A couple of months ago, I ranked all of Taylor Swift’s albums, which you can check out here. Today I am going to be ranking all of her Track 5’s. If you didn’t know, Taylor is notorious for putting her most heartbreaking, vulnerable songs in fifth place on her albums. It wasn’t intentional when she first started out, but once the fans began making connections, she decided to strategically arrange them that way. It took me a while to figure out how I was going to order them. Do I do it by personal favourites or what is objectively the best all-round? In the end, I decided to rank them by the defining attributes a Track 5 possesses. In order to be placed highly, it must be gut-wrenching, raw and painstakingly honest. That is the very essence of a Track 5. Without further ado – from best to worst – let’s get into it!
1.) All Too Well
In first place, we have All Too Well. In my opinion, this is the very epitome of a Track 5. Obviously, the ten-minute version is superior but technically it is from the vault, so we are going with the original number from Red Taylor’s Version. It is the ultimate ode to heartbreak. The writing perfectly captures what it’s like to be bewildered by a breakup. Taylor reminisces on the good times with her ex-boyfriend, Jake Gyllenhaal, and is saddened that those moments weren’t enough to keep the fire burning. It is a song that she wrote with her whole heart, and it shows. During the Red tour she was seen visibly crying, whilst it was being performed on stage, because the feelings were so raw. Despite never becoming a single, it did reach fan favourite status and now we have a short film for the extended version, just to break us even more. You cannot deny the impact All Too Well has had since its inception.
2.) Dear John
Dear John is honestly a very close second. It is one of my favourite Taylor Swift songs of all time and the fact that I get to listen to the re-recorded version in a couple of months is too much to process. In case you didn’t know, Speak Now TV is coming July 7th! In this track, we learn how former flame, John Mayer, broke Taylor’s heart when she was just 19 and he was 32. This is later explored in Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve from the Midnights 3AM edition. We get the overall sense that he was manipulative and a game player. She felt far too young for him to treat her this way, and rightly so. He should have known better, not her. Aside from All Too Well, this is one of her longest tracks. It’s full of pain and confusion. I highly recommend watching my friend Ally’s video below on just how damaging his actions were and how they evidently still affect Taylor to this day.
3.) My Tears Ricochet
Taylor is the queen of out-doing herself and she certainly proved that with My Tears Ricochet from her album, Folklore. In this track, we are given a plethora of funeral metaphors. She is mourning the loss of the relationship between herself and her former manager, Scott Borchetta, who sold her life’s work to a man he knew she had never respected. The first time I heard the opening chords, I knew I was going to be sad. I can really relate to it and that makes it hit even harder. His betrayal is felt in her words and the way she sings them with so much grief.
4.) You’re On Your Own Kid
I know most people would place You’re On Your Own Kid quite highly and I can respect the argument for that, but in my opinion, this song has a very empowering and positive ending, therefore it isn’t as devastating as the tracks mentioned above. It is the latest Track 5 to come from her album, Midnights. In this number, we go on a journey with Taylor. She continuously reminds us that she has always been on her own, starting from childhood. Her line about starving her body absolutely broke us. It was a very honest and vulnerable moment. However, by the final chorus, she spins the narrative and tells us that she can face anything and that these experiences have only strengthened her. As she mentioned in her NYU Doctorate speech, being on your own can be both scary and wonderful. It’s an opportunity for growth, depending on how you look at it.
5.) The Archer
Some fans have commented that The Archer seemed a bit forced. Taylor knew she had to put a vulnerable Track 5 on Lover, so it came across as more manufactured than genuine. However, in the light of her breakup with Joe Alwyn, these painful lyrics have come back to haunt her. After all, she says: “who could ever leave me darling, but who could stay?” She recognised at the time how difficult it was to be romantically involved with somebody like her. If her and Joe did indeed split because of her fame, she wasn’t wrong. She reflects on how her zodiac sign, very much mirrors her personality, saying that she’s been both the archer and the prey. Taylor is a combative person that expects people to let her down, so she attacks first and sometimes without reason. It’s sad and wistful. It almost feels as though she expects to die alone.
6.) Cold As You
Cold As You was the first ever Track 5 on Taylor’s Debut album. It is about an emotionally unavailable person that she is hurt by. Similar to The Archer, she shows her combative side by singing: “so I start a fight ’cause I need to feel something.” I shouldn’t be surprised because she’s a songwriting genius but the fact that she wrote this at such a young age is astounding. It is so relatable. I love her line: and you come away with a great little story, of a mess of a dreamer with the nerve to adore you.” It is full of anger and pain. She’s never been anywhere as cold as this person. Oof!
7.) White Horse
In seventh place, we have White Horse. This was the Track 5 for her second album, Fearless. In this song, she talks about her naivety. Taylor confesses that the boy she was in love with wasn’t actually a prince coming to rescue her. His actions shattered her romanticised view of the world and forced her to stop looking at life through the lens of a fairytale. Relatable as heck! It’s a coming-of-age number – one that I’m sure a lot of girls have experienced in the process of growing up.
8.) Tolerate It
Before you come for me, please keep in mind that Tolerate It is fictional and not exactly personal to Taylor Swift. In fact, she wrote it based on the classic novel, Rebecca, for which I was named after. Does it meet all of the criteria of a Track 5? Yes, it absolutely does. However, as it isn’t about our queen’s life, it is ranked lower. This number comes from my favourite album, Evermore. It tells the tale of a woman who adores her husband, despite the fact that he barely acknowledges her presence. Initially, some fans thought it was about the Princess Diana and Prince Charles relationship. You could certainly apply the lyrics to that situation as well. Either way, it’s sad and one that tugs at the heartstrings.
In second last place, we have Delicate. I absolutely love this song but as a Track 5, it’s not as emotionally gut-wrenching as the others. Taylor sings about the beginning of her relationship with Joe and how fragile it was. She was scared that he wouldn’t want to be with her, given her Reputation at the time. It’s very relatable and full of yearning. It has a desperation to it that can only come from somebody who has been burned like Taylor.
10.) All You Had To Do Was Stay
In last place, we have All You Had To Do Was Stay. This is another favourite song of mine but as fans have mentioned, it doesn’t feel like a Track 5. It’s almost as though she forgot about her tradition when putting the track list together for 1989. I personally believe Out Of The Woods would have worked better. This number is about Harry Styles and how if he had just stuck around, they could have continued being together. Line for line, I truly relate to this song with an ex of mine. I love it. I regularly scream ”let me remind you, this is what you wanted” in the car with reckless abandon. It’s a bop but it doesn’t leave me wanting to sob in the fetal position afterwards, hence its placement on my list.
Thank you so much for reading! How would you rank the songs above? I’m scared for what is coming on TS11. After her break up with Joe, surely that will be the Track 5 to end us all!
Peace & Love xoxo