Taylor Swift is often praised for her very personal songwriting style. But even after many years at the top, she still faces a lot of criticism. So, is Taylor Swift a good songwriter?
Taylor Swift is an incredible songwriter with approximately 60 Top 40 hits and with superb mastery over her craft. She has released over 150 songs in her career, all of which she either wrote herself or co-wrote with other writers.
From ‘Anti-Hero’ off of Midnights to ‘All Too Well (Ten Minute Version)’, one of many fans’ all time fave Tay songs, let’s revisit the ups and downs of Swift’s discography to see if Swift’s songwriting has changed for better or for the worse.
What inspires Taylor Swift’s songwriting?
The answer is multifaceted.
For starters, Taylor draws inspiration from her own life experiences. She has said that she often writes about things that she has gone through or seen others go through. This includes breakups, heartache, and other struggles that many people can relate to.
She also draws inspiration from her relationships with friends and family, as well as her travels around the world.
In addition to personal experiences, Taylor also draws inspiration from other artists and genres of music. She has cited a wide range of influences including country music, pop music, hip-hop, rock music, and even classical music.
She often takes elements from these different genres to create something unique and special in her own songs.
Finally, Taylor also draws inspiration from literature and film.
She has said that she loves to read books and watch movies for ideas for her songs. She often takes themes or characters from these stories and uses them in her own songs to create something new and interesting for listeners to enjoy.
How does Taylor Swift write her lyrics?
Taylor Swift has a knack for creating vivid imagery and clever wordplay that makes her songs stand out. Her lyrics often reflect her own experiences, but she also draws inspiration from the people around her.
Swift’s songwriting process begins with an idea or emotion that she wants to explore.
She then starts to write down words and phrases that come to mind, which she later refines into a song structure. She often uses metaphors and similes to convey her message in a more creative way.
Swift also likes to use personal anecdotes in her lyrics.
In the song “You Belong With Me,” she tells the story of two friends with the narrator being in love with her friend. But despite their chemistry and connection, her friend is in a relationship with someone else.
This narrative helps listeners relate to the song on an emotional level as we’ve likely all experienced that unrequited love.
In addition to storytelling, Swift also incorporates clever wordplay into her lyrics.
In the song “Shake It Off,” she uses double entendres and puns to make light of haters and naysayers: “The players gonna play, play, play/And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate.” This type of lyrical wit adds another layer of depth to her songs.
Finally, Swift’s lyrics are often filled with optimism and hope despite any hardships or struggles she may be facing at the time.
In the song “Never Grow Up,” she sings about how life passes by too quickly but encourages listeners not to forget their childhood dreams: “Don’t ever grow up/Don’t ever grow up/It could stay this simple.”
This uplifting message is one of many reasons why Taylor Swift’s music resonates so deeply with fans all over the world.
How does Taylor Swift come up with her melodies?
Taylor Swift is a master of melody.
She has a knack for creating catchy, memorable tunes that stay with her listeners long after the song has ended. Her melodies are often complex and layered, but they also have an effortless quality that makes them easy to sing along to.
Swift’s approach to creating melodies is rooted in her love of music theory and her ability to think outside the box.
She often starts with a basic chord progression or melody line and then builds on it by adding different elements such as countermelodies, harmonies, and rhythmic variations. She also draws inspiration from other genres such as folk, pop, and country music.
In addition to her musical knowledge, Swift also relies heavily on her intuition when crafting melodies.
She has said that she often finds herself humming or singing a melody without even realizing it until she hears it back later on. This intuitive approach allows her to create unique melodies that capture the emotion of the song in a way that is both subtle and powerful.
Are all of Taylor Swift’s songs about her personal life?
No, not all of Taylor Swift’s songs are about her personal life.
Many of her songs are written from the perspective of a character or a story she has created. She often uses her own experiences as inspiration for her music, but she also draws on other people’s stories and emotions to create her songs.
For example, in the song “Mean” from her album Speak Now, Swift wrote about a bully who was trying to bring her down.
The song was inspired by an experience she had in high school but it wasn’t necessarily about her own life. Similarly, in the song “Love Story” from Fearless, Swift wrote about a Romeo and Juliet-style love story that wasn’t based on any real-life events.
Swift also writes songs that are more abstract and don’t necessarily have a specific meaning or story behind them.
