What’s the Best Song on Red? Three Passionate Taylor Swift Fans Debate

After months of ready, it’s lastly time to seize your favourite scarf, a tissue field and maybe a maple latte or two as a result of Taylor’s Model of her 2012 album Purple is upon us.

Taylor Swift’s Purple, her fourth studio album, catapulted the artist into pop stardom. The 16 tracks, plus six bonus songs on the deluxe model of the album, telegraphed to listeners in all places that Swift is far more than a rustic artist. It comprises what many take into account to be the most effective tune in her whole catalog (extra on that later) and sees her transition from writing songs about sweeping romantic gestures and unrequited crushes to capturing the quieter, extra painful moments of falling out and in of affection. When Purple debuted she was 22 years previous and, by means of the album, utilized a barely extra grown-up lens on love, utilizing the songs to take a look at relationships with far. “It was in all places, a fractured mosaic of emotions that someway all match collectively in the long run,” Swift wrote in June 2021 of the album. “Comfortable, free, confused, lonely, devastated, euphoric, wild, and tortured by reminiscences previous.”
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As a part of her ongoing public effort to personal all her masters, Swift is re-releasing the album alongside together with her charity single “Ronan” and 9 bonus tracks that includes Chris Stapleton, Phoebe Bridgers, Mark Foster and Ed Sheeran. It follows her re-release of her 2008 album Fearless in April. For the reason that announcement of Purple’s impending arrival, followers have been furiously dissecting each put up Swift has made on social media in an try to collect clues concerning the bonus tracks and whether or not the musician would launch any songs early (her use of a pizza emoji led many to consider a collab with the Jonas Brothers was within the works). Although there have been no shock early releases, a much-anticipated reward awaits: a 10-minute model of the piercing breakup anthem “All Too Nicely” and an accompanying brief movie starring Swift, Stranger Issues’ Sadie Sink and Teen Wolf’s Dylan O’Brien.

In preparation for the album’s re-release, TIME’s largest Swifities sat right down to rank the unique 16 songs on Purple by every compiling their very own particular person rankings. These rankings had been then averaged to create total rankings—in addition to spark some wholesome debate amongst our most devoted followers.

16. “The Final Time”

Particular person rankings: Annabel 15, Andrew 15, Sam 13

Andrew R. Chow: “The Final Time” is the blowout loser of this ballot, and the one tune every of us ranked in double digits. It’s low cost “Exile.” Nonetheless, I hope Gary Lightbody is doing effectively, wherever and whoever he’s.

Samantha Cooney: Do we expect Gary Lightbody banked extra royalties from this tune than from Snow Patrol’s whole again catalogue? The final 30 seconds rule, although.

15. “Every little thing Has Modified”

Particular person rankings: Annabel 16, Andrew 8, Sam 15

Annabel Gutterman: Would folks actually care about this tune if Ed Sheeran wasn’t on it? Hear, I like an acoustic Taylor Swift tune greater than anybody, however that is only a snooze. I all the time skip it!

ARC: If you happen to got here to this tune confused as to why Ed Sheeran is known, you gained’t obtain any readability from listening. Nonetheless, I’m a sucker for a very good snare brush beat, and the hook is fairly large.

14. “Keep Keep Keep”

Particular person rankings: Annabel 9, Andrew 9, Sam 16

SC: This is likely one of the uncommon Taylor Swift songs that I actively dislike. Purple is a lyrical masterpiece concerning the complexities of affection. This can be a saccharine tune that makes me, and I quote, “mad, mad, mad.” Somebody please clarify why that is on the album as an alternative of “Higher Man.”

AG: I actually suppose this will probably be one followers rediscover on Taylor’s Model and notice they had been mistaken about it. Sure, it’s a bit juvenile, however I like the straightforward sweetness of it! The bridge completely encapsulates that second when a relationship simply clicks: “I identical to hanging out with you/ On a regular basis.” A lot of Purple is trying again on what was. “Keep Keep Keep” celebrates the joy of what all the things could possibly be.

