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The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Tortured Poets Department takes fatalistic approach, reflects real life
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Taylor Swift’s eleventh studio album, “The Tortured Poets Department” (TTPD), was released April 19, 2024 at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST). An additional surprise release was revealed later at 2:00 a.m. EST called “The Anthology,” making it a double album. 

The album was written and produced by Swift, along with acclaimed American singer-songwriters Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner. In comparison to her triumphs over the past year, TTPD is not Swift’s strongest work, but her ability to tell stories and work through tough life transitions makes the album a must-listen.

“TTPD” features two collaborations with other artists. The first collaboration featuring Post Malone, “Fortnight,” opens the album. In an interview with People Magazine, Swift explained that “Fortnight” encapsulates the common themes of the album: “fatalism — longing, pining away, lost dreams.” The song establishes the energy that carries on throughout the rest of the album and hints at the difficult times Swift went through recently. For example, the start of the second verse, “all my mornings are Mondays, stuck in an endless February,” refers to a feeling everyone has felt at some point in time. 

“The Tortured Poets Department,” the namesake song for the album, features a slightly more upbeat tempo, while still keeping the solemn tone. Speculation from fans connects the song to Matthew Healy, an American singer-songwriter and music producer, who was one of Swift’s past boyfriends. Moving past the real-life connections and looking simply at the lyrics, the song seems to say that it’s ok to fool ourselves, as long as we know we’re doing it. Swift hints at this message with lyrics like “I chose this cyclone with you,” and “cause we’re… crazy.” This relates strongly to high schoolers especially; life is so difficult and often there are no good decisions, so they just have to choose what they think is best and live with whatever happens.

A gem of “TTPD” is the song “Down Bad,” the fourth track on the album. The song represents what it feels like to experience “love-bombing,” a new concept in pop culture. “Love-bombing” refers to showing intense attention and affection for someone with the intention of influencing them; in serious cases, it can lead to toxic relationships and manipulation. Swift starts the song singing of “knowing cosmic love,” then transitions into “now I’m down bad crying at the gym, everything comes out teenage petulance.” The song is special because it’s upbeat and relatively light in the sound, but listening to the lyrics tells the story of dating issues in the twenty-first century. Even Taylor Swift, likely the most famous person of this generation, feels the same as teenagers in the midwest. The song humanizes her and connects people regardless of their different situations.

The song “Florida!!!” includes the second collaboration on the album, featuring Florence + The Machine. The song is by far the most energetic on the album, with loud drums representing the three exclamation points from the title. In the same People Magazine article, Swift said the song was inspired by the feeling of wanting to reinvent yourself when your choices do not lead you where you thought they would. Florida is the epitome of starting over; whether it be looking for a new job, a new place to live or new people after a heartbreak.

The eleventh track on the album is called “I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can).” This song deeply relates to the theme of lost dreams as well as jaded naivety. Swift sings of people who convince themselves that they could fix the guy in the relationship, even though they know that it is not working. The lyrics go back and forth on this concept throughout the entire length of the song, until finally in the very last line, she says, “I can fix him, no, really, I can. WOAH – maybe I can’t,” illustrating that some relationships just cannot be fixed. 

Perhaps the saddest song on the double album is “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart.” The song likely refers to Swift and Joe Alwyn’s breakup in April 2023, shortly after the start of “The Era’s Tour,” which was Swift’s international tour for her first ten studio albums. The Spotify video for the song is a montage of moments from Swift’s performances on the tour. The lyrics include “fake it till you make it, and I did,” “he said he’d love me all his life, but that life was too short” and “I cry a lot, but I am so productive.” She performed for many weeks on the tour without letting the end of her six-year relationship affect her work. Swift knew people had been looking forward to her concerts and that she had the ability to make large numbers of people very happy, even though she was not feeling that same happiness.

The entire album, including “The Anthology,” features 31 songs, totaling a listening time of two hours and two minutes. The album is definitely a feat to get through, and may not be a favorite for most fans. The tracks, however, hold deep messages and truths that speak to many, making it worth a listen.

Have you listened to the album? Let us know in the comments below.

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About the Contributor
Sophie Connell
Sophie Connell, News Editor
Senior Sophie Connell is the News Editor for Southpaw and Bearing News. She is a member of the Rock Bridge Bruin Girls Dance team, as well as a Columbia Performing Arts Center Ensemble member. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her dog, Rosie, and watching Gilmore Girls.

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