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Swifties Decode, Confirm “The Tortured Poets Department” Clues

The Tortured Poets Department vinyls on display at Target April 27.
Ava Miller
“The Tortured Poets Department” vinyl’s on display at Target April 27.

At the Grammys on Feb. 2, Taylor Swift announced her 11th studio album, The Tortured Poets Department. This past week, Swifties all over the world gathered to listen to the album, with some flying across states to attend release parties hosted by friends. 

For the past couple of months, Swift had remained mostly silent on the album, only mentioning it at her Eras Tour shows. There, she revealed that The Bolter, The Albatross, and The Black Dog variants of the album would join The Manuscript edition, with those variant titles matching the bonus song on that specific record. Swifties should know, however, that when it comes to Swift, she always has more than a few tricks up her sleeve. 

The release week chaos began April 16 when a The Tortured Poets Department pop-up library opened to the public at the Groove in Los Angeles. In the library, fans spotted tons of “easter eggs”/clues about what songs on the upcoming album might be about. Some included lace, a potential Stevie Nicks reference, or a symbol of a wedding that never happened, dead flowers that resembled a dead relationship that was once blooming, and small statues of fingers making the peace sign that would later turn out to be a nod to a double album. Also at the library was a book containing lyrics from The Tortured Poets Department. Once a page of the book was turned, a new lyric would appear. The pages flipped twice a day, for the three days the library was open, with lyrics saying, “Even statues crumble if they’re made to wait,” “One less temptress one less dagger to sharpen,” “Lost the game of chance, what are the chances?” “As she was leaving it felt like breathing,” and “Come one, come all, it’s happening again.” Also on April 16, Swift posted a teaser. The teaser started with an asylum-looking hallway that led to a bland white room with two desks and a “Timetable” above one of them. The “Timetable” was a calendar with only two dates: the 19th and 20th. The 19th had “The Tortured Poets Department Release Day” and “8pm ET Music Video release!!” with 14 tally marks underneath it. This was a hint that the music video was going to be for the song Fortnight, because a fortnight is a period of 14 days. On the 20th it said “Record Store Day.” This is a day where exclusive vinyls and CDs are released as a way to celebrate small record store businesses. The next day, April 17, a countdown ending at 2 p.m. the following day appeared on a special website with the URL

In addition, during the few days leading up to the album, there were a few word games organized for Swifties. The first were QR codes all over the world in cities like Chicago, Sydney, and Sao Paulo, that when scanned led to a singular letter, and in the end spelled out forafornight. For another word game, each day one of Swift’s songs would have  all but a few lowercase letters, and those uppercase letters formed a word that after five days put together the phrase “We Hereby Conduct This Mortem.” A post mortem is an examination of something after it’s dead, similar to an autopsy. The phrase was used in the song “How Did It End?” which talks about everyone wanting to know and pick apart how a relationship ended, when Swift doesn’t even know herself why it ended. 

 On April 18, the website and countdown ended up revealing the music video was going to be for track 1 on the album, Fortnight. At 11 p.m. central time the album was available for all to listen. Keeping in mind that the number two had showed up in association with this album since it was announced, it was only somewhat of a shock to Swifties when at 2 a.m. eastern time, 1 a.m. central time, Swift released 15 additional tracks that she called The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology, making The Tortured Poets Department a double album. 

April 19 was the official release day of the album, so Swifties fled to Target to buy the album CD and/or vinyl and take pictures with its display. Some targets even had a giant TTPD vinyl at the front of the store to pose in front of, and outside the store, a ball painted gray with the TTPD logo on it. April 20, Record Store Day, different local record stores had The Tortured Poets Department vinyls for sale, and along with the vinyl, people who purchased also got a printed copy of a note from Swift thanking fans for welcoming the album into their lives. 

Even with mixed reviews from critics on The Tortured Poets Department, Swift continues to amaze Swifties with her talent in writing and meticulously planned album releases, making them special and engaging for millions. 

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