Damon Albarn slams The Rolling Stones and their new album Hackney Diamonds: “Making exactly the same music but not that good. There must be no joy in doing something like this"

Damon Albarn
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Damon Albarn isn’t exactly known for keeping his opinions to himself, but his new comments about The Rolling Stones, made in an interview with French publication Les Inrockuptibles, are still likely to put the cat amongst the pigeons.

The Stones, of course, have staged a successful comeback this year with new album Hackney Diamonds, but it seems that Albarn is no fan of either the music it contains or the way it was promoted.

Indeed, the Blur and Gorillaz man began his broadside by criticising Mick, Keef and co for launching their new album in the London borough that gives the record its name.

“My family lives in Hackney and the way they showed up at the Hackney Empire venue really [hacked] me off,” he admits. “They never did a thing in Hackney, they’ve never played there, never contributed to anything. They just showed up. It’s all nonsense.”

OK, what else? The video for Hackney Diamonds lead single, Angry, for another thing, which features 26-year-old US actress Sydney Sweeney. 

“I listened to their new song and watched this horrible music video showing them at different stages of their lives on billboards,” Albarn recalls. “And this young woman objectified. What the hell is this? There’s something completely disconnected.”

Perhaps Albarn’s most stinging criticism, however, was reserved for the way in which The Rolling Stones have approached their career, which he believes has led to diminishing creative returns.

“I did all sorts of things, whereas they’ve never been anything other than the Rolling Stones,” he argues. “I love the idea of devoting your life to one thing, in search of the sublime. But the truth is, they’ve become worse.

“Worse at persisting to stay themselves. That’s something I don’t understand. Making exactly the same music but not that good. There must be no joy in doing something like this."

Of course, during the ‘90s Britpop battle between Blur and Oasis, there was always some debate about which band was ‘The Beatles’ and which was ‘The Stones’, a reference to the (more good-natured) chart scuffles that had played out between those two bands a few decades previously.

Ironically, at the time, some argued that it was Blur who more closely fitted the Stones’ mould, being from the south of the UK and having more middle-class backgrounds than Oasis, working-class ‘lads’ from the north. However, given his penchant for musical experimentation, we’re assuming that Albarn would be happier to acknowledge the influence of the Fab Four.

The Rolling Stones have yet to respond to Albarn’s comments, but we’d certainly be interested to hear what they have to say. 

Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.