If She Was a Man, They Wouldn’t Question How Much Recognition She Deserved

by John Downey '23 on February 10, 2022
A&E Co-Editor

Arts & Entertainment

If She Was a Man, They Wouldn’t Question How Much Recognition She Deserved

Lesser-Known Male Musician Makes Damaging, Disrespectful, and False Claims About Taylor Swift

Nikki Idelson ’22

In an unsurprising but unfortunate turn of events, Taylor Swift has been once again forced to defend herself and her career. In a recent interview with the LA Times, Damon Albarn, the lead singer of groups such as Blur and Gorillaz, stated that he would not consider Swift a great songwriter and made the ignorant allegation that Swift “doesn’t write her own songs.” 

Swift, who has become infamous for standing up to those who attempt to slander her or otherwise damage her reputation, immediately responded to Albarn’s baseless claims on Twitter. She wrote, “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.” 

Notably, in Albarn’s LA times interview, the interviewer tries to give him a chance to retract his false claims, reminding him that Swift at the very least co-writes all of her own songs. Albarn, however, is insistent on diminishing Swift’s accomplishments. He responds to the interviewer, “that doesn’t count. I know what co-writing is. Co-writing is very different to writing.” 

When discussing Swift, Albarn compared her to young singer Billie Eilish. He asserted that he “prefers Billie Eilish” over Swift because Eilish is a “really interesting songwriter.” Ironically, Eilish co-writes the majority of her music with her brother and fellow artist FINNEAS—the very trait which informed Albarn’s lesser opinion of Swift and her talent as a songwriter.

Swift’s fans were, well, swift to point out this hypocrisy and how it only further discredits Albarn’s slander. One “Swiftie” took to Twitter to respond to Albarn’s claims by asking, “when will Taylor Swift be regarded with the respect and recognition she rightly deserves? When she appeals to the middle-aged male hipster market? When the graying, thick-rim glassed, Carharrt-brigade finally give their approval?” 

This fan and many others have been considering the role of sexism in Albarn’s claims. According to Metro, Swift “is credited as the sole writer on 54 of her tracks and is listed as a co-writer on the rest.” In the past, Swift has been criticized and even belittled for incorporating material from her own romantic experiences into her music, while male singers, such as John Mayer—one of Swift’s former boyfriends and the subject of her beloved song “Dear John”—regularly do so and receive no backlash for it. With this history of sexist treatment of Swift in mind, Metro suggests that Albarn’s unwelcome comments propose that “perhaps we are still dwindling in a phase of societal revolution where we believe that women aren’t capable of greatness without some male interference” and notes the sexism latent in Albarn’s claim that “no matter what you think of Ed Sheeran’s songs, no one would question whether he writes them himself.” 

Swift’s collaborators and colleagues in the music industry have also jumped to her defense. For instance, Jack Antonoff, who has produced tracks on each of Swift’s albums since 1989, tweeted, “I’ve never met Damon Albarn and he’s never been to my studio but apparently he knows more than the rest of us about all those songs Taylor writes and brings in.” 

In an attempt to placate those who have challenged his damaging claims, Albarn responded to Swift’s condemnation of his allegations with an “apology,” insisting that his words were taken out of context, although the interview shows that this was not the case. He tweeted, “I totally agree with you. I had a conversation about songwriting and sadly it was reduced to clickbait. I apologise unreservedly and unconditionally.” Swift has not responded to his apology, but it is safe to say, as she sings in “The Man,” that she’s “so sick of [haters] coming at [her] again.”