Leave Jack Antonoff Alone!
You might not know Jack Antonoff’s name, but you’ve heard his work. Member of fun. (“We Are Young” was a Billboard No. 1), producer to hitmakers (Taylor Swift, Lorde, and Lana Del Rey, to name a few), and an artist in his own right, Antonoff can do it all.
So why does everyone seem to hate him?
The backlash started earlier this year, with the release of “Solar Power,” Lorde’s first single since 2017’s Melodrama. While many were excited for new music and happy with her evolving sound, others were displeased.
Possibly premature after only two underwhelming singles, but I really wish Lorde hadn’t made another album with Jack Antonoff. Melodrama was great, but you can’t spend a career remaking it. It’s time to work with a different producer who knows how to make a second type of song.
— 🅹🅴🅳 (@j_howlett) July 29, 2021
Some complained that his production style was cluttered and unsuited to an acoustic track. Others compared the track to other songs he had done with Del Rey and Swift, wondering if it was possible for Antonoff to plagiarize himself.
The comments continued with the release of Clairo’s Sling. Twitter was full of people mourning their favorite artist’s new album and begging artists to stop working with him.
I appreciate Billie Eilish’s album because it does not sound like a Jack Antonoff production. Looking at you, Lorde, St. Vincent, Clairo, Lana Del Rey, Taylor Swift
— Steely Liz (@TotesLiz) August 2, 2021
Maybe I’m just blinded with admiration, for him as a producer and the musicians he works with as artists, but I struggle to see any significant similarities between these artists’ work. Antonoff excels when he can use his 80s synth and drum machine (and boy, does he use them), but he’s also done country and folk records.
Antonoff changed the sound of today’s pop music with Swift’s 1989 and helped her score two AOTY Grammys for 1989 and last year’s surprise drop folklore. He worked with Del Rey on Norman Fucking Rockwell!, her most critically acclaimed work since 2014’s Ultraviolence. The Chicks chose him to produce their comeback album Gaslighter. Not to mention, all the one-off songs he’s worked on for artists like Carly Rae Jepsen, Fifth Harmony, St. Vincent, and Sara Bareilles.
Some have made observations about today’s pop girls passing Antonoff around (“like a blunt,” one meme jokes), and it’s true: Antonoff overwhelmingly works with female artists.
Many female artists have come forward in the last few years to talk about their struggles in the industry, especially when it comes to finding someone to work with. Tales of creepy producers abound, from discounting the artist’s opinion and talent, to sexual harassment and assault. Who are we to begrudge any artist from working with someone they feel truly comfortable with?
It’s interesting to note how many tweets and think pieces have been published about Antonoff’s failings as a producer, while Dr. Luke is still producing hits for artists like Doja Cat and The Kid Laroi and no one seems to care.
It’s also interesting to look at other producers who worked with the same artists again and again. Quincy Jones produced four albums for Michael Jackson. Max Martin had a hand in almost every pop hit from the 90s to the 2010s, from Britney to the Backstreet Boys. Nobody’s telling Pharell or RedOne or Mark Ronson to stop working. What makes Antonoff inspire this kind of reaction from people?
My guess is oversaturation: he’s everywhere, all the time, and people can get sick of constants – no matter how good they might be. I’m not, though: bring on the reign of Jack Antonoff!
Agree? Disagree? Tell us what you think in the comments below!