In our ranking era for “The Eras Tour”: which Taylor Swift era is the best?

By Riley Dauber

Lifestyle Editor

Pop star Taylor Swift’s career spans multiple decades and genre shifts, as well as 10 studio albums — not including her current project of re-recording her masters.

Thanks to the evolution of her music and the distinct aesthetics of each of her albums, fans can choose their favorite “era,” or the period in Swift’s career. The eras are defined by Swift’s hair and fashion, the color and overall aesthetic, and the iconic music videos she released at the time.

To celebrate the variety of her eras, Swift embarked on “The Eras Tour” in March 2023. However, the tour was rife with ticket issues, which led to Ticketmaster stopping sales. In response to this debacle, Swift globally released a recording of the tour in AMC theaters on Oct. 13, according to Variety.

“The Eras Tour has been the most meaningful, electric experience of my life so far and I’m overjoyed to tell you it’ll be coming to the big screen soon…eras attire, friendship bracelets, singing, and dancing encouraged,” Swift wrote in an Instagram post announcing the film on Aug. 31.

To celebrate the theatrical release of “The Eras Tour,” here is a ranking of Swift’s ten eras.

10. “Evermore”

Named after her ninth studio album, the “evermore” era is a short and forgettable one.

The era started with the album’s surprise announcement on Dec. 10, 2020, and only lasted a few months until Swift announced her first re-recording project in February of 2021.

Even though it is sometimes overlooked, the era does offer a strong autumnal atmosphere with Swift’s braided hair and plaid jacket on the album’s cover. The album’s one music video for “willow” also creates an ethereal, romantic setting filled with witches, seances, and invisible strings.

9. “Midnights”

Since it is her newest album and era, “Midnights” has yet to establish itself.

One of the tracks, “You’re On Your Own, Kid,” inspired a trend at the tour where fans made friendship bracelets and traded them with other audience members before the show.

Other than the bracelets and the Swift-directed music videos, this era is a bit confusing in its aesthetic. Sparkles and dark blue hues are abound, but the “Midnights” era is still struggling to stand on its own two feet.

8. “Folklore”

Swift’s surprise release of her eighth studio album sent many fans into a tailspin. On July 23, 2020, she made nine posts that created the album’s front cover when looking at her Instagram account.

Fans were even more shocked when, instead of being full of pop songs, “folklore” consisted of slower, fictional tracks that focused on Swift’s strong songwriting skills.

While more memorable than “evermore” because of its critical acclaim — “folklore” won Album of the Year at the 2021 Grammy Awards — the era was also short. Swift directed one music video for the lead single “cardigan,” which helped create the era’s staple: an oversized white cardigan with stars on the sleeves.

Swift also released “folklore: the long pond studio sessions” on DisneyPlus, a secluded concert film where she sang each of the songs live and discussed the writing process with producers Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff. The film gave her the opportunity to promote the album and connect with fans despite the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

7. “Taylor Swift”

Even though it is her first album, Swift’s debut is often neglected and overlooked by fans.

“It’s one of the only albums that I won’t keep fully replaying. I only replay certain songs,” junior Emily Marik said. “I just don’t vibe with it as much as I do [with] other albums.”

Despite the era’s humble beginnings, it still offers plenty of merit. The country aesthetic is a stand-out, complete with Swift’s big curly hair, affinity for cowboy boots, and a fake southern accent.

This era’s music videos are also memorable, with “Picture to Burn” and “Our Song” offering a myriad of outfits and settings that help establish the pop star as a theatrical yet relatable icon.

6. “Speak Now”

While Swift is known for her impressive songwriting skills, her third album “Speak Now” is her first and only album she wrote entirely by herself.

“I first made ‘Speak Now’ completely self-written, between the ages of 18 and 20. The songs that came from this time in my life were marked by their brutal honesty, unfiltered diaristic confessions, and wild wistfulness,” Swift said in an Instagram post announcing the re-recording.

The “Speak Now” era is quintessential Swift, with fairytale motifs, theatrical music videos, and splashes of purple sprinkled throughout.

The re-recording, released July 2023, also allowed newer fans to experience the album for the first time, along with an iconic music video for “I Can See You” featuring actors Taylor Lautner and Joey King.

