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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FIU chapter.

THE TORTURED POETS DEPARTMENT is finally here. It feels like the album announcement was so long ago, but Taylor Swift did not disappoint. Swift explores everything from events in her life to her inner world. This is her closing a chapter in her life and starting a new one, as said in her Instagram post. Here are my initial thoughts and reactions to the album.

Fortnight (feat. Post Malone)

A fortnight is a period of 14 days. Midnights is the album of 13 sleepless nights. This first track, then, is the 14th sleepless night. In the album’s Amazon Music commentary, Swift says that this is supposed to represent the themes of the album, specifically “fatalism, longing, pinning away, [and] lost dreams.” This song is supposed to be about a person in love with someone they lost and now they just live every day wondering what could have been. Additionally, Swift repeats lyrics like “I want to kill her” and “I want to kill him.” This feels like a call back to evermore’s “no body, no crime (feat. HAIM),” where she talks about killing the husband of her friend Este.

The Tortured Poets Department

As the title track, I kind of expected more during my first listen like with “Speak Now.” But, after a second listen, I enjoyed this one. This song reflects upon a doomed relationship, calling both people “modern idiots.” I also believe that this song is Swift telling people to stop meddling in her personal life and to let her be happy. Swift also name-drops Jack Antonoff, a very close friend of hers whom she confides in.

My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys

This song is about a broken relationship and how the speaker was only seen as a “Barbie” to the subject’s Ken. I also think the speaker is being disillusioned with the relationship in some moments, such as “I know he loves me because he runs from me” and “Once I fix me, he’s gonna miss me.” The song uses the idea that children love a favorite toy until they break it and they no longer want to play with it, which is a metaphor for the speaker being a toy for someone else.

Down Bad

This song is about a short-lived relationship, wherein the subject showed the speaker a new way to live and then left her. I see this song as a darker version of “Love Story” with the desperation she feels, wherein she would rather die than not have him, similar to Romeo and Juliet.

So Long, London

The beginning of this song is absolute perfection with the separation and exaggeration of certain overlapping words and syllables. Swift talks about how she has given up so much of her youth in London. I believe Swift wanted to capture the final moments of a relationship where one person was drifting away. Swift also parallels her song “You’re Losing Me” by talking about stopping CPR and color coming back to her face. Swift also references “willow” by talking about a ship that a man is abandoning when the female is going down with it. In “willow,” the ship had just come in.

But Daddy I Love Him

This song for sure isn’t a reference to The Little Mermaid, as I had previously thought. I kinda hope this is Swift calling Swifties out and asking them to stop criticizing her relationships because she knows what is best for her, not the fans. It can also be about dating a “bad boy” or falling for the wrong type of guy and the unfair judgement dealt to them. Swifties are known for casting judgement on the people Swift dates.

Fresh Out The Slammer

The song starts a more country, old western sound to then transitions to a more upbeat sound. This transition mirrors Swift’s transition from country to pop, as well as the feelings of the protagonist. Swift talks about imaginary rings, which I believe refers to her song “Paper Rings,” maybe meaning the protagonist has just gotten out of a relationship she thought to be end game. The song as a whole seems to be one big metaphor about going from being trapped to being liberated.

Florida!!! (feat. Florence + the Machine)

I don’t even know what to think of this song. Swift references a “shitstorm” in Texas and escaping to Florida, which could easily be the Eras Tour shows in Tampa as they occurred just after the shows in Arlington, Texas. I again looked towards Swift’s explanations on Amazon and Apple Music, where she says this isn’t about a relationship and more about an experience from watching Dateline. It describes the what ifs of what happens when your choices finally catch up to you.

Guilty as Sin?

This song for sure left me blushing with lyrics like “What if he’s written ‘mine’ on my upper thigh only in my mind.” The speaker hasn’t even touched the person, yet she longs to. She believes she could be guilty of something but isn’t convinced, which would explain the question mark in the title. I do believe this is a song exists in the same realm as “Dress”, “False God”, and “Maroon.”

Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?

This song gives me the impression that she is referencing what has been called the “Harry Styles treatment,” which in some ways is her telling people that she will keep writing break-up songs about her exes. For me, this song has a very dark academia vibe and it definitely is a really good one.

I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)

This song talks about Swift telling people she is in a relationship with someone and all of them saying ‘Good luck with that.’ Taylor is responding to those people by saying that she has the skill set to fix him because he is the heaven that she needs. In the end, however, she can’t fix him.


At the beginning of the song, “loml” stands for ‘love of my life,’ but in the last line of the song, Swift says ‘loss of my life.’ She even references her song “the 1” from folklore. Also, I have to ask: does this sound like “White Horse” to anyone else or is it just me?

Taylor Swift Concert Photo 2
Original photo by Kayla Melendez

I Can Do It With a Broken Heart

This is the best song on the entire album, in my opinion. It has an upbeat synth-pop sound which not many songs on the album have, but the lyrics to this song are straight-up sad. Swift talks about being at the Eras Tour, struggling while having to act happy on stage. Essentially, this song is about faking it until you make it.

The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived

Can we talk about the breath at the beginning? Swift sounds like she doesn’t even want to sing the song, but feels she has to. Breaths like these are also found throughout the entire song. Swift talks about a sparkling summer turned to rust. Some lyrics point toward the subject of the song running from her, and that he ghosted her just to dim her sparkle. The subject of the song showed off the speaker, but in private their relationship was toxic. The bridge just keeps building and building in both sound and the venom in her voice. I believe Swift will never forgive the person this song was written about according to the line “And I’ll forget you but I’ll never forgive.”

The Alchemy

Swift says stuff about bench warmers, touchdowns, and trophies- all football terms, meaning it’s almost definitely about her current relationship with Travis Kelce. If this is true, then I am here for it. Swift looks happy and that is what matters in the end.

Clara Bow

In the final track, Swift names Clara Bow, Stevie Nicks, and, in a shocking surprise, herself. Swift is the artist of this era, like Clara Bow and Stevie Nicks. She is cementing herself in history, saying that once she is done, she will still have a legacy. That is also why Swift references looking like Clara or Stevie in certain lights because they are the people that changed generations. As a child, Swift would sit in record stores waiting for a record deal. People would say, ‘Oh, you look like this person but you’re different because of this and this,’ so I also think that this song is a commentary on how Swift views the music industry.

Closing Thoughts

The internet is a crazy place and one thing people have said is that Jack Antonoff is holding Swift back. They’ve been working together since 1989 and have a very close relationship, seeing as Swift did a speech at his wedding. In some ways, I have to agree with these critics, because some songs sound way too much like other songs- “loml” and “So Long, London,” for example. Jack has given this album some good songs, but he might need to experiment more because almost 10 albums later, audiences are still hearing similar things from him. It can get old.

These are just the first 16 tracks. In true Taylor Swift fashion, she dropped another 15 songs two hours after the initial release. Four of them had already been announced to be on certain vinyl editions of the album, but I wasn’t expecting an extra 11 songs to be added. Overall, this is certainly one of my favorite albums from Swift, and gets 4/5 stars from me.

Brooke Johnson is a first year member and writer at the HerCampus Florida International Chapter. She is still figuring out what types of articles she wants to specialize in. Beyond HerCampus Brooke works part-time at TJMaxx. She has also submitted creative writing pieces to her high schools literary magazine but none of them were published. She also has a website with all her favorite creative writing pieces. She is majoring in English-Creative Writing at Florida International University. In her free time, Brooke loves to read and is starting to go to the gym. She also does Color Guard. She has been spinning for eight years both in marching band and winter guard. She is currently marching with the FIU panther band. Brooke loves listening to Taylor Swift and has extensive knowledge of her entire life.