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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Hofstra chapter.

Taylor Swift released her 11th studio album on April 19th, titled The Tortured Poets Department. In this album, she was able to delve into relationships, past and current, as well as how she feels about being treated poorly by the media. There are many different ways each of her songs could be interpreted, but these are just some of the ways they could be explained.

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Fortnight (feat. Post Malone)

The first single from The Tortured Poets Department, ‘Fortnight,’ focuses on the ending of a relationship and how quickly people can move on. Swift focuses on how she has not moved on from her relationship, while her former boyfriend moved on during a quick period. There is speculation that this song references her past relationship with actor Joe Alwyn. The term “fortnight” is typically used as a synonym for a short passage of time, hence the song title. Taylor is alluding to how one night they were together, and then a fortnight later they were no longer together. Post Malone’s feature on the album, adds to the emphasis on the quickness that her ex-boyfriend was able to move on from their relationship, even though they were together for a long duration of time. The lyrics “I love you, It’s ruining my life” create an even deeper understanding of how Taylor is unable to move on from her relationship to the point she is unable to do anything, hence ruining her life. 

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The Tortured Poets Department

The title of the album, this song hypothetically focuses on Swift’s relationship with Matty Healy, and how although they received a lot of harsh criticism, she did not care about this statement. She pokes fun at many of Healy’s common traits which include his love of typewriters and how he is known for having many tattoos. The common theme that occurs throughout this song is how both Healy and Swift are falling for each other, and they are all in. Jack Antonoff and Lucy Dacus are both included in this song, specifically people whom both Swift and Healy confided in about how much they loved and felt seen by each other. The line “Who’s gonna hold you like me” leads the audience to conclude that Swift was willing to go through the media hysterics as long as she had Healy. This relationship between the two of them is a common theme throughout the album. 

My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys

Track three of the album takes a turn to focus on the ending of Swift’s relationship. In this song, she discusses how this relationship is ending because of the sabotage that the man is playing here. One of the theories is that this song discusses the ending of Swift and Healy’s relationship. Healy does not continue the relationship, because of his desire for Swift and their relationship and has this pattern of sabotaging himself and the relationships. There is an allusion in this song to how Healy did not want Swift to get criticized for dating him, which is the reason why he broke off the relationship himself. This is seen with the lyrics “Told me I’m better off.” Whether or not they were receiving criticism for their relationship, Swift was willing to stay with him regardless. 

Down Bad

Track four of the album focuses on the introduction of the relationship, when someone gets intense feelings for another person, but does not know if the feeling is mutual. Swift describes how this partner treated her, to the point where she fell for him, but then the relationship does not follow through. She describes this pain using the simile, “like I lost my twin.” This creates an even more powerful description of how much she wanted this relationship for herself and needed it for herself. This type of intense longing and love is a motif in many of Swift’s songs.

So Long, London

The fifth song of Swift’s albums is known for being devastating and sad. This song describes the end of Swift’s relationship with her longtime boyfriend, Joe Alwyn. She uses London as a placeholder for Alwyn as a way to say goodbye. Although the relationship has ended, she had seen it coming for a long time but her boyfriend had seemed blindsided and blamed it on Swift. She was the one making the most effort to keep the relationship afloat and was waiting for him to see it. Now that she was leaving the relationship, she was fully understanding the extent of how exhausted she was just by being in a relationship with Alwyn. The most devastating lyric of the song, “I’m just getting color back,” truly shows just how drained she was of the relationship.

But Daddy I Love Him

Again going back to Swift’s relationship with Healy, she is drawing from the famous quote in The Notebook, “But Daddy I Love Him” to show how sure she was that Healy was meant to be with her. She makes it known that she does not care that all of her fans were disgusted by her relationship, and hated that she was with Healy. She discusses how scandal just brings people closer together and how she would rather have an entire group of people not be her fans any more than not be with him anymore. Swift is saying that she would be bold and exclaim how she is with him, even though she would receive immense feedback on it. She even breaks the fourth wall through this song by saying “You should see your faces,” which creates a space for her fans to look back and think about whether or not they were right for critiquing her own lives. 

Fresh Out the Slammer

Track seven of the album refers to the ending of Alwyn and Swift’s relationship and how it led her to feel as if she was escaping jail. It also ties back to songs in her previous albums and the visuals she provides, specifically eating dinner in silence in ‘Tolerate It’. She also brings up the motifs of gray and blue and how both of these colors signify the ending of a relationship. This song also focuses on how Swift has a person in her head who she wants to rekindle a flame with now that she is out of this toxic relationship that caused her to lose herself. She now feels like she has a handle on how to be better in a relationship with someone else. She keeps telling herself “It’s gonna be alright I did my time,” to allow herself to feel that she won’t get hurt as she had with Alwyn.

