Before officially announcing 'The Tortured Poets Department' at the Grammys, Swift gave fans several subtle clues about her 11th studio album
Immediately after she left the stage, her social media accounts shared more information on the upcoming drop, including the cover art, the title The Tortured Poets Department, and the tagline, "All’s fair in love and poetry.”
The exciting news came just hours after Swift sent fans into a frenzy by changing her social media profile pictures to black and white, making many Swifties believe she was set to announce her re-recording of Reputation (Taylor’s Version).
Though the announcement came as a surprise to fans, Swifties know that the singer is a mastermind when it comes to leaving Easter eggs about new music. In fact, fans have now gone back through the archives and noticed several clues the singer left about The Tortured Poets Department.
Ahead, here are all the signs Swift gave about her new album.
The "Bejeweled" music video teasing her next music era
When Swift dropped her music video for “Bejeweled” from Midnights, many fans picked up on an Easter egg in which Swift was seen holding a clock that said “Exile ends” with the numbers 2 and 3. Looking back now, fans think Swift could have been signaling her new music era would come after this date, since the announcement of The Tortured Poets Department was made on Feb. 4.
Taylor Swift’s preppy style
Throughout the summer of 2023, Swift was frequently seen stepping in and out of the studio in New York City (possibly recording The Tortured Poets Department?) and her various street style looks could have been a major clue about the album’s theme as she leaned into preppy, schoolgirl-style outfits.
On one outing in June, Swift paired lace-up oxfords, crew-length socks and a pleated blue skirt with an oversized light blue and white striped blouse, which appeared to be from The Row, the same brand Swift dons in her The Tortured Poets Department album cover.
As the months grew colder, Swift continued to lean into the "dark academia" style as she donned moody hues, blazers and plaid skirts, channeling her role as the chairman of the Tortured Poets Department.
Taylor Swift and Jack Antonoff teasing her 11th album in the studio
One of the next (and perhaps biggest) Easter eggs came in October 2023 as Swift and Jack Antonoff celebrated “Cruel Summer” reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, five years after its initial release.
In addition to sharing a chaotic video of them talking about the special track, Swift also shared two photos of her and Antonoff throwing up their hands in excitement as they posed in the studio together. And just how many fingers were they holding up in the photos? You guessed it, 11.
Travis Kelce calling Taylor Swift’s lyrics poetry
During his cover story for WSJ. Magazine’s December/January issue, Kelce gave rare insight into his relationship with Swift, including sharing the story of how their romance came to be. He also gushed about Swift’s talent as a songwriter, with the publication referencing how Kelce said it was a miracle how Swift could turn life into poetry. Could Kelce have been in on the big secret about Swift’s upcoming album? It certainly seems plausible.
Taylor Swift’s Time cover headline
As Swift was named Time's 2023 Person of the Year in December 2023, fans clued in on many Easter eggs featured in the publication’s accompanying portrait of the singer, from references to her songs to images of her cats.
One thing fans didn’t immediately pick up on was the publication’s headline for the article, The Poet Laureate of Pop Culture. Looking back now, this could have been Swift’s way of teasing the new album’s title. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time Swift used an interview to signal new music.
Taylor Nation’s cryptic posts about secrets
In the month leading up to Swift’s album announcement, her official fan site Taylor Nation began to drop some subtle clues. In January 2024, Taylor Nation posted a throwback photo of Swift and Antonoff on the set of the “Bejeweled” music video, in which the singer donned a huge wig.
They cryptically captioned the post, “How many secretsss do we think are hiding in that hair?” With the extra s’s at the end of the of secrets, many assumed that they were teasing Reputation (Taylor’s Version), however, it’s clear now they were actually signaling Swift’s 11th album, which the singer said she had been keeping a secret for two years.
Taylor Swift changing her social images to black and white
Just hours before the Grammys, Swift sent fans into a spiral as she changed all of her social media profile images to a black-and-white Midnights album cover. As many theorized she was teeing up for a Reputation (Taylor’s Version) announcement, she later shocked everyone as she announced her 11th studio album The Tortured Poets Department, which also features a black-and-white image of Swift.
Taylor Swift’s website going dark
In addition to the profile picture change, Swift’s entire website went dark just moments before the Grammys. The website included a 321 error code as well as the text hneriergrd, which fans deciphered to mean “red herring.” Knowing how fans would interpret the blackout as a Reputation tease, Swift was seemingly telling her fans in advance that they didn’t know the whole story.
Some tech-savvy fans also did a deep dive into the website's code, noting that it included words such as "chairman," "bruises" and "muses" which Swift later shared as lyrics from the new album in her Instagram post.
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