Taylor Swift shook up the Grammys this weekend, winning not only Album of the Year for Midnights but also dropping some incredible news. Wearing her classic red lipstick and a wicked grin, Taylor announced that her 11th new album (and officially her 15th career album release) The Tortured Poets Department will be out April 19. Like all Swiftian announcements, there’s more to know than just the name and date.

“Red Herring”

Predicting when Taylor will announce a project is a full-time job for many Swifties excited to decode the rerecording process and Taylor’s unpredictable album cycle. While some theories hold up better than others—like Taylor announcing something about every 112 days and the current 2:1 rerecording to new album pattern—so far no one has been able to predict when Taylor will announce reputation (Taylor’s Version).

It seems no one has more fun watching Swifties get these particular predictions wrong than Taylor herself. Taylor appeared at the Grammys in a strapless Schiaparelli gown with a thigh-high slit and black opera gloves. The black-and-white look, complete with an edgy array of accessories including chains, a clock choker, and a wavy side-swept hairstyle had fans screaming “reputation.”

Meanwhile, Taylor’s website was locked down, leaving only an error message. “Error 321 Backend fetch failed. Backend fetch failed. hneriergrd: DPT: 321.” This might seem like nonsense, but there’s more to it than a fake crash. Error 321 is a fax machine error, specifically one with a bad phone connection. “I’m sorry the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now.” Turns out she really couldn’t. No backend fetches of old albums or old Taylors because a new album is on the way. Further down the error message, scrambled letters reveal the word “red herring” (Taylor’s outfit maybe?). And “DPT: 321”? If we rearrange the numbers and letters to count up instead of down, we’re left with TPD, an acronym for The Tortured Poets Department.

The website “crash” also featured hidden words that eventually made up her announcement note and we expect will appear in the new songs.

The Tortured Poets Department

During her acceptance speech for Best Pop Vocal Album (her 13th Grammy), Taylor not only thanked her fans, she shared an exciting secret. “I want to say ‘Thank you’ to the fans by telling you a secret that I’ve been keeping from you for the last two years which is that my brand new album comes out April 19. It’s called The Tortured Poets Department.

While she shared this, Taylor’s website came back to life revealing the album cover as well as the first round of music, CDs, vinyl, and cassettes in white. Holding onto a secret like this for two years makes us feel like this is hardly spilled ink despite the album title.

The Tracklist

The Tortured Poets Department features 16 songs and a bonus track titled “The Manuscript.” With exciting features like Post Malone on “Fortnight” and Florence + The Machine on “Florida!!!” and a tracklist that seems to be dramatic, poetic, and at times unserious, TS11 has people expecting a sound that combines Taylor’s award-winning folklore and Midnights sounds.

Even a quick look at the tracklist reveals some pretty clear references. Taylor famously makes the fifth track of each album the saddest and most vulnerable. Titled “So Long, London,” fans are sure this melancholy track is the death of the playful Lover song “London Boy.” Track 2 is, of course, the titular track of the album. The titles “But Daddy I Love Him” and “Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?” seem to reference films, the first referencing the animated The Little Mermaid (which came out in Taylor’s birth year 1989) and the second Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The final track name drops silent film star Clara Bow.


It wouldn’t be a Taylor Swift announcement without theories swirling about everything from the album and track titles to the release date’s significance. Here are some of those theories in no particular order:

  • The Tortured Poets Department may be inspired by a WhatsApp group with Paul Mescal, Joe Alwyn, and Andrew Scott called “The Tortured Man Club” in reference to their work in Sally Rooney’s book-to-screen adaptations. It may also take inspiration from Dead Poets Society.
  • The album may sound similar to the Midnights vault track “You’re Losing Me” which Jack Antonoff revealed was written on December 5, 2021. That makes the song about two years old despite its semi-recent release, the same amount of time Taylor has been keeping The Tortured Poets Department secret.
  • “Florida!!!” may reference Taylor’s Florida Eras Tour shows which are rumored to be her first post-breakup shows after her relationship with Joe Alwyn ended.
  • “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart” may have a similar concept. In her Time Person of the Year interview last year, Taylor said, “I know I’m going on that stage whether I’m sick, injured, heartbroken, uncomfortable, or stressed. That’s part of my identity as a human being now.” She broke up with Joe mid-Eras Tour.
  • Some fans are making connections to previous songs. “Fresh Out the Slammer” could be a “Getaway Car” follow-up while “So Long, London” is a farewell to “London Boy.”
  • Others have pointed out parallels in the Lover and The Tortured Poets Department back covers. Does the new artwork reflect a relationship drained of its color?
  • Is “Fortnight” Taylor’s final thought on Midnights? Her 2022 concept album was about 13 sleepless nights across her life. Taylor is known for closing the chapter of a previous album with the start of the next one. A fortnight is 14 days.
  • Unsurprisingly, fans want to know the significance of April 19. (Because it can’t be an ordinary Friday, could it?) One fan posed the theory that the reference is an allusion to the start of the American Revolution. This seems a bit heavy-handed, but you never know with Taylor.
  • The Little Mermaid reference in “But Daddy I Love Him” comes from a moment when Ariel argues with her father about giving up the life she knows for Prince Eric. Ariel eventually gives up her voice to be part of Eric’s world. Some fans speculate that this is about Taylor withdrawing from the spotlight and keeping her life and relationship with Joe more private than she had in the past.
  • Referencing Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in the title “Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?” draws us back to reputation. In “…Ready for It?” Taylor sings “He can be my jailer, Burton to this Taylor” comparing her relationship with Joe to Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton which also inspired her original “Wildest Dreams” music video. At the time, this may have implied that the relationship was Taylor’s wildest dream come true, but now, referencing a second Burton and Taylor project, one where they play a bitter couple, she’s showing its end.
  • Fans wonder if “loml” will be as straightforward as it seems. While it typically means “love of my life,” some have shared that she could twist the acronym. “Loss of my life” is one potential change.
  • Taylor has referenced classic Hollywood stars before to share her feelings on life in the spotlight, and “Clara Bow” may be her latest attempt to capture that experience. Clara Bow famously worried about being too popular to be loved or appreciated (similar to Taylor’s “Anti-Hero”) and commented on the hidden struggles of stardom, “All the time the flapper is dancing and laughing, there’s a feeling of tragedy underneath” (“Mirrorball” and “The Lucky One” address this as well).

Spending any time on the Swiftie side of Twitter (X) or TikTok will surely lead you to more theories about The Tortured Poets Department, but the real question now is whether or not we will get to hear one (or more?) of these songs before April 19. We will be taking phone calls via The Tortured Swifties Department for anyone else as desperate to hear these lyrics as we are.

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Veronica Good has been with Showstopper Magazine since 2016. When she isn't keeping you updated on the latest trends, she is at home with her many pets or probably playing The Sims 4. Veronica has a BA in English and an MA in writing from Coastal Carolina University. She is also a writer of fiction and poetry, and her work can be found in Archarios, Tempo, and Scapegoat.