ARC: Annabel, I utterly agree with you on that line, besides that you simply overlooked its all-crucial setup:

“You took the time to memorize me/ My fears, my hopes, and goals/ I identical to hanging out with you, on a regular basis”

Taylor’s first few albums held expensive to fairy-tale visions of affection: large gestures, poetic proclamations, exact playbooks of learn how to win somebody over. Whereas this tune’s topic appears to stick to that type of grandiosity, Taylor provides a way more mundane love language that may nonetheless be simply as highly effective—of sitting round with somebody, doing nothing, and nonetheless loving it. Or as Kevin from The Workplace says: “Why waste time say lot phrase when few phrase do trick?” Sorry—dorky reference for an especially dorky tune.

13. “Starlight”

Particular person rankings: Annabel 8, Andrew 12, Sam 14

SC: Purple has just a few concepts that don’t fairly work, however it’s cool to look again on how Swift revisited and perfected them later in her profession. “Starlight” looks like a tough draft to the far superior “The Final Nice American Dynasty.” I’ll have a “marvelous time ruining all the things” over a “marvelous tune” about Bobby and Ethel Kennedy’s marriage any day.

AG: I like that Taylor was impressed by {a photograph} of Bobby and Ethel Kennedy dancing and wrote this entire story about them! I agree, Sam—it’s so enjoyable to see the evolution of her storytelling abilities from this to LGAD. I don’t take into account it essentially inferior—it’s a extra upbeat tune (good to bounce alongside to!) which I’m not mad about.

12. “We Are By no means Ever Getting Again Collectively”

Particular person rankings: Annabel 7, Andrew 16, Sam 10

SC: This tune began the unlucky pattern of Swift releasing essentially the most generic pop tune because the lead single (see: “Shake It Off,” “Look What You Made Me Do”). However the “cover away and discover your peace of thoughts with some indie document that’s a lot cooler than mine” is a genuinely hilarious, self-aware second. And, actually, who hasn’t dated somebody who thought they had been morally superior simply because they beloved the Decemberists?

AG: We might debate the deserves of this tune for an extended whereas, however I’d identical to to level out its significance within the arc of Taylor’s profession. Earlier than Purple, she was a rustic star; “We Are By no means Ever Getting Again Collectively” was certainly one of her first entries into the pop universe. There can be no 1989 if we didn’t get songs like this one first. Everybody has to begin from someplace!

ARC: You’re precisely proper concerning the transitional high quality of this tune; it aspires to pop however solely comes away with the style’s cloying qualities versus its sugar rush. It looks like Taylor cosplaying as Carly Rae Jepsen.

11. ​​”Start Once more”

Particular person rankings: Annabel 12, Andrew 13, Sam 8

SC: I gotta say, I feel we underrated this one. Identical to an ideal first date after a nasty breakup, “Start Once more” is the glimmer of hope we want after an album of pure heartbreak. This tune isn’t nearly discovering somebody new. It’s about discovering somebody who actually sees you after a relationship that made you are feeling so misunderstood. Plus, nobody desires this album to finish with the Kennedy tune!

ARC: This tune sounds prefer it was written in response to the ultimate scene of (500) Days of Summer season.

10. “The Fortunate One”

Particular person rankings: Annabel 14, Andrew 7, Sam 11

See beneath.

9. “I Nearly Do”

Particular person rankings: Annabel 11, Andrew 11, Sam 9

See beneath (once more).

8. “Unhappy Stunning Tragic”

Particular person rankings: Annabel 10, Andrew 14, Sam 6

ARC: Purple won’t ever be my favourite Taylor album as a result of it sags loads within the center with these indie ditties. This trio of songs isn’t unhealthy, however it isn’t good, both.

SC: Admittedly, my music style skews closely towards unhappy indie ditties, however right here’s my counter. Swift’s albums all the time appeared to align with precisely what I’m going by means of once they’re launched, which is why I’m such an enormous fan. When Purple got here out in 2012, I used to be an 18-year-old coping with my first, actual heartbreak. That’s why I’m extra drawn to its gradual burns of disappointment, like “I Nearly Do,” “Unhappy Stunning Tragic” and “The Fortunate One,” than a few of the extra iconic pop tracks on this album. I’m simply attempting to really feel my emotions, OK?

