Music of the Month: Rank the Tracks – Folklore by Taylor Swift

I’m starting a new series on my blog where every month I highlight a new release or an album I’ve been loving hence #MusicoftheMonth and do some blog posts relating to it.

Thus, I thought it was so aptly timed that Taylor Swift, aka one of my favorite musicians of all time, released her album, Folklore this July.

The album is one of my favorites from Swift, at first listen, you might be deceived by how raw it sounds, but I find like wine, this is an album that for me at least, ages with time, as it sounded better the more and more I listened to it. With each listen, I began to fully appreciate the immense musicality, complex lyricism and intricate production that went into the making of this album.

I have more to say, but for now, here is the track list, ranked from my least favorite to my most favorite songs. Now, I absolutely adore EVERY SINGLE SONG on the album. Which even as a major Swiftie, is unheard of for me.

This is the first album of hers that I am absolutely, madly in love with every song.

Thus, this list was nearly an impossible feat and the songs that are at the bottom are not at all reflective of how I feel about them because I genuinely enjoy all the songs in the album.

16. Mad Woman

Favorite Lyrics:

It’s obvious that wanting me dead
Has really brought you two together”
this one made me chuckle well more like my mouth dropped open haha.

“The master of spin has a couple side flings” Clever and catchy.

Now, I’d like to preface my saying that I do not hate this song at all. I quite like it and the intended flip off to Scott and Scooter. It’s just that out of all the songs on this album, I would probably listen to this one the least of all, because I don’t love being angry and this song screams that.

15. Seven

Favorite lyrics:

“Sweet tea in the summer
Cross my heart, won’t tell no other
And though I can’t recall your face
I still got love for you”
So catchy and something any of us with childhood friends can relate to.

“Passed down like folk songs
The love lasts so long”
I just love this lyric. Especially because this song reminds me of an old, haunting folk song.

This song reminds me of the Hanging Tree just by its sound and the vibe I get. It’s another narrative driven song, but with a darker twist, alternating perspectives from Swift as a child and her currently as an adult.

14. The Last Great American Dynasty

Favorite lyrics:

“And they said
There goes the last great American dynasty
Who knows, if she never showed up, what could’ve been
There goes the maddest woman this town has ever seen
She had a marvelous time ruining everything

I love how catchy the chorus is and how interesting the lyrics are. I suppose the only reason its low on the list is because I personally prefer songs that aren’t as narrative based because it makes me feel like I can’t exactly relate to the song as it is so specific. (In fact I think that narrative is a common recurring theme amongst the songs in my bottom tier haha)

13. Betty

Favorite lyrics:

“I’m only seventeen, I don’t know anything
But I know I miss you”

Production value-wise, this song is very Fearless-era esque. The instrumental, the track, is country to its core. Swift’s ability to weave a narrative in her lyrics and her descriptive storytelling skills are on full display here. I also love the nods to James and Inez (hello Blake and Ryan’s daughters) I am in disbelief that I missed that initially haha.

12. Epiphany

Favorite lyrics:

“Something med school did not cover, Someone’s daughter, someone’s mother, Holds your hand through plastic now, “Doc, I think she’s crashing out”, And some things you just can’t speak about”

Epiphany is hauntingly beautiful. That’s a phrase that can be used to describe much of this album, but with the deeper lyrics and the message of the song I believe it’s especially pertinent here. The heartbeat sounds at the end are so poignant and just a testament to Swift’s ability to make every song impactful. I personally think that, and love, how epiphany seems to refer to both the much-wished-for vaccine and the moment in war when the victors start coming out on top. It’s really a testament to how much I love the album overall that I put this one near the bottom because I just love the symbolism that encompasses this track so much. This is our quarantine anthem.

11. Mirrorball

Favorite lyrics:

“You are not like the regulars
The masquerade revelers
Drunk as they watch my shattered edges glisten

Mirrorball is a mid-tempo song that is real, raw and a track that makes you simultaneously desire to play it at your wedding for your first dance whilst feeling the urge to play it in your living room in privacy. It is truly an ode to unconditional love, to not caring what others think, and to embracing yourself.

