole process of trying to find a solution but just not being on the same page. Because, in the end, I think that was the biggest issue here: they were following completely different paths that simply weren't meant to work together.
"Distance, timing Breakdown, fighting Silence, the train runs off its tracks Kiss me, try to fix it Could you just try to listen? Hang up, give up For the life of us we can't get back"
My heart breaks everytime I hear her sing "Could you just try to listen?" because there have been so many times in my life when I feel like it. That's another issue with this relationship. And, now that I think about it, it looks familiar to the "You didn't even hear me out (you didn't even hear me out) / You never gave a warning sign (I gave so many signs)" from folklore's song exile. And it is just so frustrating! Cause, maybe, if there had been clear communication all the turmoil could have been avoided.
Anyways, before I get too depressed I'll just state my conclusion: this song should have the same (or at least a similar) level of recognition as All Too Well. There. I said it.
This blog just has been a roller coaster of emotions, so let's go back to feeling deeply in love! Delicate is Reputation's track five. Now, for those of you who might not know, in Taylor Swift's discography track fives are known for being deeply emotional and personal songs. These are the songs where Taylor is vulnerable and drops her armor down.
My issue with this song is that it doesn't get enough recognition as a sensitive song. When people rank their favorite track fives, Delicate is almost always somewhere near the bottom. They seem to appreciate more songs like White Horse, All Too Well or Dear John (which are also masterpieces, but that's not the point here).
Delicate is my favorite track five. In fact, according to Spotify it is the Taylor Swift song that I have listened to the most. There's a reason for that and I'll attempt to explain it now.
Taylor Swift was at her lowest during her Reputation era. I won't go into much detail because I bet everyone has heard about it. If you don't (have you been living under a rock??) then here's a quick summary: basically, everyone hated her so much that she literally had to disappear for a year.
She even makes sure to state that at the very beginning of the song:
"This ain't for the best
My reputation's never been worse, so
You must like me for me"
Delicate makes my heart melt. Taylor was at a time in her life where she felt horrible and full of hate, resentment and desire for revenge and karma. And then, those feelings slowly started to fade as love made its way back to her. She met someone wonderful, but how could she be with him with all the drama she was carrying on her back?
"Is it cool that I said all that?
Is it too soon to do this yet?
'Cause I know that it's delicate"
The song shows a certain hesitation to let herself fall in love freely. It shows the initial steps, the crushing times, when she's still unsure to unleash her feelings for him. Yet, she does.
I don't have much to comment about the lyrics. Overall I just really love the whole production of this song.
Briefly mentioning the music video: it is gorgeous. Probably my favorite music video by her. And I believe it is the perfect companion for the song.
At first, we see Taylor being bored and unhappy. The fun of the video begins when she discovers that she has become invisible for some reason and she is finally able to be herself and dance and have a good time. As if saying "I don't care what you think or say about me". Additionally, it is known that her relationship with Joe Alwyn (who this song is about) is kept very private. So the fact that no one can see her when she's the happiest she's been could also be a hint to that aspect of her life.
If I had to describe it in a word it would simply be wholesome.
And the ending is even prettier. She walks into a bar, looks for someone and when she finally finds him she smiles. The two images, the first one and that last one, are total opposites and they demonstrate the transformation and learning process that particular relationship has taught her.
I love this song so much. And I love the music video as well. Either way, stream Delicate.
Have you ever hurt someone you loved and felt guilty about it? Then this song is for you.
Most of Taylor Swift's haters complain about her only writing songs about her exes and how they did her wrong. In Afterglow, Taylor assumes responsibility for the faults in the relationship. She's conscious of what she did and how she hurt the other person and apologizes in a similar way as she did in her track Back To December:
"So this is me swallowin' my pride
Standin' in front of you sayin' I'm sorry for that night"
I find this song utterly beautiful. Because it's not only about forgiveness and accountability. I believe it also deals with the issue of being unsure whether to trust or not. Similar to Delicate, Afterglow exposes the question: is it safe to fall?
For me, this song means everything. It's about dealing with so much on your own that you underestimate your lover, who is actually just trying to help you. It is about sharing the baggage and learning and growing together, about being able to admit your mistakes and be better. My interpretation also touches the themes of mental illness and depression, which can lead to us self-sabotaging our relationships. Songs that touch similar themes are peace from folklore or Taylor's collaboration with Big Red Machine for Renegade.
It's all me in my head
I'm the one who burned us down
But it's not what I meant
Sorry that I hurt you
I don't wanna do, I don't wanna do this to you
I don't wanna lose, I don't wanna lose this with you
I need to say, hey
It's all me, just don't go
Meet me in the afterglow"
This chorus is just something else.