For example, in the song “Blank Space” from 1989, Swift wrote about how people often make assumptions about her based on what they see in the media. The song is more of an observation than a personal story and doesn’t necessarily reflect any specific event in Swift’s life.
Overall, while many of Taylor Swift’s songs are inspired by a culmination of moments from her own experiences, failed romances, and emotions, not all of them are directly related to her personal life. But with a poetic twist.
She often uses other people’s stories and emotions as inspiration for her music as well as more abstract concepts like media perception and societal norms.
Does Taylor Swift have any trademark singing or songwriting techniques?
Taylor Swift is not exactly a powerhouse vocalist in the same vein as pop stars Lady Gaga or Christina Aguilera. But she does have some unique signature moves in her vocals that help her stand out.
Musicologist Nate Sloan has identified a signature technique of hers, which he calls the “T-drop”.
This is a melodic progression where Swift takes a short step down in pitch, followed by a much larger drop in pitch. This technique is often used to emphasize the emotion of the lyrics and can be heard in many of her songs.
Another trademark technique of Swift’s is her frequent use of an additional harmony or slight change in melody on the first chorus of the final run of choruses at the end of many of her songs.
This helps to create an emotional climax and can be heard in songs such as Wonderland and Wildest Dreams. It also serves to add an extra layer of complexity to her music, making it stand out from other pop songs.
Swift also often uses repetition in her songwriting, repeating certain phrases or lines throughout the song to emphasize their importance.
This can be heard in songs such as “Shake It Off” and “Blank Space”, where she repeats certain lines multiple times throughout the song. Repetition helps to create a catchy hook that listeners will remember long after they have finished listening to the song.
Does Taylor Swift read or write music?
The answer is yes.
Taylor Swift is a classically trained musician who can read and write music. She began taking piano lessons at the age of nine and was soon writing her own songs. She has also studied guitar, banjo, and ukulele, all of which require an understanding of musical notation.
In addition to being able to read and write music, Taylor Swift is also an accomplished producer.
She has produced several of her own albums as well as those of other artists. This requires a deep understanding of musical theory and composition, which can only be achieved by reading and writing music.
Taylor Swift’s ability to read and write music has enabled her to create some of the most successful songs in recent memory. Her songs have topped the charts around the world, earning her numerous awards including 11 Grammy awards, including album of the year multiple times.
In addition, she also accepted the Songwriter-Artist of the Decade award in 2022 given by the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) for her decade of work.
Her success as a songwriter is due in part to her ability to understand musical notation and create melodies that resonate with listeners.
How does Taylor Swift choose her co-songwriters?
Taylor Swift is known for her collaborations with other songwriters and producers.
The biggest names in the music industry, such as Max Martin, Shellback, and Jack Antonoff have all worked on Swift’s recent releases. Swift chooses her co-songwriters carefully, often selecting those who have a similar musical style or who can bring something unique to the table.
Of all her studio albums, the only one where she wrote every song by herself is the 2010 album Speak Now. But she has not released any songs that she didn’t at least co-author.
Swift looks for people who are passionate about their craft and have a good work ethic.
She has said that she likes to work with people who are willing to put in the extra effort to make sure that the song is perfect.
Additionally, she looks for people who are open to trying new things and experimenting with different sounds and ideas.
Finally, Swift looks for co-songwriters who share her vision for the song.
She wants someone who understands what she is trying to say and can help bring it to life through their lyrics or production.
For Taylor, her collaborations have helped her transition from a country singer to a famous pop singer.
Is Taylor Swift one of the best songwriters of all time?
Taylor Swift is not the best songwriter of all time, but definitely a good one. She has often been put in the same category as Bob Dylan, Elton John, and Carole King. And for sure she is one of the greatest songwriters of our generation.
Many fans believe that Swift’s popularity to global stardom is chalked to her innate capability to compose memorable lyrics that stream nostalgia. She leads her music in pure units with her sweet, painfully human, and humble style.
She may not be at the forefront of music’s evolution.
Still, she is an enchanting vocalist. She often makes it hard for fans to choose her best work to date, especially when she releases two back-to-back hit albums like folklore and evermore (she doesn’t capitalize them).
Being a fan, I knew some of you might have faced this problem.
So, I made sure to discuss it in my recent article. Be sure to read it as I also discuss which album captures Taylor’s best songwriting ideas.
