This week, Taylor Swift -- our fearless, perpetually heartbroken leader -- unleashed a new song on the world ... and it's not great. It's called "Shake It Off," it sounds like a bunch of other songs, we didn't get any Harry Styles dirt and the video is, well, interesting.
But before turning our backs on Swift and declaring that her new album, "1989" (out Oct. 27), will probably suck, let's revisit the greatness. Because there's so, so much of it. And let's face it: If you have a heart, a soul and an ex, you love Taylor Swift.
Here are our picks for the greatest Taylor Swift songs of all time:
"Love Story" from "Fearless"
According to your ninth grade English teacher, “Romeo and Juliet” is the greatest love story ever told. If you don’t remember it (spoiler alert!), that’s the one where they both die. Pretty romantic, right? Well, no offense to Shakespeare, but teachers probably just say that because they never listened to Taylor Swift's “Love Story.”
Swift's song remixes the classic tale of “Romeo and Juliet” so it’s actually not terrible. Plus, the video is just like a mini version of "Pride and Prejudice," except this time Mr. Darcy doesn't walk around like he’s got a stick up his butt. (Seriously, what does Keira Knightley see in that dude?) So, thanks to T-Swizzle, it appears it’s finally time for high school educators to change their reading assignments and update their Zunes.
It’s a “Love Story," teachers. Just say yes. -- Bill Bradley
"You Belong With Me" from "Fearless"
A Taylor Swift fan is not a label I would apply to myself; I'm pretty neutral over the blond pop-country singer. But hey, there was a time in high school when I listened to "Fearless" on repeat for a few weeks, and I can appreciate a good sappy pop song when I hear one. "You Belong With Me" is that song (which I admittedly know all the words to) that just makes me feel good, and that I would proudly belt out at karaoke. -- Erin Whitney
"Mean" from "Speak Now"
Taylor Swift has this magical way of making even her critics feel sorry for her, all the while reminding them she's the best in the game. "Why you gotta be so mean?" AW, Taylor! I haven't called someone "mean" without using profanity since, like, second grade! Way to be classy AND sassy. -- Lauren Zupkus
"Change" from "Fearless"
Who would have thought that Taylor Swift, the little girl from suburban Pennsylvania, would be a revolutionary in disguise? Well, she's really not. But "Change," has a lot of revolutionary rhetoric in it: "Because these things will change/ Can you feel it now/ The walls that they put up to hold us back will fall down/ This revolution, the time will come for us to finally win."
Swift doesn't exactly know a lot about adversity. So I'd assume "Change" is more about finding the strength inside yourself to change things and achieve your dreams than to damn the man. Sometimes you just need to remember "these things will change." -- Stephanie Marcus
"All Too Well" from "Red"
When I first heard “All Too Well” back in 2012, I wasn’t exactly blown away. Seemed like Tay’s relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal was kind of intense, but wasn’t it all of like … two weeks? But as the years passed, I couldn’t stop listening to it. The lyrics became an almost daily topic of gchat conversation between me and my co-worker (and confidant) as we navigated heartbreaks, cruel rejections and nostalgia for relationships past.
I could really go on all day about “All Too Well” -- that line about dancing around the kitchen in the refrigerator light seems like it’s not great for global warming, but it’s still sweet -- but the most important line of “All Too Well” comes near the end.
“You call me up again just to break me like a promise, so casually cruel in the name of being honest.” Wow. Just wow. I had experienced my own brand of casual cruelty in the name of being honest right before this song came out. Now, I just think of him in my head as “that casually cruel guy.” Thanks for everything, Taylor. -- Leigh Weingus
"I Knew You Were Trouble" from "Red"
Let's ignore the weird monologue at the beginning of Taylor Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble" and just agree that it's one of her darker songs. It's also pop-yodel done right. We have to admit, we like the desperation that accompanies her lyrics "I guess you didn't care, and I guess I liked that. And when I fell hard you took a step back." She's a girl who's been burned and is basically saying that she should have known better. And who can't relate to that? -- Sasha Bronner
"Long Live" from "Speak Now"
I don't really care what "Long Live" is actually about. Supposedly, it was written in honor of her high school band or something? For me, it holds some greater significance about the fleeting nature of youth and it's also inextricably linked to "The Hunger Games." (I had been reading it at the time. But it's also so apt! "We are the kings and the queens / You traded your baseball cap for a crown / When they gave us our trophies / And we held them up for our town.") But YA lit aside, the truly exceptional gift of T. Swift ballads -- this one in particular -- is that they are imbued with such triumph, such sincerity, such unbridled emotion, which I would never admit to possessing myself. And I don't even have to, because she says it and feels it all for you. -- Jessie Heyman
"Mine" from "Speak Now"
Taylor Swift has a song for every relationship milestone, and I, for one, wish more of those songs had existed when I was going through my (approximately) seven college break-ups with the same guy. However, the song I want to celebrate now has a more positive inflection.
"Mine" is a song about realizing what it's like to have a relationship worth fighting for, and about realizing that the other person is right there fighting for it with you. It's not gauzy and naive like "Love Story" or starry-eyed and self-centered like "You Belong With Me"; it's a bit rough, a bit scary, and willing to get its hands dirty in the name of love. In Taylor's words, what long-term couple doesn't "remember that fight, 2:30 am" when "everything was slipping right out of their hands" and they "braced themselves for the goodbye" -- only to discover that they were both still committed to staying, working things out, and building something strong? Relationships are built on these challenges as much as on the sweeping romantic moments, and that's what "Mine" is all about. Also, it's just a great, infectious song you can't help but sing along to. -- Claire Fallon
"Enchanted" from "Speak Now"
Taylor Swift is the singing version of a Richard Curtis romantic comedy, and "Enchanted" is her "Love Actually." The story behind "Enchanted" is that she met Owl City lead singer Adam Young at a party, was thunderstuck by his charms and wrote a song about their almost, fantasy romance. Here's a sample lyric: "The playful conversation starts / Counter all your quick remarks / Like passing notes in secrecy."
Julia Roberts should be in a movie about this song. Mindy Kaling should be in a movie about this song. Rachel McAdams was almost in a movie about this song: "The Vow," which starred McAdams and Channing Tatum, used "Enchanted" in its trailer. That movie was a surprise hit with romance lovers. Let's give credit to "Enchanted," and then walk through Central Park laughing and holding hands as leaves fall from the trees. -- Christopher Rosen
"Back To December" from "Speak Now"
This tearjerker is one of the best Taylor Swift songs ever written. Her 2010 album "Speak Now" was basically her last country album and was compiled of hit after hit, including "Mine," "Mean" and "Speak Now." But "Back To December" truly resonates with all those lovers out there who made a decision they regret. (In this case, it's rumored that Taylor's regret was dumping "Twilight" hunk Taylor Lautner in December 2009.)
The song contains lyrics like this gut-wrencher: "It turns out freedom ain't nothing but missing you. Wishing I realized what I had when you were mine." THIS is the Taylor Swift we know and love -- no one writes about heartbreak better than this girl. Not sure how happy and single Tay pens tunes, but I'm pretty sure this album won't live up to her previous ones ... (SORRY!) -- Leigh Blickley
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this piece counted "Fifteen" as part of "Speak Now." The song is actually included on "Fearless."
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