While londonbusinessblog.com is a very serious publication, we sometimes get a little off topic in our internal conversations. We talk about video games. We’re talking bad reality TV. We reef on sports and pets and our families. And we talk about music.
Of course, with a group as diverse as our team, views differ. But one notable point of similarity is Taylor Swift. Yes, your tech news is often prepared by a seasoned Swiftie. Maybe even more often than not.
This raises an important question: which Taylor melody is? For real best? After realizing how many of us scribbles had an opinion about it, we decided to publicly argue our case. What follows is a series of arguments – written in three-view style, albeit with more players – about which Taylor Swift’s song really stands above the rest.
We welcome your public comments, of course, but please note in advance that if you disagree with at least one of us, we all think you are completely wrong.
I take my Taylor Swift fandom as an indication of her universality. I’m currently counting down to new records from In Flames, Lorna Shore and other heavy metal bands that very few readers of this article will put on when they drop. That’s fine; music taste is personal. And yet here we are, sharing our passion for Swift’s singing and songwriting, despite our different musical preferences in general.
The universality point isn’t just about her musical type welcome by people of many musical inclinations, however. It goes deeper.
Listening to Taylor’s discography is watching her grow up. And since she and I — according to a quick glance at her Wikipedia page — aren’t even six months old, her transition from youth to young adult to 30-something has been mine too; her catalog essentially follows my own arc of maturity. But as we can see from her older and younger fans, the same life progression resonates with people, even apart from the age she and I share.
Why is that? Lyrics, essentially. Taylor’s tunes begin somewhere in the realm of youthful insecurity (“Fifteen”, etc.), evolve into an era of trust (“Shake It Off”), through a period of experimentation and anger (“Look What You Made Me Do”) , and finally landed in the pandemic era, when she managed to make cottage-core cool (“Cardigan,” “‘Tis the Damn Season”), writing to us from a place of emotional resilience, now past her more turbulent years. ’20 .
Yes, that hits home. Within those albums are a myriad of standout tunes, some of which I mentioned above. Which one is my favorite? As an imported Rhode Islander with some claim to Midwestern roots, you could imagine “The Last Great American Dynasty” would be my go-to. It’s a great tune, but not my all-time favorite.
No, Taylor Swift’s best song is “Wildest Dreams.” Why? It is the platonic ideal of Taylor’s patented blend of melancholy, melody and optimism; it blends her eras, her growing up, really, into a single, perfect number. Bringing so much of what Taylor does well into a package of less than four minutes, this is the right track to call her best.
Thank you, Tay. Keep writing.
If I remember correctly, one of the first vinyl records I ever bought was Taylor Swift’s “Red”. I was in high school and something about that album summed up the anger, confusion and wistful hope I felt at that moment. I never thought of myself as a Swiftie growing up, but looking back, much of her music set the soundtrack to my life.
Last year for some reason I listened to “Seven” over 350 times as we all re-entered life after pandemic lockdowns; the newness and yet the familiarity of life made me long for something that could only touch that tune.
There was ‘August’, the salty air and the ‘long pond sessions’. I think of the masterful lyrics of “This Love” from “1989” or even “New Year’s Eve” from “Reputation.” The “Lover” album was pretty nice, and who hasn’t shouted the chorus of “Cruel Summer” in their heads, in their cars, with their friends at least once? “Evermore” may have a shoutout here; I remember “Cowboy Like Me” being the first song I dramatically put on when I realized my crush had a girlfriend, followed by “Long Story Short” when they broke up.
Perhaps I especially remember those early Taylor days when I twirled around in my bedroom listening to “Enchanted” or looked out the window as my mom drove me home with “The Best Day” playing softly in the background. I remember the first time I heard “Tear Drops on My Guitar” on the radio. I was a kid in the backseat of my mom’s car.
I don’t think anyone at the time knew where that hit single would lead, and every time Taylor re-releases her old albums, I feel like that kid in the back seat again, even though I’m an adult, somewhere in New York City, finally understanding what those emotions mean.
But no matter what Taylor does, I always get pulled back to “Red”.I like “The Lucky One”, and it reminds me of when I went to school in Los Angeles and had my first encounter with Hollywood. I was new in town, in the Angel City, around people seeking fortune and fame. I once wrote a college essay on Insidious, about those moments of intense passion and often unrequited love. Even when I turned 22, almost ten years after the album was released, the first song I put on at midnight, too — well, I think it’s clear at this point.
What I’m trying to say is that it’s pretty hard to pick what Taylor’s best song is. It definitely exists on “Red”,because that album contains some of her best lyrics; destructive, raw, forgiving and optimistic. I mean, have you ever called someone again to break them like a promise?
