After igniting a social media firestorm by saying Taylor Swift “doesn’t write her own songs,” Damon Albarn dedicated a performance to the Los Angeles Times reporter who corrected him.
During a Monday night show at L.A.’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, the veteran musician of Blur and Gorillaz fame briefly addressed the buzzy Times interview in which he insulted Swift. Albarn had apologized for the comment earlier in the day after Swift reprimanded him on Twitter.
Before launching into a rendition of the 1997 Blur hit “Song 2,” Albarn told the crowd that Times pop music critic Mikael Wood suggested he play that track “before he cast me into the social media abyss.”
“You can judge for yourself,” he added vaguely, according to footage of the concert posted on Twitter. “I think I’m becoming old-fashioned. … This is for you, Mikael.”
During a conversation published Monday in The Times, Wood hailed Swift as “an excellent songwriter,” to which Albarn replied, “She doesn’t write her own songs.”
When Wood pushed back — saying, “Of course she does,” while noting that the Grammy winner “co-writes some of them” — Albarn doubled down.
“That doesn’t count,” he said.
“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.”
Albarn also lauded anti-pop phenom Billie Eilish and her producer brother, Finneas, as “really interesting” songwriters — before adding that he is “more attracted” to Eilish’s music than to Swift’s.
Shortly after the Q&A came out, Swift shamed Albarn for his remarks.
“I was such a big fan of yours until I saw this,” Swift wrote in response to a tweet from The Times that quoted Albarn.
“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— up to try and discredit my writing. WOW.”
About an hour later, Albarn replied, tweeting, “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.”
A couple of Swift’s frequent collaborators, record producers Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner, also called out Albarn while leaping to the pop superstar’s defense.
“I’ve never met damon albarn and he’s never been to my studio,” Antonoff tweeted, “but apparently he knows more than the rest of us about all those songs taylor writes and brings in.”
“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,” echoed Dessner. “You’re obviously completely clueless as to her actual writing and work process.”
Read Wood’s full interview with Albarn here.