Taylor Swift Is Spending Her Album Release Week Goofing Off

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty Images
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty Images

Taylor Swift’s highly anticipated new album, The Tortured Poets Department, drops this Friday. But given the somewhat scattered LP rollout thus far, you’d be forgiven for wondering just what exactly has been running through the pop star’s mind in terms of strategy this time around.

Case in point: Like a luxury brand looking to seduce penny-pinching skeptics, Swift and Spotify appear to have collaborated on a Tortured Poets activation at The Grove shopping center in Los Angeles this week.

The resulting semi-ramshackle, adult-sized dioramas look rather like proposed pop-up experiences that were rejected from Harry Potter World at Universal Studios: You, too, can wait in line for hours to look at a West Elm birdcage perched on a fake bookshelf, and ponder its meaning!

Put another way, part of the exhibition simply looks like a makeshift library in which fans can hunt for easter eggs. Books bearing fragments of yet-to-be-heard lyrics share brief insights into where Swift’s head was at when she wrote the new album. “EVEN STATUES CRUMBLE IF THEY’RE MADE TO WAIT,” one booklet reads. Not her best work, honestly; what does any statue other than Pygmalion ever have to wait for? It’s made of rock.

Another one of her lyric printouts is prominently misspelled. “My muses, acquired like bruises / My talimans and charms,” one Spotify-produced sheet reads. (It should read “talismans.”) The Daily Beast reached out to Spotify for comment, but no word yet on who is taking the fall for the typo.

During the pandemic, the multi-Grammy Award winner all but defined 2020 (musically speaking) when she surprise-announced in July of that year that a brand new album, Folklore, was coming at midnight that same day. Her strategy was simple, but effective.

“I’ll be releasing my entire brand new album of songs I’ve poured all of my whims, dreams, fears, and musings into,” she wrote on Twitter, going on to list her collaborators.

It was more than enough effort. Even though Swift was eschewing the elaborate rollouts she’d made use of in the past for bombastic pop records like 1989, Folklore opened at No. 1 and moved 846,000 units in the United States in its first week, making it, at the time, the third-highest weekly total for any album release in four years.

And trust and believe, Swift is also deeply familiar with traditional album rollout cycles. Before the release of Reputation, her most combative pop record, Swift famously asserted that she would forgo promo altogether: “There will be no explanation, there will just be reputation.

(An aside: I’ve always wondered if Swift, a noted Anglophile, has ever clocked the similarities between her Reputation slogan and the unofficial motto of the British royal family: “Never complain, never explain.”)

However, for Reputation, despite her assertion that she would eschew promotion, Swift also appeared on Saturday Night Live, where she sang “Ready For It?” and on Fallon, to sing “New Years Day,” off the record.

Years later, Swift has gone from merely dominating the pop culture landscape to essentially swallowing it whole. It’s no question whether Swift, the biggest artist in the world at the moment due to the success of her Eras Tour and an Album of the Year win with Midnights, will move ridiculous numbers of units with her forthcoming new album.

Maybe that’s why, as has been the case for the past few months, Swift seems to be taking the new album rollout process less seriously than she has in the past—in favor of just having a good time instead.

In case you happen to be living under the world’s heaviest boulder, not only did Swift land an NFL star last year, but he managed to win the Super Bowl. For nearly the entire season, both regular and post, Swift was spotted partying in the bleachers with her best celebrity friends.

All the while, of course, she was ducking in and out of Electric Lady Studios downtown, hard at work at Tortured Poets. But if there was any anguish in her life at the time, it was below the surface, and going into her music; in public, she’s been having the time of her life.

Most recently, mere hours away from the Tortured Poets drop, which is expected to be accompanied by a new music video, Swift looked anything but tortured. She was spotted cuddling with Travis Kelce at Coachella this past weekend, a cup in her hand and not a care in the world.

To get further insight into Swift’s mentality at the moment, look no further than her Coachella attire: The artist danced with Kelce while wearing a New Heights cap, helping her boyfriend promote the podcast he shares with brother Jason Kelce. In other words, she literally put more effort into plugging her boyfriend’s content than she did her own—on an album release week.

Kelce’s thoughts on Coachella also offer a window into where the pair’s heads are at right now. “Man, I love live music. I absolutely love live music. I don’t get enough of it in my life,” he said on New Heights this week. “I just like going to events, going where people are, seeing talents... I just like to experience that type of s—t.”

No worries, just vibes.

Travis Kelce Doesn’t Know ‘How the F*ck’ He Landed Taylor Swift

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