Does Taylor Swift’s 11th Studio Album Represent the 5 Stages of Grief?

Why Fans Think Taylor Swifts The Tortured Poets Department May Resemble 5 Stages of Grief

Taylor Swift
Don Arnold/TAS24/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

Taylor Swift’s fans are known to decode the pop star’s hidden messages — and there’s a theory on why she’s releasing so many variations of her upcoming album, The Tortured Poets Department.

While Swift, 34, has remained tight-lipped about her 11th studio album, she has unveiled some clues that have made eagle-eyed Swifties believe each limited-edition version of the LP will represent a different stage of grief.

Since announcing her album at the 2024 Grammys earlier this month, Swift has confirmed three versions of The Tortured Poets Department: “The Manuscript,” “The Bolter” and “The Albatross.”

While comparing the different covers for each version and their taglines, fans have theorized that Swift will release five editions in total representing denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. (Elizabeth Kübler Ross first coined the stages of grief in her 1969 book On Death and Dying.)

Feature Guide to Taylor Swift The Tortured Poet Department Bonus Versions 2024 Grammys

Related: A Guide to Taylor Swift’s ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ Bonus Versions

Taylor Swift is treating her fans to more than one version of her upcoming 11th studio album. Three editions of The Tortured Poets Department, the original and two bonus versions, will be released on Friday, April 19. In addition to the 16 songs from the standard edition, each album variation will feature one of three […]

“The Manuscript” would represent denial, due to the version’s tagline, “I love you, it’s ruining my life.” As for “The Bolter,” the tagline suggests it may symbolize anger, as it reads, “You don’t get to tell me about sad.” “The Albatross,” which asks “Am I allowed to cry?,” may represent bargaining.

“Mark my words, I say it first… it will be the stages of grief, and they will get darker and darker. She’s telling the whole story in The Tortured Poets Department,” one user wrote via X.

Why Fans Think Taylor Swifts The Tortured Poets Department May Resemble 5 Stages of Grief

Taylor Swift
Don Arnold/TAS24/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

Another user chimed in via X, adding, “The more I think about it, the more I get on board with the ‘five variants for the five stages of grief’ theory. Taylor said she needed to write this album so odds are with several of the songs she’s going to be grieving the end of the relationship she thought would never end.”

So far, the cover of each limited edition has featured a different hue, which get progressively darker. Some fans believe that Swift will release two more versions representing depression and acceptance before the album drops on Friday, April 19.

In addition to the bonus tracks, Swift unveiled the tracklist for The Tortured Poets Department earlier this month, leading fans to speculate that the album is inspired by a breakup. Song titles include “So Long, London,” “But Daddy I Love Him,” “I Can Fix Him (No, Really, I Can)” and “Down Bad.”

Fans have theorized the album will break down her split from Joe Alwyn, who she dated for six years before their April 2023 split.

During her Eras Tour concert earlier this month, Swift admitted that she “needed to make” The Tortured Poets Department.

“It was really a lifeline for me,” she said at her concert in Melbourne, Australia, per social media footage. “It sort of reminded me of why songwriting is something that actually gets me through life and I’ve never had an album where I’ve needed songwriting more than I needed it on Tortured Poets.”

The Tortured Poets Department hits shelves on April 19.

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