The Tortured Poets Department: How Taylor Swift captured modern dating despair

  • By Noor Nanji and Annabel Rackham
  • Cultural reporters

Legend, The Department of Tortured Poets, released Friday, includes 31 songs

For two journalists in their 30s — who also happen to be huge Swifties — there’s a lot about Taylor Swift’s new album that rings true.

Partners who have been with us to comfort meals after a breakup. We’ve all been there, and so has pop’s biggest superstar.

Swift is no stranger to writing about personal topics. And she is by no means the first musician to sing about heartbreak, pain and sorrow.

Perhaps more than any other song on her new album, So Long, London packs the real punch.

"I’m pissed that you let me give you all this youth for free," she laments, in a piece widely considered to be about her ex-partner, Joe Alwyn.

This seems to be a pivotal moment in the album. A moment so raw that you are stopped in your tracks.

Never mind that Swift is a world-famous musician, with A-list friends and a whopping billion-dollar fortune. Beyond all that, she is a 34-year-old woman who understands only too well the anxieties of running out of time to find “The One,” settle down and start a family.

Image source, Rebecca Reid

Legend, Rebecca Reid says Taylor Swift got her through ‘good times and bad’

Rebecca Reid, a Swiftie in her thirties, told BBC News she felt like The Tortured Poets Department could have been written for her.

“With So Long, London, but honestly, in almost every song there’s so much about the idea that you gave your youth to someone and you can’t get it back,” he said. she declared.

“And that’s definitely a feeling that I really resonate with.”

In another song, Take Down Bad, Swift sings: “Now I’m in bad shape, crying at the gym.”

Once again, these are words that strike a chord with many. Who hasn’t experienced the depression of a breakup, which leaves you in tears as you try to go about your daily life?

Other lyrics see her too depressed to get out of bed, while in Manuscripts Swift writes about comforting children’s cereal (what cereal, we wondered).

Image source, Saira Thwaites

Legend, Saira Thwaites grew up with Taylor Swift

For Saira Thwaites, almost 30 years old and a committed Swiftie, the more she listens to the songs, the more she identifies with them.

“His stories are so specific and really encapsulate the numbness and emptiness of a breakup,” she says.

“As I collapsed, I hit the ground / All the pieces of me shattered as the crowd chanted ‘More'”, she sings on the deceptively upbeat I Can Do It With A Broken Heart.

“Swift still experiences dating despair”

“(The song) is about telling everyone that you’re okay, that you’re creative and that you keep going when you’re not really giving yourself the space to heal or grieve, that you need that,” Reid said.

“Again, this is something I can really resonate with because I spent the early period of my breakup as a single parent, being on TV and radio, writing books and telling everyone how great I was and how happy I was when I was, in fact, dealing with one of the worst traumas of my life.”

Helen Brown, music critic at The Independent, says “an entire generation of women” found Swift’s songs to be the soundtrack to their lives.

“By singing about the elusive lure of rings and cribs, Swift expresses the challenges facing a generation that is marrying and having children an average of five years later than in the 1990s,” she told BBC News.

“It’s equally reassuring and alarming to think that even without the financial challenges that most people her age face, Swift still experiences the romantic despair of her peers.

“Like them, she seems overwhelmed by options and describes herself as ghosting as she questions whether she expects too much or too little of herself and her partners.”

Image source, Getty Images

Legend, Swift and Alwyn at the 2020 Golden Globe Awards

In telling the story of modern dating, Swift has never shied away from writing about her exes.

Many read her latest album as a dig particularly at 1975’s Alwyn and Matty Healy, while also touching on her current lover, NFL superstar Travis Kelce.

Her intentions are laid bare in the album’s liner notes, in which she says: “A smirk appears on this poet’s face. Because it’s the worst men I write best about.”

Swift and Alwyn, an actor, split in April 2023. When she later announced the arrival of a new album, fans immediately began speculating that he would handle the fallout.

His choice of the album title echoed a WhatsApp group chat Alwyn had with Normal People star Paul Mescal called The Tortured Man Club, adding to the speculation.

In So Long, London, she hints at marriage plans, singing: “You swore you loved me, but where were the clues, I died on the altar waiting for the proof.”

She also revealed she was devastated to have to leave London, where she had lived with Alwyn – adding that she had “loved” the city.

Another track, But Daddy I Love Him, is also believed to address the discourse that surrounded Swift’s reported but never confirmed romance with 1975s singer Healy last year.

Some fans felt let down by the relationship, saying Healy – who has been accused of misogyny and racism during his career (which he denies) – was an inappropriate choice of partner.

In her song, Swift responds by stating: “I’d rather burn my whole life than listen to one more second of all this bitching and whining / I’ll tell you something about my reputation, it’s mine alone to disgrace.”

Image source, Getty Images

Legend, Swift is now dating American football star Travis Kelce

But is humiliating your exes in public the right thing to do? Brown says it’s a “complicated question.”

“Swift doesn’t name anyone in these songs and her real story has always been mixed with fiction. She’s a storyteller, coming from a country music tradition that has a long history of female stars speaking out against men’s bad behavior,” says -She.

“I would add that while Swift may lash out at her exes, she still holds herself accountable. Since the two exes she appears to be addressing on this album are also songwriters, they have the right to respond in their own work and I suspect they both think all is fair when it comes to love and words.”

The BBC contacted Alywn – who did not respond – and Healy, who was unavailable for comment.

So where does all this leave Swift’s current very public relationship with Kelce?

“Love makes Taylor act like a child.”

Nona Uppal, another devoted Swiftie, told the BBC that while much of the tortured poets department is about despair and heartbreak, it also nods to the happiness Swift feels in a new relationship, which which many people can relate to.

Legend, Nona Uppal is an author and self-proclaimed Swiftie

She points out the song So High School, which she interprets as being about Kelce because it is “about butterflies and doing things that kids would do while watching movies with their friends.”

“I think it captures a whole spectrum of human emotion where love makes Taylor act like a child. And for her, that’s love,” she says.

“And I love the level of vulnerability that it captures, because I think it’s something I identify with pretty strongly.”

Gn entert
News Source : www.bbc.com


With a penchant for words, Eleon Smith began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class. After interning at the New York Times, Smith landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim. Though writing is his passion, Eleon also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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