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Taylor Swift Has Us Down Bad With New Album The Tortured Poets Department

Edited by Iceis Augustino

The album artwork of 'The Tortured Poets Department." Featuring a black and white image of Taylor Swift laying across a bed.
Photo by Beth Garrabrant

Taylor Swift has us down bad with her new album, The Tortured Poets Department. Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Taylor Swift enters a new era in her 11th studio album, The Tortured Poets Department. The new album is quickly topping charts and has been trending all over social media platforms with special profile frames on TikTok and Instagram. After many clues and hints leading up to the release from Taylor and her team, we finally have the album in our hands. I stayed up until the 12 am release, like most Swifties, analyzing each and every song, and then I was overwhelmed by the surprise second drop at 2 am. Taylor describes the album in her Instagram caption after the album dropped, "This period of the author’s life is now over, the chapter closed and boarded up. There is nothing to avenge, no scores to settle once wounds have healed. And upon further reflection, a good number of them turned out to be self-inflicted.”


Fortnight feat. Post Malone

The album begins with an unexpected collaboration with American rapper and singer Post Malone. Their voices produce a beautiful blended melody with such sad, emotional lyrics. The song is about a short relationship with the title, ‘Fortnight,' meaning a two-week period of time. Fans speculate this could possibly be about her ex-boyfriend Matty Healy from May 2023. Taylor also released a music video for this song featuring Post Malone and Ethan Hawke. The video has an old black-and-white 1920s aesthetic, with Taylor pictured in a psych ward chained to a metal bed in the opening scene. Watch the masterpiece on YouTube below!



The Tortured Poets Department

The title track is more upbeat, a reminiscence on a past relationship, which Swifties also speculate is about Matty Healy. She describes the lover as a “tattooed golden retriever." A tough exterior with a loving personality. The chorus showcases Taylor’s vocal range with both low and high notes alternating. The entire album has several marriage references, and the first one is about a ring, “At dinner, you take my ring off my middle finger and put it on the one people put wedding rings on, and that’s the closest I’ve come to my heart exploding.” Throughout the song, Taylor expresses how she has never felt so seen and understood by someone. She ends the song with a question, "Who else decodes you?" In other words, who else is gonna put in the work to understand you like I do?


My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys

The title is a reference to Taylor’s song in her Lover album, about her ex Joe Alwyn, ‘Cruel Summer.’ in the opening lines, “Bad, bad boy. Shiny toy.” This track focuses on a partner losing interest or being scared to further the commitment, “The voices in his head called the rain to end our days of wild.” Taylor expresses how her lover took her in while she was bright and shiny and looked at her like she was his “favorite toy,” and then left her broken and in pieces while telling her she was better off. This track is full of metaphors, which Taylor has always had a special mind for.


Down Bad

This track is one of the catchier songs in the album, with a repetitive chorus. It describes the depressive episode one goes through after a tough romantic breakup. She compares her feelings to that of “teenage petulance." A dramatic teen after a high school breakup with what feels like the end of your life. She further expresses, “I might just die. It would make no difference.


So Long, London

The title is a throw at where her ex was raised and went to school, London. It is also a reference to her Lover album, again, specifically in ‘London Boy.' A love song about Alwyn. The opening music sounds like London bells ringing with soft background vocals. As the saddest song on the album, there are so many amazingly heartbreaking verses. Starting in verse one, “I pulled him in tighter each time he was drifting away." she tried so hard to keep the relationship going and keep him close. She held the relationship together with all that she had, but in the end, she had to let go, “I stopped trying to make him laugh. Stopped trying to drill the safe.” This song is like a final goodbye. She’s finally letting go of the relationship she tried so hard to keep. One thing you can count on is Taylor’s deliverance in the bridges of her songs. The strongest verse in the song comes from the bridge,


And you say I abandoned the ship, but I was going down with it. My white-knuckle dying grip, holding tight to your quiet resentment. And my friends said it isn't right to be scared every day of a love affair. Every breath feels like rarest air when you're not sure if he wants to be there.


It is the most tragic feeling to be in a relationship where you know your partner is drifting away, desperately holding on to any little interest he gives you.


But Daddy I Love Him

As my favorite song on the album, this song is the epitome of the “good girl, bad boy” trope. This song is a lot more upbeat with a freeing tone. Taylor expresses her annoyance with the town's “concern” about her relationship, "I’d rather burn my whole life down than listen to one more second of all this bitching and moaning.” I would die to see a music video for this track. The imagery Taylor provides of her running away with her dress unbuttoned and carefree while not listening to all the hate would be perfect in the video.


Fresh Out The Slammer

This track highlights the boy she keeps going back to, possibly a "situationship." Taylor refers to him as her "home" and the first man she calls after she’s “fresh out the slammer.” Meaning he is the first man she calls fresh out of the relationship that felt like she was being locked down.


