Taylor Swift new album shatters records with mixed reception


“The Tortured Poets Department” was released on midnight of Friday, April 19, 2024 Eastern Time by the seemingly omnipresent Taylor Swift. The original album contains 16 songs, while “The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology” contains 31, adding an entire 15 songs, and bringing the runtime to two hours and two minutes. According to Billboard, the album broke the single-week streaming record in the United States, generating 799 million on-demand streams in the U.S. between April 19 and 24. This record was previously held by Drake’s “Scorpion,” with 745.92 million streams generated in 2018.

Public reception to this new album fluctuates, however. While some adore this newly produced music, others criticize Swift for its similarity to her other music, or for setting quantity before quality. BHS senior Camhan Ngo, calls herself a Taylor Swift fan, but finds this newest album to be underwhelming. “I’m kind of tired of her writing really crappy stuff about people she’s not close to anymore,” Ngo said. “I think that she doesn’t think about the effects it can have mentally on a person and a person’s family, especially when they’re situations in the past.” One example of this is “So Long London,” a song supposedly written about Swift’s ex, Joe Alwyn, according to Variety. Lyrics like, “You say I abandoned the ship, but I was going down with it / My white knuckle dying grip holding tight to your quiet resentment,” signal the drawn-out ending to their relationship.

Conversely, Imani Sterling, a BHS senior and also a Swift fan, finds that “The Tortured Poets Department” contains many songs that are now some of her favorites. However, she also considers some tracks in the album to be among her least favorites in Swift’s body of work.

“I feel like it’s more of an album that she made for herself, not for her fans, which I think is really smart of her,” Sterling said. “Now that she’s over her heartbreak, she can move on, but the actual album itself, I really like. It’s the first album where I have a bunch of songs that I don’t like … but I mostly love them all.” Sterling’s favorite song on the album changes on the daily, but “Clara Bow” sits high on her list, with “The Albatross” being one of her least favorites.

“I’ve only listened to the first part of her new album, but I do really like it,” BHS senior Camille Jacala said. “I think it’s a new vibe from her different albums. She always manages to come up with a different mood to the album every single time.” So far, one of the songs that Jacala likes most on the album is “So Long London.”

While Ngo wasn’t a fan of many of the songs in Swift’s album, she has found a few that spoke to her. “I did like a few songs on her new album, but they were more of the piano ballad sad songs that were produced by Aaron Dessner. I really liked “I Hate It Here.” I liked ‘the Black Dog’ more on the ‘Anthology’ side of things than the actual main album. I’m tired of Jack Antonoff’s producing.”

Antonoff is a record producer and has been working with Swift since 2013. Dessner, on the other hand, has only been working with Swift since 2020, when they collaborated on Swift’s album “Folklore.” Opinions of Antonoff and Dessner vary, of course, but Antonoff’s touch on Swift’s music has seemed to be more synth-pop, while Dessner’s typically leans more into a gentle and folk/alternative mood. 

Throughout her career, Taylor Swift has crafted 11 original studio albums, four re-recorded studio albums, five extended plays, and four live albums. With such a diverse catalog and global popularity, Swift’s latest releases, along with her personal endeavors, naturally invite both acclaim and critique from various parties. “The Tortured Poets Department,” however, is performing well commercially with notably high sales and streaming numbers. While some fans or occasional listeners might be less enthusiastic, others are quite pleased. Swift’s newest album, like many of her previous works, has sparked diverse opinions, illuminating themes and emotions she believes resonate with various audiences. In the midst of mixed opinions, “The Tortured Poets Department” showcases Taylor Swift’s enduring impact,  sparking discussions and emotions that highlight the profound connection between artist and audience.