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Every Unconfirmed Name Reference on ‘The Tortured Poets Department’: Best Fan Theories

Theories on Who Taylor Swift Subtly Wrote About in TTPD
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Swifties believe there is more to Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department besides some breakup songs about Matty Healy and Joe Alwyn.

Swift, 34, dropped TTPD on Friday, April 19. However, two hours later, she surprised her fans with an additional release called The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology.

“I’d written so much tortured poetry in the past 2 years and wanted to share it all with you.” the singer wrote in part via Instagram. “And now the story isn’t mine anymore … it’s all yours. 🤍”

The extended album included 15 additional songs and Swifties wasted no time diving in. Following the album’s release, Swift broke records as TTPD reached 300 million streams in a single day.

All the Famous Names Taylor Swift Drops on The Tortured Poets Department 945

Related: All the Famous Names Taylor Swift Drops on ‘The Tortured Poets Department’

As Swifties continue to listen and analyze Swift’s lyrics more theories have popped up about who else the Grammy winner could be singing about.

Keep scrolling to see what the fans are theorizing:

Olivia Rodrigo

Fans have speculated that Swift is subtly referring to Rodrigo in “Clara Bow.” The track, which is named after the silent film actress, talks about comparing women artists to one another as they rise to fame. At the end of the song, Swift name-drops herself as an emerging artist is being compared to her.

“You look like Taylor Swift / In this light, we’re loving it,” Swift sings. “You’ve got edge, she never did /The future’s bright, dazzling.”

When Rodrigo first got her start, she was compared to Swift for her songwriting passion, and Swift was openly supportive of the former Disney star. However, many fans have speculated there is drama between the women over songwriting credits, which began after Rodrigo dropped her first studio album Sour, in 2021.

“Now is it only a [coincidence] that Clara Bow rhymes with Olivia Rodrigo or ……….. #TTPD,” one user wrote via X.

Rodrigo previously credited Swift on her song “1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back,” which used an interpolation of her track “New Year’s Day.” However, listeners accused her of plagiarism and copyright infringement via social media for copying Swift on “Deja Vu.” Rodrigo retroactively credited Swift following its release.

Decoding Taylor Swift TTPD Album

Related: Decoding Taylor Swift’s 'TTPD' Album: Lyric Parallels and Easter Eggs

Travis Kelce

While Kelce got two love songs on TTPD — “The Alchemy” and “So High School” — Swifties believed that her romance with the Kansas City Chiefs tight end was an inspiration for “The Albatross.”

“Cautions issued, he stood / Shooting the messengers / They tried to warn him about her, “ Swift sings on the ballad. “Cross your thoughtless heart / Only liquor anoints you / She’s the albatross / She is here to destroy you.”

After Swift began attending Kelce’s football games in September 2023, many sports fans were critical of Swift. The Dads, Brads and Chads claimed that Swift was a distraction to the athlete.

“Everybody was telling Travis, ‘Be careful, don’t get with her. She’ll ruin your career,’” one social media user said via TikTok. “‘Are you paying attention to football? Is she weighing you down? Is he no longer good because he’s dating Taylor Swift?’ That was the entire middle part of their relationship when everybody was so pissed they saw her on the screen.”

Theories on Who Taylor Swift Subtly Wrote About in TTPD
Scooter Braun Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Scooter Braun

While many believe “Cassandra” is about Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, some fans also see parallels for Braun.

“Cassandra has to be about scooter braun. Cassandra was a woman [in] Greek mythology who foresaw the fall of Troy and no one believed her and called her crazy,” one user theorized via X. “I swear she’s talking about how she was the first one to warn everyone about him & everyone s–t on her till recently.”

As fans know all too well, Braun purchased the rights to Swift’s music from Big Machine Records’ Scott Borchetta for $300 million in June 2019. Swift left the label the year before and claimed she was not given the opportunity to buy her music herself. She later alleged that Braun bought her music for “nefarious reasons.”

