13 Fan Theories About Taylor Swift’s ‘The Tortured Poets Department’

Which songs are about who? And is Swift teasing her “Deadpool 3” appearance already?

Taylor Swift attends the 2024 Grammys
Taylor Swift in Schiaparelli at the 2024 Grammys (Getty Images)

When Taylor Swift said “All’s fair in love and poetry,” she may have meant everything is fair game. When Swift’s 11th studio album “The Tortured Poets Department” landed on Friday, Swifties flocked to social media like seagulls to decipher what each song on “TTPD” and its other half “The Anthology” means and who it’s about. While many answers still remain elusive, fans have discovered plenty of connections and easter eggs worthy of the mastermind herself, as Swift is known for crafting meticulous puzzles and planting hints to future surprises in her work and posts.

Case in point: The surprise double-album drop. Many devout Swifties picked up on the singer’s use of the number two during release week, and even as early as her surprise announcement of the album at the 2024 Grammys she held up two fingers in a peace sign gesture. The Spotify popup at the Grove last week also contained other instances of doubles, pairs or a number two. 

As for the names she uses in many songs in the back half of the album, the search continues. So does the definitive subject of the sad and or romantic songs (Joe Alwyn, Matty Healy or someone else entirely?).

Read on for the best fan theories we could find:

“Clara Bow” could tease Swift’s rumored appearance in “Deadpool 3” as Dazzler

One Instagram user pointed out that the use of “dazzling” repeatedly in the final song in the first half of the album could hint at Swift’s highly anticipated appearance as the comic book character Dazzler in the upcoming Marvel movie “Deadpool & Wolverine,” which has been rumored since Swift is good friends with Deadpool actor Ryan Reynolds. The need to be shiny and new is reminiscent of “mirrorball” on “folklore.”

Swift herself offered some insight into the inspiration behind writing “Clara Bow,” which is named after Hollywood’s first-ever “It Girl.”

“I used to sit in record labels trying to get a record deal when I was a little kid,” she said in a commentary for Amazon Music. “And they’d say, ‘You know, you remind us of’ and then they’d name an artist, and then they’d kind of say something disparaging about her, ‘but you’re this, you’re so much better in this way or that way.’ And that’s how we teach women to see themselves, as like you could be the new replacement for this woman who’s done something great before you.” 

“Florida!!!” might be about Matty Healy

Featuring Florence + the Machine, “Florida!!!” confused many listeners at first, but a clever fan pointed out the nuance the metaphor of the song takes on as it evolves. 

Swift herself described the inspiration for the track as a getaway that was born from the idea of reinventing oneself when escaping something.

“I’m always watching ‘Dateline.’ People have these crimes that they commit; where do they immediately skip town and go to? They go to Florida,” she said. “They try to reinvent themselves, have a new identity, blend in. I think when you go through a heartbreak, there’s a part of you that thinks, ‘I want a new name. I want a new life. I don’t want anyone to know where I’ve been or know me at all.’ And so that was the jumping-off point. Where would you go to reinvent yourself and blend in? Florida!”

Another fan pointed out that the drug references in the song echo Halsey’s “Colors,” which some think was also about The 1975 frontman Matty Healy.

Older Taylor Swift songs could also have been about Matty Healy

One theory could force Swifties to re-evaluate the timeline of some of Swift’s past relationships — could “Style” be about Healy and not Harry Styles?

“How Did It End?” is a Track 5

In keeping with Swift’s patterns and clues, one Swiftie reminded the fandom that with “The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology” billed as a double album, “How Did It End” marks another devastating Track 5. The song is a devastating breakup song about the end of a relationship.

Lana Del Rey helped Taylor Swift tease the double album at The Grammys

Besides her black-gloved peace sign, fans have scrutinized the fact that Swift brought Lana Del Rey as a guest at the 2024 Grammys, and that the “Video Games” singer wore a black dress suggestive of “The Anthology” double album, which has a black cover while Swift wore a white Schiaparelli gown, like the white cover of the first half of “The Tortured Poets Department.” Del Rey’s dress also matches the black one Swift wears in the “Fortnight” music video.

Decoding the “Lucy/Jack” lyric in “The Tortured Poets Department”

One user pointed out that the Lucy and Jack lyric from “The Tortured Poets Department” could be referring to Lucy Dacus, musician and member of boygenius, with Jack likely referencing Swift’s producer and cowriter Jack Antonoff.

