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

I was beyond excited about Taylor Swift’s new album. While I love all of her music, I was especially excited about The Tortured Poets Department because of my affinity for poetry and the humanities. With the word “poets” in the title of the entire album, my expectations were high. I hoped–and believed–that the lyrics and depth of the album were going to be similar to the ones in Folklore and Evermore, as those sister albums already were incredibly descriptive and authentic, and included narratives of a variety of characters. Even in one of the songs on the Folklore album, Taylor mentions another poet: William Wordsworth. Because of the title, and the aesthetic quality of the photos on the album covers, I honestly believed that TTPD was going to be my favorite TS album yet. However, when the album dropped at midnight last week, I was blown away–and not for a good reason. 

One of the biggest attributes I admire about Taylor Swift is how she never failed to empower herself or those around her. In speeches, music videos, short films, and most importantly her lyrics. She expertly weaves positive, wholesome messages into even the most heartbreaking of songs and consistently flips the narrative to empower herself and her listeners. In TTPD, there is absolutely no positivity. No empowerment. No beneficial narratives. Nearly the entirety of the double album (31 songs) is focused on various breakups, and the remaining songs are either Taylor passive-aggressively commenting on her concerning mental health and its effects on her career or stringing together random sports metaphors to talk about her and Travis Kelce’s sex life. From start to finish, the double album is a sour rumination on Taylor’s lack of true satisfaction with her life and is full of bitterness; not only towards her ex-boyfriends, but herself and also her fans. 

Additionally, all of the songs each have the same monotonous sound and tone. There is very little variation in key, and even the songs about her current relationship are still relatively downbeat. Overall, the album is not just incredibly dark–which in and of itself is already not the most appealing–but also passively works to enable problematic behavior. Although it may not be obvious to some listeners, there seemed to be repetitive mentions of toxic, unhealthy behaviors and mindsets that Taylor merely ruminated on and made herself out to be the victim of. While art is meant to be expressive and genuine to the human experience, I believe that this album crossed a line. Although the songs may have been a therapeutic release for Taylor, they are not only uncreative in lyrics and word choice, but also sending mixed, harmful messages to listeners. 

Oftentimes, it is not apparent the negative effects that various media have on us, yet the unfortunate consequences are surely there. What we take into our consciousness has an incredible influence on our well-being and ultimately has the subtle power to affect our moods, choices, and health. As I tried to convince myself to like the album, I tried listening to what could be categorized as songs with a more upbeat melody like “Down Bad” and “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart.” However, I noticed that my mood and emotions were gradually going down as I was listening. Upon reflection, I realized that I had been humming along to lyrics like “I might just die it would make no difference,” “I’m so depressed,” “lights, camera, bitch smile even when you wanna die,” and “I’m miserable and no one even knows”. These phrases, along with many, many more, are what were subconsciously making their way into my mind. While I think that Taylor should process her emotions, I do not think that it is suitable to be sending such concerning messages without any resolution or acknowledgment. For someone who usually has such positive, powerful, and genuine lyrics, this album was certainly a rude awakening for me to realize that even my idols are miles and miles away from being worthy of idealization.

Lastly, the lyrics are just. Plain. Awful. From the superstar who brought us songs like “You’re on Your Own Kid” and “Invisible String” and lyrics like “I bathe in cliffside pools / with my calamitous love and insurmountable grief” and “there goes the maddest woman this town has ever seen / she had a marvelous time ruining everything,” we now have the songs of “The Alchemy” and “So High School”. I will give Taylor this, the songs are relatively true to their name as they are incredibly torturous. It is straight-up painful to hear a grown woman in her thirties sing to her boyfriend of mere months, “Touch me while your bros play Grand Theft Auto.” Everything about that single lyric is repulsive. From the use of “bros” to the mention of an imbecile video game, to the fact that the thirty-four-year-old “Time Magazine Person of the Year” is asking to be fondled like she is an immature high schooler who’s never had sex before, the lyric is straight up garbage. (Side note: she did indeed rhyme “Grand Theft Auto” to “Aristotle” which makes the entire ordeal even worse). In “The Alchemy,” she sings: “Touch down, call the amateurs and cut ‘em from the team,” “these blokes warm the benches, we been on a winning streak,” “shirts off, and your friends lift you up over their heads/beer sticking to the floor, cheers chanted ‘cause they said / there was no chance, tryna be the greatest in the league/where’s the trophy.” I genuinely have no words for these lyrics. How is this the woman who wrote, “You taught me a secret language I can’t speak with anyone else/and you know damn well for you I would ruin myself”? To me, it seems as though she is trying to force something that would be best left alone. Yes, the whole world knows that Travis plays professional football, and yes, she is a billionaire pop star. However, in no way does that dictate a need for a cringey song essentially about how she is the nerdy, needy girl and he is the big, manly man that completes her.

I strongly believe that if she had stayed true to herself and her message, the girl who wrote “Back to December” would never have produced such a wretched record. Honestly, I could go on for even longer as to why I utterly despise TTPD, but to sum it all up here it is, the album is a pathetic, ill-conceived attempt of Taylor’s to be relatable and speak to society on its dysfunctional level, yet does nothing but expose her deep-rooted attachment issues and justify her dysfunctional behavior to paint herself as a victim of her exes, family, and fans. 
P.S. almost 31 songs on one album about breakups is excessive. Even for Taylor.

Natalia Jacuch

Holy Cross '27

Natalia is a dedicated and ambitious first year student at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. From a young age, she has had a passion for creative writing and journalism, and she anticipates to declare an English major at the college in the spring. A New Hampshire native, she loves to spend time with her mom at the bay, go striper fishing, and go on adventures. She also enjoys making Taylor Swift friendship bracelets and playing card games with friends.