Rumors And Spoilers About Taylor Swift's Next Era, The Tortured Poets Department

It's official — a brand new Taylor Swift era is almost upon us, and we could not be more excited. On February 4, the pop superstar announced that she would be dropping a new album in spring 2024. She went on to reveal the moody sepia-toned cover art on her Instagram moments later.

The announcement comes after a huge year for Swift. In 2023, she began her record-breaking Eras Tour, a series of three-hour shows that saw the star performing songs from all of her eras so far. She was also named Time's Person of the Year. In the accompanying interview, she told the outlet, "It feels like the breakthrough moment of my career, happening at 33." Swift's burgeoning romance with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has also generated lots and lots of buzz. In other words, Swift is absolutely everywhere right now, and, with another album on the horizon, her star will only continue to rise.

Naturally, the news of Swift's newest era has already sent Swifties into a tailspin, with memes and fan theories cropping up all over social media. With Swift at the top of her game, her next album is already sure to be nothing short of historic. Here's what we know about Swift's next era so far.

The Tortured Poets Department drops on April 19

Taylor Swift's 11th album, "The Tortured Poets Department," is officially arriving in April 2024. The singer made the announcement during her acceptance speech for the Award for Best Pop Vocal Album of the Year at the 2024 Grammy Awards. "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," she said on stage as she accepted the award, "which is that my brand new album comes out April 19. It's called 'The Tortured Poets Department.'"

The album appeared on Swift's website later that day, available to preorder on CD, cassette, and vinyl. The album cover art teases a very moody 11th album. The front cover features a sepia-toned image of Swift lying on a white bed gripping her body, while the back cover features a similarly toned image of Swift with her hand on her forehead.

The album features 16 tracks and one bonus track

After announcing her upcoming album, Swift took to Instagram to share the back cover of the album, which features the song names of each of the 16 tracks. The art also revealed that Swift has collaborated with both Post Malone and Florence + the Machine for this album.

On side A, the titles are: "Fortnight (feat. Post Malone)," "The Tortured Poets Department," "My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys," and "Down Bad." On side B: "So Long, London," "But Daddy I Love Him," "Fresh Out the Slammer," and "Florida!!! (Florence + the Machine)." On side C: "Guilty as Sin?," "Who's Afraid of Little Old Me?," "I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)," and "loml." And finally, on side D: "I Can Do It With a Broken Heart," "The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived," "The Alchemy," and "Clara Bow," plus a bonus track called "The Manuscript."

This era look may be all about monochromatic glamour and dark academia

As fans know, each Taylor Swift era is not defined only by its music — it's also all about the aesthetic. While Swift has already teased the songs on her upcoming album, she also appeared to tease the overall look that will accompany them. The first clue? The dress she wore to the Grammys. Swift wore a long, structured Schiaparelli gown paired with contrasting black elbow-length gloves. Her colorless cover also seems to point to this era being all about the monochrome.

Fans have also noted that this era may have a touch of dark academia about it, inspired by the poetic album title and the sepia tones in the cover art, along with Swift's recent street looks, which feature a lot of plaid, loafers, and other "schoolgirl" iconography. Swift's jewelry on the night of the Grammys also hinted at an academia vibe. She wore layered silver necklaces by Lorraine Schwartz and a black choker with a watch in the center.

One Swift fan, Sarah Chapelle, author of "Taylor Swift Style," had a different take on the meaning behind her outfits. She noted on Instagram that her album cover outfit hinted at "a combination of both intimacy and guardedness. Soft and vulnerable, but a little careworn and protective."

This will be a very poetic Taylor

One thing we do know about "The Tortured Poets Department" is that it is sure to be — well — poetic. Not only does the album literally have the word "poets" in the title, but Swift also posted a handwritten poem alongside her Instagram announcement about the album's release date. 

"And so I enter into evidence / My tarnished coat of arms / My muses, acquired like bruises / My talismans and charms / The tick, tick, tick of love bombs / My veins of pitch black ink," reads the poem. It then concludes, "All's fair in love and poetry... Sincerely, The Chairman of The Tortured Poets Department." If Swift is the chairman of this department, it's safe to say that this album is sure to be all about poetry.

