Taylor Swift’s – Sickbeat’s top picks!

Angelica Chiw (22-I6), Ashley Chean (22-O1), Benedict Keng (22-U3), Brandon Ng (22-E4), Cheng Zhi Shan (22-U1), Chloe Tan (22-I6), Darius Chen (22-E4), Eris Kek (22-I6), Rebecca Yap (22-O1), Sophia Chiang (22-O1)

Designed by: Angelica Chiw (22-I6), Cheng Zhi Shan (22-U1), Benedict Keng (22-U3), Brandon Ng (22-E4), Darius Chen (22-E4), Eris Kek (22-I6), Rebecca Yap (22-O1), Sophia Chiang (22-O1)

Taylor Swift is one of the biggest names of the century. Known for her effervescent style and soulful, enigmatic lyrics, she is admired globally. One of the few artists able to successfully convert from country to pop, her new music is guaranteed to reach the top of every Billboard 200 list. Every Eunoian knows the words of her most popular songs to heart, like ‘22’ or ‘Wildest Dreams’, but she has so many more underrated songs beyond the title tracks. Sick beats brings to you the journey of our favourite, more underrated tracks from her country days to her newer pop sound. As we explore her tracks together, we hope that you would enjoy them as much as we do. 

On the first listen, ‘Cruel Summer’ may sound like another teenage pop song. With its upbeat, fast-paced melody and singable lyrics, it presents itself as another cheery summer song, one amongst many in Swift’s colourful discography. However, upon closer inspection, fans may realise that the song cleverly speaks of the many vulnerabilities and fragilities that one exposes oneself to when maintaining, or beginning, a new romantic relationship. From the illustrative use of imagery to hidden metaphors, Swift thus presents a song open to differing interpretations all based on one’s mood. 

The fifth track from Taylor Swift’s Speak Now album, ‘Dear John’, takes you back to an era of countryside music, whispers of nostalgia and memories of bittersweet love. ‘Dear John’ speaks of Taylor Swift’s frustration over a short-lived relationship that ended in fragments and her grapple with accepting this loss. What stands out in this song is the seamless weave of guitar strums that complement her lyrics, while accentuating the bittersweet, slightly heart-rending feelings of Taylor Swift’s heartbreak. A 6 minute-long song may seem daunting. However, ‘Dear John’ can be interpreted as taking the form of a diary entry, reflecting an almost painfully truthful account of her relationship with John. This captivating masterpiece is able to convey these emotions in its purest form and will definitely tug at your heartstrings. 

Released in 2014, ‘Out Of The Woods’ is part of one of Swift’s best-selling albums to date, 1989. The song, rumoured to be based on her relationship with Harry Styles, talks about the vulnerability of some relationships and how they are difficult to break away from. When she eventually does leave the relationship, she discovers that it actually is not that hard to. If you are in need of a mood booster, the strong bases of this song would definitely be more than sufficient to pick you up!

‘Clean’ is the closing track of 1989, released in 2014 and arguably Swift’s first attempt at a full-on pop album. ‘Clean’ acts as a great palette cleanser, rounding out the themes of love and toxic relationships mentioned in the album by showcasing Swift finally being ‘clean’ and able to move on in a healthy way from the troubles mentioned in 1989. Musically, ‘Clean’ has a pretty understated melody albeit still coming across as soothing and catchy. The instrumental, however, was produced with atypical instruments such as a mbira, which is a thumb piano, and boomwhackers, for the percussion. Overall, ‘Clean’ is a great tune that rounds out a pretty great album.

This upbeat and peppy song details the exciting romance progressing between two lovers. The song captures a picturesque series of snapshots that tug you along the timeline of their love from their first meeting, to courtship and then finally to marriage, all while keeping a cheeky undertone. The somewhat innocent and idealistic nature of their love makes this song impossible to sing without a smile on your face. With paper rings as a symbol, she shows how her love for her boyfriend (at the time) goes beyond her own wants and proves her earnestness to be with him. Hopefully, the overwhelmingly cute song would convince you to find someone special to match paper rings with too!

The seventh track from Swift’s Lover album, ‘Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince’ is a song describing a high school romance between Swift and her lover. She sings of a relationship that is her entire world, something that she is willing to fight for no matter the obstacles in her way. However, once we peel back the layers of the song, the typical high school symbols – such as cheer chants – are merely a mask for the true intention of the song. In truth, ‘Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince’ is a song of protest, in response to the state of the American political climate after 2016, when Donald Trump was elected into office. She sings of her view of American politics, touching on discrimination and other challenges that Americans face with a broken democracy, openly supporting the Democratic party using references to the colour blue. She also sings of why she is choosing to become more politically vocal, wanting to help encourage change. Despite her cynical view on the current political climate for most of the song, she is ultimately optimistic and believes that this is a fight that they will win someday. Ultimately, this is a song about strength through dark times, and I hope it gives you the encouragement to keep on going even when it feels like the world is ending. 

‘Call It What You Want’ is one of Taylor’s well-known side tracks on reputation, gaining over 200 million Spotify streams. This song captures her raspy vocals accompanied by a lustre melody. It speaks of a protective romance and was released when Taylor suffered because of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. However, she sings of a nonchalant attitude as she has a chivalrous man that cares for her and that is all that matters. She encapsulates the feelings of a private consolation after a public scandal and hence the strong implication that she does not care what other people think. 

‘august’ is from the album folklore, her eighth studio album. The lines between truth and reality blur and truth and fiction become almost indiscernible as Swift paints a picturesque image of a broken memory; nostalgia touched with a tinge of hurt. August is reminiscent and cloying, as Swift laments about what could have happened and how she wished for it to be different. She sings with regret and bitterness, but the sweet, light, and faded-away tone of this song is sure to sweep you away into bittersweet memories.

‘Getaway Car’ is a song off Swift’s sixth album, reputation. With its distinct electropop sounds, this song is rumoured to be about Swift leaving Calvin Harris to be together with Tom Hiddleston, with Swift possibly accepting blame for “switching to the other side”. With its catchy chorus, this song (and album), demonstrates a more mature side of Swift, and the darker lyrics and melody certainly amplify this. If you are a big fan of reputation, I dare say that ‘Getaway Car’ is one of the better tracks off the album, and everyone should give this track a listen! 

‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’ is one of Swift’s milestone hits, being the very first to reach no. 1 on The Hot 100. The catchy upbeat tune accompanies the storytelling of how a past lover once wanted to rekindle their failed relationship, with her frustrations with the back-and-forth relationship and his empty promises being expressed throughout the song. The song also contains a unique spoken-word bridge where she appears to be ranting about this past lover. The title is repeatedly used in the chorus as a line you surely can’t stop yourself from singing along to, but also further cements her stance on their relationship. Regardless of your love experience, this addictive breakup anthem will surely get you singing along!

Looking back on Taylor Swift’s discography is interesting for a couple of reasons. For one, it is rare for someone so firmly rooted in one genre (Country) to be able to transition pretty seamlessly into another genre (Pop) and back again while still maintaining a strong cult following. It is equally rare for an artist to switch up styles while maintaining a pretty consistent level of quality across releases. While of course I – like many others – have my preference on which albums are better, it is pretty evident that a Taylor Swift release will be of a certain calibre, with at the bare minimum, a couple catchy singles and one or two great deep cuts- regardless of genre. Currently, Taylor Swift is in the process of re-recording her back catalogue amidst some complicated legal proceedings. With the re-release of 1989 slated to be coming out soon, now is a great time to jump into Swift’s music, both old and new.