The Setlist For Taylor Swift’s Next Tour Is Going To Be Wild

Taylor Swift’s last concert — not an SNL visit or TV special or acoustic performance of “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” or Jingle Ball appearance, but a show that the public could buy tickets to — was on November 21, 2018. A lot has happened since then: Joe Biden replaced Donald Trump as president, Tyrese and Ludacris went to space, that whole pandemic thing. Also, Swift released three new albums, Lover, folklore, and evermore; five, if you could include the Taylor’s Versions of Fearless and Red; six, if you add Midnights, which comes out in October. By the time she hits the road again, she’ll be touring behind a half-dozen albums, maybe more if 1989 (Taylor’s Version) and/or Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) finally make it from daily Twitter trending topics to Spotify.

What the heck is that setlist going to look like?

It’s basically unprecedented for an artist of her scale to go that many albums between tours. Most stadium-level artists either retire but continue to release music, or go two, maybe three albums between world tours. Swift’s scenario is like Madonna releasing Like a Virgin, True Blue, Like a Prayer, and Erotica without hitting the road, or Beyoncé calling it quits after I Am… Sasha Fierce; The Beatles famously stopped touring in 1966, but they never resumed touring, so the comparison is moot. Through circumstances out of her control — namely, uh, the pandemic — Swift will have a lot of catching up to do.

With that mind, let’s look at the “average” setlist from her last tour, for Reputation.

1. “… Ready For It?”
2. “I Did Something Bad”
3. “Gorgeous”
4. “Style” / “Love Story” / “You Belong With Me”
5. “Look What You Made Me Do”
6. “End Game”
7. “King of My Heart”
8. “Delicate”
9. “Shake It Off”
10. “Dancing With Our Hands Tied”
12. “Blank Space”
13. “Dress”
14. “Bad Blood” / “Should’ve Said No”
15. “Don’t Blame Me”
16. “Long Live” / “New Year’s Day”
17. “Getaway Car”
18. “Call It What You Want”
19. “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” / “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”

Not including track 11, which changed every show, that’s 12 songs from Reputation, two complete songs from 1989, and medleys featuring one or two songs from Taylor Swift, Fearless, Speak Now, and Red, even though the people (me) demanded a complete performance of “Should’ve Said No.” It obviously makes sense that tracks from Reputation would dominate the setlist, considering it was the Reputation Stadium Tour, but Swift won’t be awarded the same luxury with the next tour (assuming she doesn’t revive Lover Fest). So, again, what the heck is Miss Taylor Alison Swift going to do?

There are four options, as far as I see it:

1. Two shows in every city. One night is Lover through Midnights, songs she’s rarely, if ever, played before in a live setting; the next night is Taylor Swift through Reputation, including “vault” tracks. This option is unfortunately unlikely because double the shows in one city means fewer cities overall, or else she would be out on the road for years.

2. The setlist is post-Reputation songs only, i.e. songs that were released after her last tour. This has its advantages (it would ease the traffic jam of options, and fans would know in advance that they won’t hear “The Story of Us”) and disadvantages (no “The Story of Us”). But the Taylor’s Versions of Fearless and Red, and whatever else comes out before (hopefully) next year, are cheat codes of sorts. Songs that appeared on the original album would be off limits, but “Mr. Perfectly Fine,” “Message In a Bottle,” “I Bet You Think About Me,” the 10-minute version of “All Too Well” (the highlight of every set), etc. are fair game because they’re technically “new.” I think this is the most likely option.

3. She chooses one fan to pick the setlist in every city. “What would you pick, Josh?” Thank you for asking! This is my dream 20-song setlist:

1. “State of Grace”
2. “Cruel Summer”
3. “Mr. Perfectly Fine”
4. “Cornelia Street”
5. “I’m Only Me When I’m with You”
6. “Blank Space”
7. “Delicate”
8. “All Too Well (10-Minute Version)”
9. “Style”
10. “Love Story”
11. “You Belong with Me”
12. “Death By a Thousand Cuts”
13. “Mirrorball”
14. “Exile”
15. “Happiness”
16. “Champagne Problems”
17. “The Story of Us”
18. “New Romantics”
19. “Message In a Bottle”
20. “Shake It Off”

Now, before getting mad at me because I grouped together the folklore and evermore tracks as an acoustic suite and left out “Sparks Fly”… and “Enchanted”… and “Holy Ground”… and “This Is Me Trying”… and “The Last Great American Dynasty,” you should know: 1) I’m mad at myself, and 2) it’s really hard trimming 200-plus songs down to 20. No setlist is going to have every song you want to hear, unless…

4. Every show is five hours long.

I hope it’s #4.