Taylor Swift Can Do Whatever She Wants

But true liberty, in art and in life, is created by constraints.

Taylor Swift answers to no one.

Not music industry executives: Her songs returned to TikTok in the middle of a licensing dispute between the app and her label.

Not mayors: When she graced their cities during her Eras tour, they declared days in her honor.

Not the international community: A Singapore-exclusive stop in Southeast Asia sparked a row between the city-state and nearby Thailand and the Philippines. The Japanese embassy issued a statement about her Super Bowl travel plans.

And Swift doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. She announced new music within minutes of winning her latest Grammy for album of the year.

You might take all this as proof of Swift’s business genius, nothing personal. But in her latest album, The Tortured Poets Department, there’s definitely an “above it all” attitude. These songs are snarly. America’s sweetheart may have nothing left to prove. But she certainly has scores left to settle.

Swift is hardly a stranger to revenge. This is the songwriter, after all, who brought us lyrics like “It’s obvious that wanting me dead / Has really brought you two together.”

But TTPD broadens her aggression and scorns the prospect of reconciliation. A small-town girl takes on her community over a controversial love affair and trolls her parents with a joke pregnancy announcement. A depressed performer boasts sardonically about how well she can sell happiness to frenzied fans. A woman seethes at being seen as a problematic starlet by her new boyfriend’s circle.

There’s a track suspiciously similar to an Olivia Rodrigo song (the two singers have a rumored feud). The title of another appears to name-drop Kim Kardashian, an older nemesis.

Critics agree that …

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