I’m sorry, Damon Albarn, but your comments about Taylor Swift sound a lot like sexism to me.

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In the 1990s, you fell into two main musical camps: Blur vs Oasis. I found the Gallaghers too rude, too much on the mod side of indie. I felt an affinity with Blur frontman Damon Albarn, he’s from my part of the woods (we both grew up around “Hollow Ponds”, the title of the third single from his 2014 solo album everyday robots); and Blur always seemed cooler, braver. Besides, Albarn was hot.

But now? The gladiatorial match of Blur vs. Oasis has given way to the much more unlikely Damon Albarn vs. Taylor Swift; this time, however, there is a clear winner, and it sure isn’t Albarn.

The source of the anger? Well, Albarn gave an interview to the L.A. Times in which he pompously criticized Swift, saying “she doesn’t write her own songs”. When the journalist pointed out that he does, and that she also co-writes some of them, he scoffed. “That doesn’t count,” she said. “I know what cowriting is. Cowriting is very different from writing.”

Albarn was quick to note his comments: “I’m not hating on anyone, I’m just saying there’s a big difference between a songwriter and a songwriter who co-writes,” he said, but he still stuck the knife in. , and he duly compared himself to Swift, to himself in the title role of Great And Serious Male Artist: “When I sing, I have to close my eyes and just be there. I guess I’m a traditionalist in that sense.” He also dismissed Swift as comparing her to Billie Eilish, saying she preferred the “Bad Guy” singer because “she’s just darker, less endlessly optimistic.”

Foolish, Albarn, so foolish to go to bat against Tay-Tay: queen of our hearts, our pandemic princess; the star that managed to turn off not one but two albums during lockdown that (for me, for many others) became soundtracks to our collective melancholy. To me, dismissing it as “infinitely optimistic” only serves to narrow it down, and I wonder if that’s exactly the point.

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As my colleague Kevin EG Perry wrote last night, the war Albarn has gotten himself into sounds a lot like old-fashioned indie tribalism. But in my opinion, she also goes further: her comments are part of a pattern of cultural women being undermined; an unfortunate cadre of talented women artists, scientists and inventors discredited, undermined or completely ignored by her work.

Just the other night I was reading a story to my kids about English paleontologist Mary Anning, a pioneering fossil collector who discovered the groundbreaking ichthyosaur. Male scientists bought the fossils that Anning discovered, but did not credit her discoveries in their scientific papers on the finds. You would have thought that such views and behaviors would have died out with the Jurassic period, but now we have Albarn.

Swift, as expected, defended herself, tweeting directly at Albarn (and you can almost hear her cracking the same knuckles she used to write hits like “Cardigan” and “Illicit Affairs”) to express how disappointed she was: “@DamonAlbarn I was a huge fan of yours until I saw this. I’m writing ALL my own songs. Your hot opinion is completely false and SO hurtful. You don’t have to like my songs, but it’s really fucked up trying to discredit my writing. WOW.”

she went with it an eye roll of epic proportions: “PS: I wrote this tweet by myself in case you were wondering 😑”.

Brava, sister, brava. And while Albarn was apologizing… yes, on twitter – It is not the first time that he has been accused of harassing female artists. He reportedly once called Adele “insecure” and “middle of the road” after they worked together on music in 2015 that was never released; she described this to Rolling Stone as “one of those ‘don’t meet your idol’ moments.”

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“And the saddest thing was that I was a huge fan of Blur growing up,” Adele said. “But it was sad, and I regret being with him.” Albarn later denied the snubs, saying the reports came from someone who overheard a conversation with a friend, but this wouldn’t be the first time he’s found himself in trouble, accused of saying something derogatory about his contemporaries.

Some of the backlash has been wild and must be making Albarn cringe, particularly from Gen Z. A fan responded to Swift: “If it makes you feel any better, I don’t know who this guy is, but I have every single one of your lyrics etched into my brain.”

Man, that has to sting. After all, Swift received the Songwriter Icon Award in 2021, the National Association of Music Publishers stating that “no one is more influential when it comes to writing music today.” Week he described her as “the leading female composer of modern times”. Albarn’s heyday, by contrast, is possibly over, and now, to me, he comes across as just another bitter man with a fragile ego.

Some people pointed out that writing her own songs is literally what Swift is known for; others said it seemed like Albarn was actively trolling her: “At this point, Taylor Swift’s achievements are so respected in the music industry that I think you have to be actively ignorant to claim you don’t know she writes her music OR – more likely – seeking attention and a backlash by publicly belittling her,” said journalist Sarah Carson.

But others, myself included, fear that it is nothing less than a typical misogynistic mockery of women writers, whose work has been diminished and undermined (as well as erased, forgotten, stolen, and discredited) for centuries.

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A writer, Dr. Una McCormack, shared this screenshot of a book cover by Joanna Russ, titled “How to Suppress Women’s Writing,” which contains quotes such as “she wrote it, but she had help” and “she wrote it, but she’s not really an artist.” How fit. She could almost have come straight from Albarn. L.A. Times interview.

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The feminist bookstore The Second Shelf also tweeted:: “I don’t know if you know this about us or not, but we are always angry with all women writers. No, this is not a tweet for Taylor Swift. It’s for everyone And also her. And for all.”

At best, Albarn’s opinion looks like ignorance. Maybe he genuinely does it I think she never writes her songs. But at worst, Albarn just can’t believe that Swift writes her own songs because she’s a young woman, and young women who are beautiful and successful couldn’t possibly be talented enough to do it, could they?

My teenage self fervently hopes it’s not for this reason, because then I’d have to switch my allegiance retrospectively to Oasis, and I’m not sure I can get behind Noel Gallagher now, I just can’t.

But one thing seems painfully clear to me: While Albarn is busy trashing her reputation and losing fans (and maybe Adele was right when she said you should never meet your idols, or read quotes from them), Swift is just branding herself as more than one icon. And it is her name that we will be reading for much longer in the history books.



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www.independent.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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