Recategorizing Taylor Swift’s Discography & What The Tortured Poets Department Might Bring

Summary notes created by Deciphr AI


Hosts Cameron and Lisa of the "Swiftly Spoken" podcast dissect Taylor Swift's self-defined musical genre classifications—glitter gel pen, fountain pen, and quill—originating from her 2022 Nashville Songwriter Award speech. They critique the official playlists, arguing they were more marketing tools than accurate representations, and propose their own song selections that truly embody each category. The glitter gel pen represents frivolous, carefree songs, while the fountain pen captures vivid, confessional storytelling, and the quill pen evokes poetic, old-fashioned lyricism. They emphasize the evolution of Swift's songwriting and how certain songs epitomize these styles, also hinting at the anticipation for Swift's upcoming "Tortured Poet's Department," which they speculate will lean towards the quill and fountain pen genres.

Summary Notes

Introduction to Taylor Swift's Three Musical Genre Categories

  • Taylor Swift has classified her music into three distinct genre categories.
  • These categories are represented by three types of pens: the glitter gel pen, the fountain pen, and the quill.
  • The classification was first mentioned during Taylor Swift's Nashville Songwriter Award speech in September 2022.

"Back in September of 2022, she won a songwriter's award and she made a speech in which basically she first mentioned and described these three pens."

The quote explains the origin of the three musical genre categories as pens, introduced by Taylor Swift during an award acceptance speech.

The Glitter Gel Pen

  • The glitter gel pen represents songs that are frivolous, carefree, bouncy, and fit perfectly to the beat.
  • These songs don't take themselves seriously and are compared to the drunk girl at a party who compliments you.
  • Taylor and her team created playlists to promote her album "Midnights" and categorized songs under these pens.
  • The classification was used to gain streams and might not have accurately represented the essence of each pen category.

"Glitter gel pen songs don't care if you don't take themselves seriously because they don't take themselves seriously."

This quote defines the glitter gel pen songs as lighthearted and carefree, not concerned with being taken seriously.

The Fountain Pen and The Quill

  • The fountain pen and the quill represent two other distinct song categories that were not elaborated on in the transcript.
  • The hosts hope these classifications return in Taylor Swift's new album cycle, especially the quill pen, which fits the tortured poet aesthetic.

"I do hope they come back in this new era in this new album cycle with uh the tortured poets Department because it does feel very it lends itself very well to the idea of being a tortured poet a quill pen."

The quote expresses a wish for the return of the pen classifications, particularly the quill pen, in the context of Taylor Swift's future work.

Critique of the Official Playlists

  • The hosts believe the official playlists do not accurately represent the pens, as some songs were included mainly to boost streams.
  • Some songs from the album "Midnights" were included to promote the album rather than fitting the pen category.
  • The hosts intend to create their own playlists with songs from across Taylor Swift's discography that better represent each pen category.

"I think that they were used as just kind of to gain streams... it just didn't or like all of the midnight songs bar vigilante were included just to kind of build the midnight."

The quote critiques the official playlists for including songs primarily for promotional purposes rather than accurately representing the pen categories.

Revisiting and Reclassifying Songs

  • The hosts plan to select 13 songs from Taylor Swift's discography that exemplify the glitter gel pen category.
  • They aim to update the playlists to more accurately reflect the essence of each pen category.
  • Songs from albums like "Folklore" and "Evermore" are not considered glitter gel pen songs and are excluded from the hosts' classification.

"We've tried to kind of pick across her discography and pick 13 songs that we think best represent these different categories better than the ones that are on Apple Music."

The quote indicates the hosts' intention to curate a playlist that more accurately represents Taylor Swift's classification of her songs according to the pen categories.

Taylor Swift's Playlist Analysis

  • The discussion opens with commentary on Taylor Swift's Nashville song awards speech, where she mentioned "Shake It Off."
  • The playlist in question was made for streaming, and "Shake It Off" was not included because Taylor did not own the rights at the time.
  • It is suggested that if the playlist were made after the release of "Taylor's Version," "Shake It Off" would be included.
  • "22" and "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" are also highlighted as obvious choices for the playlist.
  • "Message in a Bottle" is described as camp and poppy, fitting the theme of the playlist.
  • The speakers discuss the importance of fun and light-heartedness in creating a good pop hit.
  • "Speak Now" album is considered too heavy for the glitter gel pen theme; it lacks the light, fun pop songs that fit the playlist.
  • "You Belong With Me" from the "Fearless" album is identified as a fun, glitter gel pen song.
  • "I'm Only Me When I'm With You" from the debut album is mentioned as an early example of a fun, glitter gel pen song.

