Taylor Swift says some of her most romantic love songs represent missed 'red flags' and 'delusion' (2024)

Taylor Swift sent fans into a frenzy when she put some of her most heartfelt love songs into a playlist about denial, one of the five stages of grief and heartbreak.

Ahead of the release of her highly anticipated 11th studio album “The Tortured Poets Department” on April 19, rather than drop a single from the record, Swift released five new playlists of her own songs instead.

“We have exactly a fortnight to go through #The5StagesOfHeartbreak before #TSTTPD arrives,” a tweet from Taylor Nation read on April 5. “Thankfully, Taylor and @AppleMusic made these playlists to prepare us.”

Swift’s playlists, with titles that refer to the cover art from special editions of "The Tortured Poets Department," encompass the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

But some of her choices sparked strong reactions from fans. For example, on her playlist about denial — or as Swift describes it, a phase of heartbreak that involves missing "red flags" — the singer included her romantic 2019 song, "Lover," which is thought to be inspired by her ex, Joe Alwyn.

The song, with the sweet chorus of, "You’re my, my, my, my lover" and lyrics like, "I take this magnetic force of a man to be my lover," is also frequently picked by Swifties to play during their wedding's first dance.

“Taylor putting Lover on the ‘I love you, it’s ruining my life’ playlist makes me want to SOB,” one fan wrote on the social media site X.

Another fan wrote, “I woke up to Taylor Swift attacking me (she put lover on the Denial: I Love You, It’s Ruining My Life Songs playlist).”

“Taylor Swift saying Lover is a song about denial is possibly one the most unhinged things she’s ever done,” a fan wrote on X.

Read on to learn more about each of Swift’s playlists, and some of the surprising songs included.

‘I Love You, It’s Ruining My Life,’ or denial

For “I Love You, It’s Ruining My Life,” Swift explained, “This is a list of songs about getting so caught up in the idea of something that you have a hard time seeing the red flags, possibly resulting in moments of denial and maybe a little bit of delusion. Results may vary.”

Songs from this playlist include “Snow on the Beach” and “Bejeweled” from “Midnights,” “Cruel Summer” and “False God” from “Lover,” “Style” and “Wildest Dreams” from “1989,” “Treacherous” from “Red,” and more.Two of the songs included, "Betty" and "Sweet Nothing," were co-written by Alwyn under the pen name William Bowery.

Fans also pointed out that “Lavender Haze” was included on the playlist, after Swift explained the story behind the song in 2022 in a now-deleted video on Instagram.

“My relationship for six years, we’ve had to dodge weird rumors, tabloid stuff — and we just ignore it,” she said, referring to her relationship with Alwyn. “This song is sort of about the act of ignoring that stuff to protect the real stuff.”

In the playlist description on Apple Music, "Lavender Haze" is now characterized as "love-drunk oblivion," while "Style" and "Treacherous" represent "starlit collision courses."

‘You Don’t Get to Tell Me About Sad,’ or anger

Swift said there is one clear theme when it comes to her playlist “You Don’t Get to Tell Me About Sad” — her anger.

“These songs all have one thing in common: I wrote them while feeling anger,” she explained. “Over the years, I’ve learned that anger can manifest itself in a lot of different ways, but the healthiest way that it manifests itself in my life is when I can write a song about it and then oftentimes, that helps me get past it.”

Among the songs on the playlist were“Vigilante S--t” and “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” from “Midnights,” “Exile” and “Mad Woman” from “Folklore,” “Bad Blood” from “1989,” “Dear John” and “Better Than Revenge” from “Speak Now,” and “Tell Me Why” and “Forever & Always” from “Fearless.”

‘Am I Allowed to Cry?,’ or bargaining

In her “Am I Allowed to Cry?” playlist, Swift curated songs that she wrote when she said she was in “the bargaining stage.”

“Times when you’re trying to make deals with yourself, or someone that you care about. You’re trying to make things better,” she explained. “You’re oftentimes feeling really desperate because oftentimes we have a gut intuition that tells us things are not going to go the way that we hope which makes us more desperate which makes us bargain more.”

Swift included her songs “This Is Me Trying” and “Peace” from “Folklore,” “The Archer” and “Cornelia Street” from “Lover,” “Come Back…Be Here” from “Red,” and her feature on the song “Renegade” by Big Red Machine, a band composed of two of her collaborators, Aaron Dessner and Justin Vernon.

"Cornelia Street" was often thought of a sweet love song about her relationship with Alwyn, and when their split made headlines in 2023, fans placed flowers at the street sign that inspired the song.

In 2020's "Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions," Swift said "Peace" is "extremely personal." Her collaborator Dessner added that it's a "beautiful love song in recognition of the kind of insecurity in any relationship that will I be able to give you peace?"

One fan on X shared a clip from “Barbie” of Margot Robbie crying alongside the message, “Peace being on the ‘am i allowed to cry?’ playlist… i’m unwell.”

‘Old Habits Die Screaming,’ or depression

In her playlist “Old Habits Die Screaming,” Swift said she wanted to take listeners through her songs that explore “the feelings of depression that often lace their way” through her music.

In times like these, I’ll write a song because I feel lonely or hopeless and writing a song feels like the only way to process that intensity of an emotion,” she explained. “And while these things are really, really hard to go through, I often feel like when I’m either listening to songs or writing songs that deal with this intensity of loss and helplessness, usually that’s in the phase where I’m close to getting past that feeling.”

Swift included “Bigger Than the Whole Sky” from “Midnights,” “My Tears Ricochet” from “Folklore,” “Champagne Problems” and “Right Where You Left Me” from “Evermore,” “Nothing New” and “All Too Well” from “Red,” and “Last Kiss” from “Speak Now.”

She also included the vault track “You’re Losing Me,” released shortly after news of her split with Alwyn broke, which fans at the time said had some of “the saddest lyrics ever.”

‘I Can Do It With a Broken Heart,’ or acceptance

In her final playlist, Swift explained that her “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart” playlist brings songs where “we finally find acceptance and can start moving forward from loss or heartbreak.”

“These songs represent making room for more good in your life,” she explained. “Making that choice because a lot of times when we lose things, we gain things too.”

She included the songs “Labyrinth” from “Midnights,” “August” and “Invisible String” from “Folklore,” “Happiness” and “Long Story Short” from “Evermore,” “This Love” and “Clean” from “1989,” “Begin Again” from “Red,” and “Breathe” from “Fearless.”

Fans also celebrated the inclusion of her song “You're On Your Own, Kid” — the last song played during the Disney+ extended "Eras Tour" concert film — on the playlist, with one user writing on X, “the first song on ‘i can do it with a broken heart’ being YOYOK.. and how often she sang this to us on tour……...”

“There’s something so deeply poetic about starting off the I Can Do It With A Broken Heart acceptance chapter with ‘summer went away, still the yearning stays,’” another fan added.

Francesca Gariano

Francesca Gariano is a New York City-based freelance journalist reporting on culture, entertainment, beauty, lifestyle and wellness. She is a freelance contributor to TODAY.com,where she covers pop culture and breaking news.

Taylor Swift says some of her most romantic love songs represent missed 'red flags' and 'delusion' (2024)

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