The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

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The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

Opinion: Taylor Swift’s ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ is a disappointing money scheme

Swift’s newest album falls short on its delivery. However, her fans will continue to respond with their praises.

Released 18 years after her self-titled debut in 2006, Taylor Swift’s newest album shows us that comfort is where art goes to die. 

Fans of Swift will always jump at the first chance to note her as the “songwriter of our generation,” and maybe this writing capability was obvious in her previous albums. 

On “Ivy,” the tenth track on Evermore, Swift wraps up her masterfully formulated storyline with the chorus, “Stop you putting roots in my dreamland/My house of stone, your ivy grows/And now I’m covered/In you, in you.” 

Swift’s lyrics had deep meaning and intention behind every word, each album creating an entirely separate world from her last. In the past, the expansivity of her imagination helped me sympathize with those who raved on and on about her genius. However, for someone praised for their artistry, the lyricism and production in “The Tortured Poets Department” leaves a sour taste of haste and ignorance. 

Intrigued by the collective buzz around its release, I took a listen to the entire anthology. Yes, all 31 tracks. 

In a time when fans are losing hope for any new music from highly acclaimed artists that have been swallowed by the shadows of the industry, Swift has miraculously put out yet another album, just 1 year after her last. It’s possible Swift has the work ethic of some god, able to put together an extensively qualified tracklist. In reality, much of the album comes off as one never-ending stream of consciousness with no clear message in sight.

However, somewhere along the 21st track, when I couldn’t begin to identify where one song began and the other ended, one lyric screamed at me. I delayed the track 15 seconds to make sure what I heard was not something of my imagination, but rather something Swift had put serious forethought into setting out into the world. 

In the second verse of “I Hate it Here,” Taylor writes: “We would pick a decade/We wished we could live in instead of this/I’d say the 1830s but without all the racists/And getting married off for the highest bid/Everyone would look down ’cause it wasn’t fun now/Seems like it was never even fun back then/Nostalgia is a mind’s trick/If I’d been there, I’d hate it”

These lyrics, in particular, make it blatantly clear that most of Swfit’s new album is a collection of hastily scribbled-down poems strung together with the backtrack of a generic melancholic production. If there was any real intention behind Swift’s lyrics in her new album, she would have thought twice before releasing this slew of white feminist rhetoric. 

Swift is attempting to make some notion of how romanticizing the past brings no solace. But choosing the 1830s—a time rampant with slavery, disenfranchised women, and bidder brides—was this truly the era that she longed to transport back to? 

I’m sure some will claim that Swift is diligent in addressing the racism and sexism of the decade, citing these lyrics as her dedication to equality. However, though her music doesn’t have to outline the entire civil rights movement, her poor word choice of “bidder” following her short rant on racism goes to show how half-hearted and privileged Swift was in the construction of the song.  

“The Tortured Poet’s Department” is a testament that real music could never simply be a collection of ornamental adjectives paired with musical backing– wouldn’t that make creating moving art that much easier if it were? 

When it comes to art, quality should be prioritized over quantity. However, Swift will escape unscathed from this carelessness because her Swifties will always be there as her first line of defense, further pushing her lazy form of artistry: prioritizing profit and fanbase satiation over true meaning. Knowing that the more music she puts out, the more stadiums she can later sell out for outrageous ticket prices, Swift is opting for the easy cash grab. 

Her fans will wallow in their naivety, as they will always be blindsided by Swift’s historical reputation as a lyricist. With “The Tortured Poets Department,” it becomes clear that Swift has grown accustomed to her fans’ unwavering approval and refuses to show any sign of growth or experimentation. 

Though everyone is entitled to take pleasure in whatever art they find connection with, I’ve had to brace myself for having to hear the diehard Swifties of Carlmont fight the doomed battle of upholding yet another piece of repetitive, mediocre media.

Long gone are the days of a majority that craves to be shaken by the art they consume. Rather, many would gladly cocoon themselves in their own echo chambers of digestible nonsense, keeping Swift’s greedy scheme running smoothly.  


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About the Contributor
Urvi Kulkarni, Scot Scoop Cartoons Managing Editor
Urvi Kulkarni is the Cartoon Managing Editor for Scot Scoop who finds an interest in local climate stories and visual arts. When she is not editing, cartooning, or writing, you can find her on the courts playing for the varsity tennis team, working on a painting, or spending time with her friends. Check out her portfolio here.

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  • K

    KimMay 20, 2024 at 10:18 pm

    Taylor Swifts record breaking sales, record breaking concerts, record breaking tour, and billionaire status proves she is quite more than mediocre. You sound bitter and jealous. You can’t listen to this album once and have a full understanding of it. You clearly know nothing about Taylor, the Swifties, or art. Your attitude leaves a LOT to be desired. There are ways to express your displeasure that don’t involve bad mouth a superstar just to get attention.