Swift also got a little poetic on the back cover of the album. Written across the image are the words "I love you" and "it's ruining my life."

Fans have a theory about where she came up with her album name

Pretty soon after Taylor Swift announced the name of her upcoming 11th album, fans realized that it sounded very similar to something they had heard before. As it turns out, Swift's ex-boyfriend, Joe Alwyn, revealed to Variety back in 2022 that he and fellow actors Paul Mescal and Anthony Scott are in a group chat called The Tortured Man Club. Apparently, the chat was started by Scott and is a reference to the characters played by Alwyn and Paul Mescal in two different Sally Rooney adaptations. We have to admit, it does sound pretty similar to "The Tortured Poets Department" — if you ask us!

Fans were quick to theorize that Swift may not only be referencing her ex with her album title but potentially mocking him as well. "Look what you made her do," one fan tweeted. While another wrote, "Joe, you will always be my favorite but your time has come."

Some fans also think the name may be a reference to a 1989 film

While "The Tortured Poets Department" may sound like a reference to Joe Alwyn's group chat, it also sounds an awful lot like the name of a famous film. "The Dead Poets Society," which was released in 1989 (yes, the year of Taylor Swift's birth!), stars Robin Williams as John Keating, a nonconformist English professor who inspires a group of boys by teaching them to enjoy poetry. 

Fans have already been speculating that Swift's new album may be a subtle reference to the classic film. "I think there's something to this," one fan wrote in a Reddit post. Another fan took to X (formerly Twitter), writing, "Did Taylor also see Dead Poets Society at a formative time in her life and briefly make it her entire personality?" Another joked, "Looking forward to Taylor Swift's new album 'The Dead Poets Society.'"

Fans are anticipating plenty of songs about Taylor's ex, Joe Alwyn

Taylor Swift has a reputation for writing about her exes. However, as she once said in an interview, "I have a really strict personal policy that I never name names. And so anybody saying that a song is about a specific person is purely speculating" (via Time). There's a good chance that at least one ex, though unnamed, will appear in "The Tortured Poets Department" — Joe Alwyn. Alwyn and Swift broke up in April 2023 after six years together.

Based on some of the track titles, it seems that Swift may indeed reference Alwyn in the album. For instance, the song "So Long, London" appears to be a direct reference to Alwyn — Swift lived with the British actor in London before their split and even wrote the song "London Boy" about their time together.

It's also worth noting that Swift's new album is set to drop one year to the month after the news of her breakup with Alwyn was announced and, as she revealed during her acceptance speech at the 2024 Grammys, she'd been quietly working on the "Tortured Poets Department" album for two years. 

Silence could just be a theme of The Tortured Poets Department album

Some eagle-eyed fans have hypothesized that "The Tortured Poets Department" could explore the theme of silence, or being silenced. For one thing, there is a song on the album titled "But Daddy I Love Him." As some have noted, this is a direct quote from the Disney classic "The Little Mermaid," in which Ariel gives up her voice to be with a man.

The other hint is the final song, titled "Clara Bow." Clara Bow was a star of silent films in the 1920s and could, therefore, be another reference to a woman without a voice. One fan, who pointed these references out, noted, "Taylor Swift is going to have A LOT to say in The Tortured Poets Department." Perhaps Swift felt silenced in her previous relationship — but this album seems to be an indication that she is ready to speak up. 

Taylor Swift referenced famous poets in another song

While "The Tortured Poets Department" may prove to be Taylor Swift at her most poetic, it's certainly not the first time she has referenced poetry in her music. In "The Lakes," a bonus track on her album "Folklore," Swift sings about the "lakes where all the poets went to die." As Sir Jonathan Bate, an English professor, noted in an article for The Times, this is a reference to the Romantic poets William Wordsworth and Robert Southey. He wrote in the piece, "Taylor Swift is a real poet." In the song "Sweet Nothing" from her album "Midnights," Swift sings, "On the way home / I wrote a poem."

While Swift is known for writing lyrics, she writes poetry, too. In fact, in 2022, a fan posted a screenshot of Swift's poem that won her a national poetry contest in the 4th grade. Maybe Swift has always been Chairman of The Tortured Poets Department. 

