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TTPD: Taylor Swift Can Do It With a Broken Heart

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 Leeds chapter.

It’s not the day to be Joe Alwyn, Matty Healy, Scooter Braun, or Kim Kardashian. But it is the day to be Taylor Swift. Her eleventh studio album broke the Spotify and Amazon Music record for the most-streamed album in a single day and broke Spotify on its release. The Tortured Poets Department has been hotly anticipated since its announcement at the Grammy’s. Swift released a second album, The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology, two hours after the first. The double album explores the past few years of Swift’s life. The end of her six-year relationship with Joe Alwyn, the whirlwind romance with bad-boy Matty Healy, the beginning of the record-breaking Eras Tour and her new relationship with NFL Chief’s tight-end Travis Kelce – there was so much to shed light on. And my god, did Swift deliver. The 31-song album considers the Five Stages of Grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance to deliver an emotional punch that will leave even Swift’s greatest critics floored. 

Her double album has far more of a punk rock edge coupled with her trademark complex lyricism than seen on her last pop album, Midnights. The Tortured Poets Department should be called the older sister of Folklore and Reputation because, in my opinion, as a lifelong fan, Swift’s music never carried such rawness, grief, and pain. By lifting the veil on the aftermath of a series of heartbreaks over the past few years, Swift offers her barest soul for criticism, and for that, she deserves applause. The twists on old lyrics from previous albums and stages of her life, as well as the tragic new versions scattered through each song, are breathtaking. By taking lyrics from Lover and Folklore, both written alongside Joe Alwyn and darkening their tone – for a first-time listener, you can’t help but choke up. 

If you listen to the album in order, you are thrown between emotions and events in a manic rush. This album does not have a lead single or a forgotten catalogue. Each song delivers a specific message, feeling, and moment and only makes sense in the context of each other. However, after finishing the 2-hour and 2-minute anthology, here are my standouts. This is a subjective album; each listener will find comfort and connection with different moments. Ultimately, The Tortured Poets Department is a breakup album. No relationship is ever the same.

  • Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me – a vicious lashing out at the standards, expectations, criticisms, and pressures that dominate the life of a pop star. However, as with any Swift song, it can be re-interpreted into any toxic situation, for example, a lousy friendship or relationship. I can’t stop listening to this song. It has a different sound and tone from any Swift song from previous eras.
  • The Bolter – encapsulates the feeling of freedom of getting out of a relationship that has gone bad. While the lyrics shed light on Swift’s past relationships, I love this song for capturing that moment of relinquishing the burden of an unsolvable relationship. “As she was leaving, it felt like freedom”. 
  • I Can Do It With A Broken Heart – plaster on your fakest smile because that’s what Swift sheds light on in this song. When the news broke of the end of her six-year relationship, many fans attending her concerts captured moments of rawness and tears in vulnerable songs detailing the beginnings of falling in love. But this song exposes the brutality of navigating a heartbreak on a sold-out world tour. Bejewelled meets Mirrorball.
  • The Prophecy – trapped in a cycle of breakups and rushed love, this ballad is a heart-breaking plea for genuine love. Fame and fortune fade into obscurity, and it’s a remarkably poignant statement from a woman with such success and seemingly – everything she could want. 
  • thanK you aIMee – using your accomplishments to stick it to your high school bully – I mean, who can’t relate to that? Admittedly, most of our high school bullies aren’t Kim Kardashian, but we can all relate to doing everything we can to prove: “You were wrong about me”. It’s not bad motivation for success, and in Swift’s case – you have to say, ‘Thank you Kim’. 

As hard as it is to criticise Swift, this album will not appeal to new listeners. The deeply woven lore into every lyric is indecipherable unless you have been a passionate fan for the past ten or even more years. It only cultivates a fan base already stereotyped by the almost over-enthusiastic love of Swift and her music. But maybe that’s the point.

The Tortured Poets Department is a love letter to her fans and a closing of this era of her career and this painful moment in her life. She gives her stories and songs to the world now, having moved on and able to look back and reflect. It’s a hopeful note to end after the absolute devastation of this 31-song masterpiece. 

“Once we have spoken our saddest story, we can be free of it. And then all that’s left behind is the tortured poetry”. – Taylor Swift

Written by: Bella Greenstock

Edited by: Aimee Missen

I’m in my first year at the University of Leeds studying International Relations. I am so proud to be a member of Her Campus and to be able to work alongside such fantastic, talented and supportive women. I love theatre and music, running, podcasts and travel, and of course writing!