7. “I Knew You Had been Bother”

Particular person rankings: Annabel 13, Andrew 6, Sam 7

AG: That is my least favourite of the generic (learn: Max Martin) pop songs on the album. I really just like the build-up to the refrain, however then don’t take pleasure in that static-y sound that occurs with “hassle, hassle, hassle.”

ARC: “Bother” may not have aged notably effectively, however do you guys keep in mind how genuinely thrilling it was when it got here out? On the time, Kristin Wiig’s impression of Swift on SNL was nonetheless certainly one of wide-eyed naivete; Swift was a rustic megastar whose crossover into the pop stratosphere was removed from assured. And right here she is available in “Bother,” sporting bangs and streaked black eyeliner, shrieking over a dubstep drop, a style that was was solely within the means of being absorbed into the mainstream: neither Spring Breakers nor Aviciii’s “Wake Me Up” would begin heading off mosquitoes in America till the next yr.

However after all, the tune’s best legacy is that it produced one of many funniest memes of all time earlier than we even knew what a meme was.

6. “22”

Particular person rankings: Annabel 4, Andrew 10, Sam 12

AG: Come on, you guys. I can’t not be sentimental about this tune. I don’t care if it’s removed from the height of Taylor’s lyrical skills. She’s describing an evening out the place what occurs really doesn’t matter so long as you’re simply being your self with the folks you like.

I skilled this tune in three eras: In highschool, I screamed it with my associates at dances and events, romanticizing a interval in my life that hadn’t occurred but. Then after I was 22, I 100% lived it: “completely happy, free, confused and lonely in one of the simplest ways.” Now, there’s this comforting pang of nostalgia that comes over me every time I hear it.

SC: Annabel, I understand how a lot this tune means to you, so I’ll be transient. I had enjoyable dancing to this tune on my twenty second birthday and have had zero need to hearken to it since.

AG: Ouch.

5. “Purple”

Particular person rankings: Annabel 6, Andrew 4, Sam 5

AG: The titular tune! It’s breezy and boppy. The lyrics aren’t something to write down house about, however it’s simply so enjoyable. I like that we get a callback to this tune on Lover by means of “Daylight”—“I as soon as believed love can be (burning purple)/ But it surely’s golden.”

ARC: It’s a far extra attention-grabbing tackle synesthesia than most musicians can muster. Though really, has anybody requested Billie Eilish or Pharrell if this tune is definitely purple?

4. “State of Grace”

Particular person rankings: Annabel 5, Andrew 5, Sam 3

SC: State of Grace” units the tone for the remainder of the album: don’t count on any Prince Charmings or completely happy endings this time round. Her lover isn’t a “saint,” and Swift admits she’s “beloved in shades of mistaken.” It’s the proper opener for an album that’s all concerning the ecstasy, agony and complexities of affection between two imperfect adults. It’s additionally a hovering rock tune that makes me wish to see Swift go full Springsteen.

3. “Holy Floor”

Particular person rankings: Annabel 3, Andrew 3, Sam 4

SC: Lastly, a bop I can get behind! That is the Purple tune that makes essentially the most frequent appearances on my Spotify playlists. It makes me wish to dance, and it completely evokes that heat feeling of remembering somebody who used to imply one thing to you.

AG: If you happen to don’t instantly begin dancing within the first 20 seconds of this tune, one thing is mistaken with you! I don’t make the foundations!

ARC: This needed to have damaged Taylor’s earlier document for syllables per minute. I additionally suppose that is the introduction of “New Yorker Taylor Swift?” Nice tune, though I by no means favored that “hoo-lay-ee” chorus.

2. “Treacherous”

Particular person rankings: Annabel 2, Andrew 2, Sam 2

SC: I’m so glad all of us love this tune, which I really feel is criminally underrated. “Treacherous” has a few of Swift’s best-ever lyrics (“All we’re is pores and skin and bone/ educated to get alongside”) and her second-best bridge. It additionally reveals simply how a lot Swift has advanced for the reason that enchanted encounters and flying sparks on Converse Now: she is aware of the thing of her affection is unhealthy for her, however she’s in for the trip anyway.

