'What's Her Billie Jean?': Neil Tennant Has Some Big Opinions About Taylor Swift's Pop Dominance

The Pet Shop Boys singer has admitted he's a little "disappointed" by Taylor's musical offerings.
Pet Shop Boys singer Neil Tennant pictured in 2023
Pet Shop Boys singer Neil Tennant pictured in 2023
Dave Benett via Getty Images

Pet Shop Boys frontman Neil Tennant has admitted he’s a little unconvinced by Taylor Swift’s status as a pop icon.

Earlier this week, Neil took part in a live interview with The Guardian, in which he lamented about the current state of pop lyricism.

“[The self] is the only subject,” he said of modern pop. “To have a successful pop career now you have to have a series of relationships which are amazing and then break up tragically.”

Later in the conversation, Neil shared: “I was looking at the chart earlier today, and … it’s all Taylor Swift.”

Confirming he had listened to Taylor’s much-discussed new album The Tortured Poets Department, Neil admitted to being “fascinated” by the Grammy winner’s continued dominance.

Taylor Swift performing on her Eras tour earlier this year
Taylor Swift performing on her Eras tour earlier this year
Don Arnold/TAS24 via Getty Images

“Taylor Swift sort of fascinates me as a phenomenon because she’s so popular and I sort of quite like the whole thing,” he explained.

“But then when I listen to the records [...] for a phenomenon as big [as she is]… where are the famous songs? What’s Taylor Swift’s Billie Jean?”

After Taylor’s 2014 single Shake It Off was suggested, Neil continued: “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…”

While heaping praise on the sense of community and “collective experience” among the Swifties, Neil added: “I just think that the one disappointing thing is the music. Not even the lyrics, the music.”

Pet Shop Boys performing at Glastonbury in 2022
Pet Shop Boys performing at Glastonbury in 2022
Dave J Hogan via Getty Images

The West End Girls singer isn’t the only veteran musician to call Taylor’s credentials as a pop juggernaut into question recently, though.

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