It is often said that there will never be another cultural phenomenon on the scale of Elvis or The Beatles. However, such a statement shows little understanding of just how popular Taylor Swift is.
If you're a Swiftie or just want to play her songs, here are the best Taylor Swift songs on guitar.
“You Belong With Me”
While Taylor has always been on a meteoric rise, it wasn’t until 2009 that her career hit a new level. The album, Fearless, is what helped Taylor start to gain so much mainstream attention.
Taylor’s hit song, You Belong With Me, comes from Fearless, and features that iconic blend of country and pop elements. Country music purists would likely point to this song as the start of modern-day commercial country’s sound.
“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”
The song, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together is both extremely catchy and fun to play.
Throughout the majority of the song, you’ll be incorporating both basic chord strums and fingerpicking techniques. The song is mostly based around the chords of Cadd9, G, Dsus4, and E minor.
In reality, this song embodies just about everything Taylor is known for in terms of musical composition. With that being said, its title is unbelievably cliche for what one would assume a T-Swift song to be titled.
“Shake It Off”
By the time 2014 rolled around, Taylor had seemingly made a complete departure from the shackles of country music. Now, Taylor Swift was a bonafide pop music star, evidenced perfectly in songs like Shake It Off.
The drums and synthetic keyboard-horn sound immediately tell you this is a dance song through and through. You might be unsure about how to play this given that the guitar is nearly non-existent in the recording.
However, if you use your ears, you’ll notice that it’s primarily built around A minor, C, and G.
While Taylor is known for many things, it’s her storytelling capabilities that take the front seat in Love Story. This song comes from early in Taylor’s career, partially evidenced by its heavy mandolin sound throughout.
From a compositional point of view, Love Story is pretty stereotypical for a Taylor Swift track. The song is based around D, with the main progression switching chords between verses and choruses.
For instance, during the verses, she plays D, B minor, G, and A. During the chorus, she switches the progression to D, A, B minor, and then G.
Back at the beginning of Taylor’s career, she seemingly embraced country music as a foundational basis. This sound provided a springboard for country and pop fans alike to congregate under one banner.
Take the track, Our Song, for instance, which features plenty of acoustic guitar and mandolin against a semi-swung pop drumbeat. Of course, for most fans, this track conveys a sense of teenage nostalgia that keeps them coming back for more.
“Sad Beautiful Tragic”
Many people point to the 2012 album, Red, as Taylor’s departure into more experimental sounds beyond her established sound. However, while many of the songs are different in sound, they are compositionally very akin to her other works.
The song, Sad Beautiful Tragic, features a very basic chord progression of G, D, A minor, and C. While this 4-chord progression is incredibly basic and simple, it provides the perfect context for the song.
Taylor seems to be performing from an honest space with this song. Somehow, this simple progression strips away all of the unnecessary layers to provide raw emotion.
“All Too Well”
The album, Red, seems to be an excellent choice for anyone that is into guitar-heavy Taylor Swift songs. Her track, All Too Well, features signature aspects of Taylor’s music we all know all too well.
What would those signature aspects be? Well, in a comical way, this track is also built from a 4-chord progression of C, G, A minor, and F.
Where this song differs from her earlier work is that a lead guitar is featured prominently for melodic purposes. This lead part is relatively easy enough for any advancing beginner to pick out by ear.
Would you believe me if I said that Fearless is also an incredibly simplistic tune from a compositional standpoint? While I don’t mean to burst your bubble, this is just something you’ll need to get used to.
Fearless is yet another Taylor Swift song built from a 4-chord progression. This time, the chords are F, C, D minor, and B flat.
To get the higher tonality, play it with a capo on the 3rd fret. From there, you’ll use the chord shapes of D, A, B minor, and G.
“The Story of Us”
Taylor’s 2011 track, The Story of Us, takes on the sound of a full-on rock band with a radio-friendly edge. As you might guess, the track opens up with a patented chord progression of B, C# minor, E, and A.
When the song quiets down, Taylor actually switches the progression to a 3-chord progression. Here, you’ll primarily be playing E, B, and A.
If you have access to a full band, this wouldn’t be a bad song to add to the repertoire. It's easy to play and is edgier compared to the sensitive sentimentality in Taylor’s other songs.
Sparks Fly, which comes from the album of the same name, continues on with a full band sound. In a way, this track embodies a sense of modern-day arena rock, with subtle distortion and smooth leads.
If you think about it, the rigors associated with the touring life likely did influence Taylor around this time. She was establishing herself as one of the most successful pop stars of the 21st century.
“Never Grow Up”
Another song to come from the Sparks Fly album is, Never Grow Up. Compared to the majority of Taylor’s songs, the acoustic part in this is a little more complicated.
The guitar part incorporates fingerpicking over a descending melodic passage based around D. You can play it without a capo, though it’s probably much easier to place one on the 2nd fret.
From there, instead of playing the standard D shape, you would play a C-shape chord instead.
“State of Grace”
State of Grace might not have been a smash hit as some of Taylor’s other songs. However, this track provides evidence of Taylor’s willingness to blend experimental elements with her traditional sound.
In some ways, it’s almost as if Taylor incorporated pop-rock elements from U2 and Muse into this song. You’ll especially hear this in the lead guitar part, which features exquisitely tasteful delay and sustain.