Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant Asks Where Taylor Swift’s “Famous Songs” Are

If there’s any one person qualified to critique Taylor Swift, it might be former music critic for Smash Hits and Pet Shop Boy, Neil Tennant. He recently spoke about Swift’s impact on the music industry, her lyricism, and why she doesn’t have any “famous songs,” bringing up Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” as an example.

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Speaking with The Guardian at a panel recently, Tennant touched on the subject of The Tortured Poets Department. “I was looking at the chart earlier today … and it’s all Taylor Swift,” he said, adding, “I have listened to Taylor Swift’s album.”

He continued, “Taylor Swift sort of fascinates me as a phenomenon because she’s so popular and I sort of quite like the whole thing. But then when I listen to the records … that for a phenomenon as big [as she is] … where are the famous songs? What is Taylor Swift’s ‘Billie Jean’?”

Swift’s 2014 hit “Shake It Off” was then suggested as an equivalent to Michael Jackson’s enduring song, but Tennant replied, “Is it though?” adding, “No, ’cause I actually even know that that’s the answer, but I listened to that the other day, and it’s not ‘Billie Jean.’ It’s not… Melodically — she’s got a great voice, by the way, and the production’s beautiful — but melodically … it’s all sung one or two notes going up and down… But, anyway, it’s a fascinating thing.”

[RELATED: Which Taylor Swift Album is the Most Popular in the U.S.?]

Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys Critiques Taylor Swift, Says Her Popularity is “a Fascinating Thing”

The collective experience of Taylor Swift’s music was then brought up. Swifties seem to enjoy all having the same experience through Swift’s music, where nothing differs from the narrative of them all. Tennant responded, “I like that, I even sort of appreciate that, and I like the fact that it brings all these people together, even multigenerational.”

Tennant then added, “but I just think that the one disappointing thing is the music. Not even the lyrics, the music.”

There are some Swifties out there who are also criticizing Swift’s new album on social media, with many calling for her partnership with Jack Antonoff to finally come to an end. Antonoff has had a hand in co-writing and producing the last six Taylor Swift albums—Reputation, Lover, Folklore, Evermore, Midnights, and now The Tortured Poets Department. Some fans believe that he is causing her music to stagnate, similar to Tennant’s sentiments.

However, many more diehard Swifties believe this is her best work to date, even going so far as to attack critics on social media who dare to share their honest, less than savory opinions on the album. Paste even had to publish its review of The Tortured Poets Department with no by-line, in order to protect the writer against threats from Swifties, after that exact thing happened in 2019 when they reviewed Lover.

Featured Images by Clemens Bilan/Getty Images; Kevin Winter/Getty Images for dcp

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