GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – Michigan is gearing up for a Taylor Swift extravaganza as the release date for her highly anticipated album approaches. Scheduled for Friday, April 19th, the drop of “The Tortured Poets Department,” Swift’s 11th studio album, has fans, affectionately known as “Swifties,” buzzing with excitement across the globe, including in Michigan.

Describing the album as a “lifeline” during a concert in Melbourne, Australia, Swift shared her deep connection to the music, citing its importance in her life. She has hinted at themes of heartbreak, exploring the emotional journey through playlists released on Apple Music, reflecting stages of breakup: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Album available in many different formats.

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Unlike the traditional era of standing in line at music stores to get new tunes, fans spanning generations – from Generation X to Z (and beyond) – will likely opt for digital platforms like Apple Music, iTunes or Spotify to access the album.

However, for those nostalgic for a tangible experience, Target will be offering an exclusive vinyl album alongside CDs.

Different album covers and bonus tracks available.

With four editions, or what are being called “variants”, boasting varied bonus tracks and covers, Swift’s latest release caters to diverse preferences. From vinyl and digital downloads to CDs and even cassettes, fans have numerous avenues to immerse themselves in Swift’s music.

The album, featuring 16 tracks plus bonus additions, includes titles like “But Daddy I Love Him,” “I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can),” “Fresh Out the Slammer,” and “Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?”

Excitement mounts as Friday release draws near.

The anticipation among Michiganders is palpable, with private Facebook groups dedicated to Swift buzzing in places like Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids.

There are also many national Swiftie Facebook fan pages including a public one called “Taylor Swift’s Vault” that has over 478,000 members who are breathlessly awaiting new Taylor Swift tunes.

Grand Rapids Swifties getting ready for Friday listening party.

That’s where I ran across Grand Rapids Swiftie, 32-year-old Audre Taylor, who has been a Taylor Swift fan since her freshman year in high school when the 2006 debut album “Taylor Swift” came out. Audre, a health care worker, told Michigan News Source that it was the song “Tear Drops on My Guitar” that first grabbed her attention.

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Audre reminisced about her journey with Swift’s music since high school, praising Swift’s evolution as an artist, noting her ability to connect with listeners through relatable storytelling while still being able to appeal to younger kids and teens. Audre sees Swift’s fan base expanding across generations through what she called “Taylor tots” who are the children of long-time Swift fans.

Audre added, “Back in the day, a lot of people just found her music to be very ‘catchy’ and pop songs that were just on the radio that you can sing along to. And now, she’s really creating stories.” She pointed to the album “Folklore” and said Swift has a “whole different realm” that has created a lot more adult fans.

 

Audre in Chicago for the Eras Tour

Because Audre missed the Eras Tour stop in Detroit, she opted to plan a trip to Indianapolis in November to catch her favorite singer’s performance. Fortunately, she managed to attend Swift’s show in Chicago during the tour. In the meantime, with only a day remaining, she eagerly awaits the chance to listen to Swift’s latest music…

And even though there are many different formats to choose from to get Swift’s new release, Audre is sticking to vinyl. But she won’t be listening to Swift’s music alone on Friday. She’ll be celebrating with 49 other fans from the private Facebook group “Grand Rapids Swifties” who signed up about two months ago to go to a listening party.

Party organizer for Grand Traverse Swifties ready for fans to celebrate album release.

Party organizer Kara Drummond, a 37-year-old office coordinator for a rental company and the administrator of the Grand Rapids Swifties Facebook page since its inception last fall, has been diligently planning her Taylor Swift Listening Party ever since the singer announced the album in February.

When contacted by Michigan News Source, Drummond shared that this marks her first party for the group. There will be about 50 Swifties at the party and it’s scheduled to last about three hours. Among the planned attractions are a friendship bracelet-making station, a food spread (with fans bringing a dish to pass), an over-abundance of balloons, a designated photo booth area for fan snapshots, temporary tattoos, and various decorations including glasses and beads for embellishing heart- shaped sunglasses.

Drummond mentioned securing Taylor Swift’s streaming music via Apple Music and acquiring a projector screen for the debut video of the album, slated for release at 8 pm EST on Friday.