She has had to deal with things on her own. In consequence, she isolates herself and has problems with communication. It is hard for her to finally let someone in.
"I lived like an island, punished you with silence"
But in the end, she does. Because she believes in love, she feels it's sincere and genuine.
"This ultraviolet morning light below
Tells me this love is worth the fight, oh"
She is willing to get better. To improve as a person. To leave behind all her insecurities and issues because this love is worth it. And she doesn't want to be the reason it all ends.
Still, she asks for support. She knows the journey won't be easy and she needs to make sure that the other person will be there for her if she relapses.
"Tell me that you're still mine
Tell me that we'll be just fine
Even when I lose my mind
I need to say
Tell me that it's not my fault
Tell me that I'm all you want
Even when I break your heart"
Why are Taylor Swift's bridges so otherworldly? If I had the opportunity to hear Afterglow live, I would probably scream this part as hard as I could.
In summary, I love this song with all my heart. It feels like it was written just for me. It is relatable and beautiful. Afterglow is perfection.
This one is literally a top ten Taylor Swift song of all time. My favorite from folklore, without a doubt. I could write a whole essay about seven. I might do it someday. I loved it from the very first time I listened to it. How couldn't I, when it's such a gorgeous piece of art?
There's one question in the song lyrics that I'd like to answer now:
"Are there still beautiful things?"
Yes! There are! seven, my love, my darling, honey: you are beautiful! You're everything that's right and good in this world! You're a modern masterpiece!
Ok, I think that was enough. Sorry if I get overexcited again, I just deeply adore this song and that's why it hurts me that it doesn't get the recognition it deserves. And it makes me mad that it gets compared to august so much when both songs are completely different to each other.
This track is about nostalgia. So I'm going to ask you to do something. Close your eyes and think about your childhood. I want you to find that person, that friend, who you always loved but then distance or any other external factors broke your relationship. Try to remember their whole name. Try to picture their face. It's hard, isn't it? But, even if the image isn't clear in your head, you have clarity in your heart. You loved that person. And you miss them, somehow.
"And though I can't recall your face
I still got love for you"
That is the essence of seven. Beautiful, right? And also a bit sad. Hopefully that has given you an idea of why I love this song so much.
Not only are the lyrics pretty, but the music makes me ascend. The beginning is magical. It has some fairytale element to it. It immediately transports you to another time. Simpler times. More innocent times. Taylor manages to give to the song the vulnerability and purity of a child, while still giving the listener some insight into a more adult perspective. It's like when you look back to something you didn't understand as a kid but now, as a grown up, you get it. An example of this is shown in the lyric:
"And I've been meaning to tell you
I think your house is haunted
Your dad is always mad and that must be why"
This part of the song, when Taylor sings that, makes me go absolutely feral. The narrator of the story is innocent enough to believe that their friend's house is haunted. Us, listeners, know that there is something darker hiding in the corner. An abusive parental relationship, most likely. This track, I believe, is one that really showcases Taylor's amazing ability as a storyteller.
Another lyric that makes me lose my mind is the following:
"Please picture me
In the weeds
Before I learned civility
I used to scream ferociously
Any time I wanted"
When talking about this part in Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions, Taylor mentioned something about how kids are able to throw a tantrum and it's natural but, as adults, we slowly learn to put that anger away. And where does it go? I have no idea.
Now, I like that interpretation but for me this is a lot more deeper. These lines are about being free and careless and not having yet any of society's expectations on your back. It's childhood at this purest expression. It's an ideal, a reminder for the future self: be free. Say what you want. Express your emotions. Live every day like it's the first. Follow your dreams. Don't lose hope. Don't let them change you. Be yourself.
Maybe I love listening to this song so much because of that reminder. And because I love to reminisce on the past. And because I still have dreams about meeting my childhood friends again. Who knows. The important thing is that this song makes me feel whole and fulfilled.
About seven, Aaron Dessner said:
It has one of the most important lines on the record: “And just like a folk song, our love wilI be passed on.” That’s what this album is doing. It’s passing down. It’s memorializing love, childhood, and memories. It’s a folkloric way of processing.
I love you, seven. And I'm truly grateful that Taylor Swift decided to create this work of art.
Also, I won't tolerate any seven slander.
coney island (feat. The National)
What time is it? Depressed hours! Again!
I've seen a lot of people saying that they thought coney island would be a fan favorite from evermore, but instead it was cowboy like me (which they thought would be a flop). I honestly thought the same. As time goes by, people are slowly realizing that coney island is such an amazing song. And that makes me really happy. Still, I decided to include it in this list so it gets a bit more recognition.
Once again, this song is about a relationship that is reaching a low point. I think the saddest part of this one is that there is no mention of trying to save it. And why is that? Because neither of the parties are in love with each other anymore. The thrill of the relationship is gone.
