Everything to know about Taylor Swift's new album 'The Tortured Poets Department'

Everything to know about Taylor Swift's new album 'The Tortured Poets Department'
  • Taylor Swift announced a brand-new album while accepting an award at the 2024 Grammys.

  • "The Tortured Poets Department" will have 16 songs, four bonus tracks, and two features.

  • The title may be a reference to Joe Alwyn, Swift's ex-boyfriend of six years.

Taylor Swift's 11th studio album is on the horizon.

While onstage at the 2024 Grammy Awards to accept the award for best pop vocal album, which she won for her 2022 release "Midnights," Swift announced that a brand new album titled "The Tortured Poets Department" will arrive on Friday, April 19.

"This is my 13th Grammy, which is my lucky number," she said onstage. "I don't know if I've ever told you that."

"I want to say thank you to the members of the Recording Academy for voting this way, but I know that the way that the Recording Academy voted is a direct reflection of the passion of the fans," Swift continued. "So I want to say thank you to the fans by telling you a secret that I have been keeping from you for the last two years."

Shortly after leaving the stage, Swift shared the album cover on social media.

She also shared a prologue, which may include unreleased lyrics: "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 veins of pitch black ink."

"All's fair in love and poetry," she concluded. "Sincerely, The Chairman of The Tortured Poets Department."

This isn't the first time Swift has used an award show to promote a new album; she announced the imminent arrival of "Midnights" while accepting video of the year at the MTV Video Music Awards.

However, the "Poets" reveal shocked fans, who had been anticipating another "Taylor's Version" instead. (Swift still has two installments left in her rerecorded album series: 2017's "Reputation" and her self-titled debut "Taylor Swift.")

Fans immediately began dissecting the announcement for Easter eggs

"The Tortured Poets Department" is a conspicuously wordy phrase for Swift, who tends to prefer one or two-word album titles.

However, the title may be a sly reference to Swift's ex-boyfriend, Joe Alwyn. The actor previously said he was in a group chat with Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott called "The Tortured Man Club."

Mescal also has a connection to Swiftian lore; he dated Phoebe Bridgers, who recorded a duet with Swift for "Red (Taylor Version)." The two became close friends and Bridgers was later booked as an opener for The Eras Tour.

Bridgers seemed to confirm her split from Mescal in early 2023; Swift and Alwyn reportedly broke up around the same time after six years together. One month after the news was made public, Swift was romantically linked to The 1975 front man Matty Healy.

Healy may be another aforementioned muse ("My muses, acquired like bruises") for "The Tortured Poets Department." Before he deleted his Instagram account, Healy shared a photo of himself kissing Bridgers — flanked by her current boyfriend Bo Burnham — with the caption "Gay Poets Society."

Of course, that caption was a cheeky nod to the classic film "Dead Poets Society" — but the movie was released in 1989, famously the same year Swift was born. Given Swift's affection for Easter eggs, it's reasonable to assume it's all connected.

The album will have 16 songs, four bonus tracks, and two features

One day after her album announcement, Swift shared the tracklist on social media.

The 17 song titles are printed next to a photo of Swift with her eyes shut, presumably for the physical copy's back cover. The tagline reads, "I love you, it's ruining my life."

Fans quickly drew a connection to the bridge in "Cruel Summer," the second track on her 2019 album "Lover" ("I love you, ain't that the worst thing you ever heard?").

Indeed, several song titles indicate "The Tortured Poets Department" will be a true breakup album, with callbacks to old love songs in Swift's catalog.

Track three is titled "My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys," which could be another reference to a "Cruel Summer" lyric: "Bad, bad boy, shiny toy with a price / You know that I bought it."

Track five, "So Long, London," is likely a nod to the "Lover" track "London Boy," which fans presume was inspired by Alwyn. (He was born and raised in North London; Swift moved to the English city shortly after they began dating.)

Track seven's title, "Fresh Out the Slammer," is a euphemism for getting out of jail. Back in 2017, Swift compared her partner to a captor on the "Reputation" single "…Ready For It?" ("He can be my jailer, Burton to this Taylor").

The final track on the album's standard edition, "Clara Bow," is named after a silent film-era actor who was described by her biographer David Stenn as "sexually aggressive and confident — a real role model."

clara bow
Clara Bow in "Call Her Savage" (1932).Bettmann/Contributor via Getty Images

"Clara Bow was in charge," Stenn told The Los Angeles Times. "She domesticated the men. She taught men to come to her. She never gave up her autonomy or her independence."

Like Swift's 2020 album "Folklore," the standard edition of "The Tortured Poets Department" will have 16 songs. Alongside the tracklist reveal, she also announced a bonus track titled "The Manuscript."

In the following weeks, Swift unveiled three alternate covers for the album, each featuring another "exclusive" bonus track: "The Bolter," "The Albatross," and "The Black Dog." These songs will only be available on their respective vinyl releases — a familiar strategy to boost first-week sales.

"The Tortured Poets Department" will also include two guest vocalists: Post Malone is featured on track one, "Fortnight," while Florence + the Machine is featured on track eight, "Florida!!!"

Swift has never collaborated with either artist, though Florence's latest album "Dance Fever" was produced by Swift's longtime collaborator Jack Antonoff. As for Malone, he and Swift have been friends since at least 2019.

Swift was partially inspired by the five stages of grief

To prepare fans for "The Tortured Poets Department," Swift curated five distinct playlists for Apple Music.

Each playlist draws a parallel between a new album lyric and one of the stages of grief, as outlined by the famed psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.

"I love you, it's ruining my life" is connected to the first stage: Denial. Swift included romantic songs like "Lavender Haze," "Sweet Nothing," "Lover," and "Wildest Dreams" in this collection.

"This is a list of songs about getting so caught up in the idea of something that you have a hard time seeing the red flags — possibly resulting in moments of denial and maybe a little bit of delusion," she explained in a recorded intro.

The series of playlists continue in this way: "You don't get to tell me about sad" is anger; "Am I allowed to cry?" is bargaining; "Old habits die screaming" is depression. All three phrases are featured on the back covers of the deluxe vinyl editions.

The final playlist shares the title of the album's 13th track: "I Can Do It With a Broken Heart," which represents acceptance, the final stage of grief. It includes songs like "You're On Your Own, Kid," "It's Time to Go," "Clean," and "Begin Again."

"These songs represent making room for more good in your life, making that choice," Swift explained. "Because a lot of time when we lose things, we gain things too."

Swift will release a new music video on Friday

Swift has declined to release any snippets or singles ahead of the album, echoing the quiet rollout strategy that worked so well for "Midnights."

However, she will unveil a music video on the album's release date, just as she did for "Anti-Hero" in 2022.

We don't know yet which song Swift has selected to promote from "The Tortured Poets Department," but we do know its music video is set to premiere on Friday at 8 p.m. ET.

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