Taylor Swift could end up performing songs from the new album on her Eras Tour

One of Taylor Swift's biggest career accomplishments has undoubtedly been her gigantic Eras Tour. The tour, which began in March 2023, has taken her all over the United States. In 2024, she is set to perform internationally in Japan, Australia, Singapore, the U.K., Canada, and all over Europe.

Although the show is pretty much set in stone, there is one section of the show in which she could conceivably perform a few songs from "The Tortured Poets Department" following its April release. Between the "1989" era and the "Midnights" era, Swift plays two surprise acoustic songs. Conceivably, she could play a new song or two live. While it doesn't seem likely, it would also be possible for Swift to add a new section to her Eras Tour in honor of the new album. We'll have to wait and see what Swift chooses to do, but here's hoping!

Taylor Swift planted Easter eggs in her website code

Taylor Swift is undisputedly the queen of Easter eggs. She is known to drop hints for upcoming career moments absolutely everywhere. As she once told Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show," she is always wondering, "How can I hint at things? How far is too far in advance?" Naturally, Swift has been hinting at "The Tortured Poets Department" for a while. 

One of her most recent hints came in the form of a cryptic clue added to her website's code — and of course, her fans spotted it. On February 4, the day of Swift's new album announcement, her official website was taken down. While it was down, suspicious code was added to the page, which some tech-savvy fans spotted. At first, some fans thought the code was pointing to an announcement of "Reputation (Taylor's Version)" because one code read, "In the death of her..." which is a quote from her original "Reputation" tour.

However, another bit of code read "hneriergrd," which fans realized was an anagram of "red herring." There was also a bit of code that read, "DPT: 321," which, spelled backward, is "1, 2, 3: TDP," which could be short for "Tortured Poets Department." Remember, she's only "cryptic and Machiavellian" 'cause she cares!

Taylor Swift may have left a hint about the new era in her Bejeweled music video

An early Easter egg was spotted in Taylor Swift's 2023 music video for the song "Bejeweled." In one scene, Swift holds a pocket watch that reads "exile ends" along with the numbers 3 and 2. The clock hands were pointing to 12. Fans have been speculating about this Easter egg ever since the music video was released. However, fans now think this was an Easter egg about the announcement date of her new album.

For one thing, Swift was wearing a necklace with a watch on it — one fan noted on Twitter that the watch appeared to be set to one minute before midnight — in other words, "right before exile ends." Another fan noted that the numbers displayed on the watch, 3 and 2, could have been spelling out the date February 3 — in other words, the day before the Grammys. 

It's also worth noting that "Exile" is a duet from "Folklore," which Swift wrote with her ex, Joe Alwyn — if her new album signals the end of "exile," perhaps it's a sign that this album will be her way of officially closing the Joe Alwyn chapter of her life.

Taylor Swift's new boyfriend might have also dropped a hint about Taylor's new poetic era

It seems pretty clear that "The Tortured Poets Department" will be about Taylor Swift's breakup with Joe Alwyn. However, that is not to say that her current boyfriend, Kansas City Chiefs' Travis Kelce, won't play a part in the new era. In fact, some fans think he may have been tasked with dropping his own little Easter egg. 

In November 2023, Kelce spoke to the The Wall Street Journal and dropped a few hints about his new relationship. "'Blank Space' was one I wanted to hear live for sure," he said. "'I could make a bad guy good for the weekend.' That's a helluva line!" He revealed that it was miraculous that Swift could make life feel like poetry. He added, "I've never been a man of words. Being around her, seeing how smart Taylor is, has been f***ing mind-blowing. I'm learning every day." Poetry! Could that have been an Easter egg for her new album? Is Kelce "learning" from the Chairman of The Tortured Poets Department herself? Maybe.

The day after Swift made her new album announcement, Kelce was interviewed during the Super Bowl 58 Opening Night. During the interview, he confessed that Swift had actually shown him some of the album already. "I have heard some of it, yes," he said. "And it is unbelievable. I can't wait for her to shake up the world when it finally drops." Kelce made it clear he wouldn't be divulging anything else about the album. "I can't give you anything," he told the press, pretending to zip his mouth shut. "I leave that up to her."