Taylor Swift’s 21 Best Lyrical Disses
Her smile is coy and her heart's on her sleeve, but if you mess with Taylor Swift, you'd better be ready to take her candid comebacks alongside her dreams of happily-ever-afters. Country's darling is charming, sweet-voiced and always a lady, but she's no damsel in distress. The girl's clearly dealt with heartbreak and betrayal in her 21 years, and it's no secret that she writes what she knows.
From B-Sides to No. 1 singles, Swift has craftily packed enough zingers in her lyrics to prove that she will always be the one to get in the last word -- and it might sting. In honor of her big day, we count down the 21 best insults (to ex-boyfriends and catty girls alike) found in Swift's songs.
21. "It's OK, life is a tough crowd / 32 and still growing up now"
Swift keeps the real subject of this ‘Speak Now’ song vague, but we have our suspicions of its inspiration. While the song itself has an air of forgiveness to it, this lyric -- about basically sucking at life, even well into your 30s -- has enough pretense in it to commence our list.
20. "I remember you drivin' to my house in the middle of the night / I'm the one who makes you laugh when you know you're about to cry /And I know your favorite songs, and you tell me about your dreams / Think I know where you belong, think I know it's with me"
-- 'You Belong With Me'
There's no straight-up cruelty in these wistful lines from the singer's hit single, but keep in mind, underneath all that love and caring for the boy subject of the tune is the implication that the other girl in the picture is just not funny enough, not compatible enough, not good enough. That hurts.
19. "I'm gonna find someone someday who might actually treat me well / This is a big world; that was a small town, there in my rear view mirror disappearing now / And it's too late for you and your white horse to catch me now"
-- 'White Horse'
Ah, an ode to the prince that rides in too late to get his princess back. He should've seen Swift's success coming before he screwed up his chances with the then girl-next-door. Here, Swift states the obvious: She’s moved on to better things. Hopefully, she's deleted him from her Facebook friends, too.
18. "Seems like there's always someone who disapproves / They'll judge it like they know about me and you / And the verdict comes from those with nothing else to do / The jury's out, but my choice is you"
Swift is no stranger to living her life in the public eye and being judged. In this song, she brushes prying eyes aside, insinuating that those who want to gossip about her romantic decisions are just bored with their own lives. What's more: In a later verse, she even says she'll ignore her dad's "snide remarks" about her lover's tattoos. Bold.
17. "So you don't have to call anymore -- I won't pick up the phone / This is the last straw -- there's nothing left to beg for"
-- ‘You're Not Sorry’
Swift is simply telling it how it is in this 'Fearless' lyric. She’s not a fool and she won’t be playing any games, so get a hint and leave her alone. Sometimes, as evidenced by this dramatic piano ballad, you should be too proud to beg (to avoid having a painfully honest song written about you).
16. "I bet you thought you beat me / Wish you could only see: I got an "I heart ?" written on the back of my hand"
-- ‘I Heart Question Mark’
OK, so it's a little bit of a cheap shot. But, well, Swift was just a teenager when she wrote this track, found on her 2008 ‘Beautiful Eyes’ EP. Why not daydream about walking confidently down the halls at school, your books clasped in your drawn-on hands in front of your chest, so that everyone can see that you're over some jerk?
15. "He can't see the smile I'm faking, and my heart's not breaking 'cause I'm not feeling anything at all"
-- ‘The Way I Loved You’
Admittedly, Swift shows her weakness of falling for the crazy-in-love-and-hate type in the rest of this song’s lines (she misses the rage and passion of a volatile relationship while she’s with a normal, comfortable guy). Still, the bridge -- in which she reveals just how much she doesn’t care for the current boyfriend -- is the real diss.
14. "Someday I'll be livin' in a big old city, and all you're ever gonna be is mean / Someday I'll be big enough so you can't hit me, and all you're ever gonna be is mean"
On first listen, what stands out about this ‘Speak Now’ song is its pretty, melodic chorus that will, no doubt, be stuck in your head for quite a while after it’s played. But as lovely as it is, the tune -- putting down her critics, who will always be bitter no matter how much time passes -- is one of Swift's works with the biggest punch to date.
13. "And now that I'm sitting here, thinking it through / I've never been anywhere cold as you"
-- ‘Cold as You’
It’s one thing to be called heartless in the middle of a fight, but to be told “I’ve never been anywhere cold as you” in a song that makes Swift’s debut album? That’s harsh. That’s a line you don’t easily get over.
12. "You could write a book on how to ruin someone's day"
-- ‘Tell Me Why’
With all of the hits to choose from on ‘Fearless,’ this track might not top most Swift song lists, but listen carefully to catch this golden line. Again, this proclamation is the kind of moment of truth that sticks with someone for a long time. We’re glad it’s on a record rather than a short-lived Tweet.
