“The Tortured Poets Department”: Is It Really That Tortured?

Following a record-breaking year in her career, Taylor Swift has released two new albums trailed in anguish titled “The Tortured Poets Department” and “The Anthology.”
Since its release, The Tortured Poets Department has continued to shatter records as well as hearts. In just six days, it became the most streamed album in a week. Photographed by Beth Garrabrant/  Republic Records
Since its release, “The Tortured Poets Department” has continued to shatter records as well as hearts. In just six days, it became the most streamed album in a week. Photographed by Beth Garrabrant/ Republic Records

On February 4th, singer and pop icon Taylor Swift ascended the coveted steps to accept her long-awaited 13th Grammy. What began as an acceptance speech, turned into something that left viewers utterly astonished. 

Swift was releasing a new album in her spanning discography titled, “The Tortured Poets Department.” 

Her 11th album consists of 16 songs with four bonus tracks named “The Bolter,” “ The Manuscript,” “The Albatross,” and “The Black Dog.”

Following her surprise announcement, I was glued to my phone, desperately refreshing the website to buy the vinyl as soon as possible.

I did not doubt that it owned a rightful place amongst my evergrowing vinyl collection, due to its brilliance as an album.

Layout editor, Bryce Keller; while standing in front of Target’s vinyl collection, proudly presents his “The Tortured Poets Department” vinyl. Photographed by Alyssa Keller.

On April 20th, I joined millions of fans across the world when the album emerged at midnight, unfolding in pure greatness. 

As expected, Swift had a few more tricks up her sleeve for Swifties. After the album’s release, she announced at 2 a.m. that “The Tortured Poets Department” was a double album with “The Anthology” rounding it out. 

I dedicated that whole day to solely devoting myself and two hours of my time to sit down and embrace everything “The Tortured Poets Department” had to offer.

Swift wrote both albums with her longtime friends Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner. Additionally, she collaborated for the first time with Post Malone and Florence + The Machine for the songs “Fortnight” and “Florida!!!.” 

The two sister albums combine to make a tracklist composed of 30 songs. In total, it is 2 hours, and two minutes long (a possible reference to Swift’s song “22” perhaps???) 

By all means, the album lives up to its declaration of being tortured; as many fans, including yours truly- admittedly with 8 cries in total, were sentimentally devasted by the gut-wrenching tracklist.

Despite the explicit lyrics that may upset some, it is very effortless to be swept up by Swift’s grandeur of an album and to feel the souls of each song. 

“The Tortured Poets Department” is nothing like anything she’s done before. It sets itself apart by not shying away from being grittier, more emotional, and deeply personal.

With many flocking to whichever location she performs in, Swift has recently resumed “The Eras Tour.” Swift modified the concert to interject a set for “The Tortured Poets Department” to give it a moment to shine. Photographed by

Drawing from her own past experiences with romance partners and former acquaintances, Swift crafts songs replete with despair that are juxtaposed with solemn hope. 

“A smirk creeps onto this poet’s face because it’s the worst men that I write best,” remarked Swift in a personal poem that she included in physical copies.

Nonetheless, it is hauntingly beautiful as it conveys complex messages while embracing the chaos of life.

Some strong yet harshly relatable songs on the tracklist include “So Long, London,” “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived,” “But Daddy I Love Him,” and “loml.”

Swift’s lyrics demonstrate astonishing prowess as the audience gets to see her lyrical genius at play, with all new tools to experiment with. Ranging from utilizing more cryptic poetic lyrics, actual written poems, and a completely revolutionary new sound to escalate the impactful ballads.

The day TTPD came out, I started my day listening to it and then I came to school. It was very wordy. After school, I went to Senora Herman’s house and we listened to the whole album start to finish and watched the lyrics videos on YouTube for each song. I think people didn’t enjoy the album at the start because it is a lot to take in. The lyrics are really deep and there’s a lot of words that we had to look up… Senora Herman and I listen to the album every day.

— Aaron Hare, DHS French Teacher

Each song is tonally different as they all feel unique and refreshing. In addition, they are able to perform the near-impossible task of having good pacing while simultaneously making a remarkable and breathtakingly elegant tracklist. 

The sounds all feel reminiscent of the cozy yet tragic appeal of “Folklore”/ “Evermore,” mixed in with the effervescent vibes of “Midnights.”

The experience is quite exhilarating in that it evokes the five stages of grief, which makes it far more poignant and resonant to listen to than ever before. 

The complete album is nothing short of a tour de force and yet another masterpiece conjured up by Swift herself. 

However, despite my adoration of “The Tortured Poets Department,” I do feel that it does not top my personal favorite Swift album which is“Red.”

Speaking as a long-time Swiftie, “The Tortured Poets Department” is an instant classic that holds up to prior albums Swift has produced. It is safe to say that all truly is fair in love and poetry after all.


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