Taylor Swift's Most Tortured Sad Girl Lyrics

Taylor Swift's new album is called The Tortured Poets Department , but the title arguably describes her entire catalog. The 14-time Grammy winner is known for writing "torture" lyrics, which became even more apparent when she released a new set of Apple Music playlists named after the five stages of grief.

Each playlist categorizes many of her past songs into denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. This further highlights the deep emotion and vulnerability that surrounds many of Swift's songs.

The singer has been writing sad songs since she first came out, as evident on her 2006 self-titled debut album, which included No. 5 (aka Swiftie slang for the most emotional song on the album) ) "Cold As You".

But Swift's lyrics really started to feel more tortured on 2019's "Lover," which, despite its romantic title, contained some of her most anguished, raw, and desperate songs. Then, her surprise 2020 albums Folklore and Evermore intertwined fictional narratives with devastating stories tied to her reality.

Below, while you wait to finally listen to "The Tortured Poets Department," released April 19, revisit 22 of Swift's most tortured lyrics.

"So I started fighting because I needed to feel something"

Taylor Swift, 2006. Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Swift released "Cold As You," the fifth song from her debut album, in 2006 when she was just 16, proving that she had been a "tortured poet" since childhood.

"Before you let me down, I was a dreamer"

Taylor Swift, 2008. The Washington Post/The Washington Post/Getty Images

The first single from Swift's second album, Fearless , is "Love Story," her take on Romeo and Juliet (but with a happier ending). Just two songs later, she's tearing the story to shreds in "White Horse," and what better way to describe a "tortured poet" than to shred a fairy tale you've written yourself?

"Counting my steps and praying the floor doesn't collapse again"

2011 Taylor Swift. Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images

On "Dear John," Swift reflected on the trauma she suffered from a toxic relationship, citing the age gap between her and her ex and claiming she was "too young to be bothered." The lyrics of the first verse capture her anxiety and restlessness.

"I will watch you live in the photos, just like I used to watch you sleep"

Taylor Swift performs on stage during her Speak Now tour at Madison Square Garden on November 22, 2011 . Larry Busacca/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

One of the hallmarks of the "tortured poet" is looking back at photos of exes as they move on in life, as Swift does on the melancholy breakup ballad "Last Kiss." When a split is as unexpected as she sings about in this "Speak Now" song, the pain is even deeper.

"You have your demons, honey, and they all look like me."

Taylor Swift performs at the 2014 Grammy Awards. Frederick J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Swift doesn't just sing about her own tortured feelings. In the wistful "Sad and Beautiful Tragedy," she looks back on a past relationship with both regret and sweetness. But in this case, the other person was tortured because of missing her, and she knew it.

"You're still on me like a wine-stained dress I can no longer wear"

Taylor Swift during her 1989 World Tour in Toronto, Canada on October 3, 2015. George Pimentel/LP5/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

As Swift's first major pop album, 1989 feels more bombastic and confident than tortured, even in its most emotional moments. To achieve the emotional catharsis of "Clean," however, there had to be some damage to clean up, which Swift describes in detail.

“Please never be a stranger whose laughter I recognize anywhere”

Taylor Swift performs "New Year's Day" on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon " NBC/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

Reputation, Swift's sixth album, is partly about new love and trying to protect it. But on the piano-filled closer "New Year," Swift's tortured, poetic side emerges again, praying that her moment of bliss will never end.

"I screamed, 'For what it's worth, I love you, isn't that the worst thing you've ever heard?'"

Taylor Swift will join The Eras tour in Singapore on March 2, 2024. Ashok Kumar/TAS24/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Even in a song like "Cruel Summer," about joyous love and reckless abandon, Swift still finds a way to emphasize the undercurrent of hesitation and despair in the bridge. While the lyric may be tortured in nature, it's still an epic scream moment from the Eras tour.

"I cut off my nose just to insult my face and then I hated my reflection for years."

Taylor Swift performs on Eras Tour on February 23, 2024 . David Gray/AFP/Getty Images

On "Archer," Swift opens up about her fears and insecurities for the first time, even taking aim at her appearance in the second verse. While it's a big blow coming from someone as powerful as Swift, it shows that she's only human.

"I asked the traffic light if that was okay and they said, 'I don't know'"

Taylor Swift performs at the "City of Love" concert in Paris, France on September 9, 2019. Dave Hogan/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

It's unclear whether Swift took the "death by a thousand cuts" line literally or metaphorically. But if you have to look to a traffic light for comfort, you know you're in a dark place. I guess the traffic light that says "I don't know" is just stuck on the yellow light.

"If I'm dead to you, why do you keep a wake?"

Taylor Swift will perform on The Eras tour in Singapore on March 2, 2024. Ashok Kumar/TAS24/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

In one of her most devastating fifth songs, Swift imagined what her own funeral would be like, leading to some of her most failed songs. If the lyrics to "My Tears Ricochet" aren't torture enough for you, check out Swift's Eras Tour performance, where it looks like she and her dancers are leading her own funeral procession, moving somberly Steely.

