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The best songs from Taylor Swift's 'Tortured Poets Department' double album

Kaitlyn Huamani, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

Swift is probably the only artist who could squeeze the phrase “sanctimoniously performing soliloquies” into an upbeat tune.

‘I Can Do It With a Broken Heart’

This sparkling song is a classic move of Swift’s: an upbeat tune that just makes you want to dance. But that bubbly melody is accompanied by some of her most crushing lyrics (have you listened to the bridge of “Cruel Summer” lately?). Through those crushing lyrics, Swift admits that while she was selling out stadiums and bringing the dazzling Eras tour across the country this summer, she was reeling from her breakup with Alwyn.

“All the pieces of me shattered as the crowd was chanting, ‘More,’” she sings. The incongruity of the lyrics and the peppy melody convey the pain she was experiencing at the height of her career. “You know you’re good when you can even do it with a broken heart,” she sings, cheekily adding, “Try and come for my job,” to close out the track.

‘The Black Dog’

This soft ballad opens the second installment of the album with a startlingly relatable breakup experience: checking her ex-boyfriend’s phone location, which he forgot to un-share. She details her ex, presumably Alwyn, walking into a bar called the Black Dog (in London), leaving her wondering how he doesn’t miss her more. “Old habits die screaming,” she sings, suggesting she’s having a difficult time letting go of the relationship.

‘The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived’

In another song rumored to be about Healy, Swift says she doesn’t want her ex back, she just wants to know if “rusting [her] sparkling summer was the goal.” The scathing song details the end of a relationship that deeply affected Swift; “I would’ve died for your sins / Instead I just died inside,” she sings. The bridge is one of the best on the album, with haunting lyrics and stellar production.

‘So High School’

 

“So High School” boasts one of the album’s stickiest melodies, recalling a late-’90s or early-2000s nostalgic sound, which is mirrored by the sentimental lyrics. The tune is rumored to be about Swift’s relationship with Travis Kelce, which, per this song, ignites a child-like giddiness in her. Like “The Alchemy,” some of the lyrics are a little too on the nose about footballer Kelce (“You know how to ball, I know Aristotle”), but the wispy vocals and nostalgic Aaron Dessner production set it apart as a top song from the lot.

‘Florida!!!’ (feat. Florence + the Machine)

Fans were eagerly anticipating the collaboration between Swift and Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine, and it didn’t disappoint. The duo sings that the titular state is “one hell of a drug” in the rousing song about not feeling at home anywhere they go. The escapist anthem features plenty of Welch’s rich vocals, to the relief of fans who have criticized the singer for quick features by past collaborators, notably Lana Del Rey in “Snow on the Beach.”

‘Peter’

Referencing the story of Peter Pan, this ballad explores the pain of distance growing between Swift and someone from her past. She says “Peter” was going to grow up and then return for her but he never does. This song marks the second time Swift has alluded to the story of Peter Pan, with the first mention in “Cardigan” from “Folklore”: “Tried to change the ending / Peter losing Wendy.” Despite its repetitive chorus, the melody is stirring and reminiscent of “New Year’s Day,” a fan favorite from “Reputation.”

‘Down Bad’

“Down Bad” is a pure pop hit, with a clear influence from producer and longtime Swift collaborator Jack Antonoff. The moody chorus (“Now I’m down bad, cryin’ at the gym / Everything comes out teenage petulance / F— it if I can’t have him / I might just die, it would make no difference”) is coupled with a catchy, made-for-radio tune. The song feels like something out of a hybrid of “1989” and “Midnights.”


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