ARC: What’s her greatest bridge, Sam, and why is it “Expensive John”?

SC: Ugh, it’s “Expensive John.” “You’re an knowledgeable at sorry/And retaining the traces blurry/By no means impressed by me acing your assessments” walked so the whole lot of Purple might run!

ARC: If we’re giving out superlatives, I feel that is additionally her greatest prechorus (which comprises the lyric you simply talked about) and likewise in all probability her sexiest tune.

AG: Individuals are sleeping on “Treacherous” and I hope Taylor’s Model will change that. This can be a attractive tune and it’s so deceiving. It begins off moody and mushy and there’s this mild, twinkly high quality to the acoustic beat that makes it sound like a Fearless tune. Then, the tempo picks up on the actual line Sam talked about (certainly one of my all time favourite Taylor Swift lyrics) and it simply retains constructing to its brutal finish. It seamlessly blends pop and nation and offers strategy to a lovely ballad about risking your coronary heart when you already know issues would possibly finish badly.

SC: Being associates with Annabel additionally means getting “nothing secure is definitely worth the drive” despatched to you, unprompted, not less than as soon as a day.

AG: I don’t even like driving and right here we’re!

1. “All Too Nicely”

Particular person rankings: Annabel 1, Andrew 1, Sam 1

SC: All Too Nicely” is the most effective tune on Purple. It’s additionally the most effective tune in Taylor Swift’s whole discography, and the most effective breakup songs ever written (it’s in my private canon with “The Final Time I Noticed Richard” and “If You See Her, Say Hey.”) A collage of muted reminiscences builds to a bursting bridge you’re by no means fairly prepared for—till you’re screaming “you name me up once more simply to interrupt me like a promise/ so casually merciless within the identify of being sincere” alone in your condo. (Sorry to my next-door neighbor.) The tune is quietly highly effective: it’s only a girl telling the reality concerning the good and unhealthy of her relationship—and never permitting her ex to rewrite their historical past.

ARC: +1000 in your “The Final Time I Noticed Richard” shoutout, Sam.

It’s change into virtually too modern to anoint “All Too Nicely” as Taylor’s greatest tune lately, which is why I attempted my very hardest to rank it elsewhere. However I couldn’tit’s too rattling good. The little visible cues that function sepia Polaroid snapshots of vivid moments; the peerlessly unusual turns of phrase (“Autumn leaves falling down like items into place”). This tune has a scent, identical to her previous sweater.

The tune’s composition additionally completely aligns with the sonic period Taylor created it in. With its booming snare, overdrive guitars and wall of sound, it’s arduous to think about it having the identical affect when dressed up within the garments of the metallic “Popularity” or the cloistered “Folklore” eras, for instance. I’m very excited to look at the tune’s 10-minute movie, as a result of it’s all the time had a cinematic high quality. I like her flip on the finish from wistful to vicious; it’s virtually a superhero (or supervillain) origin story.

AG: I do know, I do know. It’s boring to have this at primary. It’s very anticipated. However how might “All Too Nicely” be wherever else? I’m fairly constructive we might have completed a roundtable rating each single line of this tune. (For what it’s value, my primary is “Trigger there we’re once more in the midst of the evening/ We’re dancing ‘around the kitchen within the fridge gentle”). This tune is the centerpiece of Taylor Swift’s discography—it introduced to the world that she transcends style and is right here to remain.

Songs about heartbreak are so typically about what one individual did or how the opposite responded. There may be blame to be positioned and somebody is mad or unhappy on the individual they as soon as beloved. There isn’t any blame in “All Too Nicely.” As she seems to be again on these seemingly meaningless moments that constructed this relationship that’s now over, Taylor Swift is asking for an evidence as to why it needed to finish and may’t pinpoint the place the unraveling started. She’s mining these reminiscences and realizes it doesn’t matter in any respect—“Perhaps we received misplaced in translation/ Perhaps I requested for an excessive amount of”—as a result of she is aware of it occurred, “it was uncommon, I used to be there, I keep in mind all of it too effectively.”


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