Taylor Swift’s new album sends fans on lyrical easter egg hunt – with theories about Matty Healy, Joe Alwyn


Taylor Swift’s eleventh album, “The Tortured Poets Department,” arrived Friday, and fans—who frequently hunt for Easter eggs and hints about Swit’s personal life in her music—are theorizing the album may be about ex-boyfriend Joe Alwyn and rumored fling Matty Healy, though Swift hasn’t mentioned them by name or confirmed any fan theories.

Taylor Swift released “The Tortured Poets Department” on Friday. (Photo by Robyn BECK / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

Key Takeaways
  • Swift appeared to confirm in an Instagram post the album is about a period in her life that is now “closed and boarded up,” leading fans to scour her lyrics and theorize songs on the album may be about her ex-boyfriend, actor Joe Alwyn, and The 1975 singer Matty Healy, whom she is rumored to have had a brief relationship with last year.
  • Many fans believe Swift’s brief, and controversial, relationship with Healy inspired “But Daddy I Love Him,” pointing to lyrics that appeared to lambast the public outcry over their relationship, stating her name is “mine alone to disgrace.”
  • Some fans also theorized the title track may be about Healy, suggesting the song’s references to tattoos and smoking may be about him, as well as Swift’s admission that she “chose this cyclone with you”—another possible reference to their criticized relationship.
  • The song “So Long, London” is thought by fans to be about her breakup with her boyfriend of six years, English actor Joe Alwyn, with lines referencing somebody “drifting away” and her attempts to revive a fading relationship.
  • Swift also makes several references to marriage on the album, which some fans have linked to another fan-generated theory that Alwyn didn’t want to get married—like on “So Long London” (“I died on the altar waiting for the proof”) and “My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys” (“He saw forever, so he smashed it up”).
  • Fans believe Swift’s song “The Alchemy” could reference her relationship with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, thanks to its multiple references to football and one lyric that could reference Kelce and Swift embracing after the Chiefs won the Super Bowl: “Where’s the trophy? He just comes running over to me.”
  • Fans noticed the capitalized letters in “thanK you aIMee” spell “KIM,” a possible reference to Kim Kardashian, with whom she has a long-running feud stemming from her drama with Kardashian’s ex-husband Kanye West.
News Peg

Swift released the 16-track album, “The Tortured Poets Department,” Friday at midnight EDT—but two hours later, she surprised fans by releasing an additional 15 tracks, subtitled “The Anthology.” The album features guest appearances by Post Malone and Florence and the Machine. Swift will release a music video for her song with Post Malone, “Fortnight,” at 8 p.m. EDT Friday.

Spotify announced on Thursday that “The Tortured Poets Department” had become the most presaved album in the streaming service’s history. Swift had teamed with Spotify and other companies—including Apple Music, TikTok, Instagram, Threads, iHeartRadio and YouTube—to promote the album.

Why Do Swift Fans Search For Clues In Her Music?

Swift has long been known for writing autobiographical music and for teasing fans with Easter eggs in her lyrics and music videos, sometimes causing fans to create wild theories.

She has hidden messages for fans in her CD booklets, scrambled the titles of upcoming songs and included hidden imagery in music videos hinting at future releases. Swift admitted to Entertainment Weekly in 2019 that she has “trained” fans to search for clues, stating: “As long as they like it, I’ll keep doing it.”

But sometimes the theories don’t end up being true—like a debunked theory that she actually wrote the movie “Argylle”—or they can cause chaos in the Swiftie fanbase. Chief among these is the “Gaylor” theory, an often-criticized idea championed by some fans who believe she has hidden subliminal messages about being queer in her music.

Key Background

Swift dated Alwyn from late 2016 until their reported breakup in April 2023. Many of Swift’s songs during this period were thought to be love songs inspired by Alwyn. He also collaborated with Swift on her albums crafted during the Covid-19 pandemic, and has writing credits under the pseudonym William Bowery. Within weeks of the news breaking that Swift and Alwyn had split, Swift was spotted holding hands with Healy at a New York restaurant, and British tabloid The Sun claimed they were “in love.”

The short-lived rumored relationship drew scrutiny from fans because of Healy’s history of making controversial comments. Rumors that Swift and Kelce were dating began by summer 2023, and Swift was spotted at several Kansas City Chiefs games between September and October—before Swift seemingly confirmed their relationship onstage in November by altering the lyrics to her song “Karma,” singing: “Karma is the guy on the Chiefs, coming straight home to me.”

Surprising Fact

Fans have drawn several comparisons between “So Long, London” and “You’re Losing Me,” a song Swift released in 2023 as part of the “Late Night” edition of her “Midnights” album.

Swifties have long theorized “You’re Losing Me” chronicled the end of Swift’s relationship with Alwyn. On that song, she sings: “My face was gray, but you wouldn’t admit that we were sick,” an image that reappears on “So Long, London,” where she says she’s “just getting color back into my face.” On “You’re Losing Me,” she sings about not being able to “find a pulse” in her dying relationship, and on “So Long, London,” she says she “stopped CPR” after trying and failing to revive it.


Swift’s apparent shots at Kardashian are the latest installment in their conflict also involving Kanye West, infamously dating back to West interrupting Swift onstage at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2009. Their feud reignited in 2016 when West released his song “Famous,” in which he—referring to Swift—rapped that he “made that bitch famous.”

Swift’s publicist Tree Paine denied that she had given permission for the “misogynistic” lyric, claiming she was never made aware of the actual lyrics. Kardashian posted videos of a phone call in which Swift appeared to give permission to West, though she denied in a statement that she had ever given permission specifically for the “bitch” line.

The full call leaked in 2020, revealing that West had never read Swift the line referring to her as “bitch.” In her TIME Magazine Person of the Year profile in 2023, Swift said the incident “took me down psychologically to a place I’ve never been before.”

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