"litter gel pen description at the Nashville song Awards didn't she give a mention to shake it off I thought she did."

This quote refers to Taylor Swift's speech at the Nashville song awards, where she mentioned "Shake It Off," setting the stage for the playlist discussion.

"yes and then to not include it it makes it so blatantly obvious that."

Here, the speaker notes the conspicuous absence of "Shake It Off" from the playlist, indicating it was a deliberate choice due to ownership issues.

"and we're never ever getting back together again there's no explanation needed really is there 100% they just make sense."

The speaker confirms the natural fit of "22" and "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" in the playlist, emphasizing their self-explanatory inclusion.

"but that's fine you know they should be sometimes you need that for a good pop hit."

This quote highlights the importance of having fun, campy elements in successful pop hits, supporting the playlist's theme.

"Karma as a cat that's all I can say about this."

A metaphor is used to describe the nature of Taylor Swift's songs, likening them to karma, unpredictable and impactful.

Taylor Swift's Songwriting Style

  • Taylor Swift's fountain pen songs are described as vivid pictures of situations, with detailed imagery down to the smallest elements.
  • These songs are likened to confessions, too honest to tell someone directly but shared through music.
  • Taylor's lyrics are categorized as modern, personal stories written like poetry, capturing detailed memories.
  • The fountain pen category is identified as the most significant portion of Taylor's discography, reflecting her natural storytelling style rooted in country music.
  • The speakers appreciate Taylor's ability to shift between different writing styles, such as the glitter gel pen for pop hits and the quill pen for more poetic works.
  • The discussion includes a long list of Taylor's songs that fit the fountain pen category, with a focus on their detailed and confessional nature.
  • The songs "Maroon," "Right Where You Left Me," and the love triangle of "August," "Betty," and "Cardigan" are highlighted for their vivid storytelling.
  • "Cornelia Street" is identified as a song with detailed verses and a strong emotional narrative, comparable to "All Too Well" from the "Lover" album.

"they're too honest to tell the person but they're fine to release some millions of fans and you be in existence forever."

This quote reflects on the paradox of Taylor Swift's fountain pen songs, which are too personal for direct confessions but shared widely through her music.

"most of my lyrics fall into this category they're modern, personal stories written like poetry."

Taylor Swift describes her fountain pen songs as personal, poetic stories, indicating the prominence of this style in her work.

"this is her normal self really the the fountain pen and then quill is her exploring a more poetic side to things."

The speakers discuss Taylor's natural alignment with the fountain pen style and her exploration of different facets of songwriting with other styles.

"and they are we try to include so vivid we try to include all of the albums once again because I think that's an important thing to do."

The quote emphasizes the effort to represent all of Taylor's albums in the playlist to showcase the evolution of her vivid storytelling.

"it's literally pausing that moment and describing every single detail of it."

This quote captures the essence of Taylor's fountain pen songs, which freeze a moment in time and describe it with intense detail.

Taylor's Version and Reputation

  • Taylor Swift's "Taylor's Version" albums are re-recorded works to reclaim her music.
  • Reputation album lacks a "Taylor's Version," hence the original is referenced.
  • "Dress" from Reputation is highlighted for its vivid and specific lyricism.
  • The song's bridge and detailed imagery, such as "carving your name in my bed post," are notable.
  • Lyrics from "Dress" are metaphorical and provide a strong visual sense.

"The one that we have decided to include is 'Dress.' I think the dress holds itself up in this category just because of that amazing bridge that bridge. Yes, 100% that bridge holds it and even things of like carving um carving your name in my bed post and the specific like how specific it is spilling wine in the bathtub very metaphorical at your buzz cut my bleached she us right there are."

The quote discusses the choice of including "Dress" from Taylor Swift's album Reputation in the context of songs with vivid and specific lyricism, highlighting the bridge and metaphorical language as key features that justify its inclusion.

Taylor's Confessional Lyricism

  • Taylor Swift's discography is described as confessional, with lyrics that go the extra mile in description.
  • Songs mentioned contain specific, memorable details that enhance their narrative.
  • Examples include "Dress" with the wine in the bathtub and "Cardigan" with vintage tea and a brand new phone.
  • These songs are not just poetic but also include distinctive imagery that stands out.

