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Taylor Swift asks ‘who else decodes you?’ on ‘The Tortured Poets Department.’ What to know about the ‘secret double album.’

In Entertainment
April 19, 2024

The new Taylor Swift album is out — and it seems like we’ll find out a lot more about her split from Joe Alwyn.

The 14-time Grammy winner released The Tortured Poets Department with multiple promotional experiences popping up around the country. Swift announced she’ll drop her first music video for the lead single on Friday night, which she confirmed on Thursday is “Fortnight” featuring Post Malone.

What can fans expect from Swift’s 11th studio album? Here’s the scoop.

There are 16 songs on TTPD

  1. “Fortnight” (feat. Post Malone)

  2. “The Tortured Poets Department”

  3. “My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys”

  4. “Down Bad”

  5. “So Long, London”

  6. “But Daddy I Love Him”

  7. “Fresh Out the Slammer”

  8. “Florida!!!” (feat. Florence + The Machine)

  9. “Guilty as Sin?”

  10. “Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?”

  11. “I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)”

  12. “loml”

  13. “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart”

  14. “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived”

  15. “The Alchemy”

  16. “Clara Bow”

She also released a surprise 15 additional tracks under the title “The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology”:

  1. The Black Dog

  2. imgonnagetyouback

  3. The Albatross

  4. Chloe or Sam or Sophia or Marcus

  5. How Did It End?

  6. So High School

  7. I Hate It Here

  8. thanK you aIMee

  9. I Look in People’s Windows

  10. The Prophecy

  11. Cassandra

  12. Peter

  13. The Bolter

  14. Robin

  15. The Manuscript

Timetable

Swift dropped a teaser for the album on social media. The video starts in a Midnights-esque room with crumbled up paper and four records on the floor. A clock is set to the time of 2:00, a number which the singer has teased for months. Viewers leave the room and are led down an all-white hallway (some people on social media compared it to a psych ward) before entering through a door with a sign that reads “The Tortured Poets Department.”

The room is also stark white. Typewriters and coffee cups are sitting atop two desks. The video shows a bulletin, or “timetable,” with April 19 confirming it’s not only the album’s release day, but that a music video will drop. April 20 is listed as “Record Store Day!” This is where the 14 tally came from.

Swift left plenty of Easter eggs at TTPD event

At Spotify’s “library installation” at the Grove in Los Angeles, the unit featured 72 boxes, one for each of the 72 months (or six years) she dated Alwyn. Six boxes were open. A few people on social media pointed out how it looked like a morgue, or perhaps mourning a wedding that never was.

Those dried, dead flowers were scattered throughout the library. They are lavender and Cornelia roses — nods to Alwyn-inspired tracks “Lavender Haze,” off Midnights, and “Cornelia Street,” from Lover.

Two new lyrics were shown in the exhibit: “One less temptress. One less dagger to sharpen,” and “Even statues crumble if they’re made to wait.”

A picture from Spotify's Taylor Swift pop-up at the Grove for her new album

A picture from Spotify’s Taylor Swift pop-up at the Grove for her new album The Tortured Poets Department in Los Angeles. (Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)

There was a globe featured in the pop-up with a pin in Miami. The Sunshine State clearly has significance (see track 8). After news of Swift and Alwyn’s breakup made headlines in April 2023, Swift’s first performance on The Eras Tour was in Tampa, Fla. Swift will be performing in Miami when the tour resumes later this year.

TTPD is going to be emotional

Swift released five playlists on Apple Music last week, which are all about the five stages of heartbreak: denial (“I Love You, It’s Ruining My Life”), anger (“You Don’t Get to Tell Me About Sad”), bargaining (“Am I Allowed to Cry?”), depression (“Old Habits Die Screaming”) and acceptance (“I Can Do It With a Broken Heart”).

TikTok and Swift reach agreement

All of Swift’s music returned to the social media platform in a surprising move. Universal Music Group and TikTok are in a standoff after a licensing agreement ended, so all of UMG’s artists were pulled from the app. Since Swift owns her masters, she likely reached her own deal with the company ahead of the release.

A new era

The album cover is unlike anything fans have seen yet from the 34-year-old singer. In the intimate black-and-white picture, Swift is lying down on a bed in black high-waisted underwear and a black sheer tank. (According to Swift’s stylist, she’s wearing the Row, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s luxury brand, and YSL.)

“All’s fair in love and poetry…” Swift captioned the album cover on social media.

On another photo, there’s a handwritten note that reads: “And so I enter into evidence/ My tarnished coat of arms/ My muses, acquired like bruises/ My talismans and charms/ The tick, tick, tick of love bombs/ My view of pitch black ink.”

The note is signed, “Sincerely, The Chairman of The Tortured Poets Department.”

Making the album

When Swift won her first Grammy of the night in February, she said she wanted to thank her fans “by telling you a secret that I’ve been keeping from you for the last two years.”

“It’s called The Tortured Poets Department,” Swift declared as she fittingly won her lucky No. 13 Grammy. “I’m gonna go post the cover backstage.”

Fans expected Swift to announce Reputation (Taylor’s Version)— but it was a “red herring”

There are only two rerecorded albums the singer has yet to release: Reputation and Taylor Swift. Swift had been dropping easter eggs for weeks that seemed to hint Reputation (Taylor’s Version) was coming.

Speculation went into overdrive when, before the Grammys telecast, Swift changed her social media profile images to a black-and-white versions of the pictures. (The original Reputation album cover is black and white.) Swift then showed up to the Grammys in black gloves and a white dress with six necklace chains, but no, it was not a nod to her sixth album, Reputation.

Swift’s website intentionally went down right before the Grammys and a mysterious error code appeared, that if you unscrambled it, spelled “red herring.” Turns out, the Reputation era hints really were a red herring.

The Joe Alwyn of it all

It was revealed in April 2023 that the singer and the British actor had split after six years together, but neither of them have said anything about the breakup. (Who did it? When? Why?) The closest fans have gotten to such information is one of Swift’s bonus tracks off Midnights called “You’re Losing Me.” It didn’t take long for fans to point out the album title has a direct tie to Alwyn.

In December 2022, Alwyn revealed he’s in a WhatsApp group chat called the Tortured Man Club. The topic came up during Variety’s “Actors on Actors” series with Paul Mescal. The two were in the chat with All of Us Strangers star Andrew Scott.

“It hasn’t had much use recently,” Alwyn said.

As usual, fans won’t know what is covered in the album until it’s released.

Whether we’ll hear about her falling in love with the Kansas City Chiefs tight end remains to be seen (or rather, heard), but there’s a good chance he inspired a song or two. Some people are speculating that “The Manuscript,” a bonus track on the collector’s edition, could be about “the man you script,” i.e., Kelce.

Updated, April 18, 3:25 p.m. ET: This story has been updated to reflect new information on Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department.

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