Taylor Swift Delivers Thoughtful Reflections in “The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology”


Taylor Swift’s latest album, “The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology,” marks a bold turn in her illustrious career. It’s Swift’s 11 time releasing surprises, easter eggs, and other long awaited announcements for her fans. Released on a wave of anticipation, the album serves as a canvas for Swift’s deeply personal reflections on sorrow, creativity, and resilience.

The album merges classical and contemporary influences with Swift working alongside long-time collaborators such as Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner. Antonoff and Swift have worked closely together since 2014’s “1989,” and his production and writing have come to be expected on her new albums. The result is a sound that feels at once familiar and daringly new. 

Strings and piano meld seamlessly with electronic beats and subtle guitar riffs from “Down Bad” and “So Long, London,” creating a backdrop that feels both intimate and expansive.

When I listened through the first time I was in all honesty, not thrilled. I went in with the closed mindset that it was going to be great. Just great. 

All I heard the first time through was the little “millennial” comments throughout the songs. It just didn’t sit right with me, so I waited a few hours and decided to play it again. To my shock I found that like all Swift’s albums, the lyrics connected to an open storyline I had been waiting on for years. 

I’ve been a fan of Taylor since I heard “We Are Never Getting Back Together” on the radio back in 2012. I do find that this album is so special and definitely one of my top pics out of them. “The Tortured Poets Department” is able to resonate with any of your emotions, relationship timelines, and mental health issues. 

Swift shocked not just Swifties, but everyone streaming the song ‘But Daddy I Love Him’ with the lines “I’m having his baby, no I’m not but you should see your faces.” The song on a surface level is about Taylor dating a ‘bad boy’ or falling in love with the wrong type of man. But what the song really is about is the unfair judgment cast upon her when she does. 

The ‘bad boy’ character in “But Daddy I Love Him” has been rumored to be based on Matty Healy, lead singer of the band The 1975. In the song, she’s taken control of her own narrative. She’s done what she wants to do and loved who she wants to love, and she couldn’t care less what people think of her anymore. When Swift is creating a new narrative, she continues to always present her creativity throughout her storytelling. This is a new message that she’s never had in a song before due to trying to avoid judgment in her lyric writing. 

The album opens with “Fortnight,” a touching track that sets the tone with its expressive melody intertwined with Swift’s signature lyrical prowess. The song’s opening, where Swift sings, “I was supposed to be sent away, but they forgot to come and get me” is a particularly striking way to open an album. 

Since the release of her last album “Midnights” in Oct. 2023, fans such as myself have been speculating over her relationship status with her ex, Joe Alwyn. As they were together for six years, the break up theories were intense and Taylor slowly grasped how to publicly handle them. 

According to an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, “You ended up not with the person that you loved and now you just have to live with that everyday, wondering what would’ve been, maybe seeing them out. And that’s a pretty tragic concept really so I was just writing from that perspective” Swift said. This just further proves to fans and followers of Swift that she can overcome almost anything that anyone throws at her.

Swift dropped a music video for the song, featuring singer Post Malone along with actors Ethan Hawke and Josh Charles. The MV starts out with Swift stuck to what looks like an asylum bed. I found this scenery to be interesting and at first thought I was very confused about how any of it related to the previous context. This can be a call back to the countless times haters and nobodies would call her crazy. She’s also saying how insane she felt during this part of her life and how heartbroken she really was. 

The rest of the video hints at Swift’s past with flashbacks to this couple and their happy or good times in their relationship, while continuing to compare it to the bitterness of the current situation. My overall take on the MV was that I was amazed as to how this new narrative hyped up me with excitement for the album to a whole new level. I also appreciated how Swift incorporated the feeling of a sorrowed and isolated setting. 

Her fans’ level of excitement for this announcement was, as always, through the roof. The feeling of painful heartbreak that this song lays out is a thought provoking way to open up the album.

The double album, “The Anthology,” adds 17 songs to the original 16 track album. Most of these can be listened to with shock, or a sense of an unhinged lyrical understanding. Swift takes a regular narrative and creates it to be much more deep in conveying how fed up and done she is with society choosing her path. Swift has always tried to ‘remove herself from the narrative’ that there is still feuding amongst her and Kanye. She’s been quiet, respectful and when harsh or brutal words are thrown at her, she tries to not bat an eye at them. 

That was until the song “thanK you AImee ” was released as a part of “The Anthology .”This song is directed towards a negative person from her past and Swift playfully throws comments and opinions out while still maintaining her respect. This illustrates the level of resilience that Swift constantly portrays in her work. Although Kim Kardashian is never explicitly named, the capital letters in the song title spell out Kim, and given their history, one can only assume it’s about Kim Kardashian.  

Swift always finds a way to remind Kim Kardashian and Kanye West that she is 100% in control of the ‘drama’ or controversy between them.

One of my favorite lines is, “And one day, your kid comes home singing, A song that only us two are gonna know is about you”, hinting at the idea that Swift will always be iconic to children growing up. Even Kim’s kids themselves.

“The Tortured Poets Department” is a daring exploration of artistic suffering and survival, a thematic masterpiece that connects the dots between Taylor Swift’s own life and those of the “poets,” those who inspire her. Swift’s albums come in many different genres, and they all end up ranked differently by each one of her fans. 

I personally think that TTPD is in my top five, maybe top three. But that could change in a week or two. I could wake up on the wrong side of the bed and decide that folklore’s sad and gloomy songs are perfect for me, but I could also wake up with the excitement of Lover’s romance-filled tracks. I think that the level of maturity and mastery on this album is treasured, but that doesn’t discredit her others. The album not only entertains but also challenges its listeners to think deeply about the nature of creativity. The creativity of this album produces a perfect update on Swifts’ life at the moment. I think that “The Tortured Poets Department” as just the name made me, as well as many other Swifties, gasp in how ready we were to see it all unravel. This album is and will always be a testament to her unyielding spirit and a gift to listeners who seek depth and meaning in music. 

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