Florida!!! Feat. Florence + The Machine

As the second track with a feature, it starts off deep and serious. The chorus is bold with a hopeful tone. This is further expressed in the lyrics when Taylor indicates the hope of escaping out of her town to Florida to escape reality for a moment. Florida being a "relationship" she escapes to from time to time. Comparing it to a drug she wants to use up. Florence adds a soft yet confident tone to the track with her beautiful voice that impeccably compliments Taylor’s. As soon as Florence and Taylor started singing together and their voices traveled through my headphones, I got goosebumps on my neck. This was not a collaboration I was anticipating. However, it turned out so beautiful.


Guilty as Sin

The next track begins with a simple but strong drum beat and Taylor’s soft-spoken voice. This track illuminates fantasizing about a lover whom she never touched. Taylor is descriptive in the second verse, ”These fatal fantasies giving way to labored breath, takin’ all of me. We’ve already done it in my head.” From other descriptive lyrics, it is best assumed this track is about self-pleasure.


Who's Afraid of Little Old Me?

This is one of the most powerful tracks on the album, which refers to Taylor and her reputation in the music industry. The title is a rhetorical question: how it's ironic that grown men would be scared of “little old me." In 2016, she gained so much publicity and was shamed by popular, well-known people in the industry, “The scandal was contained.” She had not been seen for a year, ”Don’t you worry, folks, we took out all her teeth.” The “folks” being society as they trailed along with all the hate towards Taylor. Without her “teeth”, she was not able to defend herself from the hate. There are a lot more details in this song, but then I would have an entire book. So, we’ll keep it short for now.


I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)

Exactly as the title suggests, the lyrics express the fixation to “fix” her current lover. Taylor sings about his loud and offensive jokes, his smoke clouds, and his rough, “dirty” hands. The entire song sounds as though she’s trying to convince herself she can handle him and that she can change him to meet her standards. The closing line suggests she gives up, the acceptance, ”Woah, maybe I can’t.


loml

This next track has a soft piano and gentle vocals. It is one of the saddest on the album. Taylor discusses the heartbreaking feeling of going from planning to get married and having babies to never talking again. This is mentioned in the bridge, “Talkin’ rings and talkin’ cradles. I wish I could un-recall how we almost had it all.” She even calls the relationship a counterfeit, saying it was all fake since he ended it all. Like the last song, she goes from calling him the lover of her life to accepting that it’s over and naming him the loss of her life.


I Can Do It With a Broken Heart

Although it has such a happy and pop beat, the lyrics are traumatic and depressing. The first time hearing the track, I broke down in tears while a perfect dance beat was blasting through my headphones. The song focuses on being completely miserable, yet no one knows because you are still functioning and putting a smile on your face. This has quickly become what Swifties call the most relatable song and has been trending on TikTok since its release. The reason I broke down is because going to see Taylor's show in March of 2023 was the best day of my life. While I was having the time of my life, the happiest I have ever been, Taylor was going through the toughest breakup, and no one knew about it. She was still putting a smile on her face and putting on the performance of a lifetime.


The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived

This track is an angry track with a scared tone. It reminds me of her other song, ‘Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve,' in the way that she feels betrayed by someone she was so close with. She expresses her feeling of betrayal in the bridge, “Were you sent by someone who wanted me dead? Did you sleep with a gun underneath our bed?” The song has the angriest bridge in the album with such emotional lyrics.


The Alchemy

This next track takes a turn for the best as a cute and romantic one. Fans speculate it is about Taylor’s current boyfriend and football champion, Travis Kelce. She leaves several football references in the lyrics, “Touchdown. Call the amateurs and cut 'em from the team.” I do not like putting my opinion on celebrity relationships. But I have to say, Taylor and Travis are so adorable. This track made me feel the love they feel for each other through Taylor’s words. My favorite line in the song, that has also been in so many cute edits on TikTok, ”Where’s the trophy? He just comes runnin’ over to me.” This is illustrated when Travis won the Super Bowl 2024, and cameras show both of them hugging and showing each other love.


Clara Bow

The ending track, ‘Clara Bow,’ highlights the comparison of women in the music industry. The first woman is Clara Bow. Next is Stevie Nicks. And lastly, a comparison to Taylor Swift. Taylor describes the experience of feeling lucky to be picked and successful in the industry. In her Amazon Music Intro, she explains her thoughts while writing the song. She talks about the excitement of being lucky enough to be “picked like a rose” and to get compliments for being similar to previous talented female artists. She goes on to express disappointment when that young aspiring woman is told she is better than a previous artist.


This is an incredible album with so many amazing lyrics. It was so much more than what I was anticipating, but to be fair, I feel that way about every single new album Taylor drops. She never disappoints with her metaphors and deep lyrics. Like all of Taylor’s songs, they are all open to interpretation and can all be interpreted differently from person to person.


Look out for our review on the 2 am tracks soon! Listen to the album below!



 

Taylor Swift

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