Breakups, fantasies and her most cutting lyrics: inside Taylor’s Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department Culture | The Guardian

What are the big takeaways from Swift’s new album? She’s refining her sound, confronting elements of her fanbase and done with romantic idealisation

Read Alexis Petridis’s four-star review of the album

Swift named an entire album after the concept of her reputation and has been engaging with public perceptions of her as far back as 2010’s Speak Now; songs such as Mean, Blank Space and the gothic half of Reputation lash out directly at critics. But she’s never openly condemned her listeners before her new album The Tortured Poets Department, in songs that constitute some of its most daring moments. Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me? feels like a deservedly bitter, barbed update of the cutesier and more cloying Anti-Hero that suggests Swift is the way she is because of the twisted culture she grew up in and had to contort herself to fit into: “You taught me, you caged me, and then you called me crazy,” she seethes, sounding quite high on the fearsome power commentators have ascribed to her.

I’ll tell you something right now
I’d rather burn my whole life down
Than listen to one more second of all this bitching and moaning
I’ll tell you something about my good name
It’s mine alone to disgrace

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