Only Taylor Swift would give a present to someone else on her own birthday. This year in honor of turning the big 31 (13 backwards), she gifted Swifties with a surprise album “evermore.”
When she released folklore, the first album in this series, I reviewed it and ranked all of the songs in order from favorite to least favorite. Naturally, I have to do it again!
I will preface this list by saying that Taylor Swift albums age like a fine wine. The longer and more you listen, your rankings change and you discover little Easter eggs that you didn’t notice upon first listen. Some of my favorite folklore songs now are ones that I previously listed as my least favorites! That being said, after maybe three listens so far, here’s my ranking of all the songs on evermore in order of best to worst.
1. Tolerate It
Fave lyric: “I know my love should be celebrated, but you tolerate it.”
Only song that made me extremely emotional on this album. This song forced me to admit that I’d rather not be loved at all than just “tolerated.” The scene Taylor illustrates here is being totally in love with a man and doing everything, but it’s never good enough. You anxiously wait for him to get home, you plan nice dinners, you get dolled up, and yet still...he can barely stand you. Dark and relatable (at least for me lol).
2. Gold Rush
Fave lyric: “I don’t like that anyone would die to feel your touch / Everybody wants you / Everybody wonders what it would be like to love you / But I don’t like a gold rush.”
The feeling of wanting someone so bad but knowing everyone else wants them too, and you just aren’t in the mood to fight for it. You almost decide to dive in, but at the last second, you think, “Ah, better not.”
Fave lyric: “We could call it even / You could call me 'babe' for the weekend.”
Congrats, Tay, this is my new favorite Christmas song! I don’t know if she INTENDED for it to be one, but it is in my book! It’s about going home for the holidays and staying at your parents but going to meet up with your hometown or (most likely) high school crush. You know this love is only for the weekend (or however long your visit lasts) and that when you get on that plane to go back home, you’ll leave it all behind. The feelings are real, but maybe the timing or lifestyles are off. Sometimes, it’s hard to truly leave some things totally in the past.
Fave lyric: “You had a speech you’re speechless / Love slipped beyond your reaches / And I couldn’t give a reason.”
This song reminds me of that movie “Marriage Story” with Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson. A love story gone tragically wrong with no happy ending in sight. This is so beautiful but also unbelievably depressing. It’s another one of those songs Taylor writes from someone else’s point of view with a made-up scenario. I would pay to see the cinematic version of this (music video idea?).
Fave lyric: “Long story short, it was the wrong guy / Now I’m all about you.”
My first impression of this song was that it’s about her rebounding from Calvin Harris with Tom Hiddleston (who was NOT IT), but then she met her now-boyfriend Joe (and he SO WAS). A standout moment in this song is when she writes a letter to her past self and offers advice on how to get through the rough time ahead, which I’m guessing is 2016.
Fave lyric: “And I’ve cleaned enough houses to know how to cover up a scene.”
I see you, True Crime Taylor!!! If Carrie Underwood's “Before He Cheats” and The Dixie Chicks' “Goodbye Earl” had a baby, it would be this song. It’s a full blown country song, imo, with that signature storytelling aspect that makes you have to listen to the full thing for the twist at the end. Taylor really returns to her roots here. If you were a Taylor Swift or Fearless fan, this one’s for you.
Fave lyric: “I’m begging for you to take my hand / Wreck my plans / That’s my man.”
BONUS LYRIC: “But I come back stronger than a '90s trend.”
The best love is the one that messes up literally everything in your life, but you don’t even care. You think you know how your year is going to go, and then you meet someone, and suddenly you’re in a whirlwind romance where everything is topsy-turvy in a good way.
Fave lyric: “Haunted by the look in my eyes / That would’ve loved you for a lifetime / Leave it all behind.”
The feels after you’ve had a significant amount of time to heal after a painful breakup. You’ve both moved on now and are far enough out of the situation to dissect it and see the good and bad parts. Even though it ended so horribly, there was happiness in the thick of it, and there's happiness without them even too. Even though, for a while, you probably thought there would never be a rainbow again. When you’re older, you realize that holding on to a grudge can be even more painful than the breakup itself.
Fave lyric: “Writing letters / Addressed to the fire.”
This song strikes me as one that could be about struggling with depression once a relationship ends. You replay it all over and over again trying to figure out what went wrong, and when everything changed.
Fave lyric: “Were you standing in the hallway with a big cake, happy birthday / Did I paint your bluest skies the darkest gray? / And when I got into the accident the sight that flashed before me was your face / But when I walked up to the podium I think I forgot to say your name.”
Remember when Taylor used to leave hidden messages in her lyric booklets for you to decode who her song was about? Those were simpler times, and I miss them. This song was a gift because it’s FULL. OF. TEA. The lyrics I listed above are totally references to her exes Jake Gyllenhaal, John Mayer, Harry Styles, and Calvin Harris, in that order. I feel like this is Taylor looking back and combing over memories and endings of all of her serious relationships.
11. Cowboy Like Me
Fave lyric: “Now you hang from my lips like the Gardens of Babylon / With your boots beneath my bed / Forever is the sweetest con.”
Confession time: I absolutely hated “Getaway Car” on Reputation, and this song is pretty much that to me, but I can vibe with the melody slightly more. It’s about “two-con artists who fall in love” apparently, which is just not interesting to me. I don’t love to see it.
Fave lyric: “Your touch brought forth an incandescent glow.”
I’m pretty sure this song is about cheating, written from the perspective of the mistress. Maybe this is related to the main characters in “No Body, No Crime.” I love “Illicit Affair” on folklore, but this song seems like the weaker version of that. The banjo should’ve stayed in “Mean”.
Fave lyric: “And I complained the whole way there / The car ride back and up the stairs / I should’ve asked you questions / I should’ve asked you how to be.”
I predict this song to be a grower. It’s hard for me to really resonate or relate to it because I haven’t experienced a loss of a grandparent yet that I’m extremely close to. I can relate however to the hintings of a moody teenager and regrets of how you handled certain situations looking back.
Fave lyric: “And if you’re ever tired of being known for who you know / You know, you’ll always know me.”
Hot take, but I absolutely can’t stand these songs that are named after a fake person. I did NOT like "Betty," and I do NOT like this one. That’s it.
Fave lyric: “Seeing the shape of your name still spells out pain / Yes, I got your letter / Yes, I’m doing better / I know that it’s over / I don’t need your 'closure'.”
I have never had stronger feelings about a Taylor Swift song than this, and I don’t mean that in a good way. What the HECK is going on with this piano mismatched with someone banging on garbage cans? It’s horrendous. It sounds like audio soup. Every noise that shouldn’t go together dumped into a boiling pot of ear violence. Even more frustrating is that LYRICALLY, this is one of my favorite songs on the album. I feel so scammed that these stunning lyrics sound like they were sewn together with a melody crafted by a 4th grader on Garage Band. “Closure” has now taken my top spot for worst Taylor song over “Me.” Can you tell I really hated “Closure”? LOL!
My final thoughts on evermore are that while there are some very strong contenders on the album, folklore still reigns superior. Honestly, it doesn’t even really seem like two separate albums. It feels like she just released bonus tracks to folklore.
I have loved every second of this era. I just wish we could’ve experienced these albums live. My Christmas wish is that we still will get to eventually! No silent nights in my future. I’ll be studying the lyrics religiously and listening to evermore until every song is burned forever in my memory.