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Verba Volant, Scripta Manent

The Hill News

Verba Volant, Scripta Manent

The Hill News

The Tortured Poets Department awards fans with 31-song epic

Media: Caylie Zigner ’25

Past midnight on April 19, I started listening to Taylor Swift’s newly released album, The Tortured Poets Department. 16 songs and two hours later, I finished writing my review of the album, sent it to my editors, showered, and got into bed, ready for a good night’s sleep. 

Then I made the mistake of checking X (formerly Twitter). 

“It’s a 2 a.m. surprise,” wrote Swift (or rather, probably her PR team) on X. “The Tortured Poets Department is a secret DOUBLE album…here’s the second instalment of TTPD: The Anthology.” 

I just gave up and went to bed. I love this woman to death, but I wasn’t about to stay up until 4 a.m. to listen to her new album. 

So, what’s up with the 31-song double album? Swift herself said that she had, “written so much tortured poetry in the past two years and wanted to share it all with you,” but many are quick to theorize that she simply wanted to take advantage of her historic popularity to break as many records as possible.  

For example, The Tortured Poets Department broke Spotify’s record for most streamed album in a single day, a record previously held by Swift’s last album, Midnights. 

Despite the historic streaming numbers, fans and critics alike are divided on the new album. Some say it proves Swift is “too big to fail,” that it’s too similar in style to previous albums, or that it’s a misstep in exploring new territory. 

However, when you look beyond the criticism and the “brain rot” song titles, you’ll find that The Tortured Poets Department is more than just a lazy attempt at replication. Without the lyrical magic of Red and 1989, the emotional weight of Lover, the fantastical storytelling of Folklore and Evermore, and the edgy playfulness of Midnights, The Tortured Poets Department maintains Swift’s one true secret ingredient: relatability. 

Taylor Alison Swift is one of the greatest artists of all time for one reason. By writing her own experiences into her music, by being vulnerable with her audience, she makes her songs massively relatable. From the upbeat frustration of We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together to the defiant introspection of Anti-Hero, Swift has mastered the art of making her audience feel that we are her. And that is something that hasn’t changed, from her debut to The Tortured Poets Department. 

With 31 songs, maybe not every song is for everyone. And yes, the “1830s but without all the racists” line is kind of silly. But there are some songs–such as the lead single Fortnight, Florida!!! and, my personal favorite, Down Bad–that should become, as Rolling Stone put it, instant classics. 

Anyways, here are some thoughts on my favorites from this album. 

Fortnight: It took me a few listens to warm up to the lead single, but I got there in the end. This song would have fit right into Midnights–a love story without the happy ending of Love Story. It’s simple and rhythmic, and you’ll probably see me karaokeing it soon. Also, Post Malone is great. 

The Tortured Poets Department: This title track perfectly encapsulated the overall vibe of the album, if that’s at all possible for a 31-song album. It changes things up from Swift’s usual style–the kind of experimentation that redefined her career during the Folklore era.  

Down Bad: Probably my favorite song on this album, it’s another song that would fit right into Midnights. “F*ck it if I can’t have him.” Iconic. 

So Long, London: The start of the song is genius. It’s as if you’re listening to a church choir then suddenly, you’re thrust into a faster beat, the quick heartbeat in the back of the song reminding you of the excitement of being in a city like London. This song is like the back cover of Welcome To New York–despite its polar opposite style, it manages to be just as good. 

I Can Do It With a Broken Heart: Reminiscent of 1989-era Taylor Swift, it embodies the defiant heartbreak that is signature of so many of Swift’s most popular songs. Though it starts slow, it very quickly transforms into a very upbeat tune. 

My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys: A classic example of the lyrical genius of Taylor Swift; this song ventures into somewhat unfamiliar territory for her. However, it is simple and catchy and is sure to be a hit. 

loml: This song is great, and it reminds me of All Too Well, but it has the potential to be so much more. It stays low and moody, unlike All Too Well, which explodes in the listener’s ears from time to time. It needs that “AND YOU KEEP MY OLD SCARF FROM THAT VERY FIRST WEEK” moment. 

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About the Contributor
David Sun '24
David Sun '24, Opinion Editor

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