"And I really do think we have picked out songs that aren't just like Poetic and what she described like as her very confessional lyricism which is her discography as a whole almost. But they are ones that give you that just that extra mile of description."

The quote emphasizes the selection process of songs that exemplify Taylor Swift's confessional and descriptive lyricism, suggesting that the chosen songs go beyond mere poetry to provide an additional layer of vivid description.

Vivid Imagery in "You Are In Love"

  • "You Are In Love" from the album 1989 is recognized for its descriptive and vivid lyricism.
  • The song includes small, evocative details like burnt toast on a Sunday and the chain on his neck.
  • These lyrics paint a clear picture of the relationship being sung about.

"And you're in love is the epitome of kind of um insanely descriptive and insanely Vivid lyricism because it's just you can just picture that whole relationship Flash before your eyes."

The quote praises "You Are In Love" as the epitome of vivid and descriptive lyricism, suggesting that the song's detailed imagery allows listeners to visualize the relationship it describes.

"All Too Well" and "Holy Ground" from Red

  • "All Too Well" from the album Red is recognized for its iconic red scarf imagery.
  • The song is well-known and its 10-minute version further solidifies its reputation.
  • "Holy Ground" is also mentioned for taking listeners back to a specific moment in time.

"Then we have a couple from red and obviously this one had to be here had to be here because again it's the one that she mentioned in the description of the whole thing all too well it has that red scarf and that's all you need to know really."

The quote discusses the inclusion of "All Too Well" from the album Red in the context of songs with strong, memorable imagery, specifically mentioning the red scarf as a central and iconic detail.

Speak Now Highlights: "Last Kiss" and "Back to December"

  • "Last Kiss" from the album Speak Now is noted for its detailed confessional lyrics.
  • The song includes specific dates and times, adding to its narrative depth.
  • "Back to December" also contains vivid descriptions of past events in a relationship.

"I think many many if not all of them could be included in this playlist but the two that we really wanted to highlight especially Last Kiss. I mean thanks to Last Kiss we have like literally a date and a time that we celebrate as a thanks to this song so it had to be really it is the detailed song."

The quote highlights "Last Kiss" as a song worthy of inclusion due to its detailed and confessional lyrics, which include specific dates and times that have become significant to fans.

Debut Album Representation: "Tim McGraw"

  • "Tim McGraw" from Taylor Swift's debut album is included for its descriptive and confessional style.
  • The song's lyrics resemble confessions that are too personal to send, fitting the playlist's theme.
  • It is described as a perfect representation of the described style.

"This song like literally the description is songs I categorize in the style that sound like confessions scribbled and sealed in an envelope but but too brutal to ever send."

This quote explains the inclusion of "Tim McGraw" in the context of songs that sound like personal confessions, aligning with the theme of confessional and vivid lyricism.

The Quill Playlist and "Anti-Hero" Controversy

  • The Quill playlist is described as songs with lyrics reminiscent of 19th-century poetry.
  • Taylor Swift's "Evermore" and "Folklore" albums are seen as fitting this description.
  • The inclusion of "Anti-Hero" from the album "Midnights" is debated, as it doesn't seem to fit the old-fashioned, quill-written theme.

"Taylor has described as if my lyrics sound like a letter written by Emily Dickinson's great grandmother while sewing a lace curtain that's me writing in the quill genre."

The quote references Taylor Swift's description of the Quill playlist, which is intended to include songs with lyrics that feel like they were written in a bygone era, suggesting a disconnect with the inclusion of "Anti-Hero."

Critique of Taylor's Playlist Curation

  • The speakers express frustration with some of Taylor Swift's playlist choices, feeling they are inconsistent with the themes.
  • They appreciate the concept of thematic playlists but prefer them to be curated with a consistent aesthetic.
  • The discussion suggests that some songs seem to be added for streaming purposes rather than thematic fit.

"I love the idea of the chapters I really do. And I understand that they were made for playlisting purposes and to get streams on those albums to kind of replace their Originals... But when you're going to add some like four songs that make so much sense and then you just add a random one that had not wasn't really like didn't have as many streams at that point. And you just add it in there that gets me."

