Taylor Swift’s Top 10 Love Songs

No, Taylor Swift’s discography isn’t exclusively love songs and breakup songs, but it’s hard to deny that the ones she has written are irresistible. The country singer-songwriter turned industry titan has had a tremendous decade so far, with the release of folklore, evermore, and Midnights, not to mention her re-recordings of Fearless, Red, Speak Now, and 1989. Her Eras Tour was a massive success globally, and she only keeps growing, both in popularity, and in her music. Here’s a look back at some of her most iconic love songs, and the many ways she’s written about the subject.

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1. “Lover” (2019)

“Lover” is reminiscent of Swift’s early songwriting after enjoying a decade full of massive pop hits. Appearing on her 2019 album of the same name, the song seems to take a step back, reflecting over acoustic guitars on the cozy, domestic aspects of a relationship. Her vocals sound as though they’re in a large, empty house waiting to be filled, perhaps with hopes of taking a next step in the relationship. She wrote the song for then-partner Joe Alwyn, imagining it as a wedding ballad.

2. “Red” (2012/2021)

Like driving a new Maserati, “Red” is a bolt of energy. Off 2012’s passionate, animated Red, Swift gives the term “red flag” a whole new meaning, acknowledging the dangers of her relationship without planning on calling it quits. The country rock-infused track hit No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 upon its original release. She revisited the song in 2021 for Red (Taylor’s Version), staying true to the original but making slight changes to the production.

3. “cardigan” (2020)

Not only is “cardigan” a richly told love ballad, but it is a feat of pop production, courtesy of The National’s Aaron Dessner. Woven into the string orchestra are bubbling electronic drums, giving the track a haunting ambiance. The song, assumed to be connected to the story of “betty,” which appears later on folklore, interplays finding love again after being treated as disposable, like an old cardigan. They play on-and-off, with the love interest often disappearing and affecting her ability to trust him.

4. “Afterglow” (2019)

“Lover” may be thought of as the most popular, and premier love song on Lover, but deep cut “Afterglow” showcases the sobering realities of serious commitment, as well as the importance of taking accountability for one’s actions. Thus, it’s a different side to a Swift love song. Swift still loves
her significant other through their hardships, and strives to be better, not self-sabotaging, as she could risk losing her partner. Swift only recently began performing “Afterglow” live, premiering it during the Mexico City date of her Eras Tour in August 2023.

[RELATED: Taylor Swift’s Mysterious ‘folklore’ & ‘evermore’ Co-Writer Revealed]

5. “Lavender Haze” (2022)

The most recent entry on this list, “Lavender Haze” is one of Swift’s most daring and experimental love songs to date. Utilizing a synth-laced, club-inspired beat to play into the “after dark” theme of Midnights, the song toes the line between being self-satisfied in her relationship and internalizing others’ notions of her based off past relationships and dating habits. The public wants her to settle down, or believes she rapidly cycles through relationships, and thus Swift almost expects her partner to run off and slander her to the press.

6. “You Are in Love” (2014)

Swift again shows off her stripped-back, atmospheric pop prowess on “You Are in Love,” but puts a spin on her usual love song approach. The lyrics employ the second person—Swift on the outside looking in at another relationship. The subject, however, has nothing to do with her; it rather references her friend and frequent collaborator Jack Antonoff and his relationship with another of her friends, Lena Dunham. Swift admires the trust they’d built between each other, and the comfort they both found in quiet moments.

7. “peace” (2020)

Another cut off of 2020’s folklore, Swift wrestles with the intersection between love and her fame, fearing that it will drive her partner away for lack of privacy. She paints the relationship as a ticking time bomb about to go off, to the point where she believes she cannot be a source of solace for her partner. “Peace” takes on an indie alt-rock sound, minimalist in its use of keys and electric guitar.

8. “Delicate” (2017)

From an album that has a reputation for being Swift’s “gutsiest” era, “Delicate” is a sudden departure from that attitude. Swift wishes to prompt a relationship with someone she’s been seeing, for he is able to look past what others say about her in the news and see the real person standing in front of him. In terms of production, while the song is a break from the fast pace of Reputation, it is still in-your-face and cerebral.

9. “I’m Only Me When I’m with You” (2006)

“I’m Only Me When I’m with You” comes off Swift’s 2006 self-titled debut album. Love is still a persistent theme throughout the record, but looks a little different given Swift’s personal life at the time. With it being off her first album, before her days of earth-shattering fame, this song is not about fame intertwining with her relationships. Nor is it even about a romantic relationship. It’s about her relationship with her best friend, Abigail Anderson, and their unequivocal honesty with each other.

10. “Love Story” (2008)

No list of Taylor Swift’s best love songs is complete without, arguably, her most well-known one to date. Interlacing it with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Swift reflects on an unrequited love due to outside disapproval and the couple’s extensive time apart. She maintains her country roots in the now iconic twangy guitars and violins, but still shows she could be a pop sensation. The song first debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2008, rising to No. 4 by January of 2009. “Love Story (Taylor’s Version),” hit No. 11 in 2021.

Photo by John Shearer/TAS23/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

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