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Hello Mr Pot, Miss Kettle calling! It’s a bit rich for a Pet Shop Boy to say Taylor Swift’s songs all sound the same

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Hello Mr Pot, Miss Kettle calling! It's a bit rich for a Pet Shop Boy to say Taylor Swift's songs all sound the same

No matter how successful, adored and famous a pop star becomes, there will always be a grump in the corner moaning that they can’t see what all the fuss is about.

 

 

Usually that grump is me, but not when it comes to Taylor Swift. I love Taylor’s songs and her admirable, demented work ethic, which crested this month with the release of two new albums — The Tortured Poets Department and The Anthology — both written, recorded and made while she is in the middle of her worldwide Eras tour, performing on stage for three straight hours at every show.

Who does that? No one. For no one else has her stamina and passion; it’s as if Swift is caught in a febrile mania of creativity, unable to stop banging on about bad boys or anyone who’s ever dissed her.

There are arty new videos, beguiling new photographs, 31 new songs and many millions of newer speculations focusing on exactly who her songs are about.

Two decades into her career, Swift is more relevant than ever; the biggest pop star on the planet and possibly too big to fail.

But not everyone is happy. And I have a few doubts myself. For how many songs about break-ups and boyfriends can a Swiftie take?

And please, Taylor is 34 years old, surely too old to be ‘down bad crying at the gym’.

And what’s with all the swearing and f-bombs in her new lyrics? The teenage girl who once sweetly sang ‘you be the prince and I’ll be the princess’ is long gone.

Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant has weighed in on the great Taylor debate, declaring that Swift has never had a memorable hit and her songs can sound a bit samey.

Hello Mr Pot, Miss Kettle calling! That is a bit rich, considering it is sometimes hard to differentiate between a Pet Shop Boys track and the kind of muzak you hear in a lift. Has he never listened to Betty or All Too Well or Mean or Champagne Problems? All dramatically different.

The 69-year-old was even sniffy about Swift’s alleged romantic inspirations. ‘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, adding: ‘I wonder what the other half of the relationship feels about this.’

That seems unfair — no one questions Adele’s gift for crafting the perfect heartbreak song. But Taylor has that wrapped up, too. Some of her new lyrics focus on ‘judgmental creeps’, ‘vipers dressed in empath’s clothing’ and ‘wine moms’ who criticise her actions.

She even has a few moans about the perils she encounters in the ol’ fame jungle, then gets straight back to boy business.

In a moment of madness last summer, Taylor Swift dated bad-boy grotbag Matty Healy, a British rock star whose mum was once in Coronation Street.

Now there is speculation that much of Tortured Poets has been written about him. Can this man-wreck really be the inspiration for a beautiful song like Fortnight? He seems unworthy of this great, glittering pop queen.

Swift is never given enough respect for her art — because every song is not always a page torn straight from her diary. There must be room for imagination, creativity and vision, too.

Healy said he doesn’t mind being written about, but the Swift backlash seems to have begun with or without his blessing.

The reviews for the new album have been mixed, with many calling it a ‘misstep’. The New York Times decided the ‘themes and familiar sonic backdrops generate diminishing returns’, while the NME called it ‘cringeworthy’.

Rolling Stone was keener, giving Tortured Poets ‘instant classic’ status and describing Swift’s new works as ‘gloriously chaotic’.

As I ear-crunched through song after new song about revenge and good love gone bad; and quiet treasons and shattered psyches; and getting mad and getting even, I did wonder for a moment: is Taylor Swift completely mad?

Certainly, a seam of emotional craziness runs through her new songs, a wild ache that can never be satisfied. Yet what makes her crazy is also what makes her special, and able to communicate with her fans in such a profound way.

When I went to the Eras tour in Los Angeles last year, it was to witness 60,000 people taking part in an explosion of pure pop joy. Swift’s new album was streamed more than 300 million times in a single day. And her tour, which comes to the UK this summer, is the first to gross more than one billion dollars.

Misstep? It looks more like a high kick of celebration from here.

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