Even in that situation, they don't want it to end. Maybe because they've gotten used to the other person and breaking up would make things official. Maybe because they still care for each other, but not in a romantic way anymore.
This song is about falling out of love and not liking it. It has a similar feeling to We Were Happy (Taylor's Version) (From the Vault):
"Oh, I hate those voices
Tellin' me I'm not in love anymore
But they don't give me choices
And that's what these tears are for
'Cause we were happy"
Coney Island, located in New York, is famous for being a vibrant scenario full of fun and exciting things to do. In her song with the same title, Taylor paints a desolated imagery that contradicts that place. Because in a way, the relationship was the same: exciting at first and then dull and boring.
"And I'm sitting on a bench in Coney Island Wondering, "Where did my baby go?" The fast times, the bright lights, the merry-go Sorry for not making you my centerfold
Over and over Lost again with no surprises Disappointments close your eyes And it gets colder and colder When the sun goes down"
How sad is that?
The "Sorry for not making you my centerfold" is really saying "sorry for not making you my priority". Which, in the end, implies that one person was putting more effort and not receiving the same in return, so that might be why the relationship fell apart.
My favorite lyric from the song is this one:
"And if this is the long haul
How'd we get here so soon?"
It's simple yet powerful. Here is my interpretation: both of them thought the relationship would last a long time, even forever (the long haul). But then both fell out of love. The "How'd we get here so soon?" is really asking: how is it possible that we have already reached the point where we can't tolerate each other / don't love each other anymore if this was meant to be a lifelong relationship? So there is a certain element of surprise because none of them expected things to turn out that way.
Another part that I really enjoy is the bridge as bits of it seem to reference previous Taylor songs and her relationships.
"Did I leave you hanging every single day?
Were you standing in the hallway with a big cake?
Could be referencing The Moment I Knew:
"And they're all standing around me singing
"Happy birthday to you"
But there was one thing missing
And that was the moment I knew"
"Did I paint your bluest skies the darkest gray?"
Looks familiar to this line from Dear John:
"You paint me a blue sky
And go back and turn it to rain"
"And when I got into the accident
The sight that flashed before me was your face"
Could be referencing the car accident from Out Of The Woods:
"Remember when you hit the brakes too soon?
Twenty stitches in a hospital room"
A song with hidden references to others? Sign me in!
Another thing that is worth mentioning is Matt Berninger's voice, the lead singer from The National. It is gorgeous. His and Taylor's voices accompany each other perfectly. Without him, the song wouldn't be the same. Their duet is sublime.
I love how Matt and Taylor sound together.
I just love this song so much. One of my favorites from evermore.
evermore (feat. Bon Iver)
This song is Taylor's second collab with Bon Iver. And I'm so grateful they got to do more music together.
It is the title track of the album. It is a collab with an artist the fandom seemed to love in folklore. It is co-written with Joe Alwyn. And still, people sleep on this song.
I've heard a lot of things about this song. That the piano switch in the melody ruined it. That Bon Iver ruined it. Is it because in this one he sings in a higher pitch than in exile? You know what? You're all wrong! This song is exceptional.
Taylor has said that with folklore and evermore not all the songs are about her personal experience. There are some exceptions, like invisible string or marjorie and I think evermore is also one.
The song talks about experiencing a long period of depression that seems to have no end. It is about being in place of hurt and hopelessness. Like when you feel there's no future for you. Like when you feel you're broken and can't be fixed. And I think that relates to the period of isolation that Taylor went through before she released Reputation, the one we have already talked about in Delicate.
"I had a feeling so peculiar
That this pain would be for
All of Taylor's parts on the song, before Bon Iver appears, are just as sad as that (if not more).
"And I was catching my breath
Barefoot in the wildest winter
Catching my death"
Like, why? Why does she have to hurt me so badly with those lyrics? The imagery is perfect. It's winter, it's cold and you're alone. There's nothing (or no one) protecting you. You are burning in your pain. You are dying. Silently.
Addressed to the fire"
To be double crossed"
Maybe because you don't want to create a big deal out of it. Maybe because you feel everyone would be better off that way. Or, maybe, because you know no one will care if you die. How? You're alone. You don't have anyone.
But then the melody changes. The first part of the bridge starts. And Bon Iver appears:
"Can't not think of all the cost
And the things that will be lost
Oh, can we just get a pause?
To be certain we'll be tall again
Whether weather be the frost
Or the violence of the dog days
I'm on waves, out being tossed
Is there a line that I could just go cross?"
It's still depressing. But the switch in the song indicates things will change. And then Taylor appears again:
"And when I was shipwrecked
I thought of you