Pet Shop Boys singer Neil Tennant says Taylor Swift doesn’t have any ‘famous songs’

‘She sorts of fascinates me,’ the ‘It’s a Sin’ musician said

Lydia Spencer-Elliott
Thursday 25 April 2024 12:12 BST
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The Killers perform Human alongside the Pet Shop Boys at Glastonbury

The Pet Shop Boys’ vocalist Neil Tennant has criticised Taylor Swift’s music following the release of her new album, The Tortured Poets Department.

Swift’s latest record is already the UK’s fastest-selling album of 2024 so far. Over 220,000 copies were sold in the first three days on sale, with singles “Fortnight” (featuring Post Malone), “The Tortured Poets Department” and “So, Long, London”, expected to top the UK singles chart.

However, speaking at the Guardian Live event “An Evening with Pet Shop Boys” in London on Monday (22 April), Tennant said he couldn’t entirely understand Swift’s popularity.

He noted that Swift’s music fell short of his expectations for an artist of her success level and claimed her discography didn’t stand up to those of pop stars like Michael Jackson.

“What is Taylor Swift’s ‘Billie Jean’?” he asked. “‘Shake It Off’? I listened to that the other day and it is not ‘Billie Jean’, is it?” Tennant said, according to The Mirror.

The “It’s a Sin” musician added he likes Swift’s music because it “brings people together” but “the one disappointing thing is the music, not the lyrics”.

Elsewhere at the event, during which the Pet Shop Boys’ new album Nonetheless was played publicly for the first time, Tennant also critiqued Swift’s practice of drawing inspiration from her love life for lyrics.

“To have a successful pop career now you have to have a series of relationships, which are amazing and then break up tragically,” he said.

Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys and Taylor Swift
Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys and Taylor Swift (Claire Greenway/Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

“In the world of pop, people don’t write songs like ‘Karma Chameleon’ anymore,” the singer claimed, referencing Culture Club’s hit 1983 record.

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Tennant’s take comes after the Pet Shop Boys accused Drake of singing the lyrics to their 1983 hit “West End Girls” in his track, “All the Parties”, without permission last October.

Pet Shop Boys singer Neil Tennant has called Taylor Swift’s music ‘disappointing’
Pet Shop Boys singer Neil Tennant has called Taylor Swift’s music ‘disappointing’ (PA Archive)

In the song, which features on Drake’s new album, For All The Dogs, the “One Dance” rapper sings: “East End boys and West End girls, yeah / East End boys and West End girls.”

On the day of the album’s release, the Pet Shop Boys tweeted: “Surprising to hear @Drake singing the chorus of ‘West End Girls’ in the track ‘All the Parties’ on his new album. No credit given or permission requested.”

Speaking with NME this week, Tennant and Lowe said the dispute has now been resolved but didn’t outline specifics.

“It’s all sorted now,” Tennant said. “But I must say I thought it was a really nice bit in the record. He sang it very well.”

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