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Taylor Swift has given fans a lot. Is it finally too much?

JUTHARAT PINYODOONYACHET/THE NEW YORK TIMES / 2023
                                Taylor Swift performs during her Eras Tour concert at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. With the release of “The Tortured Poets Department,” the inescapable pop star’s latest (very long) album, some fans seem to finally be feeling fatigued.
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JUTHARAT PINYODOONYACHET/THE NEW YORK TIMES / 2023

Taylor Swift performs during her Eras Tour concert at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. With the release of “The Tortured Poets Department,” the inescapable pop star’s latest (very long) album, some fans seem to finally be feeling fatigued.

Four new studio albums. Four rerecorded albums, too. A $1 billion oxygen-sucking world tour with a concert movie to match. And, of course, one very high-profile relationship that spilled over into the Super Bowl.

For some, the constant deluge that has peaked in the past year is starting to add up to a new (and previously unthinkable) feeling: Taylor Swift fatigue.

And it is a feeling that has only solidified online in the days following the release of “The Tortured Poets Department,” which morphed from a 16-song album into a 31-song, two-hour epic just hours after its release.

Many critics (including The New York Times’ own) have suggested that the album was overstuffed — simply not her best. And critiques of the music have now opened a sliver of space for a wider round of complaints unlike any Swift has faced over her prolific and world-conquering recent run.

“It’s almost like if you produce too much… too fast… in a brazen attempt to completely saturate and dominate a market rather than having something important or even halfway interesting to say… the art suffers!” Chris Murphy, a staff writer at Vanity Fair, posted on the social platform X.

This is not to say nobody listened to the album; far from it. Spotify said “Poets,” which was released Friday, became the most-streamed album in a single day with more than 300 million streams.

And of course, many of Swift’s most ardent fans, known as “Swifties,” loved her 11th album or, at least, have decided to air any reservations in private conversations. The first days of the album’s release have been greeted with the usual lyrical dissections for key allusions hidden within the songs, attention to every word that few other artists receive.

But others, including some self-identified Swift fans, have freely admitted frustration. Fans and critics alike have contended that Swift’s lyrics have become a tad verbose and that the tracks on this latest album — many of them breakup songs — sounded a whole lot like others she has already put out. The internet has also provided an almost unlimited supply of jokes about the length of the album.

Some admonished Swift for selling so many versions of “Poets” only to double its size after those orders were in, part of a cynically corporate rollout. (Care for the CD, vinyl or the Phantom Clear vinyl?) The Daily Mail cobbled together what it deemed “The 10 WORST lyrics in Taylor Swift’s new album — ranked!”

For its part, Reductress, the satirical women’s magazine, offered a post titled “Woman Doing Her Best to Like New Taylor Swift Album Lest She Face the Consequences.”

Those who dare to publicly criticize Swift are acutely aware of the potential for backlash. Murphy, the Vanity Fair writer, made a dark joke about it. At least one X user who posted a lengthy thread eviscerating Swift, the album and its rollout took the post private after it got more than 3 million views. Paste Magazine opted not to put a byline on its harsh review of Swift’s album, citing safety concerns for the writer.

In an unusual twist, even Swift herself is widely viewed as admonishing her most militant defenders in one particular song on the new album, “But Daddy I Love Him.” Some contingents of Swift’s fan base strongly disapproved of her brief relationship with Matty Healy of the 1975 and appear to now be bristling at the amount of record real estate Healy consumes on the latest album.

Weird, complicated times in Taylor land.

“It might be a tough few days for the fanbase,” Nathan Hubbard, a co-host of the Ringer podcast, “Every Single Album,” wrote in a social media thread about “Poets” on Friday. “They’ll hear some valid criticism they aren’t used to (if the critics dare), and for many they’ll have to reconcile their own truth that this isn’t their favorite, while still rightly celebrating it and supporting her.”

Indeed, grinding through the 31-song double album after midnight had felt like “a hostage situation,” Hubbard wrote.

On a new podcast episode, which was released over the weekend, Hubbard and his co-host, Nora Princiotti, were among those who pointed out that while the album may be imperfect, Swift simply may have needed to purge herself of the songs on “Poets” to process a turbulent time in her life.

Princiotti said she enjoyed much of the album and was careful to stipulate that “Poets” did contain several “special songs.”

But she also allowed for some “tough love.”

“Musically, I do not really hear anything new,” she said, adding that Swift “could have done a little bit more self-editing.”

“I don’t think the fact that this is a double-album that is more than two hours in length serves what’s good about it,” Princiotti said. “And I think that for the second album in a row, I’m still sort of left going, ‘OK, where do we go from here?’”

Princiotti ultimately graded “Poets” a “B.” And in the world of her podcast and universe of Taylor Swift, Princiotti acknowledged, that might have been an all-time low.


This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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