Talking about the Grand Rapids Swifties, she said, “I’m just really excited to have a community of locals get together and have a good time together and making friendships…just enjoy time with each other. I love this community and how friendly it is and how everybody is just so supportive of each other. It’s a great community to be a part of.”

Many Michigan Swiftie events are planned…

As the album release date nears, Swift-themed events are cropping up nationwide, including many in Michigan. From listening parties to trivia nights and karaoke, Michigan News Source has discovered a

plethora of options to celebrate the album’s debut. Note: Be sure to verify the venues for events suitable for your age group:

The Ann Arbor District Library is having a Taylor Swift Party on Friday from 5 to 7 pm for kindergarteners through adults. Their website says, “Join us for a casual listening party of Taylor Swift’s brand new album…Come, listen, make friendship bracelets, take a Polaroid, let the games begin, and remember this moment! Dressing up in your favorite Taylor merch or dream Eras outfit is encouraged but certainly not required!”

The gift box shop “Rock Paper Scissors” in downtown Ann Arbor has a “Tortured Poets Department Rock Paper Scissors Chapter Meeting” from 9 am to 9 pm on Friday the 19th for a 12-hour all day “first official meeting of the Tortured Poets Department.”

In Grand Rapids, at Courage & Sour, a home goods and clothing store, from 6 pm to 8 pm on Friday they’ll be having the “Tortured Poets Departmentlistening party. They’ll have “Swift-themed” goodies, friendship bracelet-making, a free gift to attendees and more. The event will include an official meeting and “first listen,” coffee, mimosas and breakfast treats and then go on to coffee and crafts and then cocktails.

In Cadillac on Friday from 5 to 7 pm at the Cadillac Wexford Public Library, there will be a Taylor Swift Poetry Bash for all ages complete with making friendship bracelets, dancing to Swift music, photos, Karaoke and more.

Dexter has a Tortured Poets Department Trivia Celebration on Friday from 7 to 9 pm at the Erratic Ale Company. In addition to trivia, Swifties can trade friendship bracelets, have an alcoholic or non-alcoholic Taylor-themed drink, and listen to Swift music.

In Warren, the sports bar Vivios is having an album release party on Friday at 8 pm with a DJ supplying Swift hits from the past and present.

Lansing’s High Caliber Karting and Entertainment on West Grand River Avenue is having a double Swiftie night. On Thursday, they will have Taylor Swift trivia and on Friday they will have karaoke. Friday’s event will include Taylor’s greatest hits, fan favorites and surprise performances.

Karma Coffee and Kitchen is having an “inaugural meeting of the Tortured Poets Department” on Friday, April 18th. The event, in Wayne, “will be called to order at 7pm. Food and drink specials, Swiftie Shenanigans, and Taylor Swift listening party will commence until 9pm.”

Even Downtown Dewitt has a big celebration on Saturday April 20th from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm with vendor pop-ups, DIY bracelets, Swift goods, snacks, and more at the Bridge + Main Market shop.

A friendship bracelet that Audre sent out to some of her Swiftie pen pals for the release of the new album

So what’s up with all of the Taylor Swift bracelets?

As you can see from all of the Swiftie events, friendship bracelets are a big part of their gatherings. Friendship bracelets being traded by Swifties are typically crafted from beads, featuring a range of colors and spelling out various words and phrases, such as song lyrics, titles, or fandom inside jokes.

While it’s unclear who initiated this trend, it’s rooted in Taylor Swift’s song “You’re on Your Own, Kid” from her album “Midnights,” released in October 2022. The lyrics of the song include the line, “So, make the friendship bracelets, take the moment and taste it.” Shortly after the announcement of the Eras tour, which spans Swift’s entire musical career, fans proposed creating and exchanging friendship bracelets at the shows, sparking a global phenomenon.

Yet, as fans eagerly await Swift’s upcoming album in their friendship bracelets and Swift swag, it’s the music itself that is constantly occupying their thoughts. The burning question remains: Is the music worth the hype? According to her boyfriend, Travis Kelce, it’s “unbelievable.”

But if you want an unbiased opinion, you’ll have to buy the songs for yourself. Just don’t break the internet.