Taylor Swift zeroes in on exes in surprise double album ‘Tortured Poets Department’ 

The billionaire artist's latest offering is already poised to smash records

AFP April 19, 2024


Taylor Swift released her highly anticipated record The Tortured Poets Department on Friday -- the 11th studio album from the megastar who is already having a blockbuster year.

"New album THE TORTURED POETS DEPARTMENT. Out now," she wrote on her Instagram account, ending the announcement with a heart emoji. Two hours later she posted: "It's a 2am surprise: The Tortured Poets Department is a secret DOUBLE album. I'd written so much tortured poetry in the past 2 years and wanted to share it all with you, so here's the second installment of TTPD: The Anthology. 15 extra songs. And now the story isn't mine anymore... it's all yours."

Swift had revealed the album's release at the Grammys in February, a night that saw the 34-year-old billionaire win a record-breaking fourth Album of the Year prize.

With the drop of Tortured Poets in the United States at midnight Eastern time (0400 GMT Friday), the artist could be on track for a fifth.

Since her bombshell announcement, her loyal legion of Swifties has been working around the clock shelling out fan predictions.

The working theory is that the album centres on her ex, British actor Joe Alwyn, who Swift dated starting in 2016 until they broke up about a year ago.

Alwyn (The Favourite) and fellow actor Paul Mescal (Normal People) revealed in 2022 that they had a group chat entitled 'The Tortured Man Club', which also included Andrew Scott (Fleabag, Ripley).

The Swifties think their queen's album title is a likely reference to that text circle.

Before their breakup, Alwyn had multiple songwriting credits on her albums under a pen name, William Bowery.

Swift had already revealed the tracklist, with titles including So Long, London, I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can) and The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived.

Florence + The Machine is among those set to make cameos on the album, as is Post Malone, who Swift said Thursday will feature on her first single Fortnight.

"I've been such a huge fan of Post because of the writer he is, his musical experimentation and those melodies he creates that just stick in your head forever," she wrote on Instagram.

Swift said a video companion for the track will come out late Friday after the album drops.

'Shake up the world'

Swift has repeatedly eviscerated her former lovers in song, including dropping lyrical takedowns of John Mayer and Jake Gyllenhaal. Her current beau, Super Bowl-winning NFL player Travis Kelce, has already praised her new work.

"I have heard some of it, yes, and it's unbelievable," he told reporters in February. "I can't wait for her to shake up the world when it finally drops."

Swift has already had an earth-shattering past year or so, staging the first billion-dollar tour with her ongoing series of Eras concerts, breaking myriad chart records and making Grammys history.

Topping the charts with Beyonce

Swift - who was born in Pennsylvania on December 13, 1989 - began writing songs professionally as a teenager, signing with Nashville's Big Machine Records as a country artist. After a highly publicised dispute with Big Machine executives regarding ownership of her first six albums, she made the cunning, risky decision to re-record those albums to own their rights. It paid off, delighting ardent fans, bringing new Swifties into the fold, and earning her renewed respect within the industry. With The Tortured Poets Department, she stands to make waves once more, although she'll face stiff competition from the likes of Beyonce and Billie Eilish next awards season.

Beyonce dropped her latest - the electric, statement-making Cowboy Carter - on March 29. That offered a charts cushion - whether intentional or not - that would allow both her and Swift to notch wins. The two reigning stars are often pitted against each other as rivals although they've repeatedly taken steps over the years to dismiss the notion. They will almost certainly be competing for next year's top Grammys, as will Eilish, whose third album Hit Me Hard and Soft is due out on May 17.

But these wildly wealthy, supremely talented and conversation-commanding artists have all emphasised that at the end of the day, it's about the music. Writing her forthcoming album "kind of reminded me of why songwriting is something that actually gets me through my life," Swift told fans at a recent show.

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