The Student News Site of Elmwood Park High School

The Tiger

The Student News Site of Elmwood Park High School

The Tiger

The Student News Site of Elmwood Park High School

The Tiger

The Tortured Poets Department Rankings


It’s been more than a month since Taylor Swift’s eleventh studio album, The Tortured Poet’s Department, was released. Both of us had avoided a deep dive into the album. However, for this article, we listened to all 31 tracks in detail to find our top 5 songs. Read on to discover why these songs deserve a spot on your playlist.

Yeimi’s Version

Taylor Swift (left) and Aaron Dessner (right) performing “The Great War” at the Eras Tour in Tampa.

Though I really enjoy Taylor Swift’s music, I was hesitant to listen to this album. Many aspects of how Taylor was branding herself were odd to me and frequent objective negative reviews left a sour taste. As I began listening to the album for this article, I have to admit, I was pretty disappointed. The beginning tracks felt like Swift was trying too hard to seem poetic, resulting in unfortunate run-on sentences. By the end of the album, I was surprised that I had at least 10 songs I enjoyed. I was also surprised that (coincidentally) most of my favorite tracks were produced by Aaron Dessner. With a little research, I was able to discover why. His dry and subtle production style consists of “atmospheric indie and folk” dampened instrumentals, all centered Taylor Swift’s voice. Soft production with a sense of melancholic reminiscing are present in all my favorites. Below you will find my top 5 favorite songs from The Tortured Poets Department alongside the reasons for my choices.

1. loml

The broken triads and subtle accented quarter notes of this song paired with a catchy chorus and low-harmonies intertwined made this easily my favorite track. Apart from the production style, references to her and ex Joe Alwyn’s relationship were abundant: details of wearing a suit and tie, present in both weddings and funerals; a homophone of “low-down boy” referencing Taylor’s song “London Boy” (written about Alwyn); believing consistent reassurances of love are rooted in deception (a parallel from her song “illicit affairs”); and a reference of “starry-eyes” from her song “Call It What You Want”. I could name all the parallels that felt like twisting a dagger inside an open wound. However, while I enjoy analyzing Swift’s lyrics, the passion and hurt behind every line was alone enough to make this song my favorite from the album.

2. Chloe or Sam or Sophia or Marcus

The first thing that caught my eye was the minimal production before the verse. There’s visually no time to process the song’s character as you listen to the verse’s desperate prose driving towards the chorus. It feels like holding your breath and anticipating relief as you near the chorus, only to be met with the most heart-wrenching lyrics, “If you wanna break my cold, cold heart / Just say, ‘I loved you the way that you were”. Additionally, the imagery throughout this whole track is undoubtedly a masterpiece. Her first line, “Your hologram stumbled into my apartment” is such a sad visual. It emphasizes that the most lingering absence is from the one whose presence you crave.

3. So Long, London

This song gave me hope that this album was worth listening to. The harmonies chanting and echoing “So Long, London” are reminiscent of church bells, subsequently wedding bells. A constant motif in Joe Alwyn-inspired songs is “marriage”, a desire that remained unattainable during their relationship, despite Swift’s yearning. Following the “church bells” are steady beating drums, imitating heartbeats. The tempo of this song is around 160 BPM (Beats Per Minute), and the tempo of a traditional heartbeat is 60 to 100 BPM. Any higher heart rate, also called tachycardia, is considered dangerous, an intentional detail on Swift’s part. During the bridge, Taylor’s mature voice grits out each painful lyric, while a higher-pitched harmony sings the lines in the background. There’s an intentional millisecond delay between the two voices which I perceived as a parallel between the two opposite perspectives of her relationship: an angry Taylor and a defeated Taylor. These minute details and well-thought out production made this track more meaningful and personal to me, thereby a definite favorite.

4. The Prophecy

The strumming pattern feels very folk-y, an aforementioned characteristic of Aaron Dessner’s production style. Amid breathy sultry singing, Swift includes a biblical reference. Though Swift’s religious affiliation has grown more fluid in the past few years, in this song she alters the narrative surrounding the Garden of Eden, “I got cursed like Eve got bitten / Oh was it punishment?” Swift offers a perspective where Eve is a victim of fate, and that sin was always going to enter the world because it was prophesied. By creating a similarity between herself and Eve, Swift is describing herself as another victim of fate, who “got cursed”. Unfortunately for Taylor, “change the prophecy” is an oxymoron in itself. There’s no possible way to change a prophecy – if there was it wouldn’t be called a prophecy. This type of lyricism is the reason she was considered a poet in the first place. Her albums folklore and evermore highlighted her amazing song-writing, and despite earlier cringy lyrics, this song really showed her strength.

5. The Black Dog

This choice was a little more personal than the others. Realizing that someone you still have strong feelings for, whether sadness or anger, has moved on effortlessly while you’re still struggling is painful. They don’t avoid you because they don’t care, and they’ve entered the next chapter of their life without you. Despite a more personal connection, I remain true to my appreciation of the production. Unlike the other tracks, this song is produced by Jack Antonoff, who uses more broad and synthetic instruments when producing. The balance between the lyrics and the instrumentals was seamless. The abrupt drums and accents during the last line of the chorus was amazing. Additionally, on the last two lines of the track, there was a small crescendo into a subito piano, which felt like a good dynamic end to the song.

