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Taylor Swift May Have Named Her New Album After An Embarrassing Reference To Her Ex Joe Alwyn

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Taylor Swift, Joe Alwyn

Taylor Swift turned heads at the 66th Annual Grammy Awards — not just for winning Album of the Year for "Midnights," but also by announcing the release of her next album, titled, "The Tortured Poets Department."

Swifties know that their beloved pop star imbues almost all her work with double-edged meaning, and her newly announced album is no different.

   

   

The title of Taylor Swift’s new album has a strong connection to her ex, Joe Alwyn.

Choosing to use “The Tortured Poets Department” as a title could easily be a reference to a group text Alwyn is on, the existence of which he revealed in a 2022 interview with British GQ.

The group chat consists of Alwyn and actor Paul Mescal. Both starred in screen adaptations of novels by Sally Rooney: Alwyn in "Conversations with Friends" and Mescal in the hugely popular "Normal People." 

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In the GQ interview, Alwyn discussed the text thread, called The Tortured Man Club. Alwyn noted that the name of their WhatsApp chat referred less to their actual personalities than their respective sad-boy characters, Alwyn’s Nick and Mescal’s Connell.

According to what Alwyn told GQ, The Tortured Man Club group chat “is I guess a reflection on Connell and Nick.”

   

   

Swift and Alwyn started dating in 2016. Their breakup was announced on April 8th, 2023. "The Tortured Poets Department" could be the melancholic and scathing breakup album Swifties have been waiting for. 

It’s entirely plausible that Swift is poking fun at her ex by giving her album an almost identical name to Alwyn’s group chat. 

In her Twitter announcement, Swift included liner notes, penned by the Chairman of the Tortured Poets Department, who we can guess is Swift, herself.

“All’s fair in love and poetry,” the note read, which seems to be rooted in the saying, “All’s fair in love and war.”

The eagle-eyed Swiftie might note that this statement could mean that Swift won’t hold back in what she says, or the tea she spills on how she views Alwyn now that they’re not together.

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She also seems to have included a sneak peek of song lyrics, sharing the lines, “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.”

It would be easy to seek deeper meaning in those words, in connection to Swift's six years with Alwyn. Was he her muse for this album? Did he love-bomb her? Was their breakup less amicable than initially reported?

Six years is a fairly long time for a romantic relationship, especially for people steeped in next-level fame. It’s certainly long enough to learn the emotional intricacies and vulnerabilities of your partner, which could be twisted into ammo in an album about a breakup. 

It’s almost inevitable that Swift will receive backlash for writing about her ex, as part of the tired narrative we’ve all heard before — that she uses her relationships to fuel her songwriting. 

I’d counter that overwrought and misogynist argument by telling Swift’s critics to find any artist who doesn’t use their own life in their creative work. 

Whether Swift’s new album title is a less-than-subtle dig at a man she’s no longer with, or not, she’s bound to be dragged for it. Yet Swift works with extreme consideration of the ripple effects her every move makes, which means she certainly knows exactly what she’s doing in deeming herself a tortured poet.

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers celebrity gossip, pop culture and all things to do with the entertainment industry.