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Does Taylor Swift's New Album Make a Joe Alwyn Reference?

The Swifties are Swiftie-ing.

<p>Getty Images</p>

Getty Images

When Taylor Swift took the stage at the Grammys to accept the award for Pop Vocal Album for Midnights, she dropped some major news: Her next album, The Tortured Poets Department, will come out on April 19, 2024. Fans (no, not those fans) took to social media to share a collective OH MY GOD (also, big questions like: what does this mean for the Eras tour playlist?!) as well as some theories about the new album's title: Could it be a subtle nod to one of Swift's most recent exes, Joe Alwyn?

Swift, who revealed that she's been keeping this epic secret from her fans for two years, immediately uploaded the album cover art and a photo that shows a handwritten note, which seems to speak to what the album is about (please note the letters on the top of the file: "TPD" — that's attention to detail). But some fans on the Easter Egg Beat immediately homed in on one other detail that could either be a major coincidence or a classic, clever Taylor Swift reference: The word "Tortured" as a nod to Joe Alwyn's "Tortured Man Club" group chat.

<p>Getty</p> Swift and Alwyn photographed in October 2019.

Getty

Swift and Alwyn photographed in October 2019.

Alwyn shared details about the WhatsApp group in several interviews while he was doing promotion for Conversations With Friends, the TV adaptation of Sally Rooney's hit novel. The chat, Alwyn explained, was created by dreamboat Andrew Scott to connect him with fellow Rooney project alum Paul Mescal. "So, what’s the name of the WhatsApp group that we’re in?" Mescal asks in a chat between the two stars for Variety. "It’s the Tortured Man Club, I think. It’s me, you — and Andrew Scott started the group," says Alwyn. "He’s just on it every day. He’s just on it by himself," Mescal jokes. "Just messaging himself good mornings," Alwyn jokes back. "We were both in the Sally Rooney universe and crossed over with Lenny Abrahamson. We were so lucky to have that experience."

Alwyn filmed Conversations With Friends while he was dating Swift and doing promotion for the project just before the two broke up in spring 2023. During their relationship, the singer wrote several songs referencing the actor, including "Karma," which recently made headlines again when Swift changed a lyric to "Karma is the guy on the Chiefs, coming straight home to me," in an instantly viral moment.

<p>VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images</p>

VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

So, is the new album title a reference to her ex or a happy coincidence? Swift, who just broke a major Grammys record with her last win of the night, Album of the Year, will probably never tell, so we'll just have to read between the lyrics — and keep an eye on those Tortured Poets Department-coded red carpet looks that are sure to come.

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