At the Grammys on Sunday, Taylor Swift announced her 11th album. The Tortured Poets Department is arriving on April 19, which means we can spend the next couple of months applying clown makeup in order to pretend we know anything about the album. We do know a few things for certain, though, and we can speculate about some other parts. Let’s start with what we know and work our way up to baseless theorizing.
It’s a long one
The Tortured Poets Department (TTPD) clocks in at a cool 16 tracks, with a 17th bonus track if you buy a physical copy of the album. If Taylor does what she did for Midnights, those 16 songs are just the beginning. There could be seven-song addendums and remixes and songs “from the vault” that feel suspiciously timed to what she’s going through at that very moment (looking at you, “You’re Losing Me”).
Travis has heard some of the album
In an interview with Extra ahead of the Super Bowl, Travis Kelce revealed that he’s heard at least some of the album. “I have heard some of it, yes, and it’s unbelievable,” he said. “I can’t wait for her to shake up the world when it finally drops.” What a good boyfriend.
TTPD has been in the works for years
At the her first Tokyo Eras tour performance, Taylor explained the timeline of TTPD coming to life. “I’ve been working on Tortured Poets since right after I turned in Midnights,” she said. “You turn in an album months in advance so you can make vinyls … so I started working on it immediately after that, and I’ve been working on it for about two years. I kept working on it throughout the U.S. tour and when it was perfect, in my opinion, when it was good enough for you, I finished it.”
This means that TTPD was in the works from her breakup with Joe Alwyn to her meeting Travis Kelce and encompasses everything in between. What I’m saying is that if we’re lucky, we might get a Matty Healy diss track.
Yeah. Not only is Post Malone on the album, but he’s on “Fortnight,” the first song on the album. Is he one of the tortured poets? If you listen to “Psycho” enough times in a row, you might be able to convince yourself of that. He and Florence and the Machine are the only two featured artists on TTPD, because if Taylor is going to do one thing, it’s bring together some of the most disparate people on earth for her own amusement.
Punctuation is so hot right now
On 1989 (Taylor’s Version), there was a bonus track called “Slut!” Before that, there was the now infamous “ME!” Now, Taylor is going harder than ever on punctuation. We’re looking at not one but two question titles back-to-back — “Guilty As Sin?” and “Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?” — plus the song “Florida!!!,” which is the one that features Florence and the Machine. What is she hinting at? Is her literary era incoming? Hopefully, she has a good editor, one who can tell her that no one has ever been three-exclamation-points excited about the state of Florida.
Joe Alwyn might need to enter witness protection
Not only is April TTPD’s release month, it’s also the anniversary of the announcement of Taylor and Joe Alwyn’s breakup. The couple was together for six years and split because their relationship had “run its course.” Obviously, I do not wish any harm to Mr. Alwyn, but it does seem that Taylor has drawn her pen against him. Song titles like “So Long, London,” “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart,” and “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived” make me think we’re getting a breakup album. If that is the case, then Joe should tap into his group chat with Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott (curiously named “The Tortured Man Club”) and see if he can hide out with one of them for a few weeks this spring.
Taylor has definitely been hanging out with Lana Del Rey
I’m sorry, but so many of the song titles on TTPD sound like Lana discards. What does Taylor know about “But Daddy I Love Him” or “I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)” or “Fresh Out the Slammer”? Even “Florida!!!” makes more sense in Lana’s universe than it does in Taylor’s — that’s where the Men in Music Business Conference was. Lana has long been an inspiration for Taylor (the “I Knew You Were Trouble” music video is basically a PG version of “Ride”), but these tracks make me believe that Taylor and Lana are spending more time together than ever before. Do you think Taylor has ever taken a hit of Lana’s vape?
She loves her old-timey celebrities
The album closes with a song called “Clara Bow.” Bow was an actress whose main claim to fame was being the woman who inspired the phrase It girl. This will be Taylor’s second time singing about some fabulous woman from the first half of the 20th century. The first was Rebecca Harkness in “The Last Great American Dynasty.” It’s kind of shocking she doesn’t have a song called “Bogie and Bacall” yet, but there’s always the next album. At the rate she’s going, we’ll probably have that by Labor Day.
This post has been updated.