5:00 pm EST, July 24, 2019

Ranking Taylor Swift’s ‘The Archer’ among her iconic ‘Track 5’ songs

Taylor Swift has released her latest “track five,” “The Archer.” Where does it rank among her most powerful tracks?

Swifties have come to expect that Track 5 on any Taylor Swift album will pack a serious punch. Time after time, track five ends up being the most emotional, powerful and resonant song on the album. If you’re looking for some of Taylor Swift’s most painfully honest and vulnerable lyrics combined with music that will make your heart swell and subsequently shatter, look no further than track five.

It all began with the heartbreaking “Cold As You” on the Taylor Swift album, which was quickly followed up by “White Horse” and “Dear John” on Fearless and Speak Now, respectively. Then there was Red’s “All Too Well,” followed by 1989’s “All You Had to Do Was Stay.”

Taylor Swift has claimed that this Track 5 phenomenon hasn’t always been part of the plan. It just so happened that her most heartfelt work kept making its way to track five. When the objectively gorgeous “Delicate,” ended up in Reputation’s fifth slot, she realized she “did it again.”
With the Lover album, it looks like she’s fully leaning into her own “track five” trope by releasing “The Archer.” She even hid an easter egg in her music video with an arrow hitting the number five on a bullseye!

Related: 20 Taylor Swift deep cuts to discover while you wait for the next single

While we haven’t heard the entire album yet, “The Archer” is definitely the most emotional song that we’ve heard from Lover, to date. But, how does it rank among all of the other iconic “track fives” on Taylor Swift’s albums? First, check out our ranking, and then let us know what you think, in the comments.

Taylor Swift’s Track 5s, Ranked

7. ‘All You Had To Do Was Stay’ – ‘1989’

Don’t get me wrong, “All You Had To Do Was Stay” is an amazing song that fits perfectly into the masterpiece that is 1989. Unfortunately, it’s been relegated to last place simply because it’s the least “track five-y” of the “track five” offerings.

The upbeat and pop heavy track JUST doesn’t pack the same punch as the other songs on this list. While it’s still lyrically and musically significant, it just doesn’t make us feel that unmistakable “track five” kind of feeling.

If it makes “All You Had To Do Was Stay” fans feel any better, the fact that the allegedly accidental “Track 5” phenomenon doesn’t seem to be as strong on 1989 actually makes perfect sense. This album flows so beautifully as a story that the more emotional songs (e.g. “Wildest Dreams”) work much better at the end, as a conclusion to the epic. In the case of 1989, “All You Had To Do Was Stay” is the perfect addition to the middle of the saga.

6. ‘White Horse’ – ‘Fearless’

“White Horse” is probably the saddest of the “track five” contenders. With lyrics like “I’m not a princess, this ain’t a fairytale,” the song leans heavy on the emotional side and doesn’t deliver quite enough power to compete with the songs higher up on the list. However, it does find its strength in the bridge when she powerfully proclaims that she’s “gonna find someone someday who might actually treat me well,” and ends on a beautifully hopeful note.

5. ’Dear John’ – ‘Speak Now’

“Dear John” is arguably Taylor Swift’s most emotional takedown, being directed precisely and obviously at John Mayer. “Dear John” is bleeding heart fierce. Taylor Swift holds nothing back in this dramatic retelling of her short lived relationship with the notorious womanizer.

In our opinion, the highlight of this song is that Taylor Swift shows off some of her most wonderfully raw vocals with lines like, “I’ll look back and regret how I ignored when they said run as fast as you can.” It’s as powerful as any “track five” on the list, but its specificity to the particular relationship and situation hurts “Dear John’s” re-listen value, which is why it scored such a low ranking.

4. ’The Archer’ – ‘Lover’

Taylor Swift’s latest “track five” falls squarely in the middle of the pack. It doesn’t quite reach the icon level of the next three, but it’s still a beautiful, poignant, and unique track that more than deserves its “track five” status.

“The Archer” seems to tie together the songs on this list from the first to the most recent. With “easy they come” echoing “Cold As You’s” “you have a way of coming easily to me,” and the overall tone and vulnerability mirroring that of “Delicate.”

Lyrics like “I search for your dark side,” “all of my enemies started off friends,’ and “help me hold onto you,” depict a girl who’s been broken by the ghosts of “track fives” past. It’s never worked out before, so she’s having trouble believing that it ever will, even when it is!

The coolest part of “The Archer” is the heartbeat that begins in the first chorus and builds throughout the track, reaching its apex as she begs the question, “do you see right through me?” If anything could score this song a higher ranking, it would be a grander finale, rather than the subtle fade that it closes with.

3. ‘Cold As You’ – ‘Taylor Swift’

We’re blown away when we consider how young Taylor Swift was when she penned the still iconic “Cold As You.” The Taylor Swift album was packed with the prime breakup material that we’ve come to hold Swift as the queen of, but “Cold As You” is definitely the stand out.

The mirrored “I start a fight ‘cause I need to feel something, and you do what you want ‘cause I’m not what you wanted” and “you come away with a great little story of a mess of a dreamer with the nerve to adore you,” lyrics of verse 1 and verse 2 served as an introduction to the raw, powerful emotion that Taylor Swift’s voice has become known for. “Cold As You” will always be the first “track five,” and it’s still one of the best!

2. ’Delicate’ – ‘Reputation’

Where most songs on the Reputation album get you up and moving, “Delicate” pulls you in, drawing you closer to the heart of it. The song begins with a snippet of Taylor Swift’s inner monologue, as she remarks with hesitant surprise that “he must like me for me,” inviting you into her head for the remainder of the track.

Related: Reflecting on Reputation ahead of the next era of Taylor Swift

While “Delicate” isn’t as lyrically ambitious as some of the other “track five” contenders, it does such an amazing job at conveying a feeling of intimacy and vulnerability that it deserves its high spot in the ranking. The repeated “is it cool that I said all that” line perfectly sums up the reluctant beauty of the song and conveys that feeling you get at the beginning of a relationship that seems like it’s too good to be true, but you can’t stop yourself from hoping anyway.

1. ’All Too Well’ – ‘Red’

“All Too Well” is one of those songs where every lyric is better than the last. There aren’t many lines in that song that wouldn’t make us cry if we just heard them on their own. We dare you to not belt out “I forget about you long enough to forget why I needed to,” or “you call me up again just to break me like a promise, so casually cruel in the name of being honest,” at the top of your lungs.

With “All Too Well,” Taylor Swift’s ability to paint a picture with words is at its strongest. You can’t listen to it without envisioning “dancing around the kitchen in the refrigerator light,” running reds, plaid shirts, and that “old scarf from the very first week.” As is the case with all the songs on this list, she sings “All Too Well” with so much passion and strength that the emotion seems to reach out through the speaker and permeate through your entire body.

You hear it, you see it, you feel it, and sometimes, you can even smell it and taste it. It’s a full sensory experience, and that’s why “All Too Well” has earned the number one spot in the “track five” ranking.

How would you rank Taylor Swift’s ‘track 5s’?

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