Dancing in a Snow Globe: Taylor Swift’s Best Winter Songs


Jenna Coller

WILDEST WINTER: Taylor Swift’s ninth studio album finds home in candescent snowfall.

Jenna Coller, Editor-in-Chief

The end of the year brings holiday cheer and never ending renditions of the same Christmas songs on every radio station. Despite the grip of Christmas music on department store speakers, some artists have broken this chokehold. Taylor Swift, genre bending extraordinaire, has contributed to this shift, offering alternative music for those who just can’t endure “Jingle Bells” any longer. 

While Swift does have a Christmas EP, Sounds of the Season: The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection, which was released in 2008, winter sounds are riddled throughout her discography. A ‘winter song’ could be defined as one that encapsulates the aura of the season, and Swift’s ability to capture this aura is incredible. No vein is left untapped, from icy snow prints and quiet pine forests to warm fireplaces. 

Swift’s 2020 album evermore was released in December, and contains many hiemal and festive references, asserting its position as her most wintery album. There is a track for almost every frosty emotion from returning to your hometown in “‘tis the damn season” to unfortunate family dinners in “champagne problems.”  The darkness of December through February causes many to experience seasonal depression among other stresses with inclement weather and the holidays, and Swift captures these feelings incredibly in evermore. In “ivy”, the chorus explores the melancholic emotions of the speaker through the use of wintery figurative language with the lyrics, “My pain fits in the palm of your freezing hand.” evermore’s title track is the best example of Swift’s elemental and lyrical prowess with the lines, “And I was catching my breath/ Barefoot in the wildest winter/ Catching my death”. The imagery of being barefoot in a snowstorm expertly mirrors sentiments of the season, capturing the physical cold but also the emotional cold that the speaker of the song feels.

After the holidays are over and only slushy tire tracks leading out of town remain, Swift has an encompassing chorus for the survival of January and February. “New Year’s Day” off her 6th studio album reputation, is a beautiful love ballad about the sentimentality of cleaning up the remnants of a New Year’s Eve party with your lover.

Taylor Swift is known for her elegant lyrics about the many aspects of love, but that is not the only thing that makes songs like “This Love” and “You Are in Love” perfect for Valentine’s Day ski dates. Both tracks are produced with an echoey effect on Swift’s voice as well as subtle synth melodies in the background. This composition accompanied by affectionate lyrics drops the listener straight into the snow-globe mentioned in the bridge of “You Are in Love”. 

Swift’s ability to craft seasonal music expands across nearly all of her albums and genres. For example, her sophomore and third albums, Fearless and Speak Now, contain solstice appropriate country tracks, like “You’re Not Sorry” and “Last Kiss” that explore themes of loss. These two ballads contain prominent guitar and piano melodies that outlet a despairing ambience. 

The most obvious glacial song is “Back to December” off Speak Now. While explicitly mentioning December in the title, the pre-chorus also describes sorrowful feelings of regret accompanied by chilling imagery. Despite the country-rock melody of the song, “Back to December” feels like a cold gust of wind from an open window.

Swift’s extensive wintery catalog could not be discussed without mentioning her magnum opus, “Christmas Tree Farm”. This single, released in 2019, is up there on the list of best Christmas songs along with “Last Christmas” by Wham!. While this song is technically a holiday track made for radio, the melody and lyrics transform it into something more special than other overplayed Christmas songs. The song hinges on Swift’s own childhood, being raised on a Christmas tree farm in Pennsylvania, which makes it much more personal. Furthermore, “Christmas Tree Farm” has a classic orchestral introduction before dramatically introducing drums, bells, and a more higher-pitched and fun vocal delivery from Swift. Similarly, the lyrics of the song are about sharing the holiday with a partner and reminiscing about the magic of the season. Therefore, this song extends beyond the limits of December and the holidays into the wintery joy of the following months. 

Radio stations in the winter do get repetitive, with endless renditions of the same 10 Christmas songs all season but rest assured that Taylor Swift has mastered the art of producing music that offers something for everyone. In a sea of commercial hits her expansive discography contains the perfect soundtracks for blue hour flurries, candle-lit living rooms, and snowy car rides.