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Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Weekly Music Spotlight: “The Tortured Poets Department” by Taylor Swift

“The Tortured Poets Department,” showcases the singer’s ability to powerfully express her feelings during what she describes as one of the “hardest things” she’s experienced through story-telling, but also through her ability to be, simply, a poet.
“The Tortured Poets Department” by Taylor Swift, Courtesy of Apple Music

On April 19, Taylor Swift released her long-awaited 11th studio album, “The Tortured Poets Department,” with 300 million streams in its first day, making Spotify history. 

The album serves as a sentiment of her perspective on the fame she has accumulated over the years, revealing that through all of the speculation about her personal life, especially that of her romantic life, she will always remain authentic to her definition of love and heartbreak. 

The album’s announcement surprised fans, who were anticipating the singer’s re-recording of “Reputation,” her 6th album. The re-recording of “Reputation” is the second to last installment in Swift’s reclaiming of her first six studio albums after signing a record deal with Republic Records.

Swift began re-recording her albums after  record executive Scooter Braun’s acquisition and later selling of the singer’s first six studio albums, taking away her ability to purchase her own work. Swift was forced to re-record her music because she refused to renew her contract with Big Machine Records Inc., the company Braun had acquired. 

At the 66th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony, Swift announced the release of “TTPD” after picking up six awards for her critically acclaimed album “Midnights.”Many fans took to social media to claim it was a breakup album, following the end of the singer’s six-year-long relationship with British actor Joe Alwyn.

Swift later took to Instagram to clarify that the album was following the stories of “13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life.”

However, the announcement of the singer’s 11th album had many conclude  that the new release would give insight into her life following her breakup with Alwyn and into her emotional state throughout her sold-out stadium world tour, “The Eras Tour.” 

On the track “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart,” many fans believe/speculate the noises in the background of the song are the singer’s in-ear monitors, reflecting the album’s timeline.  

 The lights refract sequin stars off her silhouette every night/ I can show you lies/​​ ‘Cause I’m a real tough kid/ I can handle my s***/ They said, ‘Babe, you gotta fake it ’til you make it,’ and I did”sings Swift. Expressing how she is seen by her fans while performing. She also described how in reality, she was struggling with her breakup with Alwyn, which has been speculated to have happened at the beginning of the tour. 

The track “So Long, London,” references the song “London Boy,” on the singer’s 7th album, “Lover,” serving as its paradox, closing the curtains to the relationship that brought the singer her love for London. “So Long London” describes the end of a relationship and a city forever associated with it.“For so long, London/ Stitches undone/ Two graves, one gun/ I’ll find someone,” said Swift.

Another paradox on the album lies in the title of the track “loml,” which, according to theories from her fans, Swift uses to signify her many emotions following her breakup from Alwyn, the title serving both as an acronym for the phrase “love of my life” and “loss of my life.” 

“If you know it in one glimpse, it’s legendary/ What we thought was for all time was momentary,” Swift sings, describing how what she saw as forever wasn’t as important or long-lasting as she had hoped.

The singer seemingly uses this album to describe her brief fling with The 1975’s frontman, Matty Healy, whom she dated shortly after breaking up with Alwyn. Fans have taken to TikTok and X, formerly known as Twitter, to express how, on the title track of the album, Swift describes someone who uses a typewriter, which Healy is stylistically known for using.

Although it is unclear who the singer refers to on the track “My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys,” the singer references a partner. She describes herself as a doll metaphorically for her place in their relationship. “I know I’m just repeating mysеlf/ Put me back on my shelf/ But first, pull the string,” Swift sings over a drum-reliant beat, reminiscent of her sound in her 5th studio album, “1989.”

“TTPD,” the album’s namesake, showcases the singer’s ability to powerfully express her feelings during what she describes as one of the ‘hardest things’ she’s experienced through story-telling, but also through her ability to be, simply, a poet.

Swift collaborates with two other musicians on “TTPD” — Post Malone and Florence + The Machine — both of whom she has been longtime friends with. Swift also works with Jack Antonoff, a producer she has worked alongside on various projects, including “Reputation” and sister albums Folklore and Evermore.

The album’s first trackfeatures singer, Post Malone, who has recently been undergoing a transition to the country music genre. 

Their song, “Fortnight,” is the only one on the album so far that has its own music video. Swift uses the music video to showcase the imagery of insanity reflected in the lyrics, by depicting herself in a mental health facility. The music video for the song also features surprise cameos from Ethan Hawke and Josh Charles, who both starred in the movie “Dead Poets Society,” which has been speculated to have inspired the album’s title. 

The second collaboration on the album is with Florence Welch, titled “Florida!!!” The song seemingly refers to Swift’s tour stops in Florida in 2023, the first tour stops after her breakup with Alwyn. 

“I need to forget, so take me to Florida/I’ve got some regrets/ I’ll bury them in Florida,” Swift sings alongside Welch, describing Florida as an escape, a place where she can simply forget and leave behind her problems. The song is co-written by actress Emma Stone, another of Swift’s longtime friends.

The singer also uses this album to refer to her public image through the track “Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me.” The singer appears to use the title to refer to how the media tries to downsize her, whether through the lawsuit she was involved in with Ticketmaster or peoples’ questioning of her relationship with football star Travis Kelce.

Swift responds to peoples’ questioning of her actions and publicization of her personal life in the song “Clara Bow,” which references 1920’s actress Clara Bow, whose rise to fame led to her being known as the world’s first “It Girl,” which allowed tabloids to speculate closely on her personal life, as well as unveiling her romantic life for the world to know.

 Gabriela Quintero is a staff writer for the University Press. For more information on this story or others, contact her at [email protected].


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