Explicit: A Mom’s Take on Taylor Swift’s Colorful Lyrics


Taylor Swift just released a new album. Maybe you’ve heard of it? The Tortured Poets Department, or TTPD, is a testament to Taylor’s immense talent and willingness to be open and vulnerable.

I’ve seen a lot of complaints about Taylor Swift’s colorful lyrics in TTPD. And this mom has a few things to say in response.

Now, before you come at me thinking that I’m a crazy Swiftie who will drop everything and fight to the death to protect her, I want to say that I’m more of a casual Swiftie. I love her music, but I’ve never been to one of her concerts and I didn’t even watch the Eras Tour movie when it was in theaters.

I’m slightly older than Taylor, I remember catching her “Tim McGraw” music video on CMT when I was in high school and I’ve enjoyed her music ever since. I feel like Taylor and I have a few things in common. We’re old enough to have gone through some major heartbreak. We question some decisions from our past. We’ve had some not-so-nice people in our lives. We both turn to words to sort out tricky emotions and we both process in the public arena- even though her “public arena” is astronomically larger than my own. But because she is so public and so relatable, there has been quite a bit of criticism about the explicit language Taylor Swift uses in TTPD.

I’ve been a mom for 7 years, but I can still remember very clearly what I felt at Taylor’s age. She’s at an age where she’s probably wondering if and/or when she’s going to get married, have a family, all those things women of our (at least mine and Taylor’s) generation were told repeatedly, for years, we should be focusing on ASAP.

When she wrote this album she was coming out of a six-year relationship, followed by a quick fling. She probably felt like she had to start all over with so many things. Girl had some feelings to get off her chest and I don’t blame her! Taylor Swift’s colorful lyrics make sense, given her life experiences.

One of the lessons I’ve learned so far in life is that we must address all our emotions, not just the good ones. As a parent, it’s my job to teach my son this lesson and ensure he understands it. Taylor Swift’s colorful lyrics are a part of how she addresses her emotions and experiences.

Let’s remind ourselves of the definition of “torture” from Merriam-Webster: (verb) To cause intense suffering. Alternatively: to punish or coerce by inflicting excruciating pain.

Those two definitions should clue fans into the fact that this album doesn’t have Lover vibes. Yes, TTPD has all the feels. The promo photos floating around social media for months should have told you that.

teen girl holding a guitar
Image by jools_sh from Pixabay

In fact, you’ll first spot the explicit “E” song rating as early as her Folklore and Evermore albums, which came out in 2020, so Taylor Swift’s colorful lyrics and explicit language in TTPD aren’t anything new.

You’ll even find many colorful innuendos on far earlier albums. And as the world knows, she usually has some not-so-nice lyrics about her exes. Yes TTPD has more explicit language (thank goodness there’s already a kid-friendly, radio version of Down Bad), but I have to agree this most definitely isn’t anything like her debut album.

But here’s the thing, Taylor also records clean versions of her explicit songs.

Until just recently I didn’t know that artists do not have to do this. Taylor records clean versions of explicit songs because she wants to. She knows how young her fans are (AKA Taylor Tots), but let’s not forget that she’s also had a huge following since very early on who have grown up with her.

If you’re worried about Taylor Swift’s colorful lyrics in TTPD being too much for your child, I have a few suggestions for you:

  • Find the clean version – it’s just as easy as finding the explicit version.
  • Have, or re-visit, a conversation with your children about the words used in this album and remind them of your expectations about the language they use.
  • Think about who your child is with when they are away from you. Do you trust their friends? Their friends’ parents? Do their friends’ parents know your rules for your child?

All these are great to reevaluate from time to time, not just when Taylor releases a new album. Also, parental controls are nothing new. You’ve possibly had them in place for years whether on a television, phone, or tablet. No, they aren’t perfect, but neither are we.

Photo by Nice M Nshuti on Unsplash

In my opinion, it isn’t the end of the world if my son hears a few cuss words. I’ve already had conversations with him about those words and he knows what they are, what they mean, and not to repeat them. I trust him that he won’t repeat them. I also trust his friends’ parents enough to know that if I’m not around and he lets loose with some colorful language (that he may have learned while driving with me,) they will correct my son and punish him if necessary. And they know I will do the same.

As much as we want our babies to stay babies and kids to stay kids, they will grow up. They will experience some of the very same things Taylor talks about, not just on TTPD, but on all her albums.

Taylor has grown not only as an artist but as a person. She came into the public eye as a teen and now she’s a grown woman. Growth and change can be big, scary things to children. Taylor is proof that growth and change are good. And in my opinion, especially in the world of social media, her lyrics help teach the younger generation that not only is life not perfect, but that it’s entirely normal and good to feel a wide range of emotions. It’s true that Taylor Swift’s colorful lyrics in TTPD might not be best suited for the youngest ears, but her overall message is one that adds value.

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Explicit: A Mom's Take on Taylor Swift's Colorful Lyrics

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