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The Rampage Online

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The Rampage Online

Review: T.T.P.D

Photo by: Printerval
Animated graphic of “The Tortured Poets Department” cover.

At the top of her career, Taylor Swift delivered her 11th album “The Tortured Poets Department” (TTPD) which is a tortuous listen in the absolute worst way.

This comes after a huge year for Swift with “The Eras Tour” movie making $261.7 million and a controversial Grammy win for Album of the Year for “Midnights,” where she announced TTDP the same night.

TTPD is a ballad-centric album that focuses on complex lyrics to talk about her past relationships with her long-term boyfriend Joe Alywin and The 1975 controversial frontman, Matt Healy; more so on the ladder.

At its highest, TTPD is a boring and overly complicated album about almost nothing, and at its lowest an unoriginal, sleepy, lazy, long run-on sentence that is somehow considered a finished product.

I can appreciate what Swift and Jack Antonoff, her producer, were trying to accomplish with the pretty sounds and grand lyrics that give off major Adele vibes; and while some of the songs do land in some shape or form, I have no interest in going back to this album.

The biggest issue is the songwriting. Some of these lyrics are comically long and are filled with nothingness and congested with empty words.

It feels like a high school English class when the teacher says something like “what does it mean when the character wears a red sweater and walks under the green lights walking south?” And then they have some long-winded answer about how it represents silent anger or whatever when it means nothing. That’s what Swift sounds like.

Most of TTPD, especially with the addition of the deluxe version that makes the run time two hours, is just like yelling three or more syllable words into an empty cavern making her sound more like a poet discussing heartbreak to sound insightful; when in reality, Swift sounds like she’s trying to expand the word count of a essay to meet the minimum requirements.

Also, some of Swift’s lyrics are insane. It can go from painfully cringe to empty or wild statements that take you out of the album entirely; there is little creativity or nuance with anything she spews out. Take a lyric from “I Hate It Here.”

“My friends used to play a game where we would pick a decade we wished we could live in instead of this I’d say the 1830s but without all the racists.”

What does that even mean? Why does she need to add “without all the racists?” Is anyone insisting that Swift is racist by any means?

The only thing I can come up with is that her ex-boyfriend, Healy, has a history of saying racist comments and by saying that Swift is separating herself from him. But who has called Swift racist for dating him?

Adding these lyrics took me out of the album. It was like watching the most cringey high school talent show ever instead of a really strong breakup album, which by the way Swift is more than capable of doing.

It is perfectly fine to make a song or an album off a breakup, even multiple, which Swift has been doing since 2006. “All Too Well,” “The Last Time,” and “Should’ve Said No” all come to mind when I think of Swift’s discography and if we’re being honest, most of her songs involve a relationship; there’s not a lot of variety when it comes to her music, and that’s okay.

But everything in this album is old and it doesn’t help that, sonically, it all sounds the same. Which is the next worst thing about the album.

This falls on Antonoff more than Swift but on a first listen this sounds like a run-on sentence. I thought the opening song “Fortnight” was a 10-minute song and then I saw I was three songs in because with Swift’s congested and empty lyrics, the sound of TTPD doesn’t do much to make each song have its personality for the most part.

Which sucks because the sound is so grand and powerful yet graceful and peaceful all in one. But it’s unoriginal and eventually comes off as bland.

Antonoff and Swift need to stop making music together for a bit because between this and “Midnights,” some time apart might make these two produce and write some better music. At this point in their careers, Swift and Antonoff have nothing of quality to bring. It’s at the point where TTPD sounds better when their influences can be limited or not heard at all.

“Florida!!!” is loud and vibrant and a great break from the overplayed ballads of the rest of the songs, despite the Swift lyrics.

The best songs don’t even sound like Antonoff produced them. “Florida!!!” is one of my favorite songs, not because of Swift’s lyricism but because it sounds like a Florence & The Machine song, which makes sense since Florence is featured on the track.

This leads to probably the most insane problem Swift has, which is her unoriginal content. This entire album just takes the best part from other artists’ work and makes them worse.

TTPD is one of the biggest rip offs in the music industry in the last 10 years. The deluxe version of the album has a song called “imgonnagetyouback,” that is about getting someone back, obviously.

Besides the fact there is no nuance in the writing, it’s a ripoff of Olivia Rodrigo’s “get him back!” which out does Swift’s in every way. It’s fun, the writing is full of creativity, and while it isn’t an original idea for a song, Rodrigo makes it her own. Swift either didn’t want to, didn’t think people would notice, or couldn’t make “imgonnagetyouback” original.

The unoriginality makes me really sad and disappointed for Swift. She is so much more of a songwriter than this album makes her seem.

The fact that this album has bright spots like “Long Live London” makes this all the more sad because it’s a spot of hope in an otherwise bad album.

Unfortunately, this seems to be a theme for Swift. “Midnights,” “1989 (Taylor’s Version),” and now TTPD seem completely lifeless of what Swift is capable of. I’m not too sure what needs to be changed but something does. It’s to the point where I’m not excited about anything that has Swift’s name attached to it.

I mentioned Florence and Rodrigo and how incredible they are, but Beyoncé released an amazing album this year that took styles but she made it original, fun and took a really good country album and made it into something beautiful.

Even people like SZA and Lana Del Ray have put out incredible work in the last few years and for these artists to be compared to Swift and lose to her, like at award shows, is disrespectful to the music industry as a whole.

TTPD is utterly cringe when it has something to say and brain-numbing for the rest that really comes out during the deluxe versions two hour duration. I’m almost positive that these albums are just cash grabs for Swift, like her Taylor Versions’.

Not everything has to be new or revolutionary, but everything someone of Swift’s stature puts out should be quality and TTPD is far from an acceptable album from her.

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About the Contributor
Josiah Poynter
Josiah Poynter, Managing Editor
Josiah Poynter is a 21-year-old journalism major in his fourth semester at Fresno City College and his third in the Rampage. He was born and raised in Camarillo, CA (go PVCS Lions) but has lived in Chicago and now lives in Fresno. Josiah previously held the positions of both the Entertainment and Sports Editor and is now the Managing Editor. He loves journalism and has excelled at writing, even winning a writing contest in second grade against high school students. He has been a part of a newsroom since 2020 going all the way back to his high school in Downers Grove, IL. Moving forward into the future, Josiah knows journalism is calling. He takes pride in knowing his voice and his writing can shape the news landscape and be the voice for people for many years to come. He wants to do something like political reporting, courtroom reporting, or taking on bigger issues that affect local communities but is ultimately unsure where journalism will take him. When he’s not in the newsroom, Josiah is enjoying life and taking it easy as he sees no need to rush when the world has so much to enjoy. He takes one day at a time and prefers relaxing and going out with friends than anything. Some of his hobbies include watching movies (especially those up for award-season), being a nerd about things whether it be comic book media or breaking down the ins and outs of sports, and constantly trying to convince his girlfriend he’s Batman.  

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