5. “Lover”

After two years in the dark shadows of the “Reputation” era, Swift “stepped into the daylight” with the “Lover” era.

Released on Aug. 23, 2019, “Lover” offered plenty of upbeat pop songs and a happy aesthetic. The era is associated with bright colors and butterfly imagery.

“‘Lover’’s aesthetic is unmatched with the pastel colors and the glitter, but the writing in the ‘Lover’ album is deep and emotional. The conflicting dynamic of the era is what makes it so unique,” senior Abigail Collins said.

This era was also a major turning point in Swift’s career. She was named Artist of the Decade at the American Music Awards.

Swift also released the documentary “Miss. Americana,” which delved into her career, the production process for “Lover,” and her controversy with Kanye West.

Swift became more vocal about politics and equal rights, another topic touched on in the documentary. Her music video for “You Need to Calm Down” featured a plethora of queer celebrities and raised awareness for the Equality Act.

However, LoverFest, a summer festival dedicated to the album, was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though it was cut short, the “Lover” era still featured many well-known moments from the pop star’s career.

4. “Fearless”

The “Fearless” era was Swift’s first major step into the spotlight. While her debut album was successful, “Fearless” was commercially and critically acclaimed, and Swift won her first few Grammy Awards during this era.

The strong fairytale and small-town romance elements also help this era stand out. During her shows, Swift wrote the number 13 on her hand and lyrics on her arms, two recognizable staples of this era.

This era’s music videos, including “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me,” are some of the most well-known of Swift’s career.

“Fearless” was also Swift’s first re-recorded album, which managed to capture the magic of the original but also elevated the work thanks to her mature vocals.

3. “Red”

This era includes immaculate fall vibes thanks to the frequent mentions of flannels and scarves. In Swift’s arguably best song “All Too Well,” she sings of a lost scarf left at her ex-partner’s house that he still has, despite the relationship’s end.

“Red” was also Swift’s first venture into the pop genre, leaving behind some of her country staples that she was known for.

The “Red” re-recording also introduced fans to the 10-minute version of “All Too Well” and the short film, which Swift directed and starred in alongside actors Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien. The 13-minute film is a highlight of Swift’s career and turns the “Red” era into a memorable one.

2. “1989”

Swift’s fifth studio album and era marked a new genre for her as she officially left country behind and embraced pop.

Despite the shift, “1989” was commercially and critically successful, and Swift won her second Album of the Year Grammy Award. She also marked the new era by cutting her long hair into a blunt bob and moving to New York City.

The music videos also stood out, with “Blank Space,” “Out of the Woods,” and “Bad Blood” telling different stories. “Bad Blood” in particular stars many of Swift’s friends from the time, including Selena Gomez.

1. “Reputation”

Swift’s best era is from her 2017 album “Reputation.” After three years of “1989,” numerous public relationships, and controversies involving West and his then-wife Kim Kardashian, Swift reinvented herself with a darker, edgier aesthetic.

On Aug. 21, 2017, Swift deleted all her former Instagram posts and dropped a video of a snake’s tail. Three days later, she released the first single “Look What You Made Me Do,” which features the iconic line “I’m sorry, but the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, cause she’s dead.”

Swift took the idea of an era to a whole new level with “Reputation,” single-handedly becoming the villain the public thought she was.

She also utilized snake imagery, referencing a tweet from Kardashian where she said, “Wait it’s legit National Snake Day? They have holidays for everybody, I mean everything these days.”

Despite the darker aesthetic, “Reputation” still focuses on the importance of love and finding the people who will stand by you, despite the public’s negative opinions. The era’s legacy cannot be ignored, and Swift left the “Reputation” era an entirely new person.

Each era of Swift’s career captures the album’s aesthetic, as well as the pop star’s experiences at the time of the release. They are time capsules for both her and her fans to celebrate and reflect on.

“Each of her eras are unique to what she was going through at the time, and I can also relate it back to a point in my life that it is connected to,” Collins said.

“The Eras Tour” is currently in theaters.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Photo Caption: For the “Folklore” portion of the tour, Swift performs on top of and around the woodsy cabin she associates with the era.

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