10. Hoax

Favorite lyrics:

“Stood on the cliffside screaming, ”Give me a reason”
Your faithless love’s the only hoax I believe in
Don’t want no other shade of blue but you
No other sadness in the world would do

Hoax is enchantingly melancholy and reminiscent to another final track of Swift’s, Clean. Except with this track, it seems as if Swift is talking about the continuation of a relationship rather than a breakup. It’s feels very odd to say that you appreciate a song that’s rumored to be about a toxic relationship, but I appreciate how honest the lyrics are. Every single lyric has so much meaning and is perfectly quotable-it’s beautiful.

9. This Is Me Trying

Favorite lyrics:

“I was so ahead of the curve, the curve became a sphere” Genius.

“Pouring out my heart to a stranger
But I didn’t pour the whiskey”
Wordplay.

“And it’s hard to be at a party when I feel like an open wound
It’s hard to be anywhere these days when all I want is you
You’re a flashback in a film reel on the one screen in my town”
Especially the last line- screams angst.

Obviously, I love the lyrics of this one-but also how Swift details the moments after a breakup while acknowledging her wishes, flaws and feelings. As for the sound, the looooong intro is just one of many on this album, and I really like how the track just fades out as it connects to the lyrics. The sound fades out like Swift’s unfinished ending-we never get to know whether her trying is enough.

8. Illicit Affairs

Favorite lyrics:

“You showed me colors you know I can’t see with anyone elseYou taught me a secret language I can’t speak with anyone else
And you know damn well
For you, I would ruin myself
A million little times”
Those have to be the most gorgeous lines ever.

Going by the title, I did not expect this song to sound as it did and I didn’t expect myself to love it as much as I do. The lyrics are poetic, the last verse especially catchy “Don’t call me “kid”, don’t call me baby…”. Thus, she does an A+ job by proving her point about how trance-like relationships can be. This is the ode to the hopeless romantic-I mean, look at the last two lines of the song as highlighted above.

7. My Tears Ricochet

Favorite lyrics:

“I didn’t have it in myself to go with grace
‘Cause when I’d fight, you used to tell me I was brave And if I’m dead to you, why are you at the wake?
Cursing my name, wishing I stayed
Look at how my tears ricochet”

“We gather stones, never knowing what they’ll mean
Some to throw, some to make a diamond ring”
Might be my favorite lyric of the entire album.

I love this one not just for how deep and complex the lyrics are, but just how deeply they resonate. “Tears ricochet” is a concept that many can relate to, from tears that start as catharsis but end up hurting one more to the overall meaning of ricochet and the causes and effects of our actions. Track 5s are notorious for being brutally honest and this is no different.

6. August

Favorite lyrics:

“Back when we were still changin’ for the better
Wanting was enough
For me, it was enough
To live for the hope of it all”

This is the quintessential long summer drive song. I mean, it literally begins with, “salt air”. It’s catchy, with a chill vibe. It’s easy to listen to, with a healthy dose of nostalgia. Idealizing hope while maintaining a realist’s view, that is this song summed up in a phrase. This is an ode to innocence.

5. Exile

Favorite lyrics:

“I can see you starin’, honey
Like he’s just your understudy”

“I think I’ve seen this film before
And I didn’t like the ending
You’re not my homeland anymore
So what am I defending now?
You were my town, now I’m in exile, seein’ you out
I think I’ve seen this film before”

I can’t decide if this song gives me enough country or not enough. Regardless, I love the vibe, their duet, the alternating perspectives and how catchy this is. “I think I’ve seen this film before…” toes the fine line between acceptance and nostalgia, and honestly, who says it can’t be both? The voices and musicality is *chef’s kiss*.

4. Invisible String

Favorite lyrics:

“Time, mystical time
Cutting me open, then healing me fine
Were there clues I didn’t see?
And isn’t it just so pretty to think
All along there was some
Invisible string
Tying you to me?”

