Taylor Swift wrapped up her most recent worldwide tour in November 2018. Since then, she’s released four albums — 2019’s sunny Lover, 2020’s folk-pop Folklore and its superior follow-up (yeah I said it) Evermore, and 2022’s record-breaking Midnights — as well as re-recordings of Fearless and Red. That’s over 50 new songs, on top of her “old” singles and deep cuts. Good luck putting together the setlist for the the Eras Tour, Taylor.
The tour kicks off tonight, March 17th, at State Farm Stadium in Swift City, er, Glendale, Arizona. Setlist.fm better tredecuple check its servers because Swifties worldwide will be checking to see which songs made the cut.
Ahead of the surge, I thought it would be interesting to look at her old setlists, and see which tracks from every album have been played the most and the least. It’s an imperfect methodology, as we’ll get into below, but it gives a sense of Swift’s personal favorites, the songs she must feel obligated to play every show, and the rarities that could be resurrected for the Eras Tour.
Taylor Swift (2006)
Most played: “Our Song”
Least played: “Cold As You”
The first Taylor Swift show on setlist.fm dates back to 2001, when a teeny, tiny Taylor played the Fairgrounds Square Shopping Mall in her home state of Pennsylvania (she also wrote her first song, “Lucky You,” that year). But the first documented live performance of her most-played song on her self-titled album isn’t until 2006, when she debuted “Our Song” (and two officially unreleased tracks) at Fort Loudoun Lake in Knoxville, Tennessee. Needless to say, she would not be playing random lakes near the Wigsphere much longer.
Most played: “Love Story”
Least played: “Breathe”
Swift has a lot of bangers in her discography, obviously, but I stand by my assertion that “Love Story” is her best karaoke song. It’s a love story, baby, just say yes to getting drunk and screaming out the story of Romeo and Juliet in a room of equally inebriated strangers. It would be a shame if “Love Story” didn’t make the Eras Tour setlist, even if it’s literally her most-played song ever with nearly 500 performances. Meanwhile, “Breathe” has only been played once: at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium in 2018 during the Reputation tour.
Speak Now (2010)
Most played: “Sparks Fly”
Least played: “Innocent”
I didn’t see Taylor live until the 1989 Tour (I know I know I’m sorry), a decision I regret every time I watch the “Sparks Fly” music video. It’s pure exuberance, a live-action fairy tale that evokes infinite possibilities. Except for seeing Taylor in 13,000 seats-sized venues again. That is not possible anymore.
“Sparks Fly” has been played hundreds of times, but two other songs from Speak Now have only been heard live once, “Innocent” and “Superman.” I’m singling out “Innocent” because a) “Superman” is a deluxe edition bonus track and I’m not including those for this setlist exercise, and b) that single performance was during the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards. An interesting choice, even with the context that the tender ballad was written in response to what happened between her and Kanye West at the previous year’s VMAs.
Most played: “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”
Least played: “I Almost Do” and “Sad Beautiful Tragic”
“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” narrowly edged out “I Knew You Were Trouble” for first place among Red tracks, although I was surprised to the severely underrated title track in third place. In fifth, sixth, and seventh place: “All Too Well,” “Holy Ground,” and “State of Grace,” all of which Swift should play at every show for the rest of her career. Thank you in advance. In last place, so to speak (and not including bonus track “Come Back… Be Here”), are “I Almost Do” and “Sad Beautiful Tragic.” One of which is much better than the other. I won’t say which, though (yes, I will, it’s “I Almost Do”).
Most played: “Shake It Off”
Least played: “This Love”
Will Swift ever retire “Shake It Off” from the setlist? Unlikely. It’s not technically her biggest song (it’s not even the biggest song on 1989; according to Spotify streams, that honor goes to “Blank Space”), but I would argue it’s her most well-known song. Everyone knows “Shake It Off,” from kids to grandmas who famously love to get down with sick beats. Besides, it’s super fun! Less fun but more lovely is “This Love,” an atmospheric fan-favorite track that got a Taylor’s Version makeover before much of the rest of 1989. Swift must have affection for it, as do I. Here’s hoping it gets dusted off at least once.
Most played: “…Ready for It?” and “Delicate”
Least played: N/A
Are you ready for “…Ready for It?”? If you saw Swift during the Reputation tour, you better have been: she played it at basically, if not literally, every concert, along with a few Jingle Ball shows. “Delicate” (hot take: her best music video) was also a setlist mainstay, as most of the Reputation tracklist.
It’s hard to figure out the least-played song from the best because, for instance, “New Year’s Day” is listed as having only been played five times — but that doesn’t include the 50-plus times it was mashed up with “Long Live.” It will be interesting to see how much Reputation (her most polarizing album) makes the Eras Tour cut. Whatever the setlist looks like, hold on to the memories of seeing Taylor live, they will hold on to you.
Here’s Swift’s top most-played songs live, according to Setlist.fm:
1. “Love Story”
2. “Our Song”
3. “You Belong With Me”
4. “Tim McGraw”
5. “Picture to Burn”
6. “Teardrops on My Guitar”
7. “Should’ve Said No”
10. “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”
As for Lover, Folklore, Evermore, and Midnights, Swift hasn’t toured behind any of those albums yet (or the Taylor’s Version vault tracks) due to the pandemic. But among random one-off gigs, “ME!” leads the way with over a dozen performances, while “Anti-Hero” from Midnights made its live debut during a surprise appearance with The 1975. It would not surprise me if that’s the song Swift uses to kick off the Eras Tour. Or maybe “Tim McGraw” to really span the eras. We’ll find out soon enough.