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Here's A Breakdown Of All The Times Taylor Swift Appeared To Reference Matty Healy, Kim Kardashian, And Other Headlines On Her New Album

On "thanK you aIMee," Taylor tells her bully, "I changed your name, and any real defining clues." However, the strategic capitalization spells out Kim — seemingly referencing Kim Kardashian's part in Taylor's feud with Kanye West.

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The wait is over! Taylor Swift's new album The Tortured Poets Department is finally here — times two! Like me, you're probably running on three hours of sleep and a big ol' mug of coffee after she dropped the surprise double album last night. I'm blown away by how devastatingly honest and beautifully introspective the lyrics seem. Now that I've had a little bit of time to pick my jaw up off the floor, I decided to do a bit of a deeper lyrical analysis.

Taylor singing on stage wearing a flowing dress

Of course, as Taylor said on Twitter, "This period of the author's life is now over, the chapter closed and boarded up" and "there is nothing to avenge, no scores to settle once wounds have healed." We can be critical of the past without being cruel. So, as we look back on the last few years to understand her art, please remember to check your weapons at the door of the Tortured Poets Department. ❤️

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Taylor Swift performing with a fringed dress and guitar, alongside band members on stage doing heart hands

So, here are 41 times Taylor Swift (seemingly) referenced Joe Alwyn, Travis Kelce, and other headlines in The Tortured Poets Department:

Also, just a note that I'm not going to mention every single song — particularly not the ones that don't seem super obvious in meaning to me. I don't know Taylor's heart or mind!

1. "The Tortured Poets Department" contains a possible reference to The 1975 song "Chocolate" in the line, "You smoked, then ate seven bars of chocolate." It's possibly an allusion to her month-long relationship with lead singer Matty Healy.

Taylor Swift and Matty Healy walking

In "Chocolate," Matty Healy famously uses "chocolate" as a euphemism for weed.

2. "My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys" seemingly references reports that romantically linked Taylor and Matty all the way back in 2014 with the line, "There was a litany of reasons why we could've played for keeps this time."

Taylor Swift in a sleeveless "The 1975"  top and plaid skirt, wearing sunglasses and carrying a handbag

After Taylor attended a The 1975 concert in 2014, Matty told Shazam Top 20, "I met Taylor Swift, that was really nice. We exchanged numbers. Let's see what happens...I mean, bloody hell, what am I going to do? Go out with Taylor Swift? She's a sensation. I wouldn't say no." 

Then in 2016, he told Q Magazine, "I don't do anything else, right, so it doesn't leave a lot of room for me going out or shagging someone. So the one time I did have a flirtation with a girl, it ends up going everywhere… I mean, I got on E! News and people were like, 'Who's Matty Healy?' so that was cool. But I didn't make a big deal out of it myself. It's not really anything to talk about, because if she wasn't Taylor Swift, we wouldn't be talking about her. She wasn't a big impact on my life. It's interesting to me how interested the world is about Taylor Swift."

3. "Down Bad" seemingly references the negative public reaction to Taylor's relationship with Matty on the line, "I'll build you a fort on some planet where they can all understand it."

Matty in a skeleton-themed outfit playing guitar onstage

Fans and other members of the public criticized Taylor for her relationship with Matty in light of his history of offensive behavior, most notably the comments he made on a since-removed episode of The Adam Friedland Show, which reportedly included racist comments about Ice Spice and his admittance to watching an extreme porn site where the content is mainly focused on degrading Black women.

4. In the "Down Bad" line "'Cause fuck it, I was in love," she also alludes to their relationship feeling serious to her despite its brevity, evoking the moment during a Nashville stop on the Eras Tour where — with Matty in attendance — she seemingly mouthed, "This is about you. You know who you are. I love you."

Taylor Swift pointing to the crowd as she performs on stage in a fringe dress

5. "So Long, London" appears to be a fairly obvious reference to reports that, during her six-year relationship with Joe Alwyn, they lived together in London.

Taylor gazes into Joe's eyes as they sit at a table during an event

6. In "So Long, London," she sings, "You left me at the house by the Heath." This is possibly linked to rumors that she and Joe were looking for a house in Hamstead Heath or St. John's Wood in London in 2023.

Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn exiting a vehicle

At the time Beauchamp Estates' St John’s Wood office head Rosy Khalastchy told the Standard, "This is the big gossip all over the central London super-prime market at present. There is always huge excitement when someone super famous is house-hunting. We are led to believe that Taylor Swift is looking in St John’' Wood and Hampstead for a house to live in; I am told she currently lives in Primrose Hill. Taylor has been looking for a period house with a garden, and crucially looking at roads and addresses that will provide her with privacy, security and discretion."

7. And the line "And I'm pissed off you let me give you all that youth for free" is likely a reference to Taylor spending her late 20s and early 30s with Joe before the dissolution of their relationship in 2023.

Taylor and Joe sitting together at a formal event

8. "But Daddy I Love Him" appears to contain multiple references to the public criticism of her short-lived relationship with Matty and her decision to stick with him despite it.

Specifically, lines like "Too high a horse for a simple girl to rise above it / They slammed the door on my whole world / The one thing I wanted" and "No, I'm not coming to my senses / I know he's crazy, but he's the one I want."

Personally, this is what the song brings to mind: During a Foxborough, Massachusetts stop on the Eras Tour amidst their relationship, Taylor reportedly told the crowd, "It's insane. I kind of just feel like telling you, that I don't know, that just... I've never been this happy in my life, in all aspects of my life, ever before."

9. "Fresh Out the Slammer" seemingly references reports that Taylor moved on with Matty shortly after her breakup with Joe (and her alleged history with Matty) with the line, "Fresh out the slammer / I know who my first call will be to."

Taylor Swift in a casual outfit walks with Matty, surrounded by fans and security

10. And the line "Another summer, takin' cover, rolling thunder" seemingly refers to Joe's desire to keep their relationship private.

Taylor and Joe walking, both facing away with bodyguards nearby

In 2022, Joe told Elle UK, "It's not really [because I] want to be guarded and private, it's more a response to something else. We live in a culture that is so increasingly intrusive… The more you give — and frankly, even if you don't give it — something will be taken."

11. "Guilty as Sin?" also seemingly references public criticism of her relationship with Matty and accusations he was "ruining" her public image, particularly these lines: "What if I roll the stone away? / They're gonna crucify me anyway / What if the way you hold me is actually what's holy? / If long-suffering propriety is what they want from me / They don't know how you've haunted me so stunningly / I choose you and me religiously."

Matty performing on stage in a suit

12. "Who's Afraid of Little Old Me?" seemingly references criticism Taylor has faced throughout her career — particularly that she's too emotional and too litigious — in these lines: "I'm always drunk on my own tears, isn't that what they all said? / That I'll sue you if you step on my lawn / That I'm fearsome and I'm wretched and I'm wrong / Put narcotics into all of my songs / And that's why you're still singin' along."

Taylor on stage in a sparkling jumpsuit, singing with one of her arms raised

13. "I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)" seemingly references Matty, his smoking, and possibly his insensitive jokes that contributed to public derision of her decision to date him with the opening lines: "The smoke cloud billows out his mouth / Like a freight train through a small town / The jokes that he told across the bar / Were revolting and far too loud."

Matty onstage with taking a swig from a flask while holding a lit cigarette

14. "I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)" also seemingly contains further allusions to her reaction to public outcry regarding her relationship with Matty. She sings, "They shake their heads sayin', 'God, help her' / When I tell 'em he's my man / But your good Lord doesn't need to lift a finger / I can fix him, no, really, I can."

Closeup of Taylor Swift onstage

15. I'm going to preface this by saying it's probably a highly unlikely stretch, but when I saw the title of "loml," the first thing that came to mind was a since-deleted Instagram post Matty made in 2020 where he called this then-girlfriend FKA Twigs an "icon," "legend," and "loml."

16. "Loml" seemingly references Taylor and Matty's alleged history with lines like "Who's gonna stop us from waltzing back into rekindled flames / If we know the steps anyway?"

Taylor Swift in a backless dress embracing Nick Grimshaw, who stands next to Matt Healy at an event

17. And lines like "You and I go from one kiss to getting married" and "You shit-talked me under the table / Talkin' rings and talkin' cradles" are possibly references to tabloid reports like this one from the Mirror, which alleged that Matty reportedly wanted to "settle down" with Taylor.

Matty in a suit playing an electric guitar on stage during a concert

18. "I Can Do It with a Broken Heart" appears to be an obvious allusion to the two breakups Taylor experienced while on the road for the Eras Tour. Her breakup with Joe was reported less than a month into her monumental tour, and her breakup with Matty came another two months later.