The quote reflects the speakers' mixed feelings about Taylor Swift's thematic playlists, praising the concept but criticizing the execution when it seems to prioritize streaming over thematic consistency.

Taylor Swift's Pen Metaphor and Album Evolution

  • Taylor Swift's transition from using a fountain and gel pen to a quill pen is metaphorically reflected in her music, especially highlighted in the albums "Evermore" and "Folklore."
  • The quill pen represents a more mature, intricate, and poetic style of songwriting.
  • The majority of songs discussed are from "Evermore" and "Folklore," with a recognition that her earlier work, such as from "Fearless" or "Debut," does not fit the quill pen metaphor as strongly.
  • The evolution of Taylor Swift's songwriting is seen as a journey from a more personal, teenage perspective to a broader, more historical and poetic approach.

"I think the it's just it's interesting how even Taylor while creating this playlist recognized that."

This quote emphasizes Taylor Swift's self-awareness in her songwriting evolution and her intentional shift in style that aligns with the quill pen metaphor.

Specific Songs and Their Significance

  • "Cowboy Like Me" is praised for its lyrical quality, exemplifying the quill pen metaphor.
  • "Tolerate It" is noted for its poetic bridge, and "Happiness" is mentioned as a favorite for its emotional depth.
  • "The Lakes" is highlighted for its direct references to poetry and poets like Wordsworth, fitting the quill pen theme.
  • "Sad Beautiful Tragic" and "Safe & Sound" are seen as precursors to "Evermore" and "Folklore."
  • "Timeless" is discussed as a song that fits the historical love theme, which is a characteristic of the quill pen style.

"I guess some of the lyrics that just Cowboy like me come on now you hang from my lips like the gardens of Babylon with your boots beneath my bed forever as sweet as G I've quoted this lyric many a time before and I will in the future it's just one of the best ones."

This quote exemplifies the intricate and poetic nature of the lyrics in "Cowboy Like Me," which is indicative of the quill pen style of songwriting.

Taylor Swift's Artistic Identity and Historical Themes

  • Taylor Swift's artistic identity has evolved to include more historical and poetic themes in her music.
  • There is a discussion about how songs from her earlier albums could potentially fit into the quill pen category, but with a loose connection.
  • The conversation also touches on the idea that Taylor Swift's playlist and song choices reflect her current artistic phase, which includes a focus on historical and poetic elements.

"I think Fountain I definitely fit in another one that I can't believe was left off of this list is the Lakes I know it is the Poetry song it's about poetry."

This quote highlights the recognition that "The Lakes" is a song deeply rooted in poetic tradition, which aligns with the quill pen metaphor.

Anticipation for Future Works

  • There is a sense of anticipation for Taylor Swift's upcoming work, which is expected to continue the quill pen style.
  • The hosts express excitement and nervous energy about the aesthetic and thematic direction of Swift's future releases.
  • The discussion speculates on how Swift's work on "Tortured Poets" may have influenced her song selections and themes.

"I think it's very interesting to especially analyze this last category because of what what's coming basically."

This quote captures the anticipation and curiosity regarding how Taylor Swift's future work will build upon the quill pen metaphor and her evolution as an artist.

Reflection on Taylor Swift's Songwriting Journey

  • The hosts reflect on Taylor Swift's journey from her debut album to her more recent work, noting the differences in thematic content and songwriting style.
  • There is a clear distinction made between the quill pen songs and those that are more indicative of a fountain pen style, with the latter being more reflective of her teenage years and personal experiences.

"I just think for me like in debut like I am a advocate for debut I love debut. and I constantly stand behind how strong the songwriting is. yes. but there is for me there is no reference of quill like you know."

This quote reflects on the evolution of Taylor Swift's songwriting from her debut album to her later work and acknowledges the strength of her early songwriting, despite it not fitting the quill pen metaphor.

Conclusion and Engagement with Listeners

  • The episode concludes with a call for listener engagement, inviting feedback on the discussion of Taylor Swift's songs and the metaphor of the pens.
  • The hosts express their enjoyment of categorizing songs and analyzing Swift's discography through different lenses.

"but thanks again for listening we hope you enjoyed if you did enjoy listening then make sure to rate us over on Spotify and apple podcast and also give us a thumbs up over on YouTube and subscribe to our YouTube channel if you did enjoy this episode."

This quote wraps up the episode, thanking listeners for their engagement and encouraging them to interact with the podcast through various platforms.

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