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The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

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The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

13 Beats: Tortured Poets Department Highlights

13 Beats: Tortured Poets Department Highlights

Taylor Swift’s newest album, “The Tortured Poets Department,” broke streaming records across multiple platforms. After releasing the record at midnight on April 19, Swift shocked the fans when she dropped a double album, “The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology,” at 2 a.m. the same day. Being a Swiftie myself, I stayed up listening to the original album and the second installment when it dropped. The complete album having 31 songs makes it hard to rank, so for this week’s 13 Beats, I decided to feature my top 13 tracks — as of right now and in chronological order — from the album to give new listeners and Swifties a place to start.

1. “The Tortured Poet’s Department”

The title track of the album, “The Tortured Poet’s Department,” describes a budding relationship between two people, whom many fans believe to be Swift and Matty Healy, the frontman of rock band The 1975. This is the second track on the album, and it features lyrics such as “Who else decodes you?” that frame the detective motif that Swift has promoted the album using.

2. “Down Bad”

Jack Antonoff, one of Swift’s best friends and producers, puts his signature synth sound on this catchy and fan-favorite song. “I’m down bad crying at the gym / Everything comes out teenage petulance,” sings Swift in the chorus about how her lingering feelings for her lover spread to every aspect of her life.

3. “But Daddy I Love Him”

“I know he’s crazy, but he’s the one I want,” sings Swift in this track about trying to convince friends and family why you love someone they may think is not the one. In the song, Swift ultimately decides to reject the judgment of others and focus on her budding romance, singing towards the end of the song, “Scandal does funny things to pride / But brings lovers closer.” Antonoff’s production shines through once again, giving the track a light, pop sound.

4. “Florida!!!” (feat. Florence & The Machine)

Many fans believe this track references Swift’s tour performances in Tampa, Fla., as it was the first show weekend after her breakup with long-time boyfriend actor Joe Alwyn was announced. The song cleverly references places in the state, such as the city of Destin and swamps. The track features the English indie rock band Florence & The Machine, creating a more layered sound that is closer to the alternative genre as opposed to pop. 

5. “Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?”

Swift gives a strong and passionate performance on this track about clapping back at the media. One of my favorite lines from this track is “Put narcotics into all my songs / And that’s why you’re still singing along.” The line presumably references Swift’s haters who love to bash her but still get her songs stuck in their heads.

6. “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart”

“All the pieces of me shattered as the crowd was chanting, ‘More,’” sings Swift in this track, which seems to be about performing on The Eras Tour during her breakup. She dives into the difficulty of keeping a smile on your face when things are falling apart backstage, and I most appreciate how the backing track appears to imitate what Swift hears in her in-ear monitor while she’s performing.

7. “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived”

Swift is known for her strong and hard-hitting bridges — including those created with producer Aaron Dessner — and this track has one that is not shy of that reputation. The song takes a noticeable, emphatic turn as Swift sings lyrics like “I would’ve died for your sins / Instead I just died inside” to emphasize how much she would’ve given her lover if he had not left her.

8. “The Alchemy”

“The Alchemy” appears to detail the beautiful and inevitable chemistry between Swift and her current boyfriend, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. The song uses football references like “touchdown” and “warm the benches” in its lyrics to pay homage to Kelce’s career.

9. “The Albatross”

The slow and careful guitar picking in this track gives it a mysterious and calculated vibe. “She’s the albatross / She is here to destroy you,” sings Swift, relating herself to the strong seabird. 

10. “I Hate It Here”

“I hate it here, so I will go to secret gardens in my mind,” sings Swift about wanting to mentally escape a place you don’t feel accepted or welcome in. She recognizes how many people use books and daydreaming to shake feelings of loneliness, singing “I read about it in a book when I was a precocious child.”

11. “thanK you aIMee”

Swift dedicates this track to “Aimee,” a woman who tried to knock her down but whom Swift is ultimately grateful for because the bullying made her a better person. Fans were quick to notice that the track could be referencing Kim Kardashian and her feud with Swift. There’s a line in the song that says, “I changed your name and any real defining clues,” pointing fans to the title, which only capitalizes the letters of Kardashian’s first name. 

12. “The Prophecy”

“Don’t want money / Just someone who wants my company,” sings Swift in the chorus of this track about wanting love but never getting it. Swift pushes back on the misconception that people who are focused on their careers don’t also want to find love.

13. “The Manuscript”

“The Manuscript” closes out the album on an emotional and longing note. Swift describes reading a “manuscript” or souvenir of a past relationship — the only thing left of it. The last line of the track and album is particularly poignant: “But the story isn’t mine anymore.” This parting lyric left many fans to interpret it as Swift’s declaration that, through the album, she has told them all they need to know to piece together what has happened in that relationship. The entire album is itself “The Manuscript.”

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