Breaking Down Taylor Swift’s ‘TTPD’ Apple Music Playlist About Anger

Breaking Down Taylor Swift s TTPD Apple Music Playlist About Anger
Taylor Swift. John Shearer/TAS23/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

Taylor Swift has been known to channel feelings of rage in many of her hit songs.

In celebration of her upcoming The Tortured Poets Department album, Swift, 34, dropped a series of playlists on Apple Music based on the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The denial playlist was named after a phrase from one of her TTPD covers: “You Don’t Get to Tell Me About Sad Songs.”

“These songs all have one thing in common: I wrote them while feeling anger,” Swift said with a laugh in a voice note shared via Apple Music. “Over the years, I’ve learned that anger can manifest itself in a lot of different ways but the healthiest way that it manifests in my life is when I can write a song about it and then oftentimes that helps me get past it.”

After listeners hear Swift’s message, the playlist kicks off with Midnights’ “Vigilante S—t.” Since “Vigilante S—t” dropped in 2022, it has been widely seen as a revenge anthem.

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“Draw the cat eye, sharp enough to kill a man / You did some bad things, but I’m the worst of them,” Swift sings. “Sometimes I wonder which one will be your last lie / They say looks can kill and I might try /I don’t dress for women / I don’t dress for men / Lately I’ve been dressing for revenge.”

While Swift never confirmed the track’s meaning, her fans speculated that it is a subtle dig at Scooter Braun. Braun, 42, notably purchased the masters of Swift’s first six albums from her former label, Big Machine Records, in 2019. Swift subsequently slammed both Braun and Big Machine’s Scott Borchetta for not letting her own her own work, which she had long wanted to do. While Braun eventually sold the discography to a private equity firm for millions, Swift went on to rerecord the LPs. (Only Taylor Swift, her debut record, and Reputation have yet to get the “Taylor’s Version” treatment.)

Breaking Down Taylor Swift s TTPD Apple Music Playlist About Anger
Taylor Swift. Kevin Winter/TAS23/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

Moving on, the anger playlist continues with “High Infidelity” and “Would’ve Could’ve Should’ve” from Midnights and Folklore’s “Exile.”  Then, listeners hear “Illicit Affairs,” “Mad Woman,” “Tolerate It,” “Bad Blood (Taylor’s Version),” “Is It Over Now? (Taylor’s Version),” “I Know You Were Trouble (Taylor’s Version)” and “We Are Never Getting Back Together (Taylor’s Version).”

“Would’ve Could’ve Should’ve” was one of the bonus Midnights songs on her Midnights (3am Edition), which fans theorized was about her past romance with John Mayer.

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“And I damn sure would’ve never danced with the devil / At 19, and the God’s honest truth is that the pain was heaven / And now that I’m grown, I’m scared of ghosts,” she sings, with listeners noting Swift was 19 when she was linked to Mayer, now 46. “Memories feel like weapons / And now that I know, I wish you left me wondering.”

She continues, “If clarity’s in death, then why won’t this die? / Years of tearing down our banners, you and I / Living for the thrill of hitting you where it hurts / Give me back my girlhood, it was mine first.”

The lineup is followed by “The Last Time (Taylor’s Version),” “The Moment I Knew (Taylor’s Version),” “Babe (Taylor’s Version),” “I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor’s Version),” “Dear John (Taylor’s Version),” “Better Than Revenge (Taylor’s Version),” “Tell Me Why (Taylor’s Version),” “You’re Not Sorry (Taylor’s Version),” “Forever & Always (Taylor’s Version)” and “Mr. Perfectly Fine (Taylor’s Version).”

One Swiftie on X pointed out earlier this month that “almost half” of the tracks were featured on Red (Taylor’s Version). Swift initially put out Red in 2012, which has since become synonymous with some of her most prolific breakup anthems, including “All Too Well” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” heavily rumored to be about her now-ex Jake Gyllenhaal.

“I’ve always said that the world is a different place for the heartbroken,” Swift wrote via Instagram in June 2021, announcing her rerecorded version of Red. “Musically and lyrically, Red resembled a heartbroken person. It was all over the place, a fractured mosaic of feelings that somehow all fit together in the end.”

Swift’s playlists based on the five stages of grief tie into fan theories that The Tortured Poets Department, which drops on April 19, tells the story of the Grammy winner mourning a breakup. Swift last dated British actor Joe Alwyn between 2016 and 2023 with fans now speculating that her TTPD songs “So Long, London,” “But Daddy I Love Him,” “Fresh Out the Slammer,” “I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)” and “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart” were all penned about the heartbreak.

Swift, who has since moved on with NFL star Travis Kelce, has not yet addressed her lyrical inspiration for the record. However, she has referred to her songwriting process as a “lifeline” during a March concert in Australia, noting it got her “through life.”

The Tortured Poets Department drops on Friday, April 19.