Is Taylor Swift’s ‘The Albatross’ about criticism over attention at Travis Kelce’s NFL Games?

Taylor Swift has found her lyrical muse in Travis Kelce, and The Tortured Poets Department proves that.

While fans quickly deduced that Swift’s songs “The Alchemy” and “So High School” were penned about Kelce, 34, others realized that “The Albatross” has subtle references to the Kansas City Chiefs tight end, too.

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“Cautions issued, he stood / Shooting the messengers / They tried to warn him about her, “ Swift, 34, sings on “The Albatross,” which dropped on Friday, April 19. “Cross your thoughtless heart / Only liquor anoints you / She’s the albatross / She is here to destroy you.”

She continues, “Devils that you know / Raise worse hell than a stranger / She’s the death you chose / You’re in terrible danger.”

Every Time Taylor Swift Used Sports Metaphors in Her Songs Before and After Meeting Travis Kelce

Eagle-eyed Swifties have theorized that the lyrical warning was referring to NFL fan criticism Kelce, 34, received when he started dating the pop star in 2023.

“Everybody was telling Travis, ‘Be careful, don’t get with her. She’ll ruin your career,’” one social media user said via TikTok. “‘Are you paying attention to football? Is she weighing you down? Is he no longer good because he’s dating Taylor Swift?’ That was the entire middle part of their relationship when everybody was so pissed they saw her on the screen.”

Swift and Kelce started dating in summer 2023 after a missed connection at her Eras Tour that July. They took their romance to the next level when she went to her first Chiefs game in September 2023. Despite Swift eagerly embracing football for the first time, die-hard sports enthusiasts lamented that she was shown on broadcasts more than the game itself and thought Kelce’s stats would be negatively affected. (The beliefs were ultimately proven to be false as Kelce broke many receiving records and helped the Chiefs clinch a second consecutive Super Bowl trophy.)

Taylor Swift Fans Think The Albatross Is About Travis Kelce
Taylor Swift at Chicago Bears vs the Kansas City Chiefs game, 2023. Jason Hanna/Getty Images

“I don’t know how they know what suite I’m in. There’s a camera, like, a half-mile away, and you don’t know where it is, and you have no idea when the camera is putting you in the broadcast, so I don’t know if I’m being shown 17 times or once,” Swift told TIME in her 2023 Person of the Year profile. “I’m just there to support Travis. I have no awareness of if I’m being shown too much and pissing off a few dads, Brads and Chads.”

Since hearing “The Albatross,” other Swifties have noticed that the track seemingly highlights the unexpected situations and “baggage” that comes with being in a relationship with Swift.

“The first verse talks about someone warning a suitor about dating her. Love is fragile, don’t let the winds that come with her fame snuff it out,” an X user theorized. “You shouldn’t date her, it will blow up the tabloids.”

They added, “The second verse is about how she is shut away for the good of her potential partners. She’s the bad seed and the temptress, so shutting her away reduces the danger (less dagger to sharpen). But she escapes confinement anyway to visit her partner (who dgaf about the danger).”

Kelce, for his part, has made it clear that he understands the “good reason” why people “care” about Swift so much and asserted that he’s enjoying their public and private life together.

Another social media fan pointed out that “The Albatross” is about “men [being] scared of falling” for Swift since she’s a so-called “man-eater and serial dater,” but they date her regardless. A separate social media user posited that the NFL critics — not Kelce — made Swift feel like an albatross.

“Given everyone warned Trav he was distracted all because of her, the football dudes made her feel she was the albatross around his neck,” the X user wrote. “He never made her feel that way and cast off all the doomsayers.  In fact, he played better when she was there.”

The term “albatross” has multiple meanings, referring to either an oceanic bird, a source of frustration and guilt, or a “double eagle” move in golf. If a person is called an albatross, it typically means said individual is a psychological burden. The albatross is also one of Swift’s many literary references as the bird appears in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” which is interpreted as a story of salvation.

While Swift has not explained her lyrical inspiration for “The Albatross,” she did drop a subtle clue that “So High School” is about Kelce. In the official lyric music video, she highlights their respective initials (TK and TS) in pale pink as the words to the track flash on screen.

The Tortured Poets Department is out now.

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