Taylor Swift onstage

She sings, "'Cause I'm a real tough kid / I can handle my shit / They said, 'Babe, you gotta fake it 'til you make it' and I did / Lights, camera, bitch, smile / Even when you wanna die / He said he'd love me all his life / But that life was too short / Breaking down, I hit the floor / All the pieces of me shatterеd as the crowd was chanting, 'More' / I was grinnin' like I'm winnin' / I was hittin' my marks / 'Cause I can do it with a broken heart."

19. On "The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived," the line "I don't even want you back, I just want to know / If rusting my sparkling summer was the goal" appears to reference her month-long relationship with Matty, which reportedly ended in June 2023.

Taylor Swift in a sundress with a shoulder bag, walking on a sidewalk with a man behind her

20. Also, the line "In public, showed me off" appears to allude to how seemingly readily Matty appeared with her in the public eye.

Taylor Swift and Matty Healy exiting a building

21. And once again, she seemingly refers to public derision of their relationship and her seeming willingness to stay with him despite it with this line: "I would've died for your sins / Instead, I just died inside."

Closeup of Taylor Swift

22. Additionally, the religious imagery in "The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived" and throughout TTPD brings to mind this line from "Girls" by The 1975: "I know you're looking for salvation in the secular age / But, girl, I'm not your savior."

The 1975 performing

23. "The Alchemy" uses several football/sports metaphors, so it's likely a reference to Taylor's current relationship with Travis Kelce.

Travis and Taylor kissing on a crowded field with cameras surrounding them

A few examples:

"So when I touch down / Call the amateurs and cut 'em from the team."

"These blokes warm the benches / We've been on a winning streak."

"Beer stickin' to the floor, cheers chanted 'cause they said / There was no chance trying to be the greatest in the league / Where's the trophy? He just comes runnin' over to me."

24. And the line "These blokes warm the benches" seemingly references Taylor's exes from the UK. Before Travis (who's American), she dated Matty Healy, Joe Alwyn, Tom Hiddleston, and Harry Styles, who are British, and Calvin Harris, who's Scottish.

25. "Clara Bow" is a testament to the comparisons to other famous women Taylor has faced throughout her career and the expectations placed on her as a woman. Then, in the outro, she seemingly alludes to how up-and-coming artists, such as Olivia Rodrigo, have been compared to her, singing, "You look like Taylor Swift / In this light, we're lovin' it / You've got edge, she never did / The future's bright, dazzling."

And now on to The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology....

26. "The Black Dog" seemingly opens with a reference to Taylor and Joe's breakup: "I am someone who until recent events / You shared your secrets with."

Taylor and Joe exiting a car

27. In my mind, on "imgonnagetyouback," the line "Bygones will be bygone, eras fadin' into grey (Fading into grey)" evokes the Lover house — which she burns down during the Eras Tour.

Cross-section of a multi-story house with characters in various rooms engaged in different activities, set in a snowy night scene

28. "The Albatross" appears to reference the public scrutiny Joe Alwyn faced after their breakup, despite never speaking on the matter and no confirmation as to why their relationship ended.

Joe in a suit with a pin stands in a room with artwork and furniture

Such lines include, "You were sleeping soundly / When they dragged you from your bed / And I tried to warn you about them."

29. More specifically, the line, "Wise men once read fake news / And they believed it" made me think of when Taylor's publicist, Tree Paine, publicly shut down rumors that Taylor and Joe had been secretly married.

Enough is enough with these fabricated lies about Taylor from Deuxmoi. There was NEVER a marriage or ceremony of ANY kind. This is an insane thing to post. It’s time for you to be held accountable for the pain and trauma you cause with posts like these. pic.twitter.com/cFi0wQc9cp

— Tree Paine (@treepaine) December 1, 2023
Twitter: @treepaine

30. On "So High School," the line, "Are you gonna marry, kiss, or kill me?" seemingly refers to a 2016 AfterBuzz TV interview where Travis was asked to play "kiss, marry, kill" with Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, and Taylor Swift.

Travis Kelce says he'd kiss taylor

Here's the full clip:

View this video on YouTube

AfterBuzz TV / Via youtube.com

31. Also, the line "Get my car door, isn't that sweet?" seemingly references the viral moment when Travis opened Taylor's car door outside the Saturday Night Live afterparty.

