Public fallouts between major music stars are far from unheard of, but the speed and ferocity of the recent contretemps between Damon Albarn and Taylor Swift is a reminder that, in this social media age, arguments can go viral in seconds.

The initial cause of the row was an interview that Albarn gave to the Los Angeles Times. The Blur and Gorillaz star, presenting himself as an elder statesman of the industry, decried Swift as one of a breed of artists who use "sound and attitude" to conceal thin songwriting.

For good measure, he then alleged that...

Public fallouts between major music stars are far from unheard of, but the speed and ferocity of the recent contretemps between Damon Albarn and Taylor Swift is a reminder that, in this social media age, arguments can go viral in seconds.

The initial cause of the row was an interview that Albarn gave to the Los Angeles Times. The Blur and Gorillaz star, presenting himself as an elder statesman of the industry, decried Swift as one of a breed of artists who use “sound and attitude” to conceal thin songwriting.

For good measure, he then alleged that these songs were not even written by Swift. After the interviewer suggested that Swift wrote or co-wrote all her songs, he said, “That doesn’t count. I know what co-writing is. Co-writing is very different to writing. I’m not hating on anybody, I’m just saying there’s a big difference between a songwriter and a songwriter who co-writes.”

Finally, he compared Swift unfavorably to the “exceptional” Billie Eilish.

When the interview was published, Swift was publicly unimpressed, and wrote a furious Twitter riposte to Albarn, saying, “I was such a big fan of yours until I saw this. I write ALL of my own songs. Your hot take is completely false and SO damaging. You don’t have to like my songs but it’s really fucked up to try and discredit my writing. WOW.” For good measure, she ended by pronouncing, “I wrote this tweet all by myself in case you were wondering,” and used a tight-lipped emoji. Her nearly 90 million Twitter followers then took the opportunity to tear into Albarn, accusing him of misogyny, patriarchy, sexism and being the writer of “Country House.”

The latter, at least, is a justifiable accusation. But Albarn, who has attempted to reinvent himself from the mockney pop star of yore into a multi-million-selling world music star with Gorillaz and a serious solo artist under his own name, was forced to issue a groveling apology almost immediately via his own Twitter account (which, hitherto, had existed mostly as a means to plug his live appearances and album releases). It said, “I totally agree with you. I had a conversation about songwriting and sadly it was reduced to clickbait. I apologize unreservedly and unconditionally. The last thing I would want to do is discredit your songwriting. I hope you understand.”

The matter did not end there. The internet has piled on. Perhaps the most bizarre detail is that Gabriel Boric, the Chilean president-elect, has publicly taken Swift’s side, saying, “Here in Chile you have a huge group of supporters who knows that you write you own songs from the heart. Don’t take seriously guys that need to insult or lie to get attention. Hugs from the south Taylor.”

But the verdict has been filed swiftly, if you’ll pardon the pun. Albarn, a #privileged white middle-aged Englishman, has been found guilty of condescension and thoughtlessness, and of shooting off his mouth about subjects that he knows nothing about. In his Britpop heyday, he was notorious for engaging in feuds with his fellow stars, and the one with Suede’s Brett Anderson remains a sore point for both men to this day. Swift, meanwhile, has risen above the fray and remains dignified, if justifiably angry, in the face of such rudeness and provocation.

It is easy to be #TeamTaylor, and probably right to be so, too. But Albarn, in a ham-fisted way, was attempting to make a valid point. Picking on Swift — one of the most interesting artists recording today — was a mistake, but there are any number of soulless, AutoTuned drones whose identikit songs, all written by a small band of hired super-producers, are devoid of all passion, interest or originality. Albarn’s new album, The Nearer The Fountain, The More Pure The Stream Flows, may be opaque and low on dance-floor bangers, but it is nevertheless the work of a questioning artist who is genuinely interested in trying to use music in an interesting and forward-looking fashion.

I don’t doubt that he deserves to learn a lesson — and to be much more careful about what he says in interviews — but it would be a great shame if the Swifties, as Swift’s most ardent fans dub themselves, drove Albarn away from music. At a time when there are few enough interesting figures in the industry, the two of them represent something worth aspiring to. Even if, I fear, a collaboration may not be in the cards any time soon.