When Taylor Swift releases a project, you can bet your bottom dollar that we’re going to get some great love songs, some moving break-up songs, and, of course, some scathing revenge songs. Today, we’re focusing on those vengeful tracks and moments where this pop star took someone down with a few lyrics. From “Picture to Burn” to “Look What You Made Me Do,” the lyrics that feature her taking an ex, a friend who wronged her, or a business person down span her whole career, and they’re all fantastic.
"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 (Debut)
Taylor Swift may have only been 16 years old when she released her self-titled debut album, but boy did she know how to sing about revenge. Honestly, when it comes to debut, there’s no better song of her taking a cheating man down than “Picture To Burn.”
"I never trust a narcissist / But they love me / So I play 'em like a violin / And I make it look oh so easy" - I Did Something Bad (Reputation)
If you learn anything from Reputation, it’s that if you get on Taylor Swift’s bad side she’s not going to take it easy on you, which “I Did Something Bad” proves. Not only does she call out posers and users, but she also makes it clear that she’ll play them right back. Oh, and she takes it one step further in the live Reputation concert because a true highlight comes as she belts this track all about how she’ll get those who have wronged her right back.
"I forgot that you existed / It isn't love, it isn't hate / It's just indifference" - I Forgot That You Existed (Lover)
Honestly, is there anything more savage than simply saying someone doesn't matter, and you don’t remember them? I don’t think so. And that’s exactly what “I Forgot That You Existed” is all about. In this track Taylor Swift sings about an ex whom she no longer resents, she just simply doesn’t process that they exist anymore.
"You know the greatest loves of all time are over now" - The 1 (Folklore)
“The 1” is all about what almost was. While the majority of the song sees Taylor Swift reflecting on what could have been, some of the lines cut through and you can feel the takedown, like this one about how all the great loves are long gone and over.
"'Cause I'm not your princess, this ain't our fairytale / I'm gonna find someone someday / Who might actually treat me well" - White Horse (Fearless)
Taylor Swift realizes that her relationship isn’t the fairytale she once thought it was in “White Horse,” and the line that cuts hardest is when she sings to this man about how she’s going to grow from this and meet someone much, much, much better.
"So casually cruel in the name of being honest" - All Too Well (Red)
All of “All Too Well,” and especially the 10-minute version, is brutal. However, as Swift sings about the man who took her innocence and broke her heart, no line is as brutal as the one above that she used to describe her ex-lover.
"Spiderboy, king of thieves / Weave your little webs of opacity / My pennies made your crown" - Karma (Midnights)
Call them out queen! In “Karma” Taylor Swift slams those who have tried to do her dirty, and in this line in particular she calls them out by saying it’s her money that made them successful. It’s widely speculated that this track is about Scooter Braun, and him buying Swift’s catalog of music. While this song isn’t direct, fans have their theories, and she didn’t hold back at all.
"Drunk and grumbling on about how I can't sing / But all you are is mean" - Mean (Speak Now)
Right after the “Mean” line above, Taylor Swift also calls the bully in question a liar, pathetic and alone in life. She takes those who try to look down on folks to the ground with “Mean” as she sings about how someday she’ll be “living in a big ole city,” and all these bullies are is “mean.”
"Band-aids don't fix bullet holes / You say sorry just for show / If you live like that, you live with ghosts" - Bad Blood (1989)
Along with the A-List cast who are ready to take this pop star’s enemies down in one of Swift’s best music videos, “Bad Blood,” her lyrics are just as dangerous. However, nothing in that song hits harder than the bridge, when she sings the above lyrics that are followed by Kendrick Lamar rapping: “You forgive, you forget, but you never let it go.”
"You shouldn't be beggin' for forgiveness at my feet / You should've said, 'No' / Baby, and you might still have me" - You Should’ve Sad No (Debut)
There’s nothing like scream-singing about what a guy should have done, and that’s exactly what “You Should’ve Said No” makes you do. This track off Taylor Swift is a total diss about a guy who did her wrong, and not only is she taking him down, she’s telling him exactly what he could have done to fix it too.
