Fans also speculate that the alternative colors of the vinyl represent different shades of gray as well as the different stages of grief.
Fans also speculate that the alternative colors of the vinyl represent different shades of gray as well as the different stages of grief.
(Photo credit: Ava Radovic/Canva/Achona online)

Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department causes controversy

Taylor Swift shocked her fanbase when she announced her eleventh album, The Tortured Poets Department, set to release on Friday, April 19th. However, with the speculation that surrounds Swift’s new music, comes much scrutiny towards Swift’s newest ex-boyfriend, Joe Alwyn. This comes to show that despite Swift’s ability to dominate the music industry, the media continuously shifts the focus on her personal relationships, which ultimately undermines Swift’s immense talent. 

Since the release of 1989 (Taylor’s Version) fans have been speculating about when Swift would re-record her sixth studio album, Reputation. While the album had earned few awards in comparison to her other albums, Reputation is a fan favorite among Swifties and also includes some of Swift’s most well-liked love songs, including Call It What You Want and King of My Heart. Fans predicted that Swift would announce the re-record of the album at the Grammys, similar to how Swift announced her tenth album, Midnights. However, Swift fooled all fans when she announced the release of a brand-new album, The Tortured Poets Department, as she received the Album of Year Award for Midnights, Swift’s fourth award in the same category across her discography. Swift abruptly posted the new album’s cover, with the handwritten words “I love you, it’s ruining my life”, leading to much controversy relating to the personal events the album covers, as fans immediately placed Joe Alwyn as the person the lyric is referring to. 

The last song the pair wrote together was on Midnights, titled “Sweet Nothing”.
(Photo credit: Ava Radovic/Canva/Achona online)

Taylor Swift dated Joe Alwyn for six to seven years, meeting the British actor in 2016, and reporting the breakup in 2023. The pair began dating during the time Swift was outside the public eye and amidst her conflict with Kanye West. She would go on to dedicate many of her romantic songs to Alwyn on Reputation and Lover, and Alwyn was even a featured songwriter on her Folk albums, Folklore and Evermore. Though the couple was usually private, fans got to see into their love story with Swift’s descriptive songwriting, with songs like London Boy (Alwyn is British), Daylight, Lavender Haze, and Invisible String. Thus, fans were devastated when the couple’s breakup was reported on April 8th, 2023. Since then, many fans have wanted to understand the catalyst of the separation. With speculation across Swift’s fan base, fans have dove deep to understand the meaning behind track titles, along with the timeline of the album when Swift released the tracklist. The tracklist consisted of: “Fortnight” (feat. Post Malone), “The Tortured Poets Department”, “My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys”, “Down Bad”, “So Long, London”, “But Daddy I Love Him”, “Fresh Out the Slammer”, “Florida!!!” (feat. Florence + the Machine), “Guilty As Sin?”, “Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?”, “I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)”, “Loml”, “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart”, “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived”, “The Alchemy”, “Clara Bow”, “The Manuscript”, and “The Black Dog”. Fans have then discussed the relation to songs on the album, such as “So long, London” which alludes to Alwyn’s nationality and could possibly stand as a song to explain the end of the relationship. Another theory studied “Florida!!!” (Featuring Florence + the Machine), as Florida was the first destination Swift performed at post-public breakup. While the theories regarding the songs are endless, there is a common denominator amongst the album’s release, and that is backlash towards Joe Alwyn.


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While minimal information relating to the breakup has been unveiled, fans of Swift immediately began slandering Alwyn’s name and trashing him on the internet. Fans have been seen comparing Alwyn to distasteful figures, such as Disney villains, and even going to the extreme measures of sending death threats to him. While it’s astounding to see anyone receive such hate based on a breakup, this is not the first time this has occurred amongst Swift’s ex-boyfriends. Singer John Mayer, Actor Jake Gyllenhaal, and even boyband member Joe Jonas have previously received scrutiny regarding Swift’s lyrics. Though the events that took place between Swift and her boyfriends were private, the media has decided to attack these celebrities for their actions, despite them occurring several years ago, or out of context. It is to be said however, that Swift has made efforts to repress these threats, as she has previously asked her fans to be mature about her upcoming rerelease of Speak Now, alluding to John Mayer and the song Dear John that is infamously written about him. This goes on to show that this publicity surrounding Swift’s new music also does a great disservice to the men the songs are allegedly about. 

All in all, the impending release of The Tortured Poets Department not only celebrates Swift’s dedication to her music but simultaneously tears down the people attached to her and undermines her musical achievements through the emphasis on her relationships. This album release should be used for fans to resonate with the new songs and respect Swift’s poetic writing abilities, but instead, it often only focuses on who the songs are written about. As music listeners and members of society, fans should take this opportunity to give respect to both parties regarding the release and focus on the musical abilities of the versatile Taylor Swift.

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