"They told me all my cages were mental so I was like all my potential was wasted"

Taylor Swift will perform at ERAzona Swift City (Glendale, AZ) on the opening night of The Eras Tour on March 17, 2023. Kevin Mazur/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Yes, even the 14-time Grammy winner and Time Magazine Person of the Year still sometimes feels like she's not living up to her full potential, as Swift eloquently explained in "This Is Me Trying." The lyrics showcase Swift's honesty about her deepest insecurities in "Archer" and explore the impact of not facing them head-on.

"Don't call me 'baby', don't call me 'baby', look at the mess you made me"

Taylor Swift will perform on The Eras Tour in Sao Paulo, Brazil on November 24, 2023. Buda Mendes/TAS23/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Swift ended "Illegal Affair" with a bridge so thrilling and painful that during the song's Eras tour, she decided to pare it down to just that bridge and repeated shouting to achieve maximum effect. This is the shortest but arguably most cathartic moment of the entire show, allowing the audience to apply these lyrics to any situation they face.

"I will give you my sunshine, my best, but if you stand with me, the rain will always come."

Taylor Swift will perform on The Eras tour in Singapore on March 2, 2024. Ashok Kumar/TAS24/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

On the brutally honest "Peace," Swift takes a most poetic look at her level of fame and how it might be preventing her from having a normal relationship. What's more painful than knowing that anyone who wants to be with you may never experience a normal life again?

"I don't want any other blue except you/No other sadness in the world can"

Taylor Swift will perform on The Eras Tour in Houston, Texas on April 21, 2023. Bob Levy/TAS23/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Swift herself stated that "Hoax" was written about so many different things that it was difficult to pinpoint exactly what the song was referring to. Yet the one common denominator that weaves together each lyric is a deep, shameless sadness, as most evident in the chorus.

I made you my temple, my mural, my sky/Now I ask for a footnote in your life story.”

Taylor Swift attends the Eras Tour concert on February 16, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. Graham Denholm/TAS24/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

On another heartbreaking fifth track, "Tolerate It," Swift desperately tries to get a long-time lover to recommit herself to their relationship, but to no avail. This is shown beautifully in "Eras Tour" where she sets a lovely table, but when her efforts don't pay off, she angrily tears it to pieces.

“If I no longer have a relationship with you, then who do I have a relationship with?”

Taylor Swift performs on stage at the 2021 Grammy Awards. TAS Rights Management 2021/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

The whole premise of "Coney Island," Swift's collaboration with The Nation, is "sitting on a bench in Coney Island wondering where my kids went." Indulging in heartbreak in one of New York's most romantic places could indeed be called "torture."

“Every grocery receipt should be kept because every piece of you will be taken away from me.”

Taylor Swift on February 23, 2024 in Sydney, Australia. Don Arnold/TAS24/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Swift is a master at dealing with heartbreak in song, but she doesn't often talk directly about death, which makes "Marjorie" all the more touching. For the most part, Swift's ode to her late grandmother is imbued with the optimism and wisdom she learned from Marjorie. But it's hard not to get chills or shed a tear when she shares her regrets.

"I have this weird feeling that this pain will always be there"

Taylor Swift performs on stage during The Eras Tour on May 19, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Scott Eisen/TAS23/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

There's a reason "Evermore" has been called Swift's saddest album (I'm sorry). On the album's final title track, she simply accepts that heartbreak is inevitable rather than a passing phase, and Bon Iver's bridge only makes the hurt feelings more intense.

"They say everything ends well if it ends well, but every time you betray my ideas I end up in a new hell."

Taylor Swift will perform on The Eras Tour in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 24, 2023. Ethan Miller/TAS23/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

For many fans, the original five-minute cut of "All Too Well" has taken the crown as Swift's most devastating (and to some, best) song. But the long-awaited ten-minute version offers more intricate details and tortured lyrics.

"Everything I touch is sickened with sadness."

Taylor Swift performs on stage during The Eras Tour on April 21, 2023 in Houston, Texas. Bob Levy/TAS23/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

While "All Too Well" is to many Swift's saddest song, "Bigger Than The Whole Sky" certainly deserves the title. It's probably the only time Swift has been so sad in a song that she's nearly speechless, and the soft instrumental interlude is filled with as much devastation as her own lyrics ( which aren't many of hers).

"Give me back my girlhood, this is my first"

Taylor Swift performs on stage during The Eras Tour on April 14, 2023 in Tampa, Florida. Octavio Jones/TAS23/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

“Dear John” walked, so “could, could, should” have run. In " Midnights" (3am version) , Swift talks about a relationship she had when she was 19 and the power imbalance that came with it, culminating in this heart-wrenching line that pretty much says everything.