In January, the Los Angeles Times published an interview with Damon Albarn, in which he claimed that “[Taylor Swift] doesn’t write her own songs”. Not only is this statement ungrounded and factually incorrect, but it is also not the first time that Damon has ruffled some feathers. In 2015 he branded Adele’s album 25 as “middle-of-the road” after their collaborative work did not make it to the final record; ironically, 25 went on to become the best-selling album of that year.
Taylor broke her social media hiatus to quickly point out that his comments were “false” and “damaging”. Taylor Swift is no stranger to carping critics; after her song-writing abilities were questioned earlier in her career, she responded by releasing her third studio album, Speak Now, written entirely by herself. Doesn’t write her own songs, you say?
Nevertheless, co-writing does not diminish an artist’s talent; Taylor’s collaboration with Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner on her recent albums folklore and evermore only served to add vivid lyricism and radical depth to the songs, and further diversified her incredible discography.
So, the question remains: why are baseless comments mindlessly and continuously thrown around by men criticising incredibly talented women? Apparently, music isn’t ‘real’ unless it is made by and credited entirely to cis white heterosexual men. This viral interaction only illuminates this inherent bias that has tainted the industry for countless years now. Taylor has addressed this many times throughout her career, and most candidly in her 2020 documentary, Miss Americana. Taylor Swift is by no means a feminist activist, but she is a glaring example of the extra pressure that female artists face from the media.
You don’t need to like her music, but are you really qualified to declare this woman is not talented? Or can you simply just not stand to see a woman becoming one of the most successful artists of our time? This phenomenon is not exclusive to Taylor Swift, but a common challenge for women in the music industry; and quite frankly, discrediting these artists without valid reason is sexist.
Personally, I am inspired by the resilience that Taylor Swift has shown in the face of endless berating. It only makes listening to her music a more uplifting and empowering experience.