Before Monday night, phrases like “My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys” and “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived” were just that — phrases. Now, they’re seemingly the keys to understanding Taylor Swift’s breakup with actor Joe Alwyn. That is to say, Swift released the tracklist for her forthcoming album The Tortured Poets Department, and Swifties immediately started looking for clues.
The pop yıldız posted the backside of the physical album to Instagram. It shows Swift in black and white with her hand on her head in anguish, but more importantly, the tracklist is written in tiny gray print, oriented vertically. It’s so hard to see that it’s already a puzzle for her devoted fan base.
The tracklist is divvied up into four sides and reads:
Fortnight (feat. Post Malone)
The Tortured Poets Department
My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys
So Long, London
But Daddy I Love Him
Fresh Out the Slammer
Florida!!! (Florence + the Machine)
Guilty as Sin?
Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?
I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)
I Can Do It With a Broken Heart
The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived
Bonus Track: The Manuscript
The 17 titles set X / Twitter ablaze with fan theories, with some tracks generating more discourse than others. “So Long, London” jumped out at fans as the anti “London Boy,” a tongue-in-cheek song on Lover associated with Alwyn. It’s the album’s coveted Track 5, which in Swiftland is traditionally the most devastating song on the album.
Others noted the similarity between the image on the back of Lover and The Tortured Poets Department. In response to that observation, one Swiftie wrote, “I just heard a canon go off like in the hunger games and Joe Alywn’s picture should be in the sky shortly.”
Fans immediately began discussing “But Daddy I Love Him,” presuming that it’s a reference to The Little Mermaid. One fan wrote, “but daddy i love him being an exact reference to the little mermaid because of ariel giving up her voice to be with the love of her life…..” Dozens of posts echo the same theory.
Another title that caught Swifties’ attention is “Clara Bow.” Fans put their historian caps on and began reading about the life of the silent film yıldız of the same name. They pointed out that, like Swift, she went through a period of seclusion, followed by marriage rumors, and was subjected to endless scrutiny and gossip about her personal life (which Swift’s fans participate in).
At least one fan is so invested in understanding the title that she began to read Bow’s biography in preparation.
“Fresh Out the Slammer” is another song that is generating endless discourse online. Fans are speculating that it’s a reference to her time spent out of the spotlight — which once again coincides with her relationship with Alwyn — and a callback to the lyric “he can be my jailor” in “…Ready For It?” on Reputation.
Swifties are having a field day comparing the title with her Time Person of the Year interview where she said, “Life is short. Have adventures. Me locking myself away in my house for lots of years — I’ll never get that time back.”
There’s plenty of time before April 19 for Swifties to go through the entire tracklist with a fine-toothed comb.