The full lyric with the names in the title track reads “Sometimes I wonder if you’re gonna screw this up with me / But you told Lucy you’d kill yourself if I ever leave /
And I had said that to Jack about you so I felt seen / Everyone we know understands why it’s meant to be.”

“Fortnight” music video easter eggs

On Instagram, a video circulated pointing out six Easter eggs in the “Fortnight” music video, related to Post Malone, songs like “The Story of Us” and “Style” and her most current album. If this song is about Matty Healy, that solidifies connections to certain songs being about him rather than others.

An Eagle-eyed Swiftie pointed out that the “Fortnight” typewriter doesn’t have a 1 key, which could be read in many ways, especially as it relates to Swift’s song “The 1” that many think is about her relationship with Joe Alwyn. Others have drawn attention to the shot of her in the black dress with the burning papers in the background as reminiscent of the “Dear Reader” lyrics “burn all the files, desert all your past lives.”

Is “Cassandra” about Scooter Braun?

Cassandra falls into Swift’s catalog of witchy songs, and while many think it refers to Swift’s longtime feud with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, another fan suggested it might be about the dominoes falling in terms of Scooter Braun losing clients like Demi Lovato, Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber. Braun is infamously the reason Taylor’s Version albums exists, as she was unable to buy the masters to her first handful of albums back from him.

In the pre-chorus and chorus, Swift invokes more of the witchy imagery while also hinting at herself being Cassandra, the first victim of Scooter Braun’s management tactics and then the influx of clients dropping him following in her wake.

“When the first stone’s thrown, there’s screamin’
In the streets, there’s a raging riot
When it’s “Burn the bitch,” they’re shrieking
When the truth comes out, it’s quiet”

“So, they killed Cassandra first ’cause she feared the worst
And tried to tell the town
So they filled my cell with snakes, I regret to say
Do you believe me now?”

The snake imagery does also call back to Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, who many think this song is about. Later on in the song, she gets more vivid with the imagery, stressing the “I told you so” of it all and the fact that she tried to warn people:

“They knew, they knew, they knew the whole time
That I was onto somethin’
The family, the pure greed, the Christian chorus line
They all said nothin’
Blood’s thick, but nothin’ like a payroll
Bet they never spared a prayer for my soul
You can mark my words that I said it first
In a mourning warning, no one heard”

The end of an era

Swift herself hints that this era in her discography is over and done. In her post describing the new album, she wrote “This period in the author’s life is now over, the chapter closed and boarded up.” A Swiftie pointed out even more meaning to the fortnight as advancing the concept of Swift’s 10th album “Midnights.”

This also fits in with the image of the “Lover” house burning down on the Eras tour. There is no “Tortured Poets Department” room. Others are stressing the need to read the lyrics closely, as “Dear Reader” encourages from “Midnights.”

Taylor Swift’s clothes may have been teasing specific songs

It seems like Swift may have known what she was going to name certain songs — the clothing pieces she wore surrounding the album’s production have the same names as Cassandra, Robin and Aimee. Coincidence?

Tracing the production timeline by Swift’s outfits

We had to shout out this Swiftie sleuth who used photos posted by Jack Antonoff to determine the timeline of production on “The Tortured Poets Department.”

‘TTPD’ is getting the ‘Reputation’ treatment

Several Swifties are pointing out that the album wasn’t meant to be easily understood. Many liken its somewhat divisive reception to “Reputation,” which embodied similar dark colors and themes and was divisive upon release before being embraced by fans.

Even the billboard scores unite the albums in that they are “misunderstood by the general public.”

‘The Alchemy’ and more may be about Travis Kelce

The Kansas City Chiefs tight end has inspired some of this album, from the football-specific lyrics in “The Alchemy” to “So High School” in the second half of the album.

In “The Alchemy,” Swift sings:

So when I touch down
Call the amateurs and
Cut ’em from the team
Ditch the clowns, get the crown
Baby I’m the one to beat
Cause the sign on your heart
Said it’s still reserved for me
Honestly, who are we to fight the alchemy?

And then Swift seemingly references the Chiefs’ Super Bowl win:

Shirts off, and your friends lift you up over their heads
Beer sticking to the floor
Cheers chanted, cause they said
There was no chance, trying to be
The greatest in the league
Where’s the trophy?
He just comes running over to me


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