Taylor Swift Midnights: The 10 songs that made her a global megastar

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Taylor Swift’s career in 10 songs

As fans count down to the release of Taylor Swift’s 10th studio album, Midnights, we look back at the songs that best chart the highs and lows, heroes and heartaches of the songwriter’s remarkable career. -American performer, so far.

Camera iconMidnights by Taylor Swift. Credit: PA

TIM MC GRAW (2006)

Released when she was just 16 and produced by her regular collaborator Nathan Chapman, Tim McGraw isn’t a tribute to the country music star, but rather Swift’s first foray into his hit oeuvre.

Inspired by a high school romance that ended when her older boyfriend left for college, Tim McGraw was Swift’s first single with Big Machine Records and the first to crack the US Billboard charts.

She has rarely performed the song live over the past decade.

LOVE STORY (2008)

The lead single from Swift’s second album (and first to win the Grammy for Album of the Year), Fearless, Love Story is where many fans entered the chat – especially here in Australia where the romantic earworm became her chart-topping debut and reached 10 times platinum sales.

His most performed live song, Love Story takes the age-old tale of Romeo and Juliet and gives star-crossed lovers a happy ending. Oh, she was so naive back then.

Taylor Swift Headpress Pty Limited
Camera iconAs fans count down to the release of Taylor Swift’s 10th studio album, we look back at the songs that best chart the highs and lows, heroes and heartaches of the singer-songwriter’s remarkable career. . Credit: Provided /Provided

BACK TO DECEMBER (2010)

An apology to a former flame on a country-pop power ballad kicked off promotion for Speak Now, Swift’s third album (and Australian chart-topping first) that was inspired by things she wished she had said to people but never had the chance.

The French would call it the spirit of the staircase, while others might call it a lot of spilled tea.

Twilight actor Taylor Lautner claimed the wistful December Throwback was about him. Join the queue, mate.

TOO GOOD (2012, reissued 2021)

Written with regular co-writer Liz Rose nearly two years before it was released on the 2012 magnum opus Red, All Too Well is a live-action fan favorite for good reason.

Swift wrote the original version during the Speak Now World Tour, with the lyrically dense song clocking in at 10 minutes before Rose helped cut it in half.

Swifties finally got to hear the full song last year, when it was included on Red (Taylor’s Version) re-recorded following the star’s dispute with Scooter Braun and Big Machine Records over the masters’ rights to his first six scrapbooks.

Taylor Swift reissues album Red
Camera iconTaylor Swift for the reissue of the album Red. Credit: Taylor Swift/Provided

WE NEVER EVER GET BACK (2012)

Alongside bangers I Knew You Were Trouble and 22, Red’s lead single was one of three tracks from the acclaimed album written and produced with Swedish studio wizards Max Martin and Shellback.

The pop ditty carries the hallmarks of Swift’s next decade on the charts — sassy, ​​synth-pop spiced up with self-referential lyrics and spoken parts about an ex-boyfriend.

Simplistic and almost stuffy, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together remains one of his most eye-catching efforts.

RED (2013)

Written before We Are Never, et al, shows Taylor grappling with a new sound that would result in those hits plus 1989’s debut single Shake It Off as well as the country star completing her pop stint with the Grammy Award-winning album. 1989.

More than that, Red is arguably his best song, a blazing, banjo-tinged rocker about a love that burned alive, then died out. Who knew dating Jake Gyllenhaal was like driving a new Maserati down a dead end street?

WHITE SPACE (2014)

While Shake It Off rocked the Swifties in the long run and became their biggest and most egregious pop hit, Blank Space is really where their conscious songwriting shone.

Swift describes herself as a “nightmare dressed as a daydream” and references her “long list of ex-lovers” in the polished ’80s pop-tinged track written with Max Martin and Shellback.

The satirical song was, in part, designed to avoid any backlash over his history of romantic flirtations with celebrities (see: Red). Blank Space topped the charts here and in the United States, en route to multi-platinum sales soon followed by 1989 singles Style, Bad Blood and Wildest Dreams.

Taylor Swift at ANZ Stadium in 2018 in Sydney.
Camera iconTaylor Swift at ANZ Stadium in 2018 in Sydney. Credit: Marc Metcalfe/Getty Images

BAD BLOOD (2015)

1989’s weakest song also sadly indicated where Swift would go next – the soulless, acerbic R&B-pop of 2017’s album Reputation where songs, such as Look What You Made Me Do, let haters know that they had left a scar.

Bad Blood was reportedly a line to Katy Perry, who Swift claims sabotaged one of her tours by poaching her dancers. Or something like that.

Flash forward to today and while Tay-tay prepares to unveil album 10 following the critical and commercial triumph of Folklore and Evermore, her former rival is doing Menulog ads. No matter how it’s delivered, revenge is best served cold.

ME! (2019)

After the dark grounds of Reputation, Swift was all sunshine and rainbows on the follow-up to 2019 Lover, the first album after leaving Big Machine Records.

With Brendon Urie of emo-rockers Panic! at the Disco and wrote with Lorde producer Joel Little, the sweet debut single Me! fell flat by chart-topping Swift’s multi-platinum standards. It was forced and, dare we say, wrong.

The pandemic prevented Swift from embarking on her usual worldwide stadium tour for Lover, which was a blessing in disguise considering what happened next.

Taylor Swift arrives at the Teen Choice Awards in 2019.
Camera iconTaylor Swift arrives at the Teen Choice Awards in 2019. Credit: Richard Shotwell/Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

EXILE (2020)

After the mechanical brooding of pastel-hued Reputation and Lover – two commercial confections that sold quite well – Tay-tay shocked and delighted fans with a foray into indie folk on not one, but two albums unveiled over the course of the year 2020 hit by the pandemic.

Released in July, Folklore saw Swift collaborate with alternative rockers The National’s Aaron Dessner and Grammy-winning producer Jack Antonoff, before repeating the welcome dose with Evermore later that same year.

The softer, more organic sounds suited the era, especially lead singles Cardigan and Willow, while Exile – a duet with indie icon Bon Iver, written with current beau Joe Alwyn – will endure beyond of his other recent stylistic missteps.

Folklore and Evermore represent an unexpected triumph that coincided with Swift regaining control of her career by re-recording her early albums and suggests she could go almost anywhere on Midnights.

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