If you’re reading this it’s highly likely because you love to brag to your non-Swiftie mates about how great of a songwriter Taylor Swift is, or because you simply had no idea just how many of your fave songs she has written entirely by herself. When she’s not traveling the world on a sold-out stadium tour, playing mum to three needy cats, or eating a burrito for the very first time at the age of 26, she’s waking up at 2am singing yet another song idea into her phone.
All eleven-year-old Taylor wanted to do was share her songwriting with the world, and it was this gift of storytelling that helped propel her into the superstar that she was born to be. Her songs which once sounded like gibberish in a voice memo or lived in ink on paper have become chart-toppers and fan favourites which will stand the test of time. From ‘Love Story’, and ‘Fifteen’, to ‘Mine’, ‘Lover’ and ‘Cornelia Street’, these are the songs which Taylor has written entirely solo.
Taylor Swift (Self-titled)
Solo Written Songs: Should’ve Said No, The Outside, and Our Song + bonus track I’d Lie
Even on the songs where a co-writer is credited, it’s only ever one or two other people in the room. Back in her country days when she was first starting out, Liz Rose was her main writing partner (yes, THE Liz who she wrote the “10-minute” version of ‘All Too Well’ with). Together the pair wrote a majority of these songs during Taylor’s freshman year of high school, and Taylor wrote ‘Our Song’ for her school’s ninth-grade talent show (which she won ofc).
Solo Written Songs: Change, Fifteen, Forever And Always, Hey Stephen, Love Story, The Best Day, The Other Side Of The Door, and You’re Not Sorry + bonus tracks Jump Then Fall, and Superstar.
Fearless didn’t win the Grammy for Album of the Year by chance. Taylor penned ten tracks by herself like she was already a decade into her career. Her songwriting is at it’s best when it’s highly personal and filled with special moments of detail. Whether it’s about “a red-head named Abigail” or her mom setting up “a paint set in the kitchen” when she was three, it’s like you’re lowkey reading a page in her diary.
Solo Written Songs: EVERY SINGLE ONE
Taylor’s clapback to critics not believing that she was the one behind writing her own songs should be documented in the history books. She wrote ALL seventeen songs entirely by herself and the album went on to sell 1 million copies in its debut week. Did she need to prove a point? Certainly not. But did it put them in their place? 113%. With songs such as ‘Last Kiss,’ ‘Dear John,’ ‘Enchanted,’ and ‘Back To December’, the naysayers had trouble picking their jaws back up off the floor, tbh they’re probably still there.
Solo Written Songs: Begin Again, Holy Ground, I Almost Do, The Lucky One, Red, Sad, Beautiful Tragic, Starlight, State of Grace, and Stay Stay Stay + bonus tracks Girl At Home and The Moment I Knew.
Red deserved a Grammy. Cool, glad we got that out of the way. This was her fourth studio album, and she wrote over half of the songs solo including two of the bonus tracks. This was the first time she started to dabble in the pop genre, and she also collaborated with BFF Ed Sheeran and Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody. Red basically had it all, except the Grammy….no, we’ll never let it go.
Kiki Rockwell – ‘Madeline’
Solo Written Songs: This Love
The 1989 era officially marked the end of Taylor’s days in country music, which naturally lead to more collaborators and studio time with pop royalty producers. Together with Max Martin and Shellback, the likes of ‘Shake It Off’, ‘Blank Space’, ‘Wildest Dreams’, and ‘Style’ were born. Whilst boy genius Jack Antonoff jumped on tracks such as ‘Out Of The Woods’ and ‘You Are In Love’. Taylor also teamed up with Ryan Tedder and Imogen Heap. Despite only one song being written solo, it made sense to switch up the formula, as it kept everything “sOniCaLly cOheSivE”. Fun fact: ‘This Love’ initially started out as a poem and was the very first song written for 1989.
Solo Written Songs: None
It seems almost silly to even list rep in this piece seeing as none of the songs were written entirely solo. But it was during this era where we were blessed with some of the best content we’ve ever had of Taylor’s songwriting sessions in the studio. *Jonathan Van Ness voice* can you believe that we have actual footage of her and Jack writing the bridge for ‘Getaway Car’ in less than a minute?! Anybody else’s acne literally clear up within seconds of seeing that clip for the very first time?
Solo Written Songs: Cornelia Street, Daylight, and Lover
The self-titled track ‘Lover’ went on to earn Taylor a Grammy nom for Song Of The Year. Only six solo-written songs this decade have been nominated in this category, with Taylor being the only female. Although she didn’t take home the award, Taylor proved that she can indeed write a pop song without a producer and reminded us why we all fell in love with her in the first place – her songwriting. Side note: Referencing Red in ‘Daylight’ is what Hilary Duff meant when she sang “this is what dreams are made of”.
She wasn’t born in December or grew up on a Christmas tree farm for nothing – Taylor has solo-written three Christmas songs including the 2019 bop ‘Christmas Tree Farm’. She also penned The Hunger Games ‘Eyes Open,’ Nils Sjöberg’s ‘This Is What You Came For’, and ‘Better Man’ for Little Big Town. Peep the full-circle moment below of her performing in Nashville’s The Bluebird Cafe over a decade after she was first discovered there (and obvs ignore anyone mentioned who goes by the name of Scott).