Song of the Day #4,262: ‘Stay Beautiful’ – Taylor Swift

Before I start my ranking of Taylor Swift’s seven albums, a few words on my methodology.

First, I listened to all seven albums in chronological order. Some I know quite well; others were relatively new to me. I then listened to them again, and eliminated the songs from each that I either dislike or don’t deem necessary. Luckily, I ended up with a different number of surviving songs from each album, giving me a nice ranked list.

I realize that is hardly a foolproof method for something like this. For one thing, it could favor the albums with longer tracklists. If I “voted in” seven songs from a 15-track album and six from a nine-track album, which is the more successful record? Probably the second one.

So I crunched the data with that in mind, and came up with a “percentage of keepers” figure for each album. As it turns out, using that metric left my ranking unchanged.

I can think of one other limitation of this method, which opens up a whole new philosophical discussion. What if I like only three of 11 songs on an album, but they happen to be my three absolute favorite Taylor Swift songs? Should that album get more credit than a record with twice as many keepers but none that rank among her best songs?

Fortunately, my ranking again survives the challenge. Swift has consistently put out great songs on every album, and a list of my favorites would span her whole career.

So while this method might not be the perfect way to assess every artist, it turned out to be the perfect way to assess Taylor Swift. Over the next seven days, I’ll offer my ranked list of her full-length albums.

#7 – Taylor Swift – 2006

Swift’s self-titled debut came out when she was 16 years old and features songs written during her freshman year of high school. By that standard, it’s a goddamn masterpiece.

Compared to the rest of her output, however, this album stands out as a bit too generic in its sound and focus. It’s a work by somebody still finding her voice (in Swift’s defense, most artists don’t have to do that before they graduate from high school).

While more than half of these songs are forgettable, the five I chose to hang on to are all winners: ‘Tim McGraw,’ ‘Teardrops On My Guitar,’ ‘A Place in This World,’ ‘Stay Beautiful’ and ‘Our Song.’ Even on these earliest tracks, Swift demonstrates a gift for melody and lyrics that she would hone to a razor’s edge on subsequent albums.

Today’s SOTD is my favorite, a delicate and bittersweet portrait of unrequited love.

[Verse 1]
Corey’s eyes are like a jungle
He smiles, it’s like the radio
He whispers songs into my window in words that nobody knows
These pretty girls on every corner
They watch him as he’s walking home, saying, “Does he know?”
Will you ever know?

[Chorus]
You’re beautiful
Every little piece, love
And don’t you know
You’re really gonna be someone
Ask anyone
And when you find everything you looked for
I hope your life will lead you back to my door
Oh, but if it don’t
Stay beautiful

[Verse 2]
Corey finds another way to be the highlight of my day
I’m taking pictures in my mind so I can save them for a rainy day
It’s hard to make a conversation when he’s taking my breath away
I should say
Hey, by the way

[Chorus]
You’re beautiful
Every little piece, love
And don’t you know
You’re really gonna be someone
Ask anyone
And when you find everything you looked for
I hope your life will lead you back to my door
Oh, but if it don’t
Stay beautiful

[Bridge]
If you and I are a story
That never gets told
If what you are is a daydream
I’ll never get to hold
At least you’ll know

[Chorus]
You’re beautiful
Every little piece, love
And don’t you know
You’re really gonna be someone
Ask anyone
And when you find everything you looked for
I hope your life will lead you back to my front door
Oh, but if it don’t
Will you stay
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful?
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful?

[Outro]
La la la
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, but if it don’t
Stay beautiful
Stay beautiful
Na, na, na, na, na

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,262: ‘Stay Beautiful’ – Taylor Swift

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I’m not sure I totally understand your various methodologies for ranking Swift’s albums, but I look forward to reading about the results. I would say that my personal favorite on her first album is “Our Song.”

  2. Maddie says:

    I’m a Picture to Burn lady myself

  3. The Cool Guy (Daniel) says:

    I am very excited to hear your whole album ranking especially based on such a complicated metric! I love today’s song of the day, I would say that “A Place in this World” might be my favorite track but this is definitely a close second. This is the first “love” song I remember hearing where I was so taken aback by how non traditional it was.

    Now I’m able to listen and understand the story, but I remember as a kid being so confused. Are they friends? If they broke up she seems to be handling it awfully well? This was the first song I had heard about unrequited love and although now it’s a topic I think is written on fairly often in music, at the time it was unique and enthralling to me as a result.

    I do love this album and I can’t imagine putting it last, but perhaps that’s a testament to how much I enjoy all of Swift’s records. Maybe, I’ll put my ranking on the final day and see how much it differs from yours! 🙂

  4. Amy says:

    I, too, am quite impressed with your complex methodology of ranking these albums. I was planning to just take a quick glance at the track lists of each and throw them on a list… not nearly as accurately, I assume. 🙂 Since I like pure pop Swift less than country Swift, I imagine this album will rank higher on my list, but I do agree that she has obviously grown as a writer and a performer as she has had more life experience about which to write. I didn’t remember until looking at the track list for this album today that “Should’ve Said No” was even on this album. I think of it as a later cut. I love lots of these songs, but “Our Song” has definitely always been one of my favorite Swift songs, so it would likely hold that spot on this album (before I had done my due diligence of listening twice, cutting songs, ranking them, creating a percentile, etc. 😉

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