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What we know about 'The Tortured Poets Department,' according to Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift performing the 'Eras Tour' in Sydney in February. (Don Arnold / TAS24 / Getty Images via CNN Newsource) Taylor Swift performing the 'Eras Tour' in Sydney in February. (Don Arnold / TAS24 / Getty Images via CNN Newsource)
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Taylor Swift, the self-professed “Chairman of the Tortured Poets Department,” will soon call into session a meeting where she’ll release her latest album.

For the most part, Swift has kept a lot of details about the album close to the chest, but as cryptic as she’s been while rolling out her 11th studio album, there are still some things we can glean about “The Tortured Poets Department” from Swift herself.

Let’s start with what we know for sure: “The Tortured Poets Department” will be out on Friday at midnight Eastern, or on Thursday at 9 p.m. if you’re on the West Coast, and the first music video – the song for which is still a mystery – will be released Friday at 8 p.m. EDT after the album is released.

The songs

The album includes 16 tracks and one bonus track titled “The Manuscript,” and features collaborations with Post Malone on a track titled “Fortnight” and with Florence + The Machine on a track titled “Florida!!!”

Three vinyl variants will also be available for purchase, each featuring a different bonus track: “The Bolter,” “The Albatross,” “The Black Dog.”

The timetable

When Swift first announced the album in February while accepting a Grammy award for best pop vocal album for 2022’s “Midnights,” she revealed that she’s been keeping this album a “secret” for the last two years.

A few days later during an “Eras Tour” concert in Tokyo, Swift told her audience that she began working on “Tortured Poets” immediately after she finished “Midnights.”

“I kept working on it throughout the US tour and when it was perfect, in my opinion, when it was good enough for you, I finished it,” she said at the time, according to footage from the show posted to social media.

The theme

Swift also spoke about how much this album means to her during an “Eras Tour” concert in Melbourne in February, saying “Tortured Poets” is an album that “more than any of my albums that I ever made, I needed to make it.”

“It was really a lifeline for me. Just the things I was going through, the things I was writing about it was like, it kind of reminded me why songwriting is something that actually gets me through my life,” video footage posted to social media from the concert showed. “I’ve never had an album where I needed songwriting more than I needed it on ‘Tortured Poets.’”

She stopped short of revealing anything about what the music will actually sound like, but all signs point to the album being about heartbreak, which can take on many forms.

The mood

To connect the dots: Earlier this month, Swift created a series of playlists for Apple Music about the five stages of heartbreak. Each playlist includes songs from her catalog of music that fit each stage: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

The titles of each playlist are lyrics that Swift had previously teased in various Instagram posts.

With the exception of 2020’s “Folklore,” Swift’s albums are typically autobiographical in nature and her romantic relationships tend to be a recurring topic.

Swift does not appear to be experiencing any heartbreak in her current relationship with three-time Super Bowl champ Travis Kelce. Before Kelce, Swift was dating actor Joe Alwyn and in April 2023, CNN reported that their six-year relationship had ended.

Knowing what Swift had shared about when she actually wrote this album, we can all take from that what we will.

With that said, the feeling of heartbreak isn’t only limited to romance. It could really mean anything, so we’ll just leave a blank space for that.

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