I’ve had a bunch of people reach out to me and ask for a deep dive into my list of Taylor Swift’s albums and their corresponding programming language. A deluxe edition, if you will. So, here we go!
Debut: Swift 🪕
You’re beautiful, every little piece love
And don’t you know
You’re really gonna be someone —Stay Beautiful
Swifties know Taylor’s first album as Debut, but to the rest of the world, it’s the self-titled Taylor Swift. So, duh.
It’s also interesting that Swift is a programming language developed by Apple for use on Apple products. Prior to Swift, developers used Objective-C for working with Apple products. But Swift quickly took over, because it was irresistible. Modern, fast, and it simply worked better. Just like Taylor.
Fearless: Java 💛
Dreamin’ bout the day when you wake up and find
What you’re looking for has been here the whole time. —You Belong With Me
Fearless was Taylor’s big breakthrough album. It was an international hit and a huge commercial success. Enter Java.
Java is the foundation for many other languages and is known as one of the most versatile programming languages in the world, powering virtually every industry in every country around the world. Every Android phone is running Java. I would argue that Fearless was likewise the foundation for all of Taylor’s eras that followed, emerging from her relatively niche country roots to developing a cross-over sound with broader, international appeal.
Speak Now: C# 💜
"Long live all the magic we made"
And bring on all the pretenders
One day, we will be remembered —Long Live
Speak Now is Taylor’s first entirely self-written album, and built on the breakout success of Fearless. It’s also the album of fairy tales and castle walls, dragons and magic. C# is a programming language developed by Microsoft, arguably the biggest closed software ecosystem of them all. The castle to end all castles. What’s more, many developers think of C# as a “better Java”. And Speak Now built on the success of Fearless in much the same way.
For everyone who thinks of C# as a crufty old Microsoft language, know that it makes tons of people happy.
Tonight, I’m gonna dance
For all that we’ve been through
But I don’t wanna dance
If I’m not dancing with you. —Holy Ground
Oh, Red. The fan favorite. The nostalgia. The intense feelings brought on by finding your way in the world as a young adult and being on your own. Of finding love and losing it.
Ruby not only shares Red’s scarlet inspiration, but its community is known for being intensely passionate and kind. Yukihiro Matsumoto, the creator of Ruby, has said that Ruby was designed for human needs rather than computer ones. "I hope to see Ruby help every programmer in the world to be productive, and to enjoy programming, and to be happy. That is the primary purpose of Ruby language." I can’t think of an album that makes Swifties more happy and in their feelings than Red.
1989: C 🕶️
And when we go crashing down
We come back every time
We never go out of style, we never go out of style. —Style
C is fast. C powers the world. C is intoxicating. If you don’t know C, do you really know anything?
1989 was and remains Taylor’s most popular and widely known album to date. The hits just keep coming. Blank Space. Style. Shake it Off?! 1989 will probably be Taylor’s lasting legacy, catapulting her to a new level of super stardom, much like C changed the way that programming was and is done now and forever. After it came along, the world was never the same.
Reputation: Python 🐍
Did you think I wouldn’t hear all the things you said about me? —This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
Swifties know that Reputation is Taylor’s “snake” era, dating back to the 2016 drama between Taylor, Kanye West, and Kim Kardashian, when Taylor denied giving approval to Kanye for those lyrics in his song Famous and Kim called her a snake. When Reputation was released, Taylor embraced the snake motif, incorporating it into her set design on the Rep tour and covering herself with snakes for the Look What You Made Me Do music video. She even brought out a 60 ft. inflatable snake every night on stage.
Python itself is considered an extremely powerful language. It’s efficient, relatively easy to learn, and hugely popular. Just like Reputation.
Lover: Go 🦋
And I ain't trying to 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
When Lover was released, it was like a breath of fresh air after the Rep era. While Rep is dark sonically and thematically, Lover is playful, whimsical, and romantic. Songs like Lover, Paper Rings, and You Need to Calm Down are straightforward pop hits, while slower ballads like Cornelia Street and The Archer add depth and complexity without overwhelming the overall festival vibe.
Go was released by Google with a cute Gopher mascot and a somewhat generic, earnest attitude. It’s reliable, fast enough, and doesn’t try to be everything to everybody. While some consider it boring, others embrace it with all their heart. The code is quite simple, but millions of developers, from large tech companies to startups use it in their daily work. Kubernetes is written in Go. Its community is known to be enthusiastic and cheeky. Seems perfectly suited to the album that tells us “Hey kids, spelling is fun!”
Folklore: Rust 🍁
Passed down like folk songs, the love lasts so long. —seven
Rust is beautiful, complex, and verbose. When developers get into Rust, they get excited and tell their peers. They pass it on.
Folklore is Taylor’s most literary album to date. It is a master work of storytelling, with complex interplay between songs that tell the same story from multiple perspectives (see Betty, August, and Cardigan). She also brought in collaborators like Aaron Dessner and Bon Iver who gave Taylor’s songs a more intimate, indie vibe. Folklore gained Taylor a new level of respect from critics and fans alike, giving her credibility with people who dismissed her earlier, poppier work as simplistic fluff. Folklore is when Taylor got serious.
Evermore: Elixir 🌿
My mind turns your life into folklore
I can’t dare to dream about you anymore —gold rush
Evermore was released just months after Folklore, in the winter of 2020. They are considered sister albums, both products of the isolation of Covid and the inspiration of Taylor’s new producers and collaborators. While they are acoustically very similar, evermore is sadder, slower, and witchier.
Much like evermore and folklore era are deeply intertwined, Elixir is considered a sibling to a language called Erlang. Developed by Ericsson to run their telecom switching network, Erlang was originally built to handle large amounts of networking traffic. Elixir builds on the same foundation, taking inspiration from Ruby which came before it, and virtually interchangeable with Erlang in programs using the same foundation. Evermore cannot be without Folklore, just like Elixir cannot be without Erlang. Plus, the name matches the witchy vibes.
Midnights: Dark 🕰️
I laid the groundwork
And then just like clockwork
The dominoes cascaded in a line —Mastermind
Midnights is Taylor’s personality wrapped up into one album. It is a concept album, built around the idea of Taylor’s various reflections tossing and turning on sleepless nights throughout her life. It is filled with anxiety, self deprecation, moments of boldness, and insecurity. It is internal conflict defined. In the run up to the album’s release, Taylor recorded a series of promotional TikToks called Midnights Mayhem with Me in which she spun bingo balls around in a cage and revealed the name of whatever song on the setlist matched the ball that she pulled.
Dark is a proprietary language written by Paul Biggar, and one with lofty aims. It was described as not just a language, but a holistic combination of the language, framework, editor, and infrastructure. Apparently Dark is going all in on AI, and so its future is uncertain. But as it exists now, it is an ecosystem, a world. And just like Midnights, it is entirely reflective of its creator.