Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant Calls Taylor Swift's Music 'Disappointing': 'Where Are the Famous Songs?'

Though he enjoys her lyrics, the "West End Girls" singer wondered where "Taylor Swift's 'Billie Jean'" is during a panel earlier this week

<p>Andrew Chin/Getty; Buda Mendes/TAS23/Getty</p> Neil Tennant; Taylor Swift

Andrew Chin/Getty; Buda Mendes/TAS23/Getty

Neil Tennant; Taylor Swift

Neil Tennant doesn't think Taylor Swift's legacy is as strong is Michael Jackson's.

Speaking on a panel for The Guardian in London on Monday, April 22, Pet Shop Boys vocalist Neil Tennant spoke about the pop star's career, saying that while he likes much of her music, she doesn't have a single that can match the star-power of the King of Pop's "Billie Jean."

"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 … for a phenomenon as big, where are the famous songs? What’s Taylor Swift's 'Billie Jean'?" Tennant said during the panel, with Pet Shop Boys keyboardist Chris Lowe sitting next to him on stage.

Related: Taylor Swift Celebrates Success of The Tortured Poets Department by Sharing Reviews and Song Lyrics 

When someone suggests that "Shake It Down" might be her big hit for the history books, Tennant disagreed.

"I listened to that the other day, and it's not 'Billie Jean,'" he said.

Giving the Tortured Poets Department hitmaker some credit, Tennant noted that "she's got a great voice by the way, and the production is beautiful."

"But melodically it's almost restive," he added. "It's all sung on one or two notes going up and down."

Related: Taylor Swift Bares Her Tortured Soul — and Settles Scores — on Prolific New TTPD Album: Review

For the "West End Girls" vocalist, although Swift brings people together, her music leaves something to be desired.

"I like the fact that it brings all these people together, even multi-generational, but I think the one disappointing thing is the music, not the lyrics, the music," he said.

Tennant theorized that Swift's popularity might be related to something the pop duo discussed in a previous interview with the Guardian in February — they posited that society "is ultimately a collective experience" that many people are losing, especially after the COVID pandemic.

"I think it's down to a desire for a collective experience," he said during the panel.

Related: All the Ways Taylor Swift Teased The Tortured Poets Department Ahead of Its Announcement

The singer's criticisms come just after the release of Swift's new The Tortured Poets Department album, which broke records upon its highly anticipated debut — including becoming the first album to reach 1 billion streams in a single week on Spotify.

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Swift's latest Spotify record is not the only she's broken as of late. Upon the album's release, the 31-song album became the platform's most-streamed album in a single day with 300 million streams, surpassing two of her own records — Midnights and 1989 (Taylor's Version) previously held this same award. The album's lead single "Fortnight" — featuring Post Malone — also became the streamer's most-streamed song in a single day last week.

Speaking about her new album on Instagram on April 19, Swift wrote: "It’s a 2am surprise: The Tortured Poets Department is a secret DOUBLE album. ✌️ I’d written so much tortured poetry in the past 2 years and wanted to share it all with you, so here’s the second installment of TTPD: The Anthology. 15 extra songs. And now the story isn’t mine anymore… it’s all yours. 🤍"

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