Taylor Swift releases her eleventh studio album “The Tortured Poets Department”

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Graphic by Kayla Roberts.

Taylor Swift officially released “The Tortured Poets Department” through the music record label Republic Records on April 19, with many Swifties around the world looking forward to its debut, including those in the UNLV community.

“The Tortured Poets Department” would be the eleventh studio album Swift has released over her entire professional music career. The newly released album was co-written and co-produced by Swift, Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner. It was during Swift’s acceptance speech on Feb. 4 at the 66th Annual Grammy Awards for winning the best pop vocal album with her album “Midnights” in which she had initially announced the release of her new album.

Jessica Shellman, a UNLV student majoring in secondary education, is a Swiftie and shared that she had initially heard of the release on Feb. 4, saying, “I was watching the Grammys live when she announced it! I remember yelling at everyone in the house to be quiet so I could hear her speech and then when she announced TTPD I was losing it. The house was no longer quiet lol.”

Elise Negrin, a secondary education and English major at UNLV, considers herself a Swiftie and shared that she had heard of the announcement live while watching the 2024 Grammy Awards as well.

Riley Wargo, a UNLV student majoring in secondary education with a preference in English, is a Swiftie who had shared her perspective of hearing about the new album for the first time, saying, “I heard about it on Instagram when she announced it at an awards show earlier in the year.” She continued, “Honestly, I was expecting a double album release for Reputation and Debut if anything, so an entire new album was a complete surprise to me! We’ve been experiencing so much with re-releases lately that I practically forgot a completely new album was a possibility!”

In an Instagram post Swift had made on Feb. 4, she included a picture with written text that reads, “And so I enter into evidence [my] tarnished coat of arms [my] muses, acquired like bruises [my] talismans and charms [the] tick, tick, tick of love bombs [my] veins of pitch black ink.” It then continued, saying, “All’s fair in love and poetry…” along with Swift marking her signature as being “The Chairman of The Tortured Poets Department.” 

The album was initially revealed to include 16 tracks, with two of the songs having artist features. Post Malone is listed as being a feature in the album opener and proclaimed first single of the album titled “Fortnight.” Florence and the Machine are also credited as being a feature for the album’s eighth track which is titled “Florida!!!”

Within only hours after the album’s initial release, Swift had announced “a 2 a.m. surprise,” which had revealed an additional fifteen songs that were also a part of the newly released album. When combining both the initial release and the additional songs, “The Tortured Poets Department” added up to a total of 31 songs and considerably makes the new release a double album. In an Instagram post she made following the surprise drop, Swift expressed, “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.” She continued, “And now the story isn’t mine anymore…it’s all yours.”

When asked about how she felt upon learning of the surprise release, Shellman expressed, “Don’t even get me started on the surprise. I don’t think you understand. I was shaking with anticipation. I kept whispering under my breath about how I was losing it. I annoyed everyone around me and had to actually seclude myself so I didn’t annoy anyone else.” She continued, “I thought it was going to be a 24-hour merch drop and I didn’t expect a double album. I didn’t want to clown that hard, so I tried not to believe the theories. I was so excited about the new songs when they dropped.”

As for Wargo, she had not yet finished with listening to the initial songs that came out, sharing, “I was shocked when I found out about the 2 a.m. release because I was still listening to the first half for the first time! I was genuinely listening to ‘loml’ as the news came out via a friend text group chat and instagram!”

Negrin offered her perspective on learning of the surprise at a later time and her speculations regarding a future release of Swift’s, sharing, “When the 2 a.m. edition dropped, I was asleep. So, when I woke up this morning it was one of the first things I witnessed/learned about.” She continued, “To be completely honest I was not that surprised. I do have a theory that goes along with it though. With ‘Midnights’ we got the 3 a.m. version. Now we have a 2 a.m. version. What if on TS 12 we get a 1am version counting us down to Taylor’s 13th album?”

“The Tortured Poets Department” was announced as having four different album cover variants in terms of its physical album formats, and each are disclosed with their own distinctive “file name.” The file names for the four album variants are revealed as being “The Manuscript,” “The Bolter,” “The Albatross” and “The Black Dog.” Each of the four file names are also in correlation with a special bonus song that is distinctly included within each album variant and bear the same title as its album variant’s respective file name. 

Swift’s release of “The Tortured Poets Department” establishes its mark as being her latest studio album to make its official debut. Her last album with entirely new material that was separate from her album re-recording releases was “Midnights,” which made its release on Oct. 21, 2022.

According to Variety, Swift’s “The Tortured Poets Department” album was able to achieve the distinction of “becoming the first album to exceed 200 million streams in a single day” within the history of Spotify.

In regards to first impressions of the album, Wargo expressed, “I love how Taylor is always experimenting with her art: whether it be new sounds and imaginative, metaphorical, symbolic lyricism throughout the work, or music video/promotion content, she is letting the public view her most vulnerable thoughts and stories in an appreciative manner. As always, Taylor’s creative vision is unmatched when it comes to production, photography, merchandise and the like, so I’m always on the lookout for and in awe of her ingenuity!” 

Wargo also shared, “As a whole, I am so proud of Taylor for not only being able to tell her side of things, but for her to do it in this artistic manner is truly something. There are definitely songs I’ll have to review the lyrics for and to see if I like them more, but this album is filled with superb expressionism all the way through.”

When asked to compare her initial assumptions to the actual album, Negrin expressed, “Before I listened to the album, I was thinking it was going to have strong dark academia vibes and be a sister album to ‘Midnights.’ Comparing those assumptions to what the album actually is, I was pretty close.” She continued, “Instead of true dark academia, this album is for the book girlies who prefer fiction over reality, and sometimes wish they were fictional themselves. Instead of a sister album to ‘Midnights,’ it turned out to be a child of ‘folklore,’ ‘1989’ and ‘Midnights.’”

Shellman shared her favorite part about Swift’s album releases, saying, “My favorite part about waiting for a new album is actually seeing other Swifties out in the wild getting excited. I love seeing other people enjoy the same things as I do.” She continued, “Seeing cardigans and eras tour merch everywhere I turn is what excites me most. You can feel the buzz of excitement and I think that’s the best part. It’s a nice reminder that it’s not just me who’s excited.”

Shellman also expressed, “I have to say if I got anything from this experience, it’s that being a Swiftie makes life a little more fun. I feel like I always have something to look forward to.”

In the moments following the initial release, Swift shared in an Instagram post, saying, “This writer is of the firm belief that our tears become holy in the form of ink on a page. Once we have spoken our saddest story, we can be free of it. And then all that’s left behind is the tortured poetry.”
Physical copies of “The Tortured Poets Department” are available on Swift’s official website as well as at Target, Walmart, Barnes and Noble and record stores. “The Tortured Poets Department” is available for streaming on both Apple Music and Spotify.

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