Just click that link to read it on my site.
All and all, Taylor’s stylistic influence has helped many other artists like Olivia Rodrigo find their way to music. She is a versatile singer and an alluring wordsmith—a musical genius by nature and a proud owner of catchy hits.
She articulates her feelings mainly from her personal experience.
This factor allows her huge fanbase to relate to her quickly. She has the rare ability to tell a story in a single space of a sentence.
For example, look at the lines below:
- Darling, I am a nightmare dressed like a daydream: Blank Space
- He said it’s supposed to be fun, Turning 21: All Too Well Ten-Minute Version
- I knew I would curse you for the longest time/ Chasing shadows in the grocery line: cardigan
How long does it take Taylor Swift to write songs?
Taylor Swift can finish writing a song in under 30 minutes or less. A fine example of her impressive pace is tracks like Back to December written in 15 minutes, Out of the Woods in 30 minutes, Love Story in 20 minutes, and many more.
Songwriting is a subjective domain and might take up to months to complete. But Swift is a gifted writer who does not rest until she completes a piece.
In addition to this, Taylor seems to have a lyrical finesse as she rarely misses to fill the gaps in her songwriting. After all, putting the missing pieces together through the lyrics makes a great singer.
I remember Quincy Jones’ statement here in which he says:
“A great song can make the worst singer in the world a star. A bad song can’t be saved by the three best singers in the world.”
And although Swifties (as Taylor Swift’s fans are often called) would know that Quincy made this statement to diss Swift’s songwriting, they would agree that lousy writing can never elevate a song.
Speaking about bad writing, if you are curious to know about Taylor’s most unpopular songs, read my recent article where I looked into some of her less impressive melodies that failed to rock the charts.
Just click that link to read it on my site.
For now, Taylor’s speedy process doesn’t seem to be affecting her writing abilities or popularity. She is a talented artist who flawlessly achieves the task of creating memorable songs in less than half an hour.
How does Taylor Swift write her songs?
Taylor Swift writes her songs on an acoustic guitar for the initial ideas. She then brings those ideas to her chosen co-author, who may flesh out the ideas on another guitar or piano.
For Taylor, writing a song is all about connecting to the audience. She says a piece is complete when it can give her fans a closer glimpse into her personal life.
Taylor understands that songwriting can be an intimidating process. She isn’t afraid to acknowledge the challenging aspects of a song’s evolution.
When asked by The New York Times about how she wrote her track Lover, Swift described:
“There are moments when it’s like this cloud of an idea comes and lands in front of your face, and you reach and grab it. A lot of songwriting is things you learn, structure, cultivate that skill, and know-how to craft a song. But there are mystical, magical moments, inexplicable moments when an idea that is fully formed pops into your head.”
Taylor has demonstrated her lyrical gifts in her early music with Love Story and Our Song tracks.
She is going even stronger with tracks like All Too Well Ten-Minute Version. However, the most remarkable aspect of Taylor’s songwriting is her steadfast dedication to creating an intricate relationship between her lyrics and her personal life.
This relatability is the powerful ingredient that allows her fans to bond tightly with her words.
And if you are looking for a very straightforward answer, creativity has no single route, to say the least. Every artist has a different take on what works for them when they write a song.
It is often an idea that can strike anytime, even in a bathtub, just like Back to December happened for Taylor.
Taylor Swift’s success is due to the strong storytelling approach that has helped her captivate the attention of fans across generations.
She paints a vivid picture of her memories through songs which is not a common trait in artists of her age. And her songwriting is one of the many reasons she has the fiercest fans who are quick to verbally beat down even her harshest detractors.
Sure, there are other songwriters with whom she has collaborated and worked on chart-buster hits.
Still, her most recognizable songs remain the ones that she wrote herself. The fact that she has worked on over 150 songs in such a short period proves that Taylor is not just a good songwriter but an great songwriter.
And she hasn’t just had hits for herself!
In 2016, she gave the song “Better Man” to the country band Little Big Town, after her version didn’t make the final cut for her album Red.
The song won Song of the Year and was nominated for Single of the Year, and Music Video of the Year at the 2017 CMA Awards. And the group also won a Grammy for Best Country Duo/Group Performance and the song itself was nominated for Best Country Song at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards.
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