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Taylor Swift's Most Underrated Songs: Ranked By Data Analytics

I'm Andrew, a senior data analyst for BuzzFeed, and a Swiftie! (You might remember me from last year, when I ranked the most similar and most different Taylor's Versions.) Over the years, I've noticed the power that Taylor's catalog holds — every song she's released has dedicated superfans.

We know "All Too Well," "Blank Space," and "Cruel Summer" are fan favorites, but which songs are the most underrated? After searching through numerous Reddit threads and opinion pieces, I became curious about answering the question using data analytics.

This analysis focuses on songs from the deluxe editions of Taylor's 10 studio albums (no vault tracks, voice memos, piano/acoustic/remixes, or stand-alone singles were included).

Disclaimer: I removed "Soon You'll Get Better" from the analysis, as I felt a song so personal to Taylor couldn't be considered under- or overrated.

Now let's get to the data part!

Taylor looking confused with math equations overlaid on her
BBC One

The methodology (feel free to skip if you don't like math!):

I defined "underrated" as a combination of streaming performance and critical acclaim (ideally, a song with lower streaming performance and high critical acclaim). To rank the songs, I wrote a formula with three parts:

1) For every song, I found the percent difference between its lifetime Spotify streams and the median streams of its album. For albums with a Taylor's Version (Fearless, Speak Now, Red, 1989), I combined streams from the original song and its Taylor's Version. This measures how the song is streamed relative to its own album. A positive "own album" score means the song was streamed below the median, so the lower streams contribute to it being underrated.

2) For every song, I found the percent difference between its lifetime Spotify streams and the median streams, including neighboring albums. For example, the set of neighboring albums for Red are Speak Now, Red, and1989. This reveals songs that may be more popular on their own album but not highly streamed relative to surrounding albums. No Taylor's Version streams were used in this section. A positive "neighboring albums" score means the song was streamed below the median, contributing to it being underrated.

3) For every song, I assigned a critical acclaim score. I used an average of six rankings of Taylor's discography from media publications. This reflects how the songs stand against one another in the eyes of Swifties. Songs on the upper half of the rankings got a more positive score (high acclaim), the middle of the ranking got a score of 0 (neutral acclaim), and songs on the lower half got a more negative score (low acclaim).

A positive "critical acclaim" score means the song was ranked in the upper half, which boosts underratedness for songs with high praise and lowers it for songs with lower critical opinion. For context, "All Too Well" scored the highest critical acclaim with this data. Thank you to Rolling Stone, BuzzFeed, NME, Vulture, Paste, and TheCoolist!

Spotify streaming data was pulled as of 2/2/2024.

After adding each part of the formula together, I was able to rank from most to least underrated.

The Top 25 Most Underrated Taylor Swift Songs

Honorable mentions that got very close to making the list include "Epiphany," "Sweet Nothing," "I Almost Do," "The Lucky One," and "You Are in Love."

The graphs show the distribution of how each part of the formula (streaming performance relative to its own album, its neighboring albums, and critical acclaim) contributed to the songs' underrated scores.

25: "Closure," Evermore

Score: 42 + 57 - 26 = 73• Streamed 42% below the median Evermore track• Streamed 57% below the median track when neighboring albums are included • Ranked 26% below the median of the listsFavorite lyric:

24: "Superman," Speak Now

Score: 74 + 63 - 64 = 73• Streamed 74% below the median Speak Now track• Streamed 63% below the median track when neighboring albums are included • Ranked 64% below the median of the listsFavorite lyric:

23: "Cornelia Street," Lover

Score: 9 + 13 + 51 = 73• Streamed 9% below the median Lover track• Streamed 13% below the median track when neighboring albums are included • Ranked 51% above the median of the listsFavorite lyric:

22: "Cowboy Like Me," Evermore

Score: 13 + 35 + 26 = 74• Streamed 13% below the median Evermore track• Streamed 35% below the median track when neighboring albums are included • Ranked 26% above the median of the listsFavorite lyric: 

21: "I Know Places," 1989

Score: 42 + 44 - 9 = 77• Streamed 42% below the median 1989 track• Streamed 44% below the median track when neighboring albums are included • Ranked 9% below the median of the listsFavorite lyric:

20: "Dress," Reputation

Score: 29 + 10 + 38 = 77• Streamed 29% below the median Reputation track• Streamed 10% below the median track when neighboring albums are included • Ranked 38% above the median of the listsFavorite lyric:

19: "It's Time to Go," Evermore

Score: 50 + 62 - 33 = 79• Streamed 50% below the median Evermore track• Streamed 62% below the median track when neighboring albums are included • Ranked 33% below the median of the listsFavorite lyric:

