Taylor Swift’s Top Underrated Songs, Ranked Using Data Analytics

The Methodology (feel free to skip if you don’t like math!)

I defined “underrated” as a combination of streaming performance and critical acclaim (ideally, a song with lower streaming performance and high critical acclaim). To rank the songs, I wrote a formula with three parts:

1) For every song, I found the percent change of its lifetime Spotify streams to the median streams of its album. For albums with a Taylor’s Version (Fearless, Speak Now, Red, 1989), I combined streams from the original song and its Taylor’s Version. This measures how the song is streamed relative to its own album. A positive “Own Album” score means the song was streamed below the median, so the lower streams contribute to it being underrated.

2) For every song, I found the percent change of its lifetime Spotify streams to the median streams including neighboring albums. For example, the set of neighboring albums for Red are (Speak Now, Red, 1989). This reveals songs that may be more popular on their own album but not highly streamed relative to surrounding albums. No Taylor’s Version streams were used in this section. A positive “Neighboring Albums” score means the song was streamed below the median, contributing to it being underrated.

3) For every song, I assigned a critical acclaim score. I used an average of six rankings of Taylor’s discography from media publications. This reflects how the songs stand against each other in the eyes of the Swifties. Songs on the upper half of the rankings got a more positive score (high acclaim), the middle of the ranking got a score of 0 (neutral acclaim), and songs on the lower half got a more negative score (low acclaim). 

A positive “Critical Acclaim” score means the song was ranked in the upper half, which boosts underrated-ness for songs with high praise, and lowers it for songs with lower critical opinion. For context, “All Too Well” scored the highest critical acclaim with this data. Thank you to Rolling Stone, BuzzFeed, NME, Vulture, Paste, and TheCoolist

Spotify streaming data was pulled as of 2/2/2024.

After adding each part of the formula together, I was able to rank from most to least underrated.

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