Taylor Swift’s top five breakup songs


Wikimedia Commons

Campus Editor Grace Sherban writes about her top five favorite Taylor Swift breakup tracks.

Grace Sherban, Campus Editor

To contrast “The top five Taylor Swift love songs,” let’s take a look at another staple within Swift’s discography: the breakup song.

My same rules are going to apply, so each album will be limited to one song in this top five and are listed in no particular order. To make up for the albums that don’t make the best of, I will also include a few honorable mentions.

1.) “Last Kiss” from “Speak Now” 

“So I’ll watch your life in pictures like I used to watch you sleep. And I’ll feel you forget me like I used to feel you breathe.” 

By far one of Swift’s most beautiful, lyrical masterpieces, “Last Kiss” is a reflection on a past relationship and what made it so special before it collapsed. The melancholy aesthetic of the tune matches perfectly with the slow guitar and drum beat that create the backbone of the entire song. 

“Last Kiss” is a song for the hopeless romantic in all of us. The way that she describes the little characteristics in her relationship, like how she liked watching him walk with his hands in his pocket or the way he danced at parties, emphasizes the small details that make human connection special. Upon reflection, Swift realizes that these delicate moments bring her sadness after her relationship ends. Love is bittersweet and it’s the small remembered mannerisms that make breakups a difficult thing to overcome. 

2.) “All Too Well” from “Red” 

“’Cause there we are again when I loved you so, back before you lost the one real thing you’ve ever known. It was rare, I was there, I remember it all too well.”

Arguably one of Swift’s most culturally significant songs, “All Too Well” documents the downfall of her alleged split from actor Jake Gyllenhaal. With the release of the infamous “All Too Well (10 Minute Version),” the song has only further solidified itself as one of her finest works by following a formula that Swifties know all too well. 

Swift crafts a narrative about falling in love just as well as she can craft a story about the trauma of an intense breakup. An interesting component of this song is the idea of memory and how it affects the interpretation of the past. Swift remembers the sweet moments, like dancing in the light of the refrigerator, and is able to juxtapose this idea with lyrics like “so casually cruel in the name of being honest.” Our outlook on an event is framed by the inevitable end, whether it be good or bad. “All Too Well” is so unique because it takes a tender look at the good but ultimately, those experiences are tainted by the bad. 

3.) “White Horse” from “Fearless” 

“I’m not a princess, this ain’t a fairytale. I’m not the one you’ll sweep off your feet, lead her up the stairwell. This ain’t Hollywood, this is a small town. I was a dreamer before you went and let me down. Now it’s too late for you and your white horse to come around.” 

It is evident to see the love Swift has for using metaphors and allegories within many of her songs and “White Horse” is no exception. She describes the disillusionment that she experienced after falling for someone who turned out to be a disappointment. Through this relationship, Swift learns that the fairytale romance that she has always dreamed of might not ever occur. 

The inclusion of “White Horse” on this album contrasts a previous song, “Love Story,” and allows the album as a whole to depict the entire spectrum of human emotion when it comes to love. Despite the heart-wrenching feelings that permeate throughout the first half of the song, “White Horse” ends on an optimistic note as Swift looks back in the rearview mirror to see her past disappear as she leaves her small town to make something of herself in this world.  

4.) “Getaway Car” from “Reputation”

“I was ridin’ in a getaway car. I was cryin’ in a getaway car. I was dyin’ in a getaway car. Said goodbye in a getaway car.” 

A more upbeat take on a breakup, “Getaway Car” follows Swift as she connects criminals driving a getaway car to a doomed romance. She compares the current state of the relationship to being similar to Bonnie and Clyde, which heightens the connection between her criminal romance and downfall. Not to mention, there are multiple references to “Dear John” on this track which obviously makes the whole song 10 times better. 

Famous for her bridges, Swift’s bridge for “Getaway Car” gives her agency within the song as she is now driving the car away from her relationship and the consequences of her actions. Swift is able to escape the same fate as Bonnie and Clyde because she was able to forge her own independence before the collapse of the relationship destroyed them both.  

5.) “Death By A Thousand Cuts” from “Lover” 

“You said it was a great love, one for the ages. But if the story’s over, why am I still writing pages?”

Unlike the aforementioned songs on this list, “Death By A Thousand Cuts” may not come to mind right away when thinking about Swift’s breakup songs. For the most part, the first four songs on this list are extremely personal tunes and reflect real life relationships and experiences that Swift has lived through. In contrast, Swift has gone on record to say that “Death By A Thousand Cuts” is based on the Netflix movie “Someone Great.” 

Regardless of the inspiration, this song allows Swift to showcase her mastery of the English language with such lines as, “I dress to kill my time” (dress to kill, kill time) which layer perfectly over an optimistic drumbeat. “Death By A Thousand Cuts” clues the listener into what it feels like to give all of yourself to someone only to be left behind in pieces. 

Honorable Mentions:

“Shake It Off” from “1989”

“Exile” from “Folklore”

“Closure” from “Evermore”

“Picture to Burn” from “Taylor Swift”

“Dear John” from “Speak Now” (I am breaking my own rule because this song is such a banger)

Whether it be through a traditional love song or an emotional breakup ballad, Swift is one of the greatest musical artists that pen songs about love in all its many forms. After all, breakup songs are love songs too.