Double the Hype- The Tortured Poet Department Double Drop

Album Cover of The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology, distributed by Republic Records.
Album Cover of “The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology”, distributed by Republic Records.
Republic Records

On April 19, Taylor Swift released her 11th studio album called “The Tortured Poets Department”. The album was announced months prior, on Feb. 4 at the Grammys, after her win for Best Pop Vocal Album for her 10th studio album. This built the anticipation of fans, as they started to speculate what the album could possibly be about.

“Even prior to when the album came out when the track list was released and I knew people were speculating about it, I was like ‘oh this is probably not going to be exactly what I think it is. It’s going to be a play on words maybe and things like that’” said Junior Laiel Darbeau.

“The Tortured Poets Department” consisted of 16 songs, lasting one hour and five minutes, dropping at 12 am EST. To the surprise of fans, two hours later, another 15 songs were dropped in a separate album: “The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology”.

“The double drop made me so happy, I was like ‘oh my gosh more songs!’ This one was more than ‘Midnights’ because it was everything from such a long relationship in one album, so it’s given us so much and it’s such a good album,” Sophomore Varrah Gramling said.

The lore and theories surrounding the album added to the interest and excitement from fans, with many thinking the album title was a play off of a group chat called “the tortured man club” that her ex Joe Alywn — whom the album was presumed to be about –had been in.

“I think people wildly speculating online made it more fun, because I feel like if you know the backstory of a song, it makes it more fun to listen to,” junior Sadie McGraw said. 

Fans expected a great deal of emotion within the album because of her long-term relationship coming to an end last year.

“It was such a long relationship, so I think seeing how it was for her through the songs met the expectations fans had of it,” Gramling said.

Having as many albums as Swift has, with each having a different sound and feel, fans found similarities and connections between “The Tortured Poets Department” and her earlier albums. 

“I heard a lot of people say it was going to be like ‘Red’ or ‘Folklore’, but I definitely expected more sounds, like it’s not her most adventurous album melodically but it definitely lyrically is’” Darbeau said.

Not only did some songs sound similar but fans began to draw connections between the lyrics within the songs. 

“For me, I think it’s her best album and I think there’s a lot of songs on there that remind me of her previous albums like ‘The Lucky One’ and ‘Clara Bow’. So I think, for me, it’s more of an album where she’s not holding back anymore. She’s been a little bit tamer in her other albums and she’s said what she needs to say but this is like out there and I love it” Darbeau added. 

With previous albums Swift’s song writing skills help draw her fan base to her music, and the latest album was no exception.

“Half the songs hit and are emotional, while others are like ‘oh this is good and has a fun beat’, which shows the contrasts in her relationships. Everything she writes is always so relatable and her lyrics are something only Taylor Swift can write, they’re just like works of magic” Gramling said.

The experiences and stories Swift depicts through her songs are ones that fans can relate and connect to, adding to their love of the album. 

“Lyrically, she’s very smart and her experiences are unique and her songs are unique even though people on the internet disagree. I think her experiences and songs are unique and like being able to relate to that is amazing” McGraw said.

Other fans like having to dig a little deeper into her words to find the meanings hidden beneath the surface. 

“I love songs that I can’t understand, obviously I love relating to her lyrics but I also think it makes it so much more exciting when I don’t know exactly what she’s trying to say but I can look up a word and be like ‘oh thats what she said’” Darbeau said.

Coming up with only one favorite song proved hard for fans, especially with the album doubling overnight. 

“I love ‘Florida’ and ‘I Can Do It With A Broken Heart’ because her lyrics hit so close and are really relatable for a high school student. In ‘Florida’  I like the beat and how it builds up, relaxes, and builds up again. I loved it, ” Gramling said.

Track five of the album, as many Swifties know, are normally the saddest or most heart wrenching songs for the artist to write. Track five of “The Tortured Poets Department” was titled “So Long London”, presumed to be about Joe Alywn, whom the song “London Boy” off the album “Lover” had been written about.  “So Long London” described the end of that relationship and all the heartbreak that had gone with it. 

“‘So Long London’ is definitely my favorite because of the period of my life that I’m in right now, and ‘The Prophecy’ there are just so many good ones,” McGraw said.

Music is a large part of students’ life and can be a way for some to process situations, helping them find comfort in songs that describe things they can’t. 

“The album is devastating and it definitely came out in a time of my life where we’re going to the same thing and like healing everything,” Darbeau said. “So I think it made me feel less alone and it put words to what I’ve been feeling that I couldn’t put words to, which is something she’s really good at. It has definitely made the process easier because now I have it to listen to and relate to and know that other people are relating to it at the same time.”

By the end of the album fans had a lot to think about, and a whole new album of new songs to relate to, which for some is one of the most important parts of music. 

“I think music is a really big part of how I process stuff so having songs to process along with me I think that’s really comforting. Which is insane, like I’m not going to describe the album as comforting but in a way it is,” McGraw said.

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