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

Swift has been known for saying that Florida is an escape for many people, and for her, it means exactly that. After her breakup with Joe Alwyn was publicly announced her first performance was in Florida, hence this song. She also refers to how people have publicly said she was a cheater, or how she has been with many men. She plays off of this by saying people have said it so it must be true. Florida is Taylor’s escape and allows her to feel free of the relationship she was in, even though she is still going through a tremendous heartbreak.

Guilty as Sin?

Again, the motifs of this song point to it referencing Swift’s relationship and feelings toward Matty Healy. She is viewing herself as a criminal because she should not be fantasizing about someone she should not have. Whether this is because of how she views herself or because of how her fans perceive her is unclear, but she sings about how she is keeping her feelings hidden “locked inside a vault.” She also has many of these themes throughout the song that point to biblical themes, which in turn tie into the “sin” in the title of the song. Again, Swift makes clear how no matter what people think of her she will still go after what she wants.

Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?

Referencing how the media and the public treat her, track ten explains the story of how Swift got to the point she is at now, with not caring about the media. As a younger artist, she never fought back against the rumors that were circulating about her, as well as the slut shaming. She was always patient and kind no matter the impact these reporters and the rumors had on her, to the point where she could not hold back anymore. This song is an ode to how people are constantly hating on her and the actions she takes, and how everyone dismantles her talents by making her out to be a villain. The theme of the circus that she sings about multiple times is the cover for the music industry and living in the public eye. In this case, Swift’s hypothetical villain arc is due to everyone who treated her badly.

I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)

This song focuses on when someone knows that a person is not a good person, but decides to be with them anyway with the mentality that they could help fix them. In this situation, Swift is telling her fans that when she was with Healy, multiple people disapproved of him because of his past and current actions. There are many references to this song being about Matty Healy, mainly the references to smoking and the references to the target of this song being a musician. Although Swift was most likely singing from her own experience, many people have also felt this way about their love interest.


This heart-wrenching song references the false hope Swift had after going through a rough patch with her ex-boyfriend, Joe Alwyn. After fighting, and then reuniting with each other, she had thought that the relationship would stand the test of time and that Alwyn was the love of her life. The time apart that they had both experienced created a false impression that they would get married, especially with Alwyn reinforcing that she was the love of his life. The most devastating part of the song is the ending where she continues the chorus, but instead of singing “love of my life,” she sings “loss of my life.” This truly helps the audience to understand the pain Swift was going through.

I Can Do It With a Broken Heart

Track thirteen focuses on the aftermath of a breakup, and how Swift still has to carry on with responsibilities and work. She specifically references many times how she was on tour and had to fake her happiness. The lyrics of this song truly reveal how sad she was, but the upbeat nature fully helps take that away, similar to how she was faking her happiness while she was performing each night. This song also reminds her audience that they are never alone and even though she is one of the biggest pop stars, she still goes through difficult times. 

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The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived

This song focuses on how Swift endured a heart-wrenching breakup with Matty Healy. This song is thought to be about him because of the reference to wearing a suit, which he wore nightly on his tour. Throughout this song, she describes how he consistently demeaned her while breaking up with her. By doing this he simultaneously ruined what was supposed to be the best summer of her life as she was touring the United States. She describes Matty as someone who had it out for her and if his goal was to kill her. The bridge of this song is the most powerful part of the song with many references to how she has no desire to get him back but just to destroy him and figure out why he treated her terribly after she would have given everything up for him.

The Alchemy

One of the happier songs on the album, ‘The Alchemy’ focuses on Taylor’s newer and current relationship with Travis Kelce, who is a tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs. She describes how it feels to be finally happy in a relationship where her boyfriend is happy to be with her and treats her like a trophy. She uses alchemy as a reference to the chemical bond between her and Kelce. This is a reason why they would fight for what feels right. Swift’s referencing how rare it is for her to feel this happy makes her soak up the feelings that she is currently experiencing. 

Clara Bow

The final track of The Tortured Poets Department focuses on the progression of how female singers have been treated throughout their own lives. She touches on how at the beginning of her career, no one in her hometown thought that she would make it, but then she did. Now that she’s made it she has a fear of fading out over time, just like many other previous women artists have. She emphasizes the pressure that the industry places on women to stay beautiful and how it is the reason why people stay relevant. This song truly makes it easier for people to understand the difficulty of being a woman in the music industry.

Although this is just half of the songs that Swift released on April 19th, her feelings and vulnerability that she included in this album make it just that much more of a hit. Be sure to give it a listen if you haven’t already!

Joanna Dugroo

Hofstra '26

Joanna is a sophomore music business student studying at Hofstra University on Long Island. She has a passion for pop culture, music, reading, and theatre!