“Something wrapped all of my past mistakes in barbed wire
Chains around my demons
Wool to brave the seasons
One single thread of gold
Tied me to you”

Invisible String is another type of quintessential, this time a love song. It expresses a yearn for destiny, while saluting the old “time heals all wounds” adage. I think this one is especially beautiful because it expresses and glorifies the concept of soulmates and a love that is unconditional and lasts the test of time.

3. The 1

Favorite lyrics:

“You know the greatest films of all time were never made/You know the greatest loves of all time are over now”

“And if you never bleed, you’re never gonna grow”

“But we were something, don’t you think so?
Roaring twenties, tossing pennies in the pool
And if my wishes came true
It would’ve been you
In my defense, I have none
For never leaving well enough alone
But it would’ve been fun
If you would’ve been the one”

This song expresses the uncertainties, what-ifs, missed opportunities of life while embracing the “everything happens for a reason” motif. Swift goes back and forth, acknowledging that she’s “doing good” while wrestling with feelings of nostalgia and reminiscing of “what could have been”. As an over-thinker, I majorly relate to this song and the seemingly contradictory attitude she takes of maintaining that you like where you’re at in life now but also wondering about the road not taken.

2. Peace

Favorite lyrics:

“Our coming-of-age has come and gone”

“But I’m a fire and I’ll keep your brittle heart warm
If your cascade, ocean wave blues come
All these people think love’s for show
But I would die for you in secret
The devil’s in the details, but you got a friend in me
Would it be enough if I could never give you peace?”

And you know that I’d swing with you for the fences
Sit with you in the trenches”

“Give you the silence that only comes when two people understand each other”

“But there’s robbers to the east, clowns to the west
I’d give you my sunshine, give you my best
But the rain is always gonna come if you’re standin’ with me”

It is the lyrics of Peace that elevated this song to the top of my list. However, it is the mood and ultimately the message that made it stay so near the top. In a nutshell, this song expresses the deepest wishes and feelings of many of us, the knowledge that although we love someone, we cannot give them the world. There’s always going to be rain in this life, and Swift not only acknowledges that, but she affirms that with her question, “Would it be enough if I could never give you peace?” I think the beauty of this song is that it is about the core of love, wanting what’s best for others but knowing the reality that love itself might never be enough.

1. Cardigan

Favorite lyrics:

Sensual politics
When you are young, they assume you know nothing
” The phrase sensual politics is so clever.

“And when I felt like I was an old cardigan
Under someone’s bed
You put me on and said I was your favorite”
Feels like a warm hug.

“You drew stars around my scars
But now I’m bleedin
” The metaphor, the rhyme.

“Steppin’ on the last train
Marked me like a bloodstain, I
I knew you
Tried to change the ending
Peter losing Wendy, I
I knew you
Leavin’ like a father
Running like water”
Easily one of the most vulnerable segments of an already very raw track.

Cardigan, the lead single from folklore and the first song I listened to from it, is my favorite of the album. It’s filled with little references and clever lyrics as remarked upon above while still maintaining a catchy, raw sound. I honestly believe that Cardigan is my favorite because of how cozy the refrain makes me feel. Although many have called folklore a “morning drive” album, this is the song you put on late at night after a long day with some candles flickering in the background, ready to unwind and muse.

So, what did you think about my ranking? Let me know if you agree/disagree in the comments and if you have any favorite songs or just thoughts in general!

*edit- my rankings have shifted over time. not sure about the middle tracks but top 5 is currently: the one, peace, the lakes, illicit affairs, and cardigan with the last great american dynasty last.

They will have no fear of bad news;

    their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.

Psalm 112:7

Author: theactivebookworm

@theactivebookworm on IG- I run a bookstagram with the occasional music/fitness content:) Passionate about social issues, books, fitness, music + Jesus!

7 thoughts on “Music of the Month: Rank the Tracks – Folklore by Taylor Swift”

  1. Love this! Definitely agree about Hanging Tree vibes with seven, and the great fan service-y way betty sounds Fearless-esque! I’d swap the order around a lot 😅 but I love the whole album! I think betty, mirrorball, and cardigan are my favourites 💛

    Liked by 1 person

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