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The Student News Site of Pembroke Pines Charter High School

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Salon 184

“All’s Fair in Love and Poetry,” and in Taylor Swift’s Lyrics and Production

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Marissa Levinson

“Do you really want to know where [Taylor Swift fans were] April [19]th?” (Read in the tune of Midnights track “High Infidelity”)

Whether as one of her 100 million followers on Spotify, one of her 57 million subscribers on YouTube, or one of her listeners of her music elsewhere, fans of Taylor Swift from all ends of the world and all streaming platforms of the app store united to tune in to her 11th studio album, The Tortured Poets Department. This Friday, she recounted “events, opinions and sentiments from a fleeting and fatalistic moment in time,” as expressed in the caption of her Instagram post. She described the prose-like album as “sensational and sorrowful,” which “Swifties” would soon empathize with while experiencing the record for themselves.

As originally announced, the album consisted of 16 songs, but in classic Taylor Swift fashion, she decided one full length release just wasn’t enough. Just two hours upon the standard edition’s debut, The Tortured Poets Department doubled in length, now with a colon following the original end of its title, and The Anthology typed after, marking the project’s continuation. 

Some of the songs begin with a deep breath and sigh, like in “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived,” some end with a voice crack, as in “The Black Dog,” but between the sighs and the cracks, Swift’s disappointment is audible in her voice and lyrics. Throughout the album, she finds herself wanting and expecting more from the person she loves than she receives from them, whether she was not being wedded, likely by Joe Alwyn, boyfriend– now ex, of six years, or being left without a trace in her following romance with Matty Healy. Dating back to 2022, she took to the studio with her pen and paper in hand, as her creativity peaked while, opposingly, her relationships crumbled.

The storytelling and imagery of this album is up to par with Folklore and Evermore, which were infamous for the intricacy of details, but rather than telling the tales of fictional characters August, Betty, or James, she reclaims the narrative of her music and delivers an honest and personal crooning of her own life in first person perspective. 

In its entirety, the project draws similarities to Midnights, her tenth studio album, but a better product in my opinion, with its heavy synths and vocal effects that give its signature pop, sometimes 80s-esque feeling. As a consequence of this, it at times feels as though Taylor is simply singing the lyrics she writes, rather than fulfilling a complete song– one with production variations, melodic changes, and instrumentals as impressive as the lyricism. Had Swift strayed away from solely working with producers Aaron Dessner and Jack Antanoff, who previously co-produced albums such as 1989 and Evermore, the album could have steered into a different direction sonically. 

Despite this, there were songs, such as “Florida!!!,” a collaboration with Florence & the Machine, and “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived” that proved at any given moment, Taylor Swift can step into another genre. In these tracks, she dips her toes into soft rock, with jarring drums and impassioned vocals gaining prominence and stealing the spotlight. 

Fitting to the title, Swift often makes references to poetry, and her numerous allusions prove she is versed in the realm of literature. On The Anthology’s track “So High School,” thought to be a love song dedicated to Travis Kelce, she mentions how she “know[s] Aristotle,” acknowledging her standing as a writer. She also names poets Patti Smith and Dylan Thomas in her metaphors, along with the inclusion of countless other remarks about widely loved literary works

For lovers of piano ballads and heartbreak anthems, “loml” and “So Long, London” are good starts to press play on the album, but if you’re looking for catchy pop music that you’re bound to tap your foot to the beat of and will inevitably replay in your head, “Down Bad” and “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart” are solid choices. Regardless of the song you call your favorite, this record is an emotional journey of healing, through chaos and spite, leading into acceptance and eventually the homecoming of joy. Though many albums often take time to grow on me as a listener, I found myself immediately resonating with this record.

Although The Tortured Poets Department has already been released in its full 31 song, two hours and two minute entirety, fans still have more to anticipate as Taylor Swift will likely promote lead single Fortnight featuring Post Malone, reembark on The Eras Tour, and continue with her rereleases of her past albums. 

Salon 184
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About the Contributor
Marissa Levinson
Marissa Levinson, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Hi! My name is Marissa, and I’m this year’s Arts & Entertainment Editor! As a senior, this is my third and last year in the CHAT staff. I love writing, making jewelry, and spending time with my family, friends, and pets. I am so excited to continue sharing stories that I am passionate about and to further progress my journalistic journey! Feel free to contact me at [email protected] if needed.

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