By Amanda Wicks
Taylor Swift writes her experiences into her music, and more times than not those tend to be about love: Love lost, love won, loving someone from the sidelines, moving on after a failed attempt at love. You name, she’s likely written about it.
For every single about love that makes the airwaves and becomes a smash hit, Swift has a deep cut that stands the test of time and offers listeners not only insight into her life, but also something more universal that anyone who has felt the pangs and pleasure of love can relate to. Here are the five best, one from each of her albums.
“Invisible” – Taylor Swift
As far as setting the tone for the kind of material she would continue to cover across her next two albums, “Invisible” comes in as a strong deep track. It’s a pining country ballad that positions Swift as the better choice even while the object of her affection has chosen another love. “I just want to show you/ She don’t even know you/ She never gonna love you/ Like I want to,” Swift sings on the chorus, picking up on the meter towards the end and signaling how she would develop as a songwriter. “If you only knew me/ We could be a beautiful, miracle, unbelievable/ Instead of just invisible.”
“Breathe” featuring Colbie Caillat – Fearless
With Swift’s breathy, soft vocals and a mandolin peppering the song to give it a youthful quality, “Breathe” is a pretty song made even prettier with the harmonic vocals of Colbie Caillat. In the song, Swift learns to breathe and stand on her own two feet again after a breakup. “People are people and sometimes it doesn’t work out,” she sings in a mature observation about love. The song contains a slight pop quality when it comes to the bridge, as if Swift were already moving in that direction even while she was firmly entrenched in country territory.
“Better Than Revenge” – Speak Now
Instead of pining after someone she can’t have or moving on after something hasn’t worked out, “Better Than Revenge” pits her against a mean girl who seems to get everything she wants, including boys. “She looks at life like it’s a party and she’s on the list/ She looks at me like I’m a trend and she’s over it,” Swift sings on the second verse. Pre-#Squad, Swift showed that she doesn’t always play the nice friend, especially if someone has crossed her. The song has a trace of Paramore about it with heavier guitar giving the country tune a rock ‘n’ roll edge.
“I Almost Do” – Red
The bright guitar that begins this song contrasts the other produced pop hits that peppered Red and saw Swift transitioning away from country. But “I Almost Do” feels like a classic country song that’s all about the difficulty of moving on when someone once meant a great deal. “And I just want to tell you/ It takes everything in me not to call you/ And I wish I could run to you/ And I hope you know that every time I don’t, I almost do,” she sings on the chorus. Swift will eventually break free of this marginal position, but in the immediate aftermath she shows it’s hard to let go.
“I Know Places” – 1989
Dating while in the spotlight can be nearly impossible, which Swift details in “I Know Places.” The song begins with her repeating the word “I” over and over again while single piano keys build a mood that oscillates between desire and distress. “Something happens when everybody finds out/ See the vultures circling the dark clouds/ Love’s a fragile little flame/ It can burn out, it can burn out,” she sings on the first verse. She and her lover try to eke out a relationship together apart from the photographers and public, but the pressure from both strain their love.