18: "The Other Side of the Door," Fearless

Score: 34 + 79 - 33 = 80• Streamed 34% below the median Fearless track• Streamed 79% below the median track when neighboring albums are included • Ranked 33% below the median of the listsFavorite lyric:

17: "Come In With the Rain," Fearless

Score:  56 + 76 - 51 = 81• Streamed 56% below the median Fearless track• Streamed 76% below the median track when neighboring albums are included • Ranked 51% below the median of the listsFavorite lyric:

16: "Ivy," Evermore

Score:  -2 + 24 + 66 = 88• Streamed 2% above the median Evermore track• Streamed 24% below the median track when neighboring albums are included• Ranked 66% above the median of the listsFavorite lyric: 

15: "Hoax," Folklore

Score:  48 + 43 + 1 = 92• Streamed 48% below the median Folklore track• Streamed 43% below the median track when neighboring albums are included • Ranked 1% above the median of the listsFavorite lyric:

14: "Jump Then Fall," Fearless

Score:  37 + 63 - 7 = 93• Streamed 37% below the median Fearless track• Streamed 63% below the median track when neighboring albums are included • Ranked 7% below the median of the listsFavorite lyric:

13: "Treacherous," Red

Score:  0 + 62 + 31 = 93• Streamed 0% below the median Red track (it's the median!)• Streamed 62% below the median track when neighboring albums are included • Ranked 31% above the median of the listsFavorite lyric:

12: "Superstar," Fearless

Score:  61 + 80 - 43 = 98• Streamed 61% below the median Fearless track• Streamed 80% below the median track when neighboring albums are included • Ranked 43% below the median of the listsFavorite lyric:

11: "Marjorie," Evermore

Score:  5 + 28 + 65 = 98• Streamed 5% below the median Evermore track• Streamed 28% below the median track when neighboring albums are included • Ranked 65% above the median of the listsFavorite lyric:

Now for the top 10!

10: "Clean," 1989

Score:  20 + 18 + 63 = 101• Streamed 20% below the median 1989 track• Streamed 18% below the median track when neighboring albums are included • Ranked 63% above the median of the listsFavorite lyric:

9: "Hits Different," Midnights

Score:  44 + 40 + 17 = 101• Streamed 44% below the median Midnights track• Streamed 40% below the median track when neighboring albums are included • Ranked 17% above the median of the listsFavorite lyric:

8: "It's Nice to Have a Friend," Lover

Score:  63 + 64 - 26 = 101• Streamed 63% below the median Lover track• Streamed 64% below the median track when neighboring albums are included • Ranked 26% below the median of the listsFavorite lyric:

7: "The Moment I Knew," Red

Score:  38 + 78 - 8 = 108• Streamed 38% below the median Red track• Streamed 78% below the median track when neighboring albums are included • Ranked 8% below the median of the listsFavorite lyric:

6: "State of Grace," Red

Score:  -12 + 58 + 63 = 109• Streamed 12% above the median Red track• Streamed 58% below the median track when neighboring albums are included • Ranked 63% above the median of the listsFavorite lyric:

5: "Peace," Folklore

Score:  42 + 36 + 35 = 113• Streamed 42% below the median Folklore track• Streamed 36% below the median track when neighboring albums are included • Ranked 35% above the median of the listsFavorite lyric:

4: "The Lakes," Folklore

Score:  59 + 54 + 8 = 121• Streamed 59% below the median Folklore track• Streamed 54% below the median track when neighboring albums are included • Ranked 8% above the median of the listsFavorite lyric:

3: "Bigger Than the Whole Sky," Midnights

Score:  41 + 37 + 47 = 125• Streamed 41% below the median Midnights track• Streamed 37% below the median track when neighboring albums are included • Ranked 47% above the median of the listsFavorite lyric:

2: "New Year's Day," Reputation

Score:  56 + 45 + 31 = 132• Streamed 56% below the median Reputation track• Streamed 45% below the median track when neighboring albums are included • Ranked 31% above the median of the listsFavorite lyric:

1: "Holy Ground," Red

Score:  15 + 63 + 63 = 141• Streamed 15% below the median Red track• Streamed 63% below the median track when neighboring albums are included • Ranked 63% above the median of the listsFavorite lyric:

So there you have it, Red fans! Using this formula, "Holy Ground" took the title of most underrated.

Though only one method of ranking, I thought the results were promising! Interestingly, every album except Taylor Swift had a song that made the top 25.

For more Taylor Swift data, check out my analysis of the most similar and different Taylor's Versions!

Any music-related data questions you want me to look into? Want to share your personal choice for Taylor's most underrated song? Feel free to comment!

For now, go show these tracks some love!