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The Tortured Poets Department

Republic Records
Alternate album cover of The Tortured Poets Department

Once upon a time, the planets and the fates and all the stars aligned while Swifties all around the world watched a live viewing of the 2024 Grammys Awards Ceremony, expecting an announcement of the highly anticipated Reputation (Taylor’s Version) album. Instead, they got something else entirely. On February 4th, Taylor Swift shocked the world once again with the announcement of her 11th studio album, titled The Tortured Poets Department. Here are the facts at hand, as well as some fun theories. 

Soon after her announcement, Swift posted on all her social media accounts the album cover with the caption “All’s fair in love and poetry… New album THE TORTURED POETS DEPARTMENT. Out April 19 ”.  Along with the album cover, a photo of a handwritten note was attached. As of now, it’s unclear whether this note is an excerpt of one of the songs on the album, or just a fun rhyme to include on her announcement post. It reads:


“And so I enter into evidence

My tarnished coat of arms

My muses, acquired like bruises

My talismans and charms

The tick, 



                                  of love bombs

My veins of pitch black ink

All’s fair in love and poetry…


        The Chairman

of The Tortured Poets Department”


As stated before, the announcement of a brand new album was pretty unexpected. Swifties had high hopes about a Reputation (Taylor’s Version) announcement, since that morning, Swift’s social media profile pictures turned black and white, a color scheme similar to the original Reputation cover. The day of the Grammys, fans noticed that Swift’s website was ‘down’, with Swifites quickly figuring out that the page was intentionally down, along with scrambled words appearing on the screen being a hint. When unscrambled, the seemingly nonsensical “hneiergrd” spelt “red herring”, otherwise known as a misleading clue to distract from the truth. At first, everyone thought that it was a confirmation that the website being down was completely fake, but nobody suspected it being exactly what it means: a misleading clue. Along with the red herring clue, an error code “321” was shown on screen. This error code is meant for when there’s a communication error due to poor telephone line conditions. Fans quickly connected this with the iconic Reputation line, “The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now,” and further convinced Swifties that another rerecording was going to be announced. At the Grammys, however, fans were delighted to be proven wrong after winning best pop vocal album for Midnights, Swift announced The Tortured Poets Department and sent the Swiftie community into a frenzy.

On February 5th, the tracklist was also released due to a TikTok leak, and three bonus tracks were announced. As of now, the  bonus tracks are titled The Manuscript, The Bolter, The Albatross, and  The Black Dog. Not including the bonus tracks, the tracklist is as follows, in order:


Fortnight (Feat. Post Malone)

The Tortured Poets Department

My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys

Down Bad

So Long, London

But Daddy I Love Him

Fresh Out The Slammer

Florida!!! (Florence + the Machine)

Guilty as Sin? 

Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?

I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)


I Can Do It With A Broken Heart

The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived

The Alchemy

Clara Bow


Although all these tracks have something to say about them purely based on their title, the focal point is on tracks So Long, London, and Clara Bow. Swift’s ex-boyfriend Joe Alwyn is probably going to have a few songs dedicated to him on this album, after their breakup was made public in early 2023, and the one Swifties are convinced is about him is So Long, London. In Swift’s 2019 album Lover, she sings about a London Boy, referring to her at-the-time boyfriend Joe Alwyn. Because of this, fans speculate that the TTPD track will be about leaving behind that life with Alwyn after dating him for six years. The second eye-catching track is titled Clara Bow, referring to the silent actress of the 1920s, and the first ‘It Girl’ of their time. Bow was a very successful actress, but was also always in the public’s eye. Bow had a breakdown when she was only in her twenties, and left the Hollywood life, only returning to it when she needed ‘enough money to be able to stay out of it.’ Other track titles that pique interest are titles like But Daddy I Love Him, a quote from the animated movie “The Little Mermaid,” when the main character Ariel expressed desperation to her father who had forbidden her from marrying the man she loves.

Returning to the subject of the bonus tracks, each new edition of TTPD has come in a different color and album cover, ranging from white, tan, gray, and black. Since all the information we have on the special edition songs, we can’t really guess what they’ll be about, but the title hints at the possibilities. The Bolter can be used to describe someone running away from something or someone, but is also the name of a bar in London, nearby where Swift and Alwyn used to live together. The Albatross, while being a species of a bird, is also the word to describe someone who prevents you from doing what you want, and causes problems for you. On top of that, the night that Swift announced this special edition song on her Eras Tour, she sang her song coney island. While on the surface this may seem like nothing, if you dig a little deeper you’ll find that in 1903, an employee of The Albatross hotel on Coney Island started a fire on the west end of the Bowery. This could be a sly reference to the name William Bowery, which is the alias that Alwyn went by when writing lyrics for Swift’s album evermore. 


Album cover for The Tortured Poets Department with bonus track “The Black Dog”

Additionally, soon after the album announcement, Swifties connected the album title to a moment in a Variety interview with Joe Alwyn. In the interview, Alwyn reveals that he and his co-stars from the Sally Rooney TV universe have a groupchat they named “The Tortured Man Club.’’ It almost seems too coincidental, but then again, fans have found that with Taylor Swift, nothing is ever coincidental.

As mentioned before, the announcement was made after Swift’s album Midnights won best pop vocal album at the Grammys. Shortly after this, Swift also won her fourth Album of the Year award, making her the first ever artist to have obtained four AOTY awards. On the topic of breaking records, the TTPD’s vinyl pre-sales surpassed all formats of the Midnights first hour pre-sales in 25 minutes. The Tortured Poets Department is available for streaming on all major music platforms starting April 18th at 9pm PST. It’s a new soundtrack, we’ll be dancing to the beat forevermore.

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About the Contributor
Leyla Johnson
Leyla Johnson, Journalist
Hi, my name is Leyla Johnson and I've loved writing for as long as I can remember. When I'm not stuck behind a keyboard, I'm usually making a mess in the kitchen or sitting by the fireplace with a good book. I absolutely love to travel and have been to 8 countries so far but hope to visit more. In addition to all things above, I'm also obsessed with music, especially artists Taylor Swift, Conan Gray, Lana Del Rey, Sabrina Carpenter, Gracie Abrams, and many many more.

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