Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant calls Taylor Swift's music 'disappointing,' asks where her 'famous songs' are

"What's Taylor Swift's 'Billie Jean'?"

Neil Tennant isn't particularly enchanted by Taylor Swift's music.

In a Guardian Live event Monday, the Pet Shop Boys singer offered his two cents on Swift's global superstardom and latest album, The Tortured Poets Department. "Of course, I have listened to Taylor Swift’s album," Tennant said after the Guardian's Alexis Petridis noted that TTPD has been dominating the charts.

"Taylor Swift sort of fascinates me as a phenomenon, because she's so popular, and I sort of quite like the whole thing," Tennant added, "but then when I listen to the records — we both held the same feeling, actually — for a phenomenon as big [as her], where are the famous songs? What's Taylor Swift's 'Billie Jean'?"

Tennant's bandmate Chris Lowe chimed in, "Shake It Off'?"

<p>Harry Herd/WireImage</p> Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys

Harry Herd/WireImage

Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys

"Is it, though?" Tennant responded. "Because actually, I even know that's the answer. But I listened to that the other day, and it's not 'Billie Jean,' is it?"

Tennant noted that he appreciates many elements of Swift's cultural dominance, stating that she's "got a great voice" and "beautiful" production. "I like the fact that it brings all these people together, even multigenerational," he continued. "I just think the one disappointing thing is the music. Not even the lyrics, the music."

A representative for Swift declined to comment.

Tennant's remarks arguably underscore something about her release strategy: She hasn't released a pre-album lead single for any of her new albums since 2019's Lover, so none of her subsequent albums (Folklore, Evermore, Midnights, and The Tortured Poets Department) have generated singles for audiences to obsess over before the entire album is accessible.

<p>Graham Denholm/TAS24/Getty</p> Taylor Swift

Graham Denholm/TAS24/Getty

Taylor Swift

However, that hasn't stopped many of Swift's newer songs from becoming massive hits on pop charts and radio. "Cardigan" from Folklore, "Willow" from Evermore, "Anti-Hero" from Midnights, and "Is It Over Now?" from 1989 (Taylor's Version) have all hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts in the past two years, despite releasing alongside their corresponding albums. ("Cruel Summer" from Lover also managed to reach No. 1 in 2023, despite being released four years prior.)

And that's not to mention Swift's earlier chart successes. "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," "Blank Space," "Bad Blood," and "Look What You Made Me Do" also all hit No. 1, as did the aforementioned "Shake It Off." And despite peaking at No. 4, "Love Story" has become one of the best-selling digital singles of all time.

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