The Tortured Poets Department: Breaking down every song title in Taylor Swift’s newest album

Decoding the hidden messages behind Taylor Swift's song titles from her new album.

09 February, 2024
The Tortured Poets Department: Breaking down every song title in Taylor Swift’s newest album

Taylor Swift recently announced her latest album, The Tortured Poets Department, which is slated to release on April 19. This bombshell revelation came during her acceptance speech at the Grammys, where she clinched her 13th Grammy win, solidifying her status as the artist with the maximum 'Album of the Year' awards. The singer wasted no time, swiftly (pun intended) unveiling the official track list for the new album, promising fans a musical journey featuring 16 captivating songs, alongside one bonus track.

The artist has been known to embed hidden messages in her music, which is why it didn’t take long for Swifties to decipher the hidden meaning behind each song title. Let’s delve into the hidden meanings (according to fans) behind each of Taylor Swift's new song titles.

1. Fortnight (feat. Post Malone)

Swifties believe this song is about Taylor Swift’s ex, Joe Alwyn–the “London Boy” who had an entire album (‘Lover’) dedicated to him. Fans believe that ‘Fortnight’ could chronicle a turbulent two-week period during which Joe was deeply engrossed in filming a project, leaving their romance hanging in the balance. Allegedly, their relationship took a sharp turn south during a two-week period aka a “Fortnight”.

2. The Tortured Poets Department

The intrigue transcends further as fans speculate that the title track of Swift's new album may also well be linked to her ex, Joe Alwyn. Back in 2022, Alwyn disclosed being part of a WhatsApp group called "The Tortured Man Club". Swifties were quick to draw parallels between the group's title and the name of Taylor's song, adding another layer of mystery to the album's narrative.

3. My Boy Only Breaks His Favourite Toys

Taylor’s most popular track, “Cruel Summer” might have just gotten its follow-up! In “Cruel Summer,” Taylor sings the line, “Bad, bad boy, shiny toy with a price.” Do we want a sequel to this smash hit single? Yes, please!

4. Down Bad

According to Urban Dictionary, being "down bad" involves sacrificing one’s morals and reputation to pursue someone romantically. Speculation arises that Taylor Swift's brief fling with Matty Healy post her breakup with Joe Alwyn in spring 2023, might align with this definition. Given Healy's controversial reputation, it's plausible that Swift felt she was "down bad" for him.

5. So Long, London

This one seems like a no-brainer! Fans are convinced that this is a goodbye to ex-boyfriend, Joe Alwyn and all the time they spent together in his home country, London.

6. But Daddy I Love Him

Fans have uncovered connections to the title "But Daddy I Love Him," including nods to ‘The Little Mermaid’. The line originates from the Disney classic, released in Taylor's birth year, 1989. However, speculation swirls that the song may be tied to a different ex: Harry Styles, who notably wore a "But Daddy I Love Him" t-shirt in 2020. What’s cooking?

7. Fresh Out The Slammer

Fans have unearthed parallels between Swift's past lyrics and this song. In "Ready for It," she sings about someone being her "jailer." Then she said, “me locking myself away in my house for years—I’ll never get that time back,” in the TIME issue a few months back after her breakup. It suggests that this track could symbolise her liberation from a relationship that felt confining.

8. Florida!!! (feat. Florence + The Machine)

This track seem like yet another connection to Joe Alwyn. The first concert that Taylor had on the Eras Tour following her breakup was in Tampa, Florida. Videos showing her devastated expression after performing “Lover” that night went viral.

9. Guilty As Sin?

In Taylor Swift's song "Carolina," penned for the movie Where The Crawdads Sing, she croons about being perceived as guilty and sleeping in a liar's bed. Fans speculate that this new song could echo those themes, hinting at a relationship entangled with deceit and mistrust.

10. Who’s Afraid Of Little Old Me

Fans speculate that this song could be referencing the classic play and movie "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf". Notably, Taylor Swift mentioned the film's stars, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, in her song "Ready for It." The play's plot revolves around a couple whose relationship is falling apart, prompting comparisons to Swift's lyrical themes.

11. I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)

One fan's tweet suggests that the song "I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)" is heavily associated with Matty Healy. Swift faced criticism for dating Healy, who has a history of controversies. Speculation arose that she may have sought to "fix him" and shape him into a better person.

12. loml

"LOML" stands for love of my life. Could this be the first-ever song Taylor has written for her current boyfriend, Travis Kelce?

13. I Can Do It With A Broken Heart

In a rare interview with Time, Taylor expressed her determination to push through with her career and Eras Tour regardless of personal challenges. "I know I'm going on that stage whether I'm sick, injured, heartbroken, uncomfortable, or stressed," she said. Swifties believe this song could be about Taylor’s perseverance after her breakup.

14. The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived

Fans think this song could reference Joe Alwyn and his alleged desire to keep their relationship private. They believe Swift and Alwyn’s decision to keep their romance private could have been driven by his preference, portraying him as a "small man" in the context of the song's narrative.

15. The Alchemy

Fans have observed that "alchemy" means transforming something into gold, a metaphor Swift previously used to describe her relationship with Alwyn. In "Daylight," she sings, "I used to think love would be burning red but it’s golden," highlighting the potential significance of "alchemy" in her new song.

16. Clara Bow

Clara Bow was a prominent actress of the silent film era, who earned the title of being the "It Girl" in the 1920s. Fans speculate that Taylor Swift may be drawing parallels between her own life and Clara Bow's. The actress’ personal life often became fodder for tabloids, with some labelling her as more "brazen" than her contemporaries. Eventually, Bow faced a breakdown and retreated from Hollywood to prioritise her mental health.

17. The Manuscript

Fans speculate that there could be a connection between "The Manuscript," a bonus track on the album, and "Dear Reader" from Taylor Swift's earlier album, Midnights.

With fans buzzing and theories flying, the anticipation for the album's release on April 19 is at an all-time high. We're counting down the minutes until we can press play and dive into yet another Taylor Swift masterpiece!