One year ago today, Taylor Swift brought her 13 day countdown to an end and released ME! as the lead single from her seventh album Lover. Love it or hate it, it’s what we got and we had no choice but to stream. One year later, I’ve ranked all seven of Swift’s lead singles from worst to best.
7. ME! (FEAT. BRENDON URIE OF PANIC! AT THE DISCO)
Following in the footsteps of the iconic and fiery reputation, this was an underwhelming lead single to say the least. It showed Swift at perhaps her most immature lyrically, which is surprising given the phenomenal storytelling she’s typically known for and delivered on the single’s parent album, Lover. The choice of this song is really bizarre, even more so now than a year ago, because literally any other song from the album could have taken its place (besides It’s Nice to Have a Friend, of course) and been an instantly better choice. The collaboration between Swift and Brendon Urie was cute vocally and had it been on a different song, it probably would have worked. But ME! was simply not it and ranks not only as Swift’s worst lead single, but one of the worst songs in her entire discography.
6. TIM MCGRAW
Although Tim McGraw is a great song, I know I’m not the only one who thinks Teardrops On My Guitar should have been the lead from Swift’s debut album. Nonetheless, Tim McGraw was a good reflection of its parent album and showed the world what they could expect from Swift’s music when she was a new artist that people were first hearing of back in 2006.
5. WE ARE NEVER EVER GETTING BACK TOGETHER
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together was and is one of Swift’s best songs to bop to, despite the unnecessarily long title. It’s one of the singer’s best tracks to sing at any karaoke event (trust me) and is still regularly played in clubs and bars almost a decade after its release. The only thing this track loses points for is that it doesn’t reflect Red as well as other songs on the album might have, but it does make sense as the lead single due to its catchy nature and radio appeal. It became Swift’s first of five number one hits on the Billboard Hot 100.
Following the massive success of Fearless, Mine delivered everything fans loved about Swift’s music at the time. It was the ideal reflection of Speak Now and gave the world the perfect taste of what was to come from the rest of the album. Swift also wrote the song entirely alone, so we have no choice but to stan.
3. shake it off
Very few artists can pull of a genre shift, especially one as stark as going from country to pop. But with the release of Shake It Off in 2014, Swift did just that and proved herself as a force to be reckoned with by the other major pop girlies. 1989 had numerous songs which could have been the lead, but the carefree feel of Shake It Off made it the perfect choice as it made Swift’s change of genres feel effortless. The song was an instant success and quickly became Swift’s biggest hit on the Billboard Hot 100.
2. LOVE STORY
Fearless is an album encapsulated in themes of teenage love and heartbreak, so what better way to represent it than through a song based on the tragic story of Romeo & Juliet? Although the song was written and released over a decade ago, it remains one of Swift’s signature hits and one of the most memorable tracks of its time.
1. LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO
Following her ongoing feud with Kanye West and that leaked phone call in 2016, Swift knew she had to come back with a bang with the lead single of her sixth album. To say that Look What You Made Me Do did that is an understatement. The track showed Swift regain control of the narrative that plagued her for the best part of 10 years by embracing it in a way that was nothing short of iconic. The legendary music video is up there with the greats and took aim at every person Swift felt had wronged her over the last few years, from some subtle to not-so-subtle shade. It also did what all lead singles are supposed to do as it represented its parent album, reputation, flawlessly through its fiery lyrics and sassy attitude. Although 1989 proved that Swift could do pop flawlessly, Look What You Made Me Do and the entire reputation era solidified her position as one of the biggest pop stars in the world. For these reasons, Look What You Made Me Do ranks not only as Swift’s best lead single, but also one of the best comeback songs and music videos of all time.
Do you agree with this ranking? Tweet me @ConorClark or comment on this post to let me know!
Taylor Swift’s lead singles, as ranked by a certified SwiftieTweet @ConorClark
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