Taylor and Travis exiting a vehicle

32. And "You know how to ball, I know Aristotle" appears to be a quite obvious reference to Travis's career as the tight end on the Kansas City Chiefs.

Travis in uniform on the field

33. On "I Hate It Here," the line, "Now I seem to be scared to go outside" seemingly evokes the time when Taylor disappeared from the public eye following the pre-Reputation-era fallout following her feud with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.

Taylor Swift in a button up shirt, seated on a couch, looking surprised during an interview

In her Netflix documentary Miss Americana, Taylor said, "Nobody physically saw me for a year, and that was what I thought they wanted. I had to deconstruct an entire belief system — toss it out and reject it."

34. On "thanK you aIMee," Taylor tells her bully, "I changed your name, and any real defining clues." However, the strategic capitalization spells out Kim — seemingly referencing Kim Kardashian's part in Taylor's feud with Kanye West.

Taylor Swift, Kanye West, and Kim Kardashian conversing at an awards show

The song is about how "Aimee's" treatment of her hurt, but it ultimately inspired her to heal and keep rebuilding.

Elsewhere in the song, Taylor sings, "There's a bronze spray-tanned statue of you" and "she wrote headlines / In the local paper, laughing at each baby step I'd take."

35. On "The Prophecy," the line "Don't want money / Just someone who wants my company" could be a possible reference to the reports that the Eras Tour had become the highest-grossing tour of all time.

Taylor Swift performs on stage in a sparkling fringe ensemble

36. In "Cassandra," Taylor seemingly references the ill-fated phone call from Kayne West that reignited their feud with this line: "I was in my new house placing daydreams / Patching up the crack along the wall / I pass it and lose track of what I'm saying / 'Cause that's where I was when I got the call."

Taylor Swift, Kim Kardashian, and Kanye West at an event

At the time, Kanye West and his then-wife Kim Kardashian claimed that Taylor approved a line in his song "Famous" saying, "I made that bitch famous." When Taylor denied this, Kim posted an edited version of the call. However, when the full version of the call leaked in 2020, Taylor was vindicated.

37. She also appears to reference the full version of the call coming out with this line: "When the truth comes out, it's quiet."

Taylor speaking with Kanye and Kim

In the unedited version, Taylor pushed back against Kanye's request to say he made her famous. She said, "Did you say that? Oh God. Well, what am I gonna do about it? I mean, it's kind of whatever at this point. But, I mean, you gotta tell a story the way it happened to you and the way that you experienced it — you didn't know who I was at that point. It doesn't matter if I pulled 7 million records off [Fearless] before you did that [at the VMAs] — which is what happened."

38. And the line "They filled my cell with snakes, I regret to say / Do you believe me now?" seems to reference the way people flooded Taylor's comments with snake emojis after Kim posted her edited version of the call.

Graffiti tribute to Taylor Swift with a portrait and dates, 1989-2016

39. The lyrics of "Robin" seem to be addressing a child. Aaron Dessner, who co-produced and co-wrote the song with Taylor, has a child named Robin.

Taylor and Aaron peforming

40. On "The Manuscript," Taylor again seems to possibly allude to Matty's tabloid-reported desire to "settle down" with her before the demise of their brief romance. She sings, "He said that if the sex was half as good as the conversation was / Soon they'd be pushin' strollers / But soon it was over."

Matty singing on stage

41. And finally, the closing line "One last souvenir from my trip to your shores / Now and then I reread the manuscript / But the story isn't mine anymore" are similar to the social media statement Taylor shared upon the album's release.

Taylor Swift performing with a guitar, wearing a sequined outfit, arms outstretched

On Twitter, she said, "The Tortured Poets Department. An anthology of new works that reflect events, opinions, and sentiments from a fleeting and fatalistic moment in time — one that was both sensational and sorrowful in equal measure. This period of the author’s life is now over, the chapter closed and boarded up. There is nothing to avenge, no scores to settle once wounds have healed. And upon further reflection, a good number of them turned out to be self-inflicted. This writer is of the firm belief that our tears become holy in the form of ink on a page. Once we have spoken our saddest story, we can be free of it. And then all that’s left behind is the tortured poetry."

What's your favorite line from The Tortured Poets Department? Did you catch any other possible references I missed? Or do you disagree with any of my theories? Let me know in the comments!

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