Every Theory About Taylor Swift's 'The Tortured Poets Department' Explained

11 April 2024, 10:01 | Updated: 11 April 2024, 12:40

Unpacking a The Tortured Poets Department theories
Unpacking a The Tortured Poets Department theories. Picture: Getty

By Abbie Reynolds

We're unpacking every theory about Taylor Swift's new album 'The Tortured Poets Department' and its entire tracklist. From ex-boyfriend Joe Alwyn to her fling with Matt Healy the fan theories know no limits, so keep up!

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Since Taylor Swift shook the world by announcing her new album titled ‘Tortured Poets Department’ at the 2024 Grammys fans have been counting down the days until those fresh Swift melodies hit their ears.

And whilst Swifties weren't given too long to wait - literally less than three months - they've managed to spend every waking hour trying to decipher who the album is about, what the title means, what the tracklist is telling us and everything else you might think of ahead of an album launch.

The 'Cruel Summer' singer is known to take a lot of inspiration from her love life and past relationships when penning her songs and this album comes out following her spilt from actor Joe Alwyn and after her short-lived romance with 'The 1975' lead singer Matty Healy. So, naturally these two men have made it into the fan theories.

We know that Taylor is currently happily in love with NFL star Travis Kelce but after seeing the tracklist for 'TTPD' we, like all Swifties, are convinced her new album is about her past loves, so let's dive into some of the best fan theories....

Taylor Swift announced the release of 'The Tortured Poets Department' when she accepted Album Of The Year award for 'Midnights' at the Grammys
Taylor Swift announced the release of 'The Tortured Poets Department' when she accepted Album Of The Year award for 'Midnights' at the Grammys. Picture: Getty

Taylor Swift's album title nod to ex Joe Alwyn

When Taylor announced her album's title it took fans no time at all to link it back to her ex Joe. Back in December 2022, Joe and Paul Mescal revealed to Variety that they had a group chat with Ripley star Andrew Scott that is titled 'The Tortured Man Club'.

I mean, that can't be a coincidence can it? This has fans convinced the entire album is centred around her breakup with Joe.

Saying goodbye to her London Boy

If the album's title wasn't enough to link the project to her six year relationship with Joe, the tracklist certainly is. Taylor released the tracklist just 24-hours after announcing the album and the song titled 'So Long, London' has fans sure she's referencing the Conversations with Friends actor.

'So Long, London' is no.5 on the tracklist and Taylor famously reserves this track for her saddest songs like “Dear John,” on 'Speak Now' “White Horse” on Fearless and “You’re on Your Own, Kid" from 'Midnights'.

The song is more than likely an emotional farewell to one favourite places to be with Joe, who was raised in London. It's common belief that Taylor penned her love letter to the city 'London Boy' about Joe and it seems this track is a broken-hearted follow up to that bop.

Luckily, Travis has promised he will be joining Taylor on the London leg of her Eras Tour so hopefully she'll be feeling some love whilst back in the capital city. Imagine her closing one of her Wembley shows with this track... that would be iconic.

Taylor and Joe were together for six years before they split in 2023
Taylor and Joe were together for six years before they split in 2023. Picture: Getty

Matty Healy's special mention

In between her breakup from Joe and the start of her romance with Travis, Taylor had a short fling with The 1975's frontman. He is probably Taylor's most controversial ex after comments he made about rapper Ice Spice (which he has since apologised for).

Some Swifties are convinced the tracks 'Guilty As Sin?' and 'I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)' have been written about her time with Matty.

'I Can Fix Him' is a frontrunner for a Tay song written about the 'Chocolate' star, with many simply referring to the song as 'Matty Healy (I Can Fix Him)'. On X one fan said: "Not to weigh in on Swiftie discourse but if you think 'I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)' is about Joe Alwyn and not Matt Healy u r dumb."

Others have suggested 'Guilty As Sin?' is about Joe allegedly cheating on her. One fan wrote on X: "My theory is that "guilty as sin?" is about her thinking he's cheating but having no hard evidence."

Another followed suit, saying: "GUILTY AS SIN? this is giving Joe cheating rumours."

Taylor Swift and Matty Healy reportedly started dating in May 2023
Taylor Swift and Matty Healy reportedly started dating in May 2023. Picture: Getty

The Little Mermaid connection to her ex Joe Alwyn

Track 6, titled 'But Daddy I Love Him," is believed to also be about Joe. The quote is a direct reference to a line Ariel says to her father about Prince Eric in the 1989 film, which came out the year Taylor was born.

Via X, one fan said: "But daddy i love him being an exact reference to the little mermaid because of ariel giving up her voice to be with the love of her life.”

Fans link the song to Joe because he is famously a very reserved character and some have even suggested that he may have not wanted Taylor to stay in her career because he hated the spotlight, many have also tied the song 'The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived' to him for this reason.

However, others feel the song is about Harry Styles who has been seen wearing 'The Little Mermaid' t-shirts in the past as well as one that literally has the quote 'but Daddy I love him on it'.

Taylor's single girl era in 'Florida!!!'

'Florida!!!' which features Florence + the Machine comes just after the track 'Fresh Out The Slammer' and fans are sure it is a single girl anthem. Why? Well because Taylor's Eras Tour show in Tampa, Florida was the first concert she did after breaking up with Joe, it was literally 7 days later.

At her show in Tampa she noticeably switched up her setlist, swapping out 'Invisible String', a song littered with romantic references to Joe, for 'The 1' which is about a love that got away.

'The Tortured Poets Department' release date is a clue in itself

All roads on TTPD lead back to Joe. The album comes out on April 19 which happens to be the day fans noticed Tay's besties Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds unfollowed Joe on Instagram.

But what's more, and the Swifties cracked open a history book for this one, the date is also the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord which was part of the American Revolutionary War.

The Americans were fighting their independence from the British... maybe this is an album all about navigating her independence from a British man?

Listen live to Capital, and catch up on any shows you missed, on Global Player.