After having a heated and lengthy exchange online with Braun, Swift ultimately decided to rerecord her original albums and thus the Taylor’s Version rereleases were born. Years later, Braun lost several of his biggest clients including Ariana Grande and Demi Lovato.

“So, they killed Cassandra first ’cause she feared the worst / And tried to tell the town / So, they set my life in flames, I regret to say / Do you believe me now?” Swift sings in the chorus.

Swift also seemingly referenced her battle against Braun in her song “Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me.”

“So I leap from the gallows and I levitate down your street / Crash the party like a record scratch as I scream / ‘Who’s afraid of little old me?’ I was tame, I was gentle ’til the circus life made me mean,” she sings. “Don’t you worry, folks, we took out all her teeth’/ Who’s afraid of little old me? / Well, you should be.”

Theories on Who Taylor Swift Subtly Wrote About in TTPD
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Jake Gyllenhaal

Jake Gyllenhaal

In “The Manuscript,” Swift recalled dating an older guy and fans believe she is referring to her high-profile relationship with Gyllenhaal, who is also the subject of “All Too Well.”

“In the age of him, she wished she was thirty / And made coffee every morning in a French press / Afterwards she only ate kids’ cereal / And couldn’t sleep unless it was in her mother’s bed,” Swift sings. “Then she dated boys who were her own age / With dart boards on the backs of their doors. / She thought about how he said since she was so wise beyond her years / Everything had been above board / She wasn’t sure.”

Swift and Gyllenhaal, who have a nine-year age difference, dated briefly in 2010. Following their romance, Swift moved on with Conor Kennedy, Harry Styles, Calvin Harris and more guys closer to her actual age. Many fans believe Swift penned “The Manuscript” after getting closure following the release of “All Too Well (10 Minute Version).”

“I’m pretty sure it’s about Jake and how the process of releasing ATW10 and creating the short film allowed her to finally let go of what happened,” a fan wrote via X. “I think the line about her rereading her manuscript is her saying she no longer ‘remembers it all too well.’”

John Mayer

While some think “The Manuscript” points at Gyllenhaal, others believe that Mayer could be the subject of the track. Mayer and Swift dated in 2009 when Swift was 19 and Mayer was 32. Many Swifties picked up the similarities between “The Manuscript” and the Midnights track “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve,” which is also speculated to be about the musician.

“She thought about how he said since she was so wise beyond her years / Everything had been above board / She wasn’t sure,” she sings on the TTPD tune.

Theories on Who Taylor Swift Subtly Wrote About in TTPD
Aaron Dessner Sarah Morris/Getty Images

Aaron Dessner’s Son

Swift and The National member collaborated on most of TTPD. Fans believe the duo penned the song “Robin” in honor of Dessner’s son of the same name. The song talks about a child who is enjoying their youth without any worries about the future.

“I think this song has layers. Seems like it was inspired by time spent around Dessner’s kid, Robin, and the balancing act that adults put into making a childhood environment healthy and vibrant …” one user theorized via Reddit. “Very cool how it’s all framed as a parent’s view of optimizing a child’s enjoyment, comfort, and ability to thrive over just airing out everything that’s important to the parent.”

Kim Kardashian

Eagle-eyed fans picked up that the track “thanK you aIMee” spelled out Kim in capital letters and realized that the song is a diss track for Kardashian. In the song, Swift reflects on a teenage-style bully who inspired several of her tracks.

“And it wasn’t a fair fight / Or a clean kill each time that Aimee stompеd across my grave,” Swift sings seemingly referring to her public feud with Kardashian “And then she wrotе headlines / In the local paper, laughing at each baby step I’d take.”

Swifties also picked up on Swift’s reference to Kardashian’s daughter, North West, who famously sang along to Swift’s 1989 bop “Shake It Off.”

“And maybe you’ve reframed it / And in your mind, you never beat my spirit black and blue / I don’t think you’ve changed much,” Swift says on the track. “And so I changed your name and any real defining clues / And one day, your kid comes home singin’ /A song that only us two is gonna know is about you.”

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