Taylor Swift’s ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ set to drop on FRIDAY

Taylor Swift is primed to release her highly anticipated record “The Tortured Poets Department” on Friday – the 11th studio album from the megastar who is already having a blockbuster year.

Swift announced the album’s release at the Grammys in February, a night that saw the 34-year-old billionaire win a record-breaking fourth Album of the Year prize.

And with the album set to drop in the United States at 06:00 (SA time) on Friday, the artist could be on track for a fifth.

Since her bombshell announcement, her loyal legion of Swifties have been working around the clock shelling out fan predictions – dissecting the tracklist, the guest appearances, and the hints.

The working theory is that “The Tortured Poets Department” centres on her ex, British actor Joe Alwyn, who Swift dated starting in 2016 until they broke up about a year ago.

Alwyn (“The Favourite”) and fellow actor Paul Mescal (“Normal People”) revealed in 2022 that they had a group chat entitled “The Tortured Man Club,” which also included Andrew Scott (“Fleabag,” “Ripley”).

The Swifties think their queen’s album title is a likely reference to that text circle, and the Instagram caption she wrote to go along with the initial social media promo of the record indeed implies she’s got tea to spill.

“All’s fair in love and poetry…” she wrote. “New album THE TORTURED POETS DEPARTMENT.”

Prior to their breakup, Alwyn had songwriting credits under a pen name, William Bowery, on several of her most recent albums.

Taylor Swift already revealed the tracklist, with titles including “Down Bad,” “So Long, London,” “I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)” and “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived.”

Post Malone and Florence + The Machine are among those set to make cameos on the album.

‘Shake up the world’

Swift has made an award-winning routine of eviscerating her former lovers in song, including dropping lyrical takedowns of John Mayer and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Her current beau, Super Bowl-winning NFL tight end Travis Kelce, has already praised the new album.

“I have heard some of it, yes, and it’s unbelievable,” he told reporters in February.

“I can’t wait for her to shake up the world when it finally drops.”

Swift has already had an earth-shattering past year or so, staging the first billion-dollar tour with her ongoing series of Eras concerts, breaking myriad chart records and becoming the artist with more Album of the Year Grammys than anyone, surpassing Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon.

Topping the charts with Beyonce

Swift – who was born in Pennsylvania on December 13, 1989 – began writing songs professionally as a teenager, signing with Nashville’s Big Machine Records as a country artist.

After a highly publicised dispute with Big Machine executives regarding ownership of her first six albums – she’d fully embraced pop by then – she made the cunning, risky decision to re-record those early albums to own their rights.

It paid off, delighting ardent fans, bringing new Swifties into the fold, and earning her renewed respect within the industry.

With “The Tortured Poets Department,” she stands to make waves once more, although she’ll face stiff competition from the likes of Beyonce and Billie Eilish next awards season.

Beyonce recently released her honky tonk of an album “Cowboy Carter,” an electric, statement-making record that once again cemented her status as an era-defining artist.

But Queen Bey dropped that record March 29, offering a charts cushion – whether intentional or not – that would allow both her and Taylor Swift to notch wins.

The two reigning stars are often pitted against each other as rivals although they’ve never implied that themselves, instead taking steps over the years to dismiss the notion.

They will almost certainly be competing for next year’s top Grammys, as will Recording Academy darling Billie Eilish, whose third album “Hit Me Hard and Soft” is due out on May 17.

But these wildly wealthy, supremely talented and conversation-commanding artists have all emphasized that at the end of the day, it’s all about the music.

Writing her forthcoming album “kind of reminded me of why songwriting is something that actually gets me through my life,” Swift told fans at a recent show.

“I’ve never had an album where I needed songwriting more than I needed it on ‘Tortured Poets.’”

By Garrin Lambley © Agence France-Presse