"I got a list of names, and yours is in red, underlined / I check it once, then I check it twice, oh!" - Look What You Made Me Do (Reputation)
“Look What You Made Me Do,” a song inspired by Arya Stark, takes the idea of her kill list, and turns it into a list of folks who have wronged Taylor Swift. While no one is directly named, many assume the track calls out Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, and she makes it very clear that she’s out to get her targets and call out their wrongdoings.
"Took this dagger in me and removed it / Gain the weight of you, then lose it / Believe me, I could do it" - Tolerate It (Evermore)
In evermore’s track “Tolerate It,” Swift sings about her lover simply existing with her. It’s a painful song, and in the Eras Tour, she lays the table and angrily destroys it as she performs the aching song. And of all the lines, the one that maybe cuts the deepest is when she tells him that she will lose him.
"You held your pride like you should've held me" - Story of Us (Speak Now)
Before turning to the “next chapter,” Taylor Swift takes a moment to tell the catastrophic tale of her last boyfriend, making it clear that he was selfish and terrible through lines like this one, which she sings with so, so much passion.
"I don't have to pretend I like acid rock / Or that I'd like to be on a mega yacht / With important men who think important thoughts / Guess maybe I am better off" - Now That We Don’t Talk (1989)
The release of 1989 (Taylor’s Version) also brought us some scathing Vault tracks about a breakup Taylor Swift went through, and that includes “Now That We Don’t Talk.” In this track, she sings about what she doesn’t have to do now that they’re broken up, and that maybe she is better off now that they’re not together.
"Mr. Superior Thinkin' / Do you have all the space that you need? / I don't have to be your shrink to know that you'll never be happy / And I bet you think about me" - I Bet You Think About Me (Red)
In “I Bet You Think About Me,” Taylor Swift sings about a relationship that is long gone, but she just knows that the man who broke her heart still thinks about her, and honestly, he’ll never be happy because of it.
"And I ain't tryna mess with your self-expression / But I've learned a lesson that stressin' and obsessin' 'bout somebody else is no fun" - You Need To Calm Down (Lover)
Lover was Taylor Swift’s unbothered era, and she was out here calling out all the haters who were trying way too hard to yuck her yum. She made it clear that “snakes and stones” never broke her bones, so these haters shouldn’t even try to get her, because they won’t.
"And you can aim for my heart, go for blood / But you would still miss me in your bones" - My Tears Ricochet (Folklore)
Folklore’s “My Tears Ricochet” is all about Taylor Swift singing to a lover who left, and she’s saying that if she’s in pain, he needs to be in pain too. While this song is mostly sad, there’s no doubting the vengeance that can be felt in lines like this one.
"But I'm not the only friend you've lost lately (mmm) / If only you weren't so shady" - This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things (Reputation)
Taylor Swift really decided to call an ex-friend out with “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things,” and along with lyrically putting them in time out, she also called them out for being “shady” with multiple people, not just her.
"Boys only want love if it's torture / Don't say I didn't, say I didn't warn ya" - Blank Space (1989)
“Blank Space” is all about Taylor Swift leaning into the public’s perception of her and playing this crazed part. Not only is this song a savage commentary, it also holds no bars to the men who have wronged her, and nothing shows that off better than this line.
"Now I'm Miss 'Gonna be alright someday' / And someday maybe you'll miss me / But by then, you'll be Mr. 'Too late'" - Mr. Perfectly Fine (Fearless)
While there are many songs on Fearless that seemingly call out Joe Jonas, when Swift re-released the album, “Mr. Perfectly Fine” easily became the most brutal of the tracks. Even Jonas’ now ex-wife Sophie Turner got a kick out of the song all (presumably) about the singer’s infamous breakup with the Jonas brother.
