Damon Albarn doesn’t seem to know what he said about Taylor Swift

After Swift shot back at the Blur and Gorillaz frontman online, Albarn claimed he never wanted to discredit Swift’s songwriting, despite explicitly doing that.

Damon Albarn
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Damon Albarn isn’t sure whether or not he believes Taylor Swift writes her own songs — or whether or not people can read a transcript. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Albarn, the lead singer of the bands Blur and Gorillaz, said at one point that Taylor Swift “doesn’t write her own songs.” Swift herself quickly fired back at Albarn in a tweet, which prompted Albarn to clumsily walk back his statement in a direct response to Swift online.

“I was such a big fan of yours until I saw this,” Swift wrote on Twitter, linking to the interview. “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.”

In the piece, when Swift is brought up by the interviewer as an “excellent songwriter,” Albarn says simply, “She doesn’t write her own songs.” He then goes on to take issue with the notion of “co-writing” on a song, when the interviewer retorts that Swift co-writes some of her songs:

“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.”

Shortly after Swift’s response, Albarn tweeted back: “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”

Despite his ostensibly apologetic tone, Albarn’s response was altogether bewildering. The Blur frontman would never want to discredit Swift’s songwriting and was a victim of “clickbait” journalism — despite the fact that he explicitly and unequivocally stated that she doesn’t write her own music. The “conversation about songwriting,” while theorizing on how it all works in general, is hard to not see, at least in part, as a condescending sneer at Swift’s work.

What’s more, Albarn’s initial take, alongside his arbitrary comparison to Billie Eilish, is particularly bizarre considering that one of the defining qualities of Swift’s pop dominance has been the general consensus that she is among the most gifted and celebrated songwriters of her generation. Love her or hate her, listeners — and often her detractors in particular — always know a Taylor Swift song is coming from Swift herself.

As others online pointed out, even beyond the self-important slight about what co-writing constitutes, Swift is credited as the sole writer for a large portion of her discography — she is, for instance, the only writer credited for the entirety of her 2010 album Speak Now. She wrote that record entirely on her own, in fact, in order to specifically dispel murmurs early on in her career of the same charge that she didn’t write her own songs.

Of course, the rest of the world caught on — Albarn just still hasn’t. At least, it depends on the day for him, or the backlash.