Taylor Swift sitting at a piano and smiling

‘The Tortured Poets Department’ Is About One of Taylor Swift’s Exes, Just Not Who You Think

A game that Swifties play is trying to figure out who any given Taylor Swift song is about. When it comes to her new album, The Tortured Poets Department, fans originally thought that the album was going to be about actor Joe Alwyn, who she’d been with for years.

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Well, twist. It isn’t just about Alwyn. Or at least that’s what fans are assuming given a lot of clues after the album was leaked the day before its official release. Those clues all point to the lead singer of The 1975, Matty Healy. Healy, who is no stranger to his own string of controversies, and Swift seemed to start dating after her break-up with Alwyn until what appeared to be an abrupt split shortly after their relationship became publicly known.

There is one theory that the entire album is based on one image of Matty Healy with Phoebe Bridgers and Bo Burnham. Before he deleted his Instagram, Healy posted a picture with the capture “Gay Poets Society” referencing the film Dead Poets Society. That film happened to release the year that Taylor Swift was born and if you know anything about Swift and her fans, they love an obscure connection.

When the album leaked prior to its April 19th release, a lot of fans listened and began labeling who each song was about. The song “The Alchemy” is their choice for Swift’s current boyfriend Travis Kelce but there are, reportedly, a shocking number of songs about Healy on there.

Will Taylor Swift admit who songs are about?

Most of the time, fans acting as self-deputized detectives can infer who songs are about. “All Too Well” is decidedly about Jake Gyllenhaal but Swift herself never said as much. Same with “Getaway Car” and Tom Hiddleston. The song “Dear John” is … pretty easy to figure out. Point is: We can all guess who the songs are alluding to but she doesn’t confirm them.

So this album in particular does feel like an Alwyn/Healy break-up album with a bit of love for her new boyfriend Kelce. Which is an interesting combination for an album. Two artists and then the himbo football player that everyone is obsessed with? For the tortured poets-themed album? Maybe “The Alchemy” isn’t about Kelce at all.

The name alone gives us a clue that this is about artists she’s dated and while Alwyn is an artist who has helped her write songs in the past, that title very much also points to Matty Healy’s energy. So without official confirmation, we can assume that The Tortured Poets Department is about them both with probably some other people thrown in.

(featured image: Ashok Kumar/TAS24/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management)


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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.