In a recent Los Angeles Times interview, Gorillaz leader Damon Albarn said of Taylor Swift, “She doesn’t write her own songs.” He continued, “[Co-writing] doesn’t count. 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.”
Those statements prompted significant backlash online, including from Swift herself, who responded, “@DamonAlbarn 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. You don’t have to like my songs but it’s really f*cked up to try and discredit my writing. WOW.” Albarn later apologized, replying on Twitter, “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.”
Does Taylor Swift write her own songs?
Yes, Swift is credited as a writer on every song that appears on her nine studio albums. While most Swift songs in recent years have been penned with co-writers, more than half of the tracks on 2008’s Fearless and 2012’s Red were written by Swift alone, while Swift is the only credited writer on her 2010 album Speak Now.
Even when it comes to songs that Swift wrote with others, two her most prominent co-writers insist that Swift is the driving force behind the tracks. Following Albarn’s statements, Jack Antonoff 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. herb.” Aaron Dessner also wrote, “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…you’re obviously completely clueless as to her actual writing and work process.”
In terms of chart performance, Swift has actually been one of the most successful solo songwriters of recent years. Billboard notes that over the past decade, only 25 songs with just one credited songwriter have reached the top ten of the Hot 100 chart, and of those, three of them are by Swift: “Begin Again,” “Red,” and “Lover.” That’s second to only J. Cole, who has five such songs, and tied with Tyler Joseph of Twenty One Pilots.
On top of all that, last summer, the National Music Publishers Association honored Swift with the Songwriter Icon Award.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.