Every Song on Taylor Swift’s ‘folklore’ Ranked

Though evermore stalwarts might disagree, folklore is home to Taylor Swift‘s best songwriting efforts. She left any hit-making pressure behind while making this record and instead focused on crafting affecting prosaic tracks.

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Every song on this record is a stunner. There isn’t a true skip on the entire album, but we do have some thoughts on which song is best. Find our ranking of the songs on folklore, below.

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17. “mad woman

We admire the message Swift is trying to convey with “mad woman.” It is one of many empowered, feminist-forward tracks she has delivered throughout her career—albeit done in a more somber way than many of her other songs in this vein. That being said, it’s not the first track we run to when combing through folklore. It might be the last—hence its placement on this list.

16. “the lakes

This track is a welcomed bonus addition to an already great album. We’d take countless more songs that are written in this folklore sonic direction. That being said, the up-tempo tune doesn’t measure up to others on this album—”the 1″ or “the last great american dynasty” for example.

15. “this is me trying

“this is me trying” would be one of the best moments on any other album. The refraining rhythm conjures up memories of late nights riddled with doubt. Unfortunately (or fortunately, we guess) there are 17 shining moments on this album—many of which shine brighter than this one.

14. “epiphany

“epiphany” is a stunning offering. We previously put it at No. 1 on a list of Swift’s least streamed songs, but when pitted against the other songs on this record, it’s not a surprise it hasn’t made the same waves as some of the other songs.

13. “the 1

Coming in at No. 13 is “the 1.” This album opener is enough to entice the listener to tap their foot along to the beat and revisit it when they’re looking for some lighter fare—given that much of this album holds a heavy emotional weight.

12. “cardigan

“cardigan” was our first taster of what we could expect from folklore. It generated a healthy amount of buzz upon its release, but it now falls in the latter half of this list. It’s still a stunner on its own, but when put in the context of this track list, it doesn’t measure up to some of the other songs.

11. “exile” (feat. Bon Iver)

Swift and Bon Iver is a combination we didn’t know we needed until folklore came out. Now that we have it, it’s a wonder we ever survived without it. We hate to put it toward the end of this list, and while this song was duly loved by fans, we think other deeper cuts expound on the sonic direction this single established.

10. “the last great american dynasty

Few songwriters could tell as robust a story as “the last great american dynasty.” Swift was inspired by the life and times of Rebekah West Harkness—a woman who married into the Standard Oil dynasty. She covers the gamut of her adventures in under four minutes.

9. “illicit affairs

Swift might be trying to warn against “illicit affairs” in this track, but her smooth, sweet vocals work against her goal. It’s hard to focus on the lesson at hand when the melody is this soothing.

8. “peace

While a lot of this album sees Swift telling other people’s—real or imagined—stories, “peace” is entirely born out of Swift’s own inner monologue. When you’re as famous as Swift is, very little is kept sacred. In this track, Swift owns up to the fact that a quiet, peaceful life might be off the table for her. It’s a stunning realization, the applications of which extend far beyond Swift’s original inspiration.

7. “hoax

“hoax” draws in the listener from the opening line: My only one / My smoking gun / My eclipsed sun / This has broken me down. Something about Swift’s delivery of this track makes it impossible to turn away from it.

6. “betty

“betty” details one piece of a love triangle. Swift doesn’t just tell stories within her songs, she uses the entirety of the track list to flesh out narratives. We admire this track for Swift’s commitment to telling a single story in an all-encompassing way. Though we might love “august” even more, “betty” is still one of the best songs on folklore.

5. “seven

There are many stunning songs about yearning for childhood, but “seven” is likely one of the most immersive. She steps back into the shoes of her younger self and twirls around in the naivety they provide.

4. “august

“august” was a standout from folklore even among people who didn’t comb through the full album. The insatiably catchy, soothing track showcases Swift’s ability to make a hit while not sacrificing an ounce of songwriting power.

3. “my tears ricochet

Leave it to Swift to keep up a metaphor throughout an entire song. She wakes up that Nashville songwriter inside of her for this narrative gem. Many songs have been made about the end of a relationship (Swift has countless herself), but few do it from the same angle that Swift uses here.

2. “mirrorball

The runner-up is “mirrorball.” We always appreciate Swift’s candor and she beautifully embraces her insecurities and fears in this track so that we might be able to do the same. I’m still a believer but I don’t know why, is one of the simplest yet most affecting lines in any Swift song.

1. “invisible string

It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but we’ve picked “invisible string” as our undisputed favorite on folklore. This song not only captures Swift’s unique songwriting voice, but it’s also a stunning sentiment to waiting for the right timing. Few artists would choose to write in such a convoluted way. Nevertheless, there is no mistaking the emotion Swift puts behind this song.

Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

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