NATIONAL NEWS

Why everyone is crying to Taylor’s breakup songs

Apr 22, 2024, 3:05 PM

Some of Taylor Swift's most beloved songs are heart breaking -- and that can be helpful, experts sa...

Some of Taylor Swift's most beloved songs are heart breaking -- and that can be helpful, experts said.

(CNN) — Fans were waiting with bated breath for the emotional torment they were sure would come from “The Tortured Poets Department,” Taylor Swift’s 11th studio album.

And she delivered with a double album.

The first release since the end of Swift’s six-year relationship was announced, “The Tortured Poets Department” captured the anger, sadness, longing and confusion that fans love in a good breakup song.

She sang about having held her breath since her love left her, her heart breaking when he pretended to put a ring on her wedding finger and him being the loss of her life – the kind of pain listeners may turn away from in life but sometimes seek out in their music.

Experts say it’s normal and often helpful to connect with heartbreaking music, and Swift even shared her own philosophy in an Instagram post about the album.

“This writer is of the firm belief that our tears become holy in the form of ink on a page,” she said. “Once we have spoken our saddest story, we can be free of it.”

Something bad, but why does it feel so good?

If you’ve seen a performance of “All Too Well,” you know that Swifties take great joy in scream-singing the most heartbreaking parts.

Why does it feel so good? Catharsis and validation, said Arianna Galligher, director of the Gabbe Well-Being Office and of the Stress, Trauma and Resilience (STAR) Program at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

It’s beneficial to have an avenue to explore the more painful emotions and to feel like it’s OK because other people are experiencing them too, she said.

Even if you aren’t in the midst of a breakup yourself, tapping into those emotions from past experiences can help, said Dr. Jaryd Hiser, psychologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

“We all fall into this trap of avoidance of these emotions,” he said. “To be able to go back to those, think of it as a processing of that time.”

That process may lead to more acceptance of those experiences and that it is OK if you never fully feel OK about them, he added.

Music bringing peace

The music may be key in making people, who otherwise wouldn’t feel safe visiting those difficult experiences and emotions, revisit them, Hiser said.

“I think of it as being a really easy way into mindfulness,” he said. “If we were able to be mindful all the time, that would be great, but most of us can’t … tap into that.”

He likes to work with patients on mindfulness by pairing it with activities they enjoy – because it’s a lot easier to stay in the present when you’re doing something you like, he said.

“Those types of things that can kind of draw us in and let us be with our emotions in that moment,” Hiser added.

Heartbreak is Swift’s national anthem

Swift’s success when it comes to breakup songs may come from the nuance that she holds in her writing, Galligher said.

While there may be grief and loss, there also tends to be themes of empowerment in her work, she added.

In a song off her new album, “Fresh Out the Slammer,” Swift writes about going from “daily disappearing for one glimpse of his smile” to saying that she has learned, she is free, and she is going to take the lessons forward with her.

And she doesn’t always follow the trope of the jilted ex with a vindictive breakup song, Galligher said.

“A lot of her songs actually bring some balance to the conversation,” she said. “And yes, [some songs] sort of highlight ‘this is why I’m setting a boundary,’ but there are often also lyrics that speak to ‘here’s how I’ve grown and changed and what I’ve learned about myself, and maybe what I would do differently.’

“I think that sort of balanced exploration is a healthy model,” Galligher said.

Swift even contextualized the album in her Instagram post by saying that the expression of feelings in the songs does not mean that there is still a villain and a hero.

“There is nothing to avenge, no scores to settle once wounds have healed. And upon further reflection, a good number of them turned out to be self-inflicted,” she wrote.

How much is too much?

As comforting, empowering and connecting as breakup songs may be, there can be too much of a good thing, Galligher said.

“If we steep in it for too long, it starts to impact our ability to function, and that’s certainly a reason to pause and maybe visit with some other types of music,” she said.

Especially if you’re struggling to begin with, make sure to check in with loved ones and yourself about how you’re coping, Hiser said. If you notice suicidal ideation, contact your therapist or 988, he added.

“But really, I think for most people, music is a conduit to accessing our own emotions and sometimes processing through them,” Galligher said. “Allowing space for those emotions to be present is really important, and music can really help us tap into that.”

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

Overhead image of the area around the Bear River Massacre Site that includes the Bear River that fl...

Andrew Christiansen, University of Utah student

‘Cultural healing’: Q&A as restoration at Bear River Massacre Site begins

The restoration of Wuda Ogwa, the site near Preston, Idaho, along the banks of the Bear River, where the Bear River Massacre happened, is underway by the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation.

3 hours ago

Montgomery County Sheriff's Department -- Photo of McKay Everett taken by his father Carl the day M...

Ben Kuebrich, KSL Podcasts

‘Ransom: Position of Trust’: The Phone Call

Episode one of the true-crime podcast "Ransom: Position of Trust" explores the day McKay disappeared and the beginnings of the investigation.

13 hours ago

FILE: Marijuana plants are grown at Essence Vegas' 54,000-square-foot marijuana cultivation facilit...

Carla K. Johnson, AP Medical Writer

Daily marijuana use outpaces daily drinking in the US, a new study says

Millions of people in the U.S. report using marijuana daily or nearly every day, and those people now outnumber those who say they are daily or nearly-daily drinkers of alcohol.

14 hours ago

Newly minted Michelin-starred chef Arturo Rivera Martínez prepares an order of tacos at the Tacos ...

Associated Press

The first Mexican taco stand to get a Michelin star is a tiny business where the heat makes the meat

Mexico City’s Tacos El Califa de León is the first taco cart to be awarded a Michelin star.

14 hours ago

The interior of Singapore Airline flight SG321 is pictured after an emergency landing at Bangkok's ...

Jessie Yeung, Manveena Suri and Alex Stambaugh, CNN

‘All hell broke loose’: Passengers on Singapore Airlines flight describe nightmare at 37,000 feet

Passengers on a Singapore Airlines flight hit by severe turbulence described a sudden, dramatic drop.

15 hours ago

A Delta Air Lines plane sits at the A22 gate at Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake C...

Art Raymond

Flights from Utah to Mexico at risk after fed decision to nix Delta-Aeromexico partnership. State leaders push back

Long-running flights agreement facilitated tens of millions of journeys, stronger relationships between Utah and Mexico, advocates say.

18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Why everyone is crying to Taylor’s breakup songs