ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY: Taylor Swift

Each Tuesday, a different musical artist is featured. Share who you'd like to see next in the comments below!



Easily one of the most recognized names and faces in music history, Taylor Swift is a fierce twentysomething, spending her time writing lyrics based on her personal quirks and broken loves with enough fervor to represent the entire millennial generation. With 29 Grammy nominations to date and 10 wins (including two for Album of the Year; the only female to reach that pinnacle), like her or not, Swift is a force in music. She began her career as a shy 14-year old seeking fame as a country singer in Nashville. She's since become one of the best selling artists of all time, with over 40 million albums sold worldwide.

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10. SHOULD'VE SAID NO, Taylor Swift
Certified platinum, this was the fifth and final single from her self-titled album and one of her biggest early crossover singles, showing up in the Top 40 on Billboard's Top 100 list. An ode to a lost love, the song's themes would become stereotype as Swift went on in later albums to write songs based on her love life's struggles. It's uptempo pop-rock feel no doubt attributed to the song's success as a country hit and pop single. Despite being super catchy, as many Swift songs are, this song serves as the perfect introduction to the artist we'd all learn to know as Taylor Swift.

9. YOU BELONG WITH ME, Fearless
Another overreaching pop crossover, this song fed into Swift's ability to build a convincing story out of a catchy tune, a common trope for country music. Instead of relying on a twang and cowboy boots as a story arc, Swift's innocent high school image fed into her immediate success as a tween idol. Plus, her musical talents, and surprising songwriting skills, pushed her to the top of artists to watch. In fact, the song's success led to her win at the MTV VMA's for Female Video of the Year, besting expected winner Beyonce. It was at this award ceremony, while she accepted her award, that Kanye West interrupted, becoming the night's most talked about moment and solidifying Swift as a pop culture icon. The song is strong on its own, but is even stronger with such a great story attached.

8. STYLE, 1989
It's no secret that Swift's music is often inspired by her love life, with most songs being dissected after their release for clues as to whom she may be referring with each lyric. She practically delivers this anecdote on a silver platter, pointedly referring to her fling with One Direction's Harry Styles, despite never admitting to the song's true inspiration in later interviews. Upon its release, the song became 1989's third consecutive Top 10 single. The song plays with an impressively fast pace, evoking a sort of mixture of funk, pop, and even disco/dance themes. With Swift choosing to use 1989 as her official coming out as a pop artists, she easily provides a perfect glimpse into what it's like to be an artist creating music for the masses while not forgetting to enjoy the artistry behind it. This is an effervescent pop song full of good beats, a clever lyric, and a timeless backbone.

7. A PLACE IN THIS WORLD, Taylor Swift 
Definitely considered a deep-cut, this was one of Swift's earliest-written works, appearing on her debut album. The lyric is somewhat dark, providing a surprising mature worldview about a girl trying to find her place in the the world. If a movie was one day made about Swift (which will undoubtedly happen at some point), this song makes the perfect bookend with which to start. An iTunes Session version released in 2008 gives Swift a moment to showcase her guitar-playing skills and her knack for personally connecting lyrics. It's a beautiful testament to striving to reach your dreams.

6. WE ARE NEVER EVER GETTING BACK TOGETHER, Red
Not her only song co-written with Max Martin, this easily serves as the most infectious of the tunes. Included on Red, her album that was marketed as a country album while producing multiple Top 40 hits, this song allowed Swift to choose an uptempo electronic beat, talk about hipster-friendly things, but not forget to strum her guitar. In fact, if there's one song that signals her eventual break from her country roots and into her current pop state, this song is it. The song is reportedly about her ex, Jake Gyllenhaal, but it's catchy lyric is what propelled it, and her, to number one. Since its release, the song has become one of the most-sold singles of all time.

5. BACK TO DECEMBER, Speak Now
A minor upbeat country ballad, this was the biggest highlight of the completely Swift-written Speak Now, her follow-up to Fearless. Most have speculated the song was written about her ex Taylor Lautner. The song followed the same pattern as her previous few hits, crossing over into the Top 40 realm, with a Billboard Top 100 sixth place peak. Featuring an impressively subtle melody and well-composed lyric, the song showcases one of Swift's earliest achievements in near-perfect songwriting. The orchestral backing and Swift's own beautiful strumming only heighten her vocals, which have begun to mature. It's a very focused, poignant entry into the Taylor Swift canon.

4. OUR SONG, Taylor Swift
Starting with the swell of country-tinged banjos and guitars, this is total country singer Taylor Swift. The highlight of her first album, the song serves as the official introduction of Swift as a clever songwriter. It may feel a little too cutesy, but the prowess in each word's delivery is top-class artistry at its best. Even more impressive is that Swift was delivering talented lyrical constructions at such a young age. In hindsight, it's clear what Swift was trying to do at the time: become a successful country singer. And, she pulls it off. Her long blonde hair and country twang were the perfect pieces to the country ingenue puzzle. Add to it lyrics about porch swings and summer nights and it was inevitable that Swift would become a huge star.

3. BLANK SPACE, 1989
Her foray into pop music was filled with hit after hit, and an album that would go on to win Album of the Year, but only one song immaculately serves as Swift's most futile pop song, so far. It's electronic drum beats and undercurrent of sass gives this an edge Swift had tried to show off before, without total success. The song plays as a commentary on the world's infatuation with her love life; though, it's almost tongue-in-cheek, as she knows she's led some of the mystery with her own songwriting lingers-on. As electro-pop, the song packs a punch, even if the tempo is somewhat mellow. And, the lyric misheard around the world adds to the misshapen identity of the Swift about whom she's singing. It's satire at its best and delivered in a perfect pop package.

2. RED, Red
It's no surprise that this song is about a Swift romance, but with it Taylor chooses to enhance her lyrical mastery with added metaphors and a subtle, breezy, refreshing delivery. As a title song, the themes of the entire album can be felt throughout the piece's broad strokes of lyrical genius. Swift was already a respected lyricist before the release of this album, but her twisting words and melding musicality highlight why Swift is the preeminent songwriter of the modern music era. As a country song, the song allows for a heavy guitar influence, but lends itself towards pop/rock. The song enjoyed success on both the country and pop charts, earning Platinum certification for single sales.

1. SAFE AND SOUND, The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond
Co-written with musical genius T-Bone Burnett, this may be a surprise pick for the number one spot, but no other written work by Swift is as compelling as this track. Swift's breathy vocal is mesmerizing and the dark lyric is so picturesque and stunning that it's hard to shake after listening. Backed by folk duo The Civil Wars, it's a shame the song didn't earn more success. A ballad by definition, there is a somewhat Appalachian-infused folkiness at the heart of the song, which helps drive the desperation and hope in the lyric even further. It's a subtle burn of a song that provides Swift's most beautiful moment of her career. She earned her first Golden Globe nomination for the song.

Did your favorite song not make the cut? Make a case for it in the comments below!

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