"The idea you had of me, who was she? / A never-needy, ever-lovely jewel whose shine reflects on you" - All Too Well (Red)
As Taylor Swift sings through her pain in “All Too Well,” she also takes down her ex by making it clear just how much damage he did. That’s exemplified perfectly in this line.
"No one likes a mad woman / You made her like that" - Mad Woman (Folklore)
If no one likes a mad woman, Taylor Swift is going to make it abundantly clear that it’s all this person’s fault on this emotional track from Folklore.
"My time, my wine, my spirit, my trust / Trying to find a part of me you didn't take up" - Death By A Thousand Cuts (Lover)
The bridge of “Death By A Thousand Cuts” goes so hard! As Taylor Swift sings about all these little cuts that have culminated into a massive problem, in the bridge she lists thing after thing that this relationship has impacted, and it’s incredibly powerful.
"Your new girl is my clone" - Is It Over Now? (1989)
For context, right before Taylor Swift sings this line in “Is It Over Now?” she calls out a couple of moments: “red blood, white snow” and “blue dress on a boat.” Fans immediately linked this 1989 Vault track to Harry Styles. It’s a brutal verse, and overall, the song almost feels like a diss track about what went down between Swift and the ex she’s singing about.
"I made you my world, have you heard, I can reclaim the land." - Bejeweled (Midnights)
“Bejeweled” is all about Taylor Swift getting her sparkle back after having her light snuffed out. While she was willing to change and hide a bit, now she’s ready to “reclaim the land,” and as she says “I miss you, but I miss sparkling.”
I'm shining like fireworks over your sad, empty town - “Dear John” (Speak Now)
While Taylor Swift has never confirmed that this song is about John Mayer, it certainly seems like her most obvious call out of an ex. This song is brutal, and one of the lines that hits the hardest comes when she says she shines much brighter than her former partner and his “sad” town.
"Rain came pouring down / When I was drowning, that's when I could finally breathe / And by morning / Gone was any trace of you, I think I am finally clean" - Clean (1989)
Washing away the pain of an ex is what “Clean” is about, and Taylor Swift’s lines about leaving a relationship in the past, and comparing the process to getting sober, as if this relationship was an addiction, hit really hard.
"And when I meet the band / They ask, 'Do you have a man?' / I could still say, 'I don't remember'" - Bejeweled (Midnights)
Is there anything worse than not being remembered? I don’t think so, and one of the greatest ways Taylor Swift takes people who have wronged her down is by simply singing about how irrelevant they are to her, like she did in “Bejeweled.”
"And now that I'm sittin' here thinkin' it through / I've never been anywhere cold as you" - Cold As You (Debut)
Even the deep cuts off Taylor Swift have some savage lines. Take “Cold As You” for example, it might be a slow, sad song, but if you look at the lyric above, she’s clearly ready to take this guy down too.
"Sophistication isn't what you wear, or who you know / Or pushing people down to get you where you wanna go" - Better Than Revenge (Speak Now)
There’s nothing Taylor Swift does “Better Than Revenge,” as this list proves, and she proved that once again with this sassy track and this intense lyric about her telling off her ex for how they act around others.
"You just need to take several seats and then try to restore the peace / And control your urges to scream about all the people you hate" - You Need To Calm Down (Lover)
Shade doesn't make anyone different, and that's precisely the point Taylor Swift is making in “You Need To Calm Down,” as she sings about how all these haters really just need to take a seat and not scream so much.
"But you stabbed me in the back while shakin' my hand / And therein lies the issue, friends don't try to trick you / Get you on the phone and mind-twist you / And so I took an axe to a mended fence" - This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things (Reputation)
After being betrayed and manipulated by a friend, Taylor Swift called them out in “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things,” and held no bars when it came to explaining why she had to cut them out of her life forever.
Taylor Swift really knows how to take someone down with just a few lyrics, and as this list proves, she can do it in countless ways.