Aways risin' from the ashes
Taylor Swift performing at the Eras Tour in Singapore

Taylor Swift's "Post Mortem" Apple Music Code Has A Sad Meaning

Screaming from the crypt.

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Long-time Swifties got a healthy dose of nostalgia in the week leading up to The Tortured Poets Department. On April 13, Apple Music updated their Instagram and X (formerly called Twitter) bios to read: “A word a day til the @taylorswift13 album drops.” Since then, Apple Music users have been noticing secret codes in the lyrics of her music, spelling out an ominous message: “We hereby conduct this post-mortem.”

Swift’s method of delivering this message — capitalizing certain letters in song lyrics on the Apple Music app to spell out a word — is a callback to her old ways. (For her first five albums, up to 1989, she would write out similar codes in her album booklets.)

Sooo, what does the phrase, “Hereby conduct this post-mortem,” mean? In Latin, “post-mortem” directly translates to “after death.” Today, it is used as a synonym for an autopsy, a process of examining a corpse to determine cause of death. (In corporate America speak, it means “an analysis or discussion of an event after it is over,” per Merriam-Webster.)

For Swifties, this opens up a whole new realm of what’s to come in TTPD. Some have pointed out that Swift used similar language onstage when introducing “Betty” on tour. “My albums have characteristically been sort of excruciatingly autobiographical, where when I put out an album, sometimes, it feels like getting some sort of live-streamed public autopsy or something,” she said.

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That’s not all. The album art is all in shades of black and grey — mourning colors. A fan on X also pointed out that some of the TTPD visuals, specifically the library catalogs, seem to resemble something more morbid. “This is giving morgue,” @mirrorswifft tweeted, connecting the idea to lyrics in “You’re Losing Me”: “I can't find a pulse / My heart won't start anymore / For you.”

This code seems hint at more death imagery to come... and potentially this motif could be a way to help Swifties prepare for the rebirth of Reputation. Here are all the codes and their possible meanings.

“Glitch”: “Hereby”

Swifties figured out the first word on April 13, discovering it in the lyrics for her song “Glitch,” which had a place on her “denial” playlist. The song has lyrics like, “I thought we had no chance / And that's romance, let's dance” — so, it’s fair to say the music is not portraying the most secure connection of all time.

“Glitch” also focuses on the tenuous beginning of a relationship, with lyrics like, “We were supposed to be just friends / You don't live in my part of town, but maybe I'll see you out some weekend.” Maybe the rest of the selected songs will follow the relationship chronologically?

“Peace”: “Conduct”


Swift’s next code was unscrambled to read, “conduct.” Swifties found it in the lyrics for “Peace” off of her 2020 folklore album. (It’s also in her Apple Music “bargaining” playlist.) The track is a... tough one for fans who shipped Swift and Joe Alwyn together. In it, she sings about not being “enough” to make up for the chaos surrounding her and her partner.

There are some other devastating lyrics in there, too. “I'd swing with you for the fences / Sit with you in the trenches / Give you my wild, give you a child,” she sings in one part.

In another moment, she seems to be pleading, “All these people think love's for show / But I would die for you in secret / The devil's in the details, but you got a friend in me / Would it be enough if I could never give you peace?” And this is on the “bargaining” playlist? Let’s reiterate: tough.

“Better Than Revenge”: “This”

Next up, Swift left the code “this” in “Better Than Revenge.” The song might be one of her shadiest, but it’s definitely catchy. (It also happens to be in Swift’s “anger” playlist — as it should.)

Instead of being penned to a partner, this track is directed to the other woman, whom Swift blames for the downfall of the relationship. She sings,

Let's hear the applause / C'mon show me how much better you are / See you deserve some applause / 'Cause you're so much better / She took him faster than you could say sabotage.

Let the record show, Swift wrote this song when she was still a teenager. “I was 18 when I wrote that,” she told Guardian in 2014. “That's the age you are when you think someone can actually take your boyfriend. Then you grow up and realize no one can take someone from you if they don't want to leave.”

Still, it’s interesting that a song allll about revenge was chosen to hold a code word for the upcoming release.

“Clean”: “Post”

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The code “post” appeared in Swift’s 1989 song “Clean,” which has a spot on her “acceptance” playlist, BTW. The song is all about the pain (and relief) of letting go of a toxic habit — more likely, a toxic person.

In the song, Swift sings, “Rain came pouring down / When I was drowning, that's when I could finally breathe / And by morning / Gone was any trace of you, I think I am finally clean.” Pretty straightforward, no?

Swift previously spoke about the song’s meaning in a 2015 interview with Tavi Gevinson for Elle:

“Clean” I wrote as I was walking out of Liberty in London. Someone I used to date — it hit me that I’d been in the same city as him for two weeks and I hadn’t thought about it. When it did hit me, it was like, ‘Oh, I hope he’s doing well.’ And nothing else... The first thought that came to my mind was, I'm finally clean.

It only makes sense that she’d pair this song with the message of “post” — hinting at the feeling of calmness once things finally were over, aka post-relationship.

“We Were Happy”: “We”

Swift changed things up on April 17. While the rest of her coded message seemed to be going in sequential order, her fifth secret word, “we,” belongs at the beginning of the message. That means, it read, “We hereby conduct this post...”

The code word was hidden in the lyrics of “We Were Happy,” which is on her “depression” playlist, BTW. Swift released the vault track in 2021 as part of Fearless (Taylor’s Version).

The song’s lyrics go:

When it was good, baby, it was good, baby / We showed 'em all up / No one could touch the way we laughed in the dark / Talkin' 'bout your daddy's farm / And you were gonna marry me / And we were happy.

“Begin Again”: “Mortem”

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The final secret code word was “mortem,” completing Swift’s puzzle on a macabre note. The song was hidden in the lyrics for “Begin Again,” which has a place on her “acceptance” playlist on Apple Music.

The song is one of the most hopeful tracks on Red, which Swifties consider to be her last true breakup album. In it, she sings, “I've been spending the last eight months / Thinking all love ever does / Is break and burn, and end / But on a Wednesday in a cafe / I watched it begin again.”

Maybe conducting the autopsy of her past relationships is what gives her the space to start over with Kelce?