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It’s no secret that music producer Jack Antonoff is a god among music producers, having curated just under 50 albums, ranging from movie soundtracks like “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” to albums like Melodrama by Lorde, and most of Lana Del Ray’s albums. Unfortunately, I think the reaction to Taylor Swift’s new album The Tortured Poets Department demonstrates that some Swifties and non-fans alike are right when they diss some of his recent work, and call for Taylor Swift to drop him.

Antonoff has actually worked on all of my top Taylor Swift albums: Folklore, Reputation, Lover, 1989/1989 (Taylor’s Version), Evermore, and Red (Taylor’s Version). He’s also produced Midnights and all of the “Taylor’s Version” albums. All this to say, I’m not here to diss Jack, but I’m also not here to say “Jack Antonoff, they could never make me hate you.”

I was paradoxically underwhelmed, yet overwhelmed at the same time listening to TTPD. Upon my first listen to it, I could not help but think a lot of the songs sounded the same. I was expecting Folklore’s sister, but was instead greeted with Folklore’s second cousin, twice removed. I’m not against an artist having a distinct sound, but the synth gets repetitive at some point, having dominated her most recent albums, including Midnights and the 1989 (Taylor’s Version) vault tracks. To me, TTPD was all over the place in terms of lyrics, and I wasn’t loving it. I know the whole shtick was to overwhelm listeners with lyrics, but I think instrumental portions were needed to let the music breathe. Taylor Swift is able to do whatever she wants, date whom she wants, and write about whatever she wants, but I personally think she’s outgrown Jack Antonoff’s sound and many people seem to agree. The lyrics, while relatable to a teenage girl or young adult, don’t fit the mature sound I thought she’d be going for.

Maybe that’s the problem. I expected a lot from this album and was let down. She had all this pressure on her to write an album for both her fans and the recording academy, and couldn’t balance that with the pressure to write these beautiful, mature, poetic, and metaphorical songs. The crowd’s been chanting “more” for a long time, and it’s hard to appease such a rabid fan base to begin with. 

I was relieved listening to The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology to find that the extra 15 songs were exactly what I was hoping for and ended up being most of my favorites off the album. Why? 

Because Jack Antonoff wasn’t labeled a co-writer or co-producer. The National’s Aaron Dessner was. He was given credits on 12 of the 15 “Anthology” tracks, and 5 of the 16 original tracks, which explains why I liked the second half of the album better than the first.

That’s not to say I hated the first half, because that’s simply not true at all. I ranked the album during my initial listen and “imgonnagetyouback,” “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart,” and “Florida!!!” took my top three respectively and Jack is credited on each of those. However, my next nine spots were all taken by songs that have Aaron Dessner credited on them. I think Jack Antonoff is still a fantastic producer, but I think Taylor’s growth as an artist is becoming stunted by him. One middle-of-the-road album won’t ruin a career like her’s, but I think there’s a lot left to be desired from TTPD, and that doesn’t give me much hope for the re-recording of my favorite album, Reputation. There’s some stand out songs, some forgettable ones, and a lot that fall somewhere in between—which is common for most artist’s albums, not just Taylor and Jacks’. Jack Antonoff is honestly a convenient scapegoat for a decent Taylor Swift album. That doesn’t change the fact that I think she’s been with him for far too long, and that it’s time to try something new.

Rhiannon Dyment

Holy Cross '26

Rhiannon Dyment is a sophomore at Holy Cross. She is double majoring in English and Political Science with a concentration in Peace and Conflict Studies. Rhiannon wants to continue on to law school after graduation. Outside of HerCampus she is involved with the Holy Cross Admissions Office, Purple Key Society, Feminist Forum, and Pink Gloves Boxing. Rhiannon loves dogs, warm weather, acai bowls, and playing golf.