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On The Tortured Poets Department, Taylor Swift Sends Fans a Message About Their Obsession With Her Relationships

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We’ve heard Taylor Swift sing about her romantic relationships and spin stories out of history. In her new album, The Tortured Poets Department, Swift explores another topic: fame. Swift is undoubtedly the most famous person in the world. She’s jumpstarting whole economies, was named as TIME’s Person of the Year, and has a particularly rabid fan base. So, it makes sense that the 34-year-old singer would address dealing with this level of fame at this point in her career.

Mega stardom doesn’t seem to be all it's cracked up to be, and Swift makes that known in new songs called “But Daddy I Love Him,” and “Clara Bow.” The former is a more striking criticism of her fans and fame with some of her most biting lyrics that may be referring to the way her fans spoke critically about rumors of her relationship with Matty Healy or the way people discuss her dating history as a whole.

Healy and Swift dated for a brief moment in 2023 following the end of her relationship with Joe Alwyn. Criticism of their relationship started to balloon quickly after they were rumored to be linked because of comments Healy made on a podcast about the rapper Ice Spice’s appearance and heritage. He kind of apologized in an interview with The New Yorker. Swift never really addressed their relationship.

On The Tortured Poets Department, she addresses her fans directly: “I'll tell you somethin' right now, I'd rather burn my whole life down, Than listen to one more second of all this bitchin' and moanin',” she sings. “I'll tell you somethin' 'bout my good name, It's mine alone to disgrace, I don't cater to all these vipers dressed in empath's clothing.” The bridge digs even deeper. “God save the most judgmental creeps, Who say they want what's best for me, Sanctimoniously performing soliloquies I'll never see,” Swift says of the critics of her relationship. “Thinkin' it can change the beat, Of my heart when he touches me, And counteract the chemistry and undo the destiny.” Towards the end of the song, she says that scandal “does a funny thing to pride, but brings lovers closer.”

“Clara Bow” refers to the actress who was a darling of the silent film era before successfully crossing over to the “talkies” at the start of the Great Depression in 1929. Because of her fame, Bow was one of the first celebrities to be given the nickname the “It Girl.” The parallels between Bow and Swift are more than apparent, especially at this moment in Swift’s career and with Margot Robbie playing a fictionalized version of Bow in 2022’s Babylon.

The song starts with Swift seemingly singing to herself from a younger perspective, saying she looks like Clara Bow and asking herself if she knew she’d be “picked like a rose” for this life of unimaginable fame. “No one in my small town thought I’d see the lights of Manhattan,” she sings, saying that people doubted her as she ascended.

Swift goes on to compare herself to Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks, and says that people doubted she’d “meet the suits in LA.” The song ends with her singing, “You look like Taylor Swift in this light, we’re loving it. You’ve got edge, she never did. The future’s bright, dazzling.”

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Write to Moises Mendez II at moises.mendez@time.com