Is there anything to add to the Damon Albarn-Taylor Swift saga? Two days ago, Albarn made the terrible mistake of “attacking” Taylor Swift, in an interview with the LA Times. He said a day later that his statements were taken out of context and that “it was reduced to clickbait,” when he declared that “she [Swift] doesn’t write her own songs” and that co-writing “doesn’t count,” and that’s entirely possible. However, his explanation (a full quote in the LA Times) is unequivocal: “I know what co-writing is. Co-writing is very different to writing,” he 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. And some of the greatest singers — 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.”
On the co-writing part, he is not wrong: if many of her early albums were mainly written by herself, Taylor Swift has collaborated with a long list of writers on other albums: Jack Antonoff, Aaron Dessner, William Bowery, Justin Vernon, Liz Rose, Max Martin, Shellback, Imogen Heap, St. Vincent, Ed Sheeran, Kellie Pickler, Calvin Harris are all credited on her albums… Just check by yourself: for her 2017 “Reputation” album, there are up to 5 writers for the same songs, and many songs have 3 writers, and the same could be said of her 2014 “1989” album. But this is far from being unusual, it is the case for most popular artists right now.
However, I didn’t exactly follow Albarn’s reasoning when, a few sentences later, he praised Billie Eilish’s songwriting: “A really interesting songwriter is Billie Eilish and her brother. I’m more attracted to that than to Taylor Swift”… But it’s also co-writing, right? Maybe he meant that Billie Eilish and her brother are a pair always working together whereas Swift has hired a long list of professional collaborators, but it’s clear that Albarn was not very logical there and was rather expressing personal tastes.
Of course, Taylor Swift was not pleased and replied “@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,” a tweet that has now received 676K likes and counting, so twice the amount of people who follow Damon Albarn… just saying.
What was he thinking? Dissing a queen like Taylor Swift who has the most triggerable fanbase on earth? Did he ever have a good look at these people? They are insanely devoted to their queen and would be ready to “kill” for her. I know there is no bad publicity but this one must have been really harsh. Yesterday, as he was performing at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA, Damon Albarn addressed the feud and dedicated a song to the LA Times journalist who “cast him into the social media abyss.”
As expected, Albarn apologized but nobody cared. The story was reported everywhere, discussed on every social media, and predictably, people are now looking at it through a very 2022 angle: sexism and misogyny. Why? Why are people obsessed with reducing every single feud between musicians or other celebrities to a battle of the sexes? No, Damon Albarn is not putting down a successful female artist, he is putting down a successful artist, and the best proof of this is that, in the same tirade, he was praising another successful female artist, Billie Eilish. Albarn may have been a complete fool to attack Swift, but this was not the latest attack on women, aligned with a long history of women in music being discredited, exploited, silenced, and abused in the music industry or other nonsense I have read. Taylor Swift is 100% fine after this interview. On the other hand, Albarn has reached the bottom of the social media abyss.
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