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What are the 10 best Taylor Swift songs?

Taylor Swift is the real deal: A pop artist who writes her own songs and performs them authentically live. There's plenty of pop acts who are here today and gone tomorrow, but Swift is much more than that. She's had four consecutive number one US albums and at only 26 years of age, she will no doubt have plenty more chart-toppers to come. She had a number of early hits but continued to develop her writing to the point that 1989 completely blew any other album in 2014 out of the water. We've compiled her finest moments from her early days to the heady heights of 1989 to bring you the best Taylor Swift songs. If you're relatively new to her music this will be a helpful guide but even big fans might find a hidden gem or two here.

10. "Clean" – 1989 (2014)

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The closing track to 1989 is the only track co-written and produced with avant-garde pop songstress Imogen Heap, who also adds her unique vocals to the song. It's an enduring piece of music and even gets into experimental territory, which is not something can be said about much of Swift's discography. In an album full of stunning vocal tracks, "Clean" stands out due to its originality and the power of the lyrics. The stripped back instrumentation allows Swift and Heap to effortlessly take the spotlight.

9. "Back to December" – Speak Now (2010).

Swift produced a number of huge hits from her first three albums, but few of them stand up against the heights she reached later in her career. "Back to December" takes a step back from playing the lyrical blame game and finds Swift getting introspective about a broken relationship. It's instantly relatable and showcases her excellent songwriting. The music does little more than set the stage for Swift but her vocals are so perfect that nothing else was required.

8. "Red" – Red (2012)

The title track of Taylor Swift's fourth album is in many ways a straight-ahead country pop song. Don't even bother trying to avoid singing along to the chorus though. The hooks come fast and strong, and it's another testament to how spot on Swift's pop instincts are. She sounds confident, assertive and vulnerable all at the same time. The bridge has an unabashedly cheesy guitar solo but it's undeniably a beautiful piece of melodic playing.

7. "I Wish You Would" – 1989 (2014)

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"I Wish You Would" is not one of the big singles off 1989, but it's nonetheless one of the finest pieces of songwriting on the album. Indie rocker Jack Antonoff of Fun fame co-wrote the song with Swift, as well as leading the production side of things. The track opens with a delay-heavy alt rock guitar riff, before getting into the '80s pop sound in a big way with dramatic synths in the chorus. Swift rides the tide with a commanding vocal performance that provokes instant sing-alongs.

6. "I Knew You Were Trouble" – Red (2012)

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Trouble is a bold pop song with a lot of attitude. We hear a 22-year-old Swift showing increased confidence as a vocalist and frontwoman. The track features a very clever contrast between the minimalist guitar comping in the intro and the aggressive chorus. The big bass drops in the chorus are a clear precursor to the electronic sounds she would later explore more fully on 1989. The lyrics are typical Taylor Swift 'regretting a relationship with a bad boy' territory, but hey, she wouldn't be Taylor Swift without at least a couple of those per album. "I Knew You Were Trouble" is also more catchy than most.

5. "Blank Space" – 1989 (2014)

"Blank Space" is one hell of a great downtempo pop song. What makes it really special are Swift's lyrics, which are a clever play on her reputation in the press as a relentless man-eater. Lines like "Got a long list of ex-lovers, they'll tell you I'm insane" made yet another hit out of these rumours. The film clip is also an excellent piece of satire, showing a vampy Swift in a violent meltdown over a cheating lover, immediately before the next man shows up. Like most of the tracks on 1989, it's filled with flawless layered vocal hooks from Swift. The stripped back production by Max Martin, Shellback and Ali Payami is also absolutely on-point.

4. "Style" – 1989 (2014)

"Style" is driven by a drum machine, understated funk rhythm guitar figure and classic '80s synth bass line. Swift makes these well-worn elements sound fresh and created one of the darkest pop hits of the year out of them. She recounts a doomed love affair, admitting "I know exactly where it leads but I watch us go 'round and 'round each time." Judging by the playcount in my iTunes she's not the only one who doesn't mind taking this ride over and over again. Style encapsulates the retro aesthetic used throughout much of 1989, which is Swift's birth year. '80s throwbacks weren't exactly hip the year before but Swift's album made it hot again and unforgettable songs like Style are the reason why.

3. "State of Grace" – Red (2012)

Swift's fourth album Red saw her expanding artistically and exploring styles other than country and pop. As the most notable example of this, "State of Grace" is also the finest moment on the album. The alternative rock song features some beautiful delay-soaked guitar lines that are reminiscent of U2. The soaring vocal line complements the uplifting lyrics, which were penned entirely by Swift. The song has top-notch production and guitar tone, so it's worth checking out a high quality download or CD version. Streaming the song, even in HD, doesn't quite do it justice.

2. "Bad Blood" – 1989 (2014)

"Bad Blood" got a video clip with packed with top-level star power including Hayley Williams, Jessica Alba and Cindy Crawford. Kendrick Lamar also lent his rhymes to this version. However despite Lamar's tremendous talent, his verses sounded tacked onto this song. Therefore, my listing here is for the original, Lamar-free version of the song that appeared on 1989. Max Martin and Shellback provided the mean beats and undulating synths for this song. The instrumentation is kept to a bare minimum aside from the thumping beat, allowing Swift's massive hooks to stay front and centre. The writing and Swift's vocal line are both flawless. If you've heard this song once you can already sing the chorus back with Swift.

1. "Shake It Off" – 1989 (2014)

This song is fun, irreverent and has a tonne of groove. Producers Max Martin and Shellback laid down an irresistible combination of lively percussion and sax. The verses are enough to get anyone moving but the infamous bridge is where the real action happens. Swift even trademarked the iconic bridge phrase "this sick beat", although she (perhaps deservedly) got a lot of flak for it. "Shake It Off" remains her biggest Billboard 100 hit and it's not hard to see why. The humorous film clip has racked up 1.6 billion views and counting. Aside from being a damn good song, it's also important in Swift's development as an artist. Making the funky dance-floor groove of "Shake It Off" the first single off 1989 made it clear that her country pop days were long gone.