A careless man’s careful daughter: The best of Taylor Swift

ILM posters have picked on me for loving “Starlight,” a glistening reenactment of — I can’t believe I’m writing this — Robert Kennedy meeting Ethel in the 1940s. It could be about Donald Trump meeting Melania. When the kick drum puts the emphasis behind “Oh my/What a marvelous tune” and the Corrs-style “Breathless” guitars shimmer around her like starlight starlight, Swift achieves an ideal level of pop buoyancy. She knows she wrote a marvelous tune. A ridiculous one too — that’s the point.

To reign as the world’s biggest pop star means shedding a series of skins: Tim McGraw, pedal steels, love as a lost cause. “Blank Space” was a breakthrough because she realized what Cole Porter, Dusty Springfield, Bryan Ferry, and Madonna did: love is as much about making the beloved love you, that adulthood requires a degree of posing if we’re going to live a full life. While I can imagine her writing another “Mine” or “Dear John,” I doubt she wants to — she’s done it already. Swift hasn’t repeated herself yet. What other artist has recorded a Blood on the Tracks at twenty and Empire Burlesque two albums later?

1. You Belong with Me
2. Tim McGraw
3. Mean
4. Blank Space
5. Fifteen
6. Starlight
7. Hey Stephen
8. Dear John
9. Stay Stay Stay
10. Mine
11. Stay
12. Holy Ground
13. Speak Now
14. I Knew You Were Trouble
15. Sparks Fly
16. State of Grace
17. Style
18. Back to December
19. Red
20. New Romantics
21. Haunted
22. 22
23. Wildest Dream
24. Should’ve Said No
25. The Story of Us
26. Red
27. Getaway Car
28. Teardrops on My Guitar
29. Fearless
30. Dress

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