11. "You shouldn't be beggin' for forgiveness at my feet / You should've said no, baby, and you might still have me"
-- ‘Should've Said No’
Unless this song was written about the same male figure as the later released ‘You’re Not Sorry,’ it sounds like Swift has had many suitors begging to make up with her after deceiving her. If you want her and only her, boys, control yourselves! Swift doesn’t seem to do second chances, and rightfully so.
10. "I think her ever-present frown is a little troubling, and she thinks I'm psycho 'cause I like to rhyme her name with things / But sophistication isn't what you wear or who you know, or pushing people down to get you where you wanna go"
-- ‘Better Than Revenge’
The title of this track says it best: Swift knows how to claim the upper hand. In the first of a duo of ‘Better Than Revenge’ lyrics that make our list, she tries to teach a girl who’s wronged her a lesson -- but not without lyrically sneering at the girl’s miserable facial expressions first.
9. "And I can see you years from now in a bar, talkin' over a football game / With that same big loud opinion but nobody's listening / Washed up and ranting about the same old bitter things / Drunk and grumblin' on about how I 'can't sing'"
Swift’s words in this verse might as well be a music video treatment because they’re so easy to visualize. Plus, we like that she can poke fun at unkind criticisms about her vocal ability. Swift’s voice is certainly appealing, but her real niche is writing killer songs like this one.
8. "Dear John, I see it all now -- it was wrong / Don't you think 19's too young to be played by your dark, twisted games when I loved you so?"
-- ‘Dear John’
Swift sets no boundaries for this ‘Speak Now’ track. She touches on morality, regret, bitterness … and the reminder that “John” better be taking personal responsibility for tainting a young girl with his “dark, twisted games.” She’s grown from the experience, but will he?
7. "She is yelling at a bridesmaid, somewhere back inside a room wearing a gown shaped like a pastry / This is surely not what you thought it would be"
-- ‘Speak Now’
As spot-on as Swift is with her ex slams, she’s really got a knack for insulting the most-hated females in her life, too. To dare to make fun of a girl’s wedding dress is ballsy. To say it looks like a pastry is hilarious. To point this out to the object of her affection is the perfect double-diss.
6. "Was I out of line? Did I say something way too honest that made you run and hide like a scared little boy?"
-- ‘Forever and Always’
Maybe it’s mean to broadcast that your famous ex-boyfriend acts like a child, but how would you react to being dumped via a 27-second phone call? What makes this Swift lyric even better is the attitude of the line, its delivery just snotty enough to feel self-satisfying.
5. "All the girls that you've run dry have tired, lifeless eyes 'cause you burned them out / But I took your matches before fire could catch me, so don't look now / I'm shining like fireworks over your sad, empty town"
-- ‘Dear John’
The song is too good to choose only one lyric to highlight. Not only does Swift show that she’s moved on with this line, but she one-ups him by bringing his previous relationship failures to the table. It sounds like Swift excused herself from the situation just in time.
4. "She floats down the aisle like a pageant queen / But I know you wish it was me, you wish it was me … don't you?"
-- ‘Speak Now’
If you’re wondering why this lyric ranks above calling the bride’s wedding dress a pastry on a diss list, listen to the track. That taunting, half-spoke “don’t you?”, a reminder of all the mistakes that are about to forever be made, is all that needs to be heard.
3. "By the way, I hate that stupid old pickup truck you never let me drive / You're a redneck heartbreak who's really bad at lying / So watch me strike a match on all my wasted time / As far as I'm concerned, you're just another picture to burn"
-- ‘Picture to Burn’
This classic Swift single sets the standard for the best of the worst of her lyrical jabs. We’ll assume it was after this break up that the singer moved on from seeing small town country boys to dating celebrities -- she’s got to have more in common with them than the likes of this guy.
2. "She's not a saint, and she's not what you think -- she's an actress / She's better known for the things that she does on the mattress"
-- 'Better Than Revenge'
We all know that those enchanting first dates, whispered words and romantic kisses in the rain that Swift usually sings about will lead elsewhere, eventually, but at least the country starlet has her reputation in tact. The girl in question here … not so much.
1. "All you are is mean, and a liar, and pathetic and alone in life / And mean, and mean, and mean, and mean"
‘Mean’ is made up of so many excellent, frank lyrics that we almost feel bad for the idiot(s) Swift writes about. Luckily, giving an album a ‘Speak Now’ theme gives our country girl liberty to say exactly what’s on her mind. Our No. 1 favorite lyrical insult from Swift isn’t poetic or sophisticated, but it is the most sincere.