Damon Albarn: what did Blur frontman say about Taylor Swift, does she write her own songs and did she respond?
Taylor Swift hit back on Twitter after Blur and Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn made some big claims about her songwriting abilities
Damon Albarn sparked outrage online after claiming that Taylor Swift “doesn’t write her own songs” in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times.
His comments have been branded as “completely clueless” by fellow musicians online, following a direct call out on Twitter by the All Too Well singer.
This is everything you need to know.
Who is Damon Albarn?
Albarn is an English singer and musician, who is best known as the frontman and main lyricist of the band Blur, and the co-founder, lead vocalist, instrumentalist and main songwriter of the band Gorillaz.
Blur released its first single in 1990 with the song She’s So High, which reached number 48 on the UK Singles Chart.
Their first album, Leisure, released in 1991, peaked at number seven on the UK Albums Chart, however it was greeted with mixed reviews from critics and fans. Their second album, Modern Life Is Rubbish, which was released in 1993, peaked lower than their first as number 15 on the UK Albums Chart.
It was their third studio album, the 1994 Parklife, which really brought Blur success. It entered the British charts at number one and remained in the UK Album Charts for 90 weeks. The following year, Blur won four awards at the 1995 Brit Awards, namely Best British Group and British Album of the Year for Parklife.
Other albums released by Blur over the years include Blur in 1997, 13 in 1999, Think Tank in 2003 and The Magic Whip in 2015.
In 1998, Albarn co-founded the group Gorillaz alongside comic book artist Jamie Hewlett. They released Gorillaz first self titled album in 2001 to positive reviews, and in 2005 released Demon Days which featured the singles Feel Good Inc and Dirty Harry.
What did he say about Taylor Swift?
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Albarn claimed that Swift doesn’t write her own songs.
The interviewer, Mikael Wood, said “She may not be to your taste, but Taylor Swift is an excellent songwriter”, to which Albarn replied: “She doesn’t write her own songs.”
Wood then stated that “of course” Swift writes her own songs, and that she also co-writes some of them.
Albarn then said: “That doesn’t count. I know what co-writing is. 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.
“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.
“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.”
How did Taylor Swift respond?
Swift quote tweeted the article from the Los Angeles Times on Twitter, which said: “Albarn also spills his thoughts on some of today’s chart-topping music artists. Billie Eilish? “I think she’s exceptional.” Taylor Swift? “She doesn’t write her own songs.””
In her tweet, she called out Albarn directly by tagging him and writing: “@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 f**ked up to try and discredit my writing. WOW.”
She followed up her tweet with another, stating: “PS I wrote this tweet all by myself in case you were wondering.”
A number of Swift’s fellow musicians backed her up online as well.
Grammy award winning songwriter and music producer Joel Little tweeted: “Just to confirm what 99% of people already knew, @taylorswift13 is a force of nature in the studio and one of the best to ever do it. Anyone who’s made music with her knows they were lucky to be in the room.”
“Not sure why you @DamonAlbarn would try to discredit Taylor’s brilliant songwriting, but as someone who has gotten to press record around her… your statements couldn’t be further from the truth… you’re obviously completely clueless as to her actual writing and work process,” tweeted Aaron Dessner, who has collaborated with Swift on several of her albums, including the 2021 Grammy Award-winning Album of the Year Folklore.
John Paul White, one half of the award winning duo The Civil Wars, who worked with Swift in the past on the 2011 song Safe and Sound, tweeted: “I can personally guarantee that she was a major part of the songwriting on Safe and Sound. She proved to be one of the best I’ve ever worked with. Selfless, generous, insightful, nuanced - with a CLEAR understanding of the assignment.”
The official Tidal Twitter account, which is a music streaming service, tweeted, “Can confirm Taylor’s pen game is strong”, adding two screenshots of Taylor Swift being credited as the lyricist on her songs.
Has Damon Albarn apologised?
Following the outrage sparked by his comments claiming that Swift doesn’t write her own songs, Albarn quickly apologised “unreservedly and unconditionally”.
Replying to Swift on Twitter, Albarn wrote: “I totally agree with you.
“I had a conversation about songwriting and sadly it was reduced to clickbait.
“I apologise unreservedly and unconditionally. The last thing I would want to do is discredit your songwriting.
“I hope you understand - Damon.”
However, Albarn’s apology didn’t sit well with fans online, with many pointing out the incorrect usage of the term “clickbait” and refusal to take accountability for what he said.
One person tweeted: “"clickbait" is when a quote is taken out of context in order to get readers to click a story. The context here is that Albarn said Taylor Swift didn’t write her own songs, was CORRECTED BY THE REPORTER and doubled down lmao.”
Another wrote, “we can literally read what you said”, with a screenshot of the interview.
Another tweeted: “”She doesn’t write her own songs.” In what context can that mean ANYTHING else besides discrediting her songwriting? Either admit you were wrong or go after the @latimes. You should have corrected yourself when this article first dropped.”
“What part of this was reduced to clickbait? You said her songwriting doesn’t count as songwriting and then compared her to another female artist with a completely different style. Don’t gaslight and throw someone else under the bus because you never thought she’d call you out,” wrote another.
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