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The Student News Site of the Latin School of Chicago

The Forum

The Student News Site of the Latin School of Chicago

The Forum

The Chairman of The Tortured Poets Department Has Done It Again

lucerolh on DeviantArt
The lettering from Taylor Swift’s newest studio album, “The Tortured Poets Department.”

We’ve experienced many remarkable world events in the past month: an earthquake in New England, the Solar Eclipse, and the release of Taylor Swift’s surprise double album, “The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology.”

Swift announced her new album and its release date when she won her 13th Grammy Award on February 4. Fans suspect that the title is a reference to The Tortured Man Club, Swift’s ex-boyfriend Joe Alwyn’s group chat with fellow actors Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal.

Upon her Grammy acceptance, she emphasized that the album was two years in the making and flashed a peace sign, leading fans to theorize that the number two was another one of her Easter eggs to hint at what the album could entail. The number two’s prevalence continued in the weeks leading up to the album’s release, with clocks set to 2 p.m. at the Tortured Poets Pop-up with Spotify in Los Angeles and new lyrics revealed on social media at 2 p.m.

After much anticipation and speculation, on April 19 at midnight, “The Tortured Poets Department” (TTPD) was finally released. Two hours later, Swift revealed via Instagram that “TTPD” was actually two albums in one and released 15 additional tracks under its new title, “TTPD: The Anthology.” Some could say she really is a mastermind.

“TTPD” was one for the books as it broke numerous streaming records. Spotify announced that it was streamed over 300 million times in 24 hours, breaking her own record achieved in 2023 with the release of “1989 (Taylor’s Version),” and making it the most-streamed album in a single day in Spotify history.

I ended up enjoying the second installment more than the first. The first half was reminiscent of her previous album “Midnights” because of its synth-pop vibe, while the second half was more acoustic and focused on introspective lyrics and storytelling.

Junior Anika Mansharamani felt similarly, saying, “I like the second half of the album a lot better because it’s more similar to ‘Folklore,’ which is one of my favorite albums.”

However, some listeners preferred the more upbeat tracks. “I wasn’t expecting the double album, and I think it would be a better album if she had kept it to the original 16 songs,” junior Isabella Carney said. “If I had to pick a top three, my favorites are ‘The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived,’ ‘Down Bad,’ and ‘So Long, London,’ which are all from the first installment.”

My first impression of the album was unfortunately not the best. I found “Fortnight (ft. Post Malone),” the album’s single, quite repetitive and boring. However, I love the album’s title track, because its catchy and unique lyrics fit the album well.

Out of the original 16 tracks, there are some hits and misses for me, but “So Long, London” is by far my favorite. I love its synth beat and the emotion in Swift’s voice, especially during the bridge. The intro sounds a little like church or wedding bells, which add to the possible meanings behind the song. “So Long, London” is rumored to be about her breakup with Joe Alwyn, as he lives in London. “London Boy,” one of the songs from her previous album “Lover,” was also rumored to be about Alwyn, so this song acts as its antithesis.

I also loved “Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?” because it’s very haunting and one of the more unique songs on the album.

Senior Zoe Larsen said, “I liked ‘Fortnight’ and ‘Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?’ because they stuck out and sounded different.”

As for the second installment, many of the songs reflect on Swift’s own recent experience with heartbreak, which is something we haven’t gotten from her since “Red” back in 2012. These songs feel more mature, and they’re refreshing to listen to compared to some of her earlier breakup songs. “How Did It End?” is one of my favorites and a great example of that. I also love “I Hate It Here”: a relatable song about escapism through imagination and media.

One of my biggest critiques of this album as a whole is that many of the songs ended up blending together, especially upon my first listen. Junior Madelyn Starr said, “All of the songs sound pretty similar; only a couple of them stood out to me.”

Zoe agreed. “The album wasn’t very memorable for me, because the songs all sounded the same,” she said.

I had to listen to the album multiple times to remember what each song sounded like individually, but the more I listened, the more I came to love it. While it isn’t one of my favorites, I loved hearing a new side of Swift’s songwriting, and I’ve been playing this album on repeat.

If you haven’t already done so, I would recommend carving two hours and two minutes out of your day to give “The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology” a listen. And for the full experience, rewatch the 1989 classic “Dead Poets Society” when you’re done.

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About the Contributor
Natasha Benjamin
Natasha Benjamin, Arts Editor
Natasha Benjamin ('25) is excited to serve as an arts editor this year! This is her third year writing for The Forum, and she enjoys writing film reviews and covering student opinions. She can’t wait to continue to share her passions and interests with the Latin community. Beyond The Forum, Natasha is on the basketball team, plays piano, and loves to consume media in all its forms.

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