Today I am much older than when that album first came out. I’m not sure what her best work is, but I can say this with certainty: The acoustic version of “State of Grace” that matches the stadium rendition hits the tense two-sided coin that is the uncertain lust of someone in their twenties. That’s where I am now – so at least for today I’ll have to go with that one.
Amanda Silberling: All Too Well (Taylor’s Version)
I wouldn’t call myself a Swiftie, mainly because when I was most ready for Taylor Swift fandom — my teenage years — I suffered from an undiagnosed case of internalized misogyny, trying to trick everyone into thinking I was cool because I listened to the Velvet Underground. Now, as an adult, basically all I know about Taylor Swift is that she’s obsessed with the number 13, maybe her fans should stop pestering journalists for writing an 8/10 album review, and that she’s getting way too much baloney because she is a woman who dates and writes about people.
But something I’m unequivocally obsessed with is what the internet is talking about on any given day, so every time a new one (Taylor’s version) came out I wanted to know what the discourse was about. And the Swiftie discourse was never louder than the day the 10-minute version of “All Too Well” dropped. Ten minutes? What is this, a progressive metal song that Alex would listen to?
But that song deserves to last 10 minutes, and I’m a terminally online millennial with a social media addiction, so if I can be entertained for 10 minutes by an artist I’m not obsessed with, you know she’s good.
I didn’t even know Taylor Swift was dating Jake Gyllenhaal until that song came out (chill, she’s not complaining about her ex from 10 years ago, she’s re-recording music that holds Scooter Braun hostage, which is really bad of her, so come over yourself). But damn. “You called me again to break me like a promise / so casually cruel in the name of being honest.” Fuck internalized misogyny; Taylor Swift can write. That text took me back to when my high school crush told me he wasn’t going to date me because I wasn’t mentally healthy enough. To be fair, he was right – don’t worry, I’m in therapy now! — but did he have to say it like that? If “casually cruel in the name of honesty” doesn’t immediately return you to your failed attempts at teenage romance, I envy you.
When Taylor’s version of “All Too Well” came out, I probably tweeted something about how I didn’t even know the original version, but this song hit — and then my internet friend Giovanni sent me a playlist he made called “T Swift is actually good‘, which he just always has on hand to convince people that Taylor Swift is good.
I have to say, he convinced me.
Like Amanda, my own adolescence was defined by music that was far removed from Taylor Swift’s sweet pop-country crossover tunes. I found comfort in sitting in the back row of my class and shooting My Chemical Romance’s “I’m Not Okay” into my skull through a single earplug, because it wasn’t cool to use both at the same time. Swift, meanwhile, was a conventionally attractive blonde woman who didn’t make me feel like I was particularly seen as a lanky, outspoken Indian high school, surrounded by, well, pageant queens (I grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona. Leave me alone. ).
But there’s a definite moment when I really remember Swift to see me, penetrating through my soul, exposing it. It was when I saw her in the “Blank Space” music video, destroying a classic car with a golf club in front of a luxurious mansion. This was the moment that, in my eyes, marked Swift’s transformation from a perfect pop princess into a real person, with anger and raw emotion and many flaws.
Best of all, Swift did it all on her own terms, refusing to be pigeonholed: “Keep you doubting like, oh my god, who is she?” After years of shaping her story by what other people said about her, Swift was here, getting loud and wild, letting the world know that she was going to do what she wanted to do, regardless of what people thought. Demanding to be seen as she is, and in the process, to see me.
Annie Saunders: They are all the best and if you want to fight about it we will meet at sunrise in the park
As a 30-year-old woman who recently ended a 10-year marriage, it goes without saying that I’ve listened to a ton of Taylor Swift. Nonstop Taylor Swift. An absolute wall of Taylor Swift.
So sure, “We Are Never Ever Get Back Together” and “I Knew You Were Trouble” were absolute contenders here. They’re definitely fucking bops that have been on repeat for the past year – plus. My 4-year-old son knows all the words to at least a dozen Taylor Swift songs; at this point, he’s singing “Wildest Dreams” until he falls asleep every night, bolstering Alex’s argument.
I avoided Swift for quite a bit of my late 20s and early 30s (see Amanda’s point re: internalized misogyny), and it’s only now – with the context of the pandemic, 15 years in the workforce, a divorce, a kid, Trump, #metoo – that I recognize what a confidence booster she’s been, not just to me, but to loads of women around my age.
This is difficult! She has so many songs that confirm my emotions! I mean, ever listen closely to “Mad Woman” and remember all the times you’ve been through a gas burner? What about “The Man”? “I’m tired of running as fast as I can, wondering if I’d get there faster if I were a man.” It is a must to listen prior to a salary negotiation. Sometimes I feel like she wrote “Long Story Short” just for me.
I can not do it; I can not choose. I celebrate her entire oeuvre. It’s all the best. And if you don’t think so, I’m ready to fight about it… because I listen to Taylor Swift so much.