Taylor Swift's nine solo albums ranked, from her eponymous debut to 'Evermore'

Swift's discography is full of high points and exudes smart lyricism and crafty songwriting

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Taylor Swift is releasing her 10th album in October. The pop star made the announcement at the podium of the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday.

Titled, Midnights, the new project will be out on October 21 and follows her acclaimed back-to-back 2020 albums Folklore and Evermore.

Swift shared the news as part of her acceptance speech for winning Video of the Year award for her song All Too Well (10-minute version) (Taylor's version).

“You guys, I’m just so proud of what we made, and I know that every second of this moment that we wouldn’t have been able to make this short film if it weren’t for you, the fans,” she said.

"I had sort of made up my mind that if you were going to be this generous and give us this, I thought it might be a fun moment to tell you that my brand new album comes out October 21st. And I will tell you more at midnight.”

True to her promise, she expounded further on the release on Instagram at midnight, explaining the album was written in the early hours of the night.

“This is a collection of music written in the middle of the night, a journey through terrors and sweet dreams,” she wrote.

“The floors we pace and the demons we face. For all of us who have tossed and turned and decided to keep the lanterns lit and go searching — hoping that just maybe, when the clock strikes 12 … we’ll meet ourselves.”

It will be interesting to see what creative direction Swift will take with Midnights.

She has built a formidable body of work in her 16-year career — branching out from her country music to bombastic pop and atmospheric folk.

Let’s take a look at all of Swift’s albums and how they stack up within her storied career.

9. 'Taylor Swift’ (2006)

Her debut album didn't exactly herald a new star being born, but demonstrated that Swift, who was 16 at the time, was definitely an artist to watch.

This remains her most classic country record to date with Tim McGraw and Our Song featuring twanging guitars and smooth arrangements.

Meanwhile, the sparse Mary's Song (Oh My My My) hinted at the evocative and rootsy folk music Swift would go on to explore nearly 15 years later with the Grammy Award-winning album Folklore.

8. ‘Speak Now’ (2010)

This release lyrically detailed her growth from adolescence to adulthood.

While not exactly a concept album, songs including Sparks Fly and The Story of Us, speak of love and heartache as unvarnished emotions with repercussions.

With tracks such as the caustic Dear John and Back to December inspired by failed relationships (the former reportedly with John Mayer), it was here that Swift's lyricism caught the attention of the public and media — for better or worse — for some of its soap-operatic qualities.

7. ‘Fearless’ (2008)

An album that gets better with time.

At 18 years old, Swift sounds remarkably assured as she deliberately made her first step out of the straight country sound of her self-titled debut album to incorporate more pop elements in the style of Shania Twain.

While the production is glossier, songwriting craftsmanship abounds Fearless with songs such as Love Story and You Belong to Me tuneful and emotionally resonant.

6. ‘Lover’ (2019)

Lover felt like a rescue attempt after predecessor Reputation flopped.

With the attitude dialled down, tracks including Cornelia Street and Me! aim to charm you off your feet, as opposed to burning the dance floor.

Despite the strong material, at 18 tracks the whole affair feels unwieldy, thus making Lover feel more like a mixtape than a coherent album.

5. ‘Red’ (2012)

It is with Red that Swift began plotting her bid for the mainstream.

At this stage, she was well respected within country music circles and Red allowed her to emerge from the tightly knit scene with a more expansive sound.

The Lucky One is a vibrant slice of pop-rock, while The Last Time (featuring Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody) swells and soars. The lyrics to All Too Well demonstrate emotional maturity and clarity beyond Swift's age, she was 22 at the time.

4. ‘Reputation’ (2017)

In Reputation, Swift examines the various aspects of growing up in public, from the albatross of being viewed as a wholesome role model to seeking mental and emotional balance among the whirlwind of paparazzi and social media attention.

As a result, she refused to do any media interviews for the release — a decision contributing to her fractious relationship with the press.

The music does a solid job of speaking about her vulnerable mind-set and chaotic relationships over super polished beats by Swedish pop-meisters Max Martin and Shellback.

Tracks such as End Game and Getaway Car are some of the most accomplished of Swift’s career, while Dancing with Our Hands Tied once again shows her lyrical prowess.

However, despite the pedigree and quality of the work, what made Reputation a relative commercial failure was in how emotionally monochrome it all sounds.

A miserable and snarky sounding Swift is not what the fans ultimately want.

3. ‘Folklore’ (2020)

While the album was a surprise drop — Swift gave fans less than 24 hours notice that it was being released — arguably, it was the singer's move into alternative folk music that surprised fans most.

Collaborating with Aaron Dessner from indie-rock darlings The National, Folklore sounds ornate and sumptuous with beautifully realised songs fit for the introspection and isolation forced upon us by the pandemic.

Swift also removes herself from the lyrical equation with third person songs about artists, teenagers and suburbanites with a little dash of modern American history.

Beautiful and melancholy, Folklore heralded the beginning of the next phase of Swift’s career.

2. ‘Evermore’ (2020)

Sometimes there is nothing wrong with more of the same.

Released five months after Folklore, Swift's ninth album is a companion piece, in that it was recorded with many of the same production staff and supporting musicians.

Once again, to great effect, Swift serves as a narrator of characters making bittersweet decisions.

The arrangements are hazier, atmospheric and electronic, thus giving the album a shimmering cinematic quality.

1. ‘1989’ (2014)

Big and bold, 1989 is a blockbuster release that helped Swift's transition from talented singer-songwriter to pop queen.

That said, it still sounds like a Taylor Swift ­album — although one that's expanded to the musical equivalent of big-screen Imax proportions.

Nearly all of the tracks have been polished to a sparkling sheen with a steady supply of warm synths, scudding beats and, of course, her confident vocals.

Despite the big sonic makeover, her artistic voice remained solidly intact for what is a career best effort.

Scroll through the gallery below to see photos of Taylor Swift's style evolution

Updated: August 31, 2022, 12:25 PM
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