Pet Shop Boys singer says Taylor Swifts catalog lacks “famous songs”: “What is [her] Billie Jean?”


Neil Tennant, the lead singer of U.K. duo Pet Shop Boys, must have some kind of social media death wish: At a London event on April 22, he publicly dissed Taylor Swift‘s songwriting ability.

Tennant, who used to be a music journalist, took part in a live discussion Monday organized by the U.K.’s The Guardian. He said of Taylor, “I have listened to Taylor Swift’s album. … 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, [bandmate Chris and I] both have the same feeling actually, for a phenomenon as big [her], where are the famous songs? What is Taylor Swift’s ‘Billie Jean’?”

When someone at the event suggested “Shake It Off” is Taylor’s “Billie Jean,” Tennant asked, “Is it, though? No, ’cause I actually even know 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.”

Tennant allowed that he likes the fact that Taylor’s music “brings all these people together, even multigenerational,” but added, “I just think that the one disappointing thing is the music. Not even, not the lyrics, the music.”

If you’re now wondering what some of Pet Shop Boys’ famous songs are, their hits in the U.S. include “West End Girls,” “Opportunities,” “It’s a Sin,” “What Have I Done to Deserve This,” a remake of Elvis Presley‘s “Always On My Mind” and “Domino Dancing.” They’re the most successful duo in U.K. chart history and have sold over 50 million records.


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