Taylor Swift Ripped for 'TTPD' Lyrics About Wanting to Live in the 1830s

A few lines in Swift's new song "I Hate It Here" struck fans as awkward at best this weekend.

Taylor Swift released her new album The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology on Friday, and her new song "I Hate It Here" drew immediate backlash. In the lyrics, Swift makes an odd reference to the history of racism in the United States, but critics felt it was out of place and awkward. Many thought that the singer should have either addressed the topic more deeply or ignored it altogether.

"I Hate It Here" is a song about yearning for a different life in one way or another, and escaping into a fantasy when all else fails. Early on, Swift sings: "You see, I was a debutante in another life, but / Now I seem to be scared to go outside." The lyric that has critics upset kicks off the second verse. She sings: "My friends used to play a game where we would pick a decade we wished we could live in instead of this, / I'd say the 1830s but without all the racists and getting married off for the highest bid. / Everyone would look down 'cause it wasn't fun now seems like it was never even fun back then. / Nostalgia is a mind's trick if I'd been there, I'd hate it."

Even on the surface, many listeners found these lyrics odd upon first listen. One person X wrote: "She said 'without all the racism' ...like it was rain or something lmfaoooo." Another wrote: "The 1830s without racism is like a book with no pages," and many other posts expressed simple shock. As the weekend went on, listeners tried to articulate why this phrasing rubbed them the wrong way. "To a certain extent I get it like things were extremely simple," one post read, "but 1830s AMERICA WHERE SLAVERY WAS STILL VERY LEGAL WHAT'S GREAT ABOUT THAT???? That worries me as a Black listener and that's why I stepped away."

Of course, Swift had staunch defenders as well. Some thought that, in the context of the song, this line made sense as it balanced fantasy with reality in the same way as other lyrics. One commenter wrote: "It's an interesting commentary on how we sometimes idealize certain eras without fully considering the realities of living in them." Another noted: "If she had stopped at 1830s everyone would [have] been mad."

It's true that the general thesis of the song seems to be a juxtaposition between fantasies and the problems that would come from living them out in reality. In the first chorus, Swift sings: "I hate it here so I will go to secret gardens in my mind. / People need a key to get to, the only one is mine. / I read it in a book when I was a precocious child. / No mid-sized city hopes and small town fears, / I'm there most of the year 'cause I hate it here." In the second chorus, she mentions a fantasy of "lunar valleys" where "only the gentle survived," and later in the bridge, she sings: "I'll save all my romanticism for my inner life and I'll get lost on purpose."

Still, critics point out that the example of fantasizing about life in the early 19th century balanced that against the reality of slavery is the most specific one named in a verse of this song, and it seems to be jarring for many listeners. Many think it was a misfire by Swift, coming off as awkward and insensitive, but not malicious. Even some fans of Swift are saying that this is simply not their favorite song, but in a body of work this big there are bound to be some least favorites.

The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology is available now to stream on most major music platforms, or to purchase. So far, Swift has not responded publicly to critics of her song "I Hate It Here."