Lili’s Version

One of Taylor Swift’s album cover for her album The Tortured Poets Department. This is a special edition cover with the song, “The Albatross” as an extra.

When listening to Taylor’s newest album, I enjoyed the way that she incorporates many of her past albums within this album. She references some lyrics that would belong on Reputation, melodies that are seen on folklore/evermore, and bridges that are similar to other songs. While I was impressed with some of her songs on the album, others left me disappointed and wanting her to do more. I think this is one of her worst albums because I believe she was either running out of ideas or had ideas but strayed from them throughout the writing process. Below, I will rank my top songs on the album and provide my rationale.


1. The Alchemy

This song is my favorite on the album because of the references to Taylor’s new relationship with Kansas City Chief’s Tight End, Travis Kelce. This song highlights the happiness that Swift feels watching him play and her trip halfway across the world to see her boyfriend win the Super Bowl. This song has a nice tempo, which I really like and lyrics that add a new insight to this relationship that we haven’t seen in previous songs or albums. “The Alchemy” pertains to their inability to fight their chemistry as the two of them had previously been attempting to hide their relationship from the public. It’s great to start hearing songs that show her relationship with Travis since we haven’t heard many songs about him thus far, and I hope this is the start of more to come in her next album. 


“So when I touched down, I called the amateurs and cut ’em from the team. Ditch the clowns, get the crown baby, I’m the one to beat cause the sign on your heart said it’s still reserved for me. Who are we to fight the alchemy?”

“There was no chance tryin’ to be the greatest in the league. Where’s the trophy? He just comes running to me.” 

2. So Long, London

“So Long, London” feels like a conclusion to the long chapter that is Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn’s relationship, which lasted six years. We saw the first page in this story in her song “London Boy” in the album Lover where we learned about how much she loved going to London with him. The song “So Long, London” feels almost like a goodbye or a song about closure and moving on from a past relationship. You can hear the raw emotion in her voice when she sings this song, almost as if singing this song brings about feelings of defeat, sorrow, and heartbreak that she shares with her fans. I think this song adds so much to this album that is makes it worth listening.

3. Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?

This song parallels one of her previous albums, Reputation, an album that fans are eagerly awaiting for her rerecorded version of. This song is rumored to be about her famous feud with rapper Kanye West and his ex-wife Kim Kardashian. In this song, Swift questions if someone is afraid of her and proclaims that others would never last a moment in the life of stardom that she has earned. This song has a somber tempo, which gives an evermore vibe with the melody but also a Reputation vibe due to the lyrics, which I love. Even though I don’t think this is Swift’s best song on the album, I really enjoyed this song.


“If you wanted me dead, you should’ve just said.”

“Who’s afraid of little old me? Well you should be.”

4. The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived

When I first heard this song, I instantly paralleled the melody to two of Swift’s previous albums folklore and evermore. This song can be assumed to be about a breakup that Swift had, which ended with her giving everything to a guy but him still leaving her. Swift lets out her anger explaining how she doesn’t miss what they had and that she was used by a former enemy. The somber melody of this song really helps the listener feel the pain that Swift feels but also allows you can hear the heart-wrenching lyrics that make you feel her pain. When you are in the midst of a breakup or finding out you are got cheated on, this song is a perfect song to listen to and cry your feelings out.


“I don’t miss what we had.”

“…stabbed me with your push pins”

“were you sent by someone who wanted me dead?”

“I would’ve died for your sins, but instead I died inside.”

5. Florida!!! (Feat. Florence & The Machines)

I like the upbeat vibe of this song, especially the seven beats after the lyric “Florida”, which corresponds to the seven letters in Florida. Florence from Florence & The Machines adds a new depth to the song that I think the song needed. When I first listened to the song, I had the bridge on repeat because of how strong both Florence and Swift sing the bridge. This song highlights the burnout of stardom and needing to go somewhere to relax, which is where Florida comes in, a perfect place to unwind. I think this song is very different than Swift’s other songs on the album. 


“I need to forget so take me out to Florida.”


Whether you are looking for a love song about the starts to a relationship, a song about a breakup after a long lasting relationship, or a breakup song to cry to, this album is perfect for you. While some of her songs on the album aren’t her greatest releases, there are some songs that are very much worth it. If you are looking to expand your music taste, we recommend listening to these songs and giving your own rankings on the songs!

Donate to The Tiger

Your donation will support the student journalists of Elmwood Park High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributors
Yeimi Alday
Yeimi Alday, Co-Editor
Hi! My name is Yeimi Alday. I'm a junior at Elmwood Park High School, and I am the co-editor of The Tiger. In school, I am the president of the Book & Film Club and a member of Key Club and National Honors Society. Outside of school, I am a violinist in The Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra and The People’s Music School. In college, I wish to major in Communications with minors in Business Administration and Music Education.
Liliana Corbett
Liliana Corbett, EPTV Sports/Staff Reporter
Hi! My name is Liliana Corbett, and I am a senior. This is my first year on the EPTV team and my role on the team is sports updates and creating graphics. During my time at Elmwood Park High School, I am usually managing either boys’ volleyball or wrestling, and I am also a member of National Honor Society. My favorite singer is Taylor Swift, and my favorite album of hers is either Folklore or Speak Now (Taylor’s Version). In my free time, I enjoy watching sports, going to concerts, and hanging out with my friends. After high school, I plan to attend college and study either Sports Journalism or Exercise Science.
Donate to The Tiger