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Taylor Swift’s Apple Music clues for ‘The Tortured Poets Department,’ explained

The music streamer is dropping a "word a day" until the release of Swift's new album. Here's what they are so far.
/ Source: TODAY

When it comes to deciphering clues, Swifties are only second to Sherlock Holmes. Taylor Swift has given her fans plenty to speculate about in the run-up to the release of her new album, “The Tortured Poets Department.”

Last week, the singer released five Apple Music playlists, each featuring a selection of her own past songs, that correspond to the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) and may hint at the themes of her upcoming album.

Then, on April 13, Apple Music marked the final countdown to her 11th studio album, which drops April 19, with a string of tricky clues.

The music service updated its bio on the X platform to read, “A word a day til the @taylorswift13 album drops,” which sent Swifties into a sleuthing frenzy.

Fans quickly figured out the secret words were hidden in song lyrics stores on Apple Music. But the words’ meanings remain a mystery — for now.

Here’s what to know about the Taylor Swift Apple Music words, and what they might mean.

What are Taylor Swift’s Apple Music words?

Word No. 1: Hereby 

After Apple Music announced the “word a day” challenge, fans scanned Swift’s Apple Music playlists. They discovered that the lyrics page for one song, “Glitch,” on the "Denial" playlist, featured random capital letters in the middle of words.

The capitalized letters, H, E, Y, B, E and R, spell “HEREBY” when unscrambled. 

Apple Music confirmed that “hereby” was the correct word the following day when they reposted the solved word from the official Taylor Nation X fan page.

Word No. 2: Conduct

On the second day of the challenge, it didn’t take long for Swifties to discover some randomly capitalized words in “Peace,” a song on Swift’s Apple Music playlist about the bargaining stage of grief.

The capitalized letters, once unscrambled, spell the word “conduct.” 

It’s unclear whether Swift means “conduct” as a verb, as in to direct or carry out, or as a noun, as in behavior.

Word No. 3: This

The song "Better Than Revenge" had the letters that spelled "this" capitalized.

Word No. 4: Post

This word was found in "Clean."

Word No. 5: We

This word was found in "We Were Happy."

Word No. 6: Mortem

This word was found in "Begin Again"

What is the final Apple Music message?

When unscrambled, the message says, "We hereby conduct this post mortem." What does it mean?! Time will certainly tell.

What does do the Apple Music clues mean?

Theories are swirling about what these cryptic clues could point to. Some fans think the words “hereby” and “conduct” have echoes of a court proceeding or legal document. 

“I hereby conduct an investigation of the conduct of…” one fan spitballed on X. 

The words “hereby” and “conduct” also reminded fans of the handwritten note Swift shared on Instagram when she announced the upcoming release of “The Tortured Poets Department” in February.

That note begins with lines that could either be lyrics or verses from a poem: “And so I enter into evidence / my tarnished coat of arms. / My muses, acquired like bruises / My talismans and charms …”

One X fan connected the phrase “enter into evidence” with the legal-sounding “hereby” and “conduct.”

“yall now that we have ‘hereby conduct’ in addition to ‘enter into evidence,’” one fan wrote on X. “I’m beginning to think this whole album is going to be her reviewing what happened and presenting it like she’s in court.”

Another fan echoed this theory, wondering if the “entire aesthetic of this album is circling around a courthouse and a trial.”

Other fans thought the words could have something to do with a wedding ceremony — as in, officiants conduct weddings, and traditional wedding ceremonies sometimes include the phrase, “I hereby pronounce you husband and wife.”

“‘hereby” being formal language fit for wedding vows or court rooms,” one person wrote on X. “i’m gonna lose my mind. hereby conduct WHAT.”

Meanwhile, some fans went down a Disney rabbit hole, and wondered if there could be a subtle connection between the word “hereby” and Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” 

One of the songs on the album is called “But Daddy I Love Him,” which is almost identical to a line Ariel says to her father in the 1989 Disney movie: "Daddy, I love him!"

Later, the contract Ariel signs with the sea witch Ursula begins with the phrase “I hereby...” 

These possible subtle references to “The Little Mermaid” left some wondering whether Swift’s album could include the themes of giving away her voice in the name of love, like Ariel does.

Has Taylor Swift said anything about her Apple Music words?

Not directly — that would be too easy! — but the singer did drop another tantalizing clue on Instagram over the weekend.

“I wish I could un-recall how we almost had it all,” she captioned an Instagram post that showed her holding up a clear vinyl version of the album.

This post naturally sent Swifties spiraling. 

“i wish i could un-recall how we almost had it all ?!?!?!? oh i’m not ready for this album,” one fan wrote on X.

“I wish I could un-recall how we almost had it all,” another fan posted on X. “Ready to cry on April 19.”