Swifties were anticipating Reputation TV release date at the Grammys when Taylor Swift decidedly took centre stage to surprise everybody — yet again — announcing her brand new album titled The Tortured Poets Department. 

Now, if you’re even remotely familiar with Swift’s discography, you’d know it’s an immersive universe of easter eggs with cryptic queues, metaphors, and symbolism scattered across different albums. Things are connected and not always what they seem, and Swift, the mastermind storyteller, often has fans decrypting the codes lurking in plain sight.

The day after the Grammys, Swift released the tracklist of her upcoming album, which includes songs titled ‘So Long, London’, ‘Clara Bow’, ‘I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)’ and more. Naturally, this set her fans into motion, building theories and deciphering tracks from their name. Here are 7 of the most popular fan theories around Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department tracklist that don’t seem accidental at all –

1. The ‘Joe Alwyn’ reference

Taylor Swift and British actor Joe Alwyn dated for over six years. Right before she set off on her record-breaking Eras tour, reports of their separation emerged in the media. It’s widely speculated among the fans that Swift’s seventh studio albumLover’ chronicles their relationship with songs like London Boy and Cornelia Street. London is also mentioned in her upcoming track So Long, London. Therefore, the most obvious link Swifties have drawn is the apparent connection to Joe Alwyn.

2. The ‘Album Name’ reference

Another reference is the title name of the album itself. A video of Alwyn revealing his WhatsApp group chat name with Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott has resurfaced online. The group’s called The Tortured Man Club.

3. The ‘Clara Bow’ reference

The track 16 in Swift’s upcoming album is Clara Bow. Well, Bow was the biggest American actress in the 1920s during the silent film era who retired early. She had a difficult childhood. She was referred to as the ‘It Girl’ and perceived as the sex symbol of her time. Her fame accompanied immense public intrusion in her personal life with negative publicity and unfounded gossip.

On the other hand, Swift has often vocalised her frustration with how everything she says and does gets brutally dissected against her. Fans wonder if Swift saw something found an uncanny solidarity in Bow’s journey with fame.

4. The ‘Midnights‘ reference

Taylor Swift’s Midnights Era concluded with the Track Dear Reader. The lyrics of the song, when viewed in hindsight, seem to be paving the way for her upcoming seemingly literature-esque albumThe Tortured Poets Department.

5. The ‘Red Herring’ reference

For the unversed, red herring means a deceptive queue, something that is meant to digress attention from the important thing. Now, before Swift announced her new album, her website was reportedly down flashing random alphabets ‘hneriergrd’, which, upon unscrambling read ‘red herring.’ Initially, fans suspected the glitch was deliberate and that it meant that Swift was announcing the re-recorded Reputation album. But then, she casually walked onto the stage and got her fans spiralling.

6. The ‘Website Error Messages’ reference

When Swift’s website went down, random foreign language words appeared in the site code, which, when translated, were the lyrics Swift herself revealed along with her new album cover.

7. The ‘Little Mermaid‘ reference

Taylor Swift was born in 1989. It is also the name of her fifth studio album. Additionally, Disney’s original The Litle Mermaid was released the same year. One of the dialogues from the classic film is ”Daddy, I Love Him”, which also happens to be a track on Swift’s new album. Now, to a newbie, this could be just plain overthinking, but the math is always mathing in Swift’s discography.

Some fans have also drawn connections with a shirt Harry Styles wore in public once that exclaimed the same thing.

It’s hard to know how many of these queues have been deliberately planted and how many are purely coincidental. At the moment, however, the jigsaws seem to fit perfectly. But it wouldn’t be surprising if fans are totally wrong. Swift’s always several several steps ahead, you see. She’s the mastermind!