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The North Star

The student news site of Naperville North High School

The North Star

The student news site of Naperville North High School

The North Star

Taylor Swift’s “The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology” leaves listeners with a chaotic and fatalistic re-telling of her life


Taylor Swift’s 11th studio album, “THE TORTURED POETS DEPARTMENT” (abbreviated as TTPD), dropped on April 19. Approximately two hours after releasing the album, Swift announced it was a double album, adding 15 more songs on “THE TORTURED POETS DEPARTMENT: THE ANTHOLOGY.” The album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard 200 and went on to have the largest streaming week for an album in history. The week before the album’s release was filled with pop-ups and easter egg drops, including a QR code made of “TTPD” and “13”s painted on Chicago’s North side and a library installation in Los Angeles’ popular shopping center, The Grove. TTPD is Swift’s first original studio album since her 2022 album, “Midnights.”

Before the release of the album, fans speculated that the album would feature songs about her breakup with Joe Alwyn, a British actor she was in a relationship with from 2016 to 2023, because of song titles like “So Long, London” and “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart.” 

TTPD is also Swift’s longest original studio album name, with previous albums consisting of one-word titles with the exception of “Speak Now.” The black and white visuals of the album combined with its lengthy name left fans expecting a new sound for the TTPD era, and Swift certainly delivered her most candid album yet.

The 31-track album can be a lot to digest, so from the desk of this tortured poet, here’s a brief portfolio of the album: from masterfully done songs to those lacking in spirit.

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TTPD Highlights: 

TTPD’s lead single “Fortnight,” a collaboration with Post Malone, is a track that grew on me. On the first listen, the song is uncharacteristically slow with a more poetic twist to Swift’s storytelling lyrics. After a few listens, it’s clear that the song is referring to a past relationship, and Swift imagining that she will forever suffer from it while her ex finds happiness. Although it’s not the usual catchy hit from Swift, “Fortnight” is nevertheless a strong start to an album filled with metaphors and tragic tales. 

My favorite tracks on the first release are “So Long, London,” and “loml.” These songs are the most lyrically sound and emotionally piercing. Swift’s track five songs are notorious for their broken-hearted lyrics, and “So Long, London,” delivered gut-punching lines and emotional delivery. Swift’s parting song with Alwyn did not disappoint, and I would recommend it to anyone going through a breakup. “loml” is an even more wrenching song about a breakup. The piano backing is beautiful and her use of the common abbreviation for “love of my life” for most of the song took a creative turn at the end when she instead sang “loss of my life,” effectively piercing any fan’s heart.

If listeners are looking for more upbeat gems from TTPD, I would recommend “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart,” describing Swift’s experience of going through a breakup while being on tour, and “Florida!!!”. “Florida!!!” has a lot of influence from its featured artist, so it’s worth a listen if you’re interested in Florence and the Machine.

Anthology Highlights:

Songs from the anthology are particularly emotional and well-crafted. The opening track, “The Black Dog,” is a fantastic song about the lingering emotions of a fresh breakup. My personal favorites from the anthology are “I Hate It Here” and “The Prophecy.” “I Hate It Here” is fantastic for listeners who want to escape from their reality, particularly those who like to say they were “born in the wrong decade.” “The Prophecy” is a song that describes what it’s like to wait for a lasting relationship with little hope left. Swift masterfully expresses this through lyrics like “But even statues crumble if they’re made to wait; I’m so afraid I sealed my fate; No sign of soulmates; I’m just a paperweight.” Overall, the Anthology added a plethora of poetic lyrics to the main release’s catchier beats, and I can definitively say I prefer the songs on the Anthology. 

References to figures in her life:

As expected, Alwyn was the probable subject of many songs on the album. This time, Swift’s lyrics about the breakup seem truly sad instead of angry like previous songs. The album surprisingly featured multiple songs that fans are speculating are about Matty Healy, the main singer of the indie band The 1975. Swift’s current beau, the Kansas City Chiefs’ tight end Travis Kelce, also has two speculated songs on the album, “The Alchemy” and “So High School.” Many online have made comparisons of “The Alchemy” to an AI-generated Swift song, calling out its “on-the-nose” lyrics. Comparatively, “So High School” is the superior song, with a bridge that has gone viral on TikTok and a more nuanced reference to Kelce. The most surprising dedication on the album was likely towards Kim Kardashian in the track “thanK you aIMee,” with the stylized title’s capitalized letters spelling “KIM.” Kardashian was a main instigator in the 2016 scandal of Kanye West’s “Famous” music video and surrounding situation. All of these references to people in her life culminate into an incredibly candid album. 

TTPD’s shortcomings: 

The album has its faults along with its strengths. The Anthology is arguably stronger than the main release because Aaron Dessner produced more of the songs. Dessner gave songs sounding reminiscent of “folklore” and Jack Antonoff contributed a sound closer to “Midnights.” Many fans also complained about the similar instrumentals of each song on the album. A sonic similarity is noticeable in the album because of its length, which many fans online have argued could have been cut down. Contributing to the messiness of the album, Swift chose to include a lot of personal events and names in her lyrics. While this gives fans a closer glimpse into her life, it also takes the listener out of the songs and diminishes the longevity of the lyrics. 

Final Thoughts:

“THE TORTURED POETS DEPARTMENT” might not be for fans used to Swift’s old music, but I recommend listeners old and new to give the album a chance. Listeners can also watch videos of Swift’s new “Eras Tour” TTPD setlist, which includes performances of “But Daddy I Love Him,” the bridge of “So High School,” “Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?”, “Down Bad,” “Fortnight,” “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived” and “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart.” This new era of Swift’s music is not only a welcome addition to her discography and tour setlist; it’s Swift’s enthusiastic yes to anyone asking themselves, “am I allowed to cry?”

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About the Contributor
Claire Tanza
Claire Tanza, Editor-in-Chief
Claire Tanza is a senior at Naperville North and is so excited to be taking on the role of Editor-in-Chief this year. In her second year of writing for The North Star, she can’t wait to support the staff in developing their journalistic skills and continue working on her own journalistic pursuits. Outside of the newsroom, you can find Claire playing on North’s varsity tennis team, involved in theater, being the co-president of GEMS and a part of Senior Board.

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