Taylor Swift has swiped back at Damon Albarn after the former Blur frontman and musical polymath argued that the pop singer’s co-writing approach isn’t really songwriting. In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Albarn said that Swift’s approach stands in stark contrast to his “traditionalist” view of the craft.
During the interview, Albarn was asked to share his thoughts about some of today’s biggest pop acts. He was quick to distinguish artists like Billie Eilish, who he said writes her own songs, from the likes of Taylor Swift, who he said doesn’t. Albarn maintained that there are “big” differences between both acts, but also pointed out that co-writing doesn’t necessarily negate brilliant material.
Albarn went on to describe his experience of performing stripped-back versions of old Bur songs in promotion of his recent album The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows: “You learn whether the songs are any good or whether they were popular at the time because of the sound and the attitude,” he said. The interviewer asked Albarn if he believes modern acts are relying on “sound and the attitude” rather than the quality of their songwriting. “Name me someone who’s not,” Albarn replied.
Responding to the assertion that Taylor Swift is a “great songwriter”, Albarn argued that there’s an important difference between someone who co-writes their songs and a traditional songwriter, who typically works alone. “That doesn’t count,” Albarn began. “I know what co-writing is. Co-writing is very different to writing,” Albarn said. “I’m not hating on anybody, I’m just saying there’s a big difference between a songwriter and a songwriter who co-writes. Doesn’t mean that the outcome can’t be really great.”
Taylor Swift, however, has taken offence to Albarn’s comments, taking to Twitter to write: “I was such a big fan of yours until I saw this. I write ALL 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.”
However, Albarn’s original comments weren’t necessarily intended as a slight. Indeed, during the interview, he observes how “some of the greatest singers” have not written their own material. “I mean, Ella Fitzgerald never wrote a song in her life. When I sing, I have to close my eyes and just be in there. I suppose I’m a traditionalist in that sense. 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.”