Early in a new interview with the Los Angeles Times that was posted Sunday night, Damon Albarn, the 53-year-old British musician who fronted the rock band Blur and co-founded and performed as part of the group Gorillaz, was explaining how hard it is to play a concert behind a piano rather than play as part of a band.
“You can’t hide behind anything. You learn whether the songs are any good or whether they were popular at the time because of the sound and the attitude,” he tells writer Mikael Wood in the Q&A, timed to tonight’s Walt Disney Concert Hall performance. “It’s a day of reckoning — and one, to be honest, that not much modern music could withstand.”
Albarn then challenges Wood to name a musician who is not relying on sound and attitude to which he offers Taylor Swift’s name as an “excellent songwriter.” Albarn did not agree.
“She doesn’t write her own songs,” Albarn alleges, going a step further to say that even if she co-writes her music, that doesn’t count. “Co-writing is very different to writing. I’m not hating on anybody, I’m just saying there’s a big difference between a songwriter and a songwriter who co-writes. … A really interesting songwriter is Billie Eilish and her brother. I’m more attracted to that than to Taylor Swift. It’s just darker — less endlessly upbeat. Way more minor and odd. I think she’s exceptional.”
His comments reached Swift who responded on Twitter Monday afternoon. “I was such a big fan of yours until I saw this. I write ALL of my own songs. Your hot take is completely false and SO damaging. You don’t have to like my songs but it’s really fucked up to try and discredit my writing. WOW,” Swift shared with her 89.8 million followers. “PS I wrote this tweet all by myself in case you were wondering.”
The tweet quickly went viral. It has drawn responses from people like Jack Antonoff, a close friend and longtime collaborator of Swift. “I’ve never met Damon Albarn and he’s never been to my studio but apparently he knows more than the rest of us about all those songs Taylor writes and brings in,” he posted today. “If you were there … cool … go off. if not … maybe …. shut the fuck up?”
Swift has won 11 Grammy Awards from 41 nominations, including three album of the year nods and multiple for her songwriting talents. She is the sole credited songwriter of her 2010 release Speak Now, her third studio album. While she does work with collaborators in crafting some of songs, her peers typically walk away raving about the experience. “I learn a lot from Taylor because she’s so talented, so hardworking and so sharp in her ideas, storytelling and sense of melody and rhythm,” said Aaron Dessner, who worked with Swift on Folklore and Evermore. “The way she’d respond to music I was making was often leaving me flabbergasted. She can carve into something in such a powerful, beautiful, incisive way that it does kind of give you… her approach to songwriting structurally, you just can’t help but be influenced by it because it’s so masterful.”
Albarn had choice words for other high-profile musicians as well. Asked whether he would consider a Blur reunion, Albarn offers a definite no and disses the Rolling Stones. “I’m not into how beloved you become of the smell of your own farts. The greatest exponent of that is the Rolling Stones, who just couldn’t let it go. It’s disappointing. Not to say that I didn’t absolutely love the Rolling Stones in their heyday — they were magnificent. But do other stuff in your life. Singing “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” when you’re pushing 80? Come on.”
More to come.
@DamonAlbarn I was such a big fan of yours until I saw this. I write ALL of my own songs. Your hot take is completely false and SO damaging. You don’t have to like my songs but it’s really fucked up to try and discredit my writing. WOW. https://t.co/t6GyXBU2Jd
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) January 24, 2022
i’ve never met damon albarn and he’s never been to my studio but apparently he knows more than the rest of us about all those songs taylor writes and brings in. herb.
— jackantonoff (@jackantonoff) January 24, 2022