I’m doing good, I’m on some new shit. Taylor Swift softly declared at the start of Folklore, and truer sentiments are rarely spoken more frequently than in the case of the woman who manages to be the best and most prolific songwriter in pop.
Against all of the more sophisticated writing she’s done since, this introductory, career-launching single certainly counts as a simple pleasure. However, its charm speaks to how we experience music as more than just a soundtrack to life events. But as a spiritual partnership with them.
You’re on Your Own, Kid
If there was any doubt that unresolved childhood loneliness and rejection are the best breeding grounds for uber-driven superstars, Swift clears it all up for us in this childhood origin story for her ambition and independence.
Swift transforms a backstage introduction to an indie-pop dude she had a crush on into what feels like an epic moment at a royal ball. Even if you’re not a natural romantic. There’s something enduringly swoony about the way she frames what feels like classic love at first sight.
Listening to “Tim McGraw” or “Teardrops” back in the day, no one could have predicted Swift would be decrying “the 1950s shit they want from me” while extolling the sensual benefits of a relationship that is just cosily what it is.
‘Tis the Damn Season
This list requires a Christmas song, and you already know it won’t be “Christmas Must Mean Something More,” at least not without a lot more spiked nog. Swift did eventually follow up her early Christmas EP many years later with a sentimental one-off (“Christmas Tree Farm”) but also, more importantly, this fairly unsentimental ode to hometown ex sex during the holidays.
Teardrops on My Guitar
This is the one that started it all. Not on the country side. Where she was already well-established before her sophomore album, but on MTV. Where many pop mixes would follow before she finally picked a lane, as she put it. It may sound primitive now. But an authentically felt teardrop on an authentic instrument never goes out of style.