Taylor Swift's The Tortured Poets Department Tracklist Has All Eyes On Joe Alwyn

If Taylor Swift's 2024 Grammys speeches had you thinking of her ex, Joe Alwyn, then you might be on to something. Swift made history when she announced her upcoming album release while accepting the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album. Swift revealed that this previously top-secret album has been two years in the making, adding: "It's called 'The Tortured Poets Department.' I'm going to go and post the cover right now backstage" (via the Associated Press). 

The timetable and unique album title that Swift announced may be a clue regarding the content of the upcoming album. Swift has also released the titles of the 17 tracks on the album, and many of them sound like they could be breakup songs, including "My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys," "I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)," and "I Can Do It With a Broken Heart."

Rumors first began swirling that Swift and Alwyn were an item in the fall of 2016. While there's been no confirmation of a cut-and-dry breakup date, many fans believe that the relationship was on its last legs in 2021, since that's when she wrote "You're Losing Me." The breakup was officially announced in April 2023. Since she worked on this album for two years, she likely started the project in early 2022, which points to this being a breakup album. As is true with many of the things that Swift does, there's plenty for her fans to unpack with the announcement of this new album including all the ways it can be linked to her ex. 

What does The Tortured Poets Department mean?

Just as she promised on the Grammys stage, Taylor Swift quickly headed to Instagram to share the album cover for "The Tortured Poets Department" with the caption, "All's fair in love and poetry." This twist on the famous saying replaces the word "war" with "poetry," implying that she may not be nice on this album. 

Now that the track list has been revealed, the specific love and war that this album will revolve around seems clear. Swift's 2019 album, "Lover," features songs about Alwyn, and some fans have noted that the back of the new album looks like a melancholy version of the back of "Lover." The black and white image of Swift on the new album features a heartbreaking statement: "I love you. It's ruining my life."

One thing that immediately stands out about the album announcement is the title. All of her previous album titles contain just one or two words. The long, complex title, "The Tortured Poets Department," sticks out among her body of work, indicating that it may be different from her previous albums. It also seemingly makes a clear reference to Alwyn who has mentioned being in a WhatsApp group chat called the "Tortured Man Club" with fellow actors Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott. In a 2022 interview with Variety, Alwyn noted, "It hasn't had much use recently," to which Mescal joked, "I feel like we're less tortured now." 

The song titles that already point toward Joe Alwyn

With 17 songs, there's going to be more than enough content to explore when "The Tortured Poets Department" comes out on April 19. Just based on the titles, though, a few things are already clear. Taylor Swift's 2019 album, "Lover," has a song called "London Boy." The pop star was dating Joe Alwyn at this time, who lived in London. This made it safe to assume that this song was about her then-boyfriend. Swift is known for putting special importance on the fifth track on each of her albums. The fifth track on her new album will be called "So Long, London," so it's easy to draw conclusions about what this might mean. 

Two other song titles stick out in the context of what we know about her relationship with Alwyn. Over the years, Swift has been known to have high-profile romances and discuss them openly in her music. Her six-year relationship with Alwyn, though, was much more private. One song on the new album is called, "But Daddy I Love Him," which is what Ariel says in "The Little Mermaid" when giving up her voice for the man she loves. The album's final song before the bonus track is titled "Clara Bow." This references the silent film star of the same name who transitioned to "talkies" aka movies with sound. So, some of this album may be about Swift giving up her voice for Alwyn, but now she's getting it back.