Taylor Swift is known for having one of the biggest, most star-studded squads in the industry. But like most people in the public eye, she’s not immune from having a few foes as well. Swift has even slyly embraced these rivalries in her music, most notably in 2014’s “Bad Blood” and with this year’s revenge-themed “Look What You Made Me Do” video.
From frenemies to former flames, a clash with Swift is a reliable way to make headlines and maybe even inspire a hit song. Here’s a rundown of the associations over the years.
Taylor Swift vs. Joe Jonas, est. 2008
How it started: Swift and Joe dated for about four months in 2008 before the pop star told Ellen DeGeneres that he ended their relationship in a 27-second phone call. There was so much scrutiny that he released a statement on the Jonas Brothers’ site that addressed the breakup. “Maybe there were reasons for a breakup. Maybe the heart moved on. Perhaps feelings changed. I am truly saddened that anything would potentially cause you to think less of me. For those who have expressed concern over the ’27 second’ phone call, I called to discuss feelings with the other person. Those feelings were obviously not well received. I did not end the conversation. Someone else did. Phone calls can only last as long as the person on the other end of the line is willing to talk,” he wrote.
Peak beef moment: In on the joke, Swift pans her phone call breakup during her Saturday Night Live monologue in 2009.
Resolved? Apparently. In 2015, Jonas and his then-girlfriend Gigi Hadid, a prominent member of the “squad,” joined Swift and her then-boyfriend Calvin Harris on a cute double date boat ride.
Taylor Swift vs. Camilla Belle, est. 2008
How it started: Soon after posting his November letter about parting ways with Swift, Jonas started dating actor Camilla Belle. Fans speculated that Swifts’s subsequent song “Better than Revenge” — a track about another woman stealing someone’s boyfriend — was about her. (One buzzy line went “She’s not a saint/And she’s not what you think/She’s an actress/She’s better known/For the things that she does/On the mattress.”)
Peak beef moment: When Katy Perry seemingly threw shade via tweet at Swift when the 1989 star went head-to-head with Nicki Minaj in 2015, Belle co-signed Perry’s tweet. The next year, when Kimye shared that widely reported conversation with Swift via Snapchat, Belle posted a cryptic quote on her social media accounts that seemingly alluded to just desserts: “No need for revenge. Just sit back & wait. Those who hurt you will eventually screw up themselves & if you’re lucky, God will let you watch.”
Taylor Swift vs. Kanye West, est. 2009
How it started: At the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, West memorably stormed the stage during Swift’s acceptance speech after she Best Female Video for “You Belong With Me.” In this moment, West gave the world his now-iconic “Imma let you finish” line.
Peak beef moment: That phone conversation. The background: After some very public reconciliation, West name-checked Swift in his song “Famous” with the line, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/Why? I made that b-tch famous.” The internet immediately erupted with hot takes about the song, but West maintained that he had an “hour long convo with [Taylor] about the line and she thought it was funny and gave her blessings.” Swift denied the claim, saying that she was not aware of the lyric “I made that b-tch famous.” The back-and-forth continued until West’s wife, Kim Kardashian West, released a Snapchat video of the rapper’s phone call with Swift, discussing the song’s content and even saying that the lyrics she did hear were complimentary (the line “I made that b-tch famous” was not heard in the clip). In the wake of the backlash, Swift posted a now-deleted Instagram saying that she would “like to be removed from this narrative.”
Taylor Swift vs. John Mayer, est. 2010
How it started: The then-19-year-old pop princess dated Mayer for a few months between 2009 and 2010 and even collaborated on his song “Half of My Heart.” However, after things ended, Mayer felt she channeled their breakup for a song fittingly titled “Dear John” that included the lines: “Dear John, I see it all, now it was wrong/Don’t you think 19 is too young to be played by your dark twisted games, when I loved you so?”
Peak beef moment: In an interview with Rolling Stone, Mayer said he was “really humiliated” by the song. “It made me feel terrible,” he said. “Because I didn’t deserve it. I’m pretty good at taking accountability now, and I never did anything to deserve that. It was a really lousy thing for her to do.” As for Swift’s part, she said his reaction was “presumptuous,” telling Glamour, “I never disclose who my songs are about.”
Resolved? Probably not.
Taylor Swift vs. Katy Perry, est. 2013
How it started: In the beginning, the two pop princesses spoke glowingly of each other, going so far as to even perform together and attend one another’s birthday parties. But in 2013, rumors begin to swirl that Swift and Perry were on the outs due to Perry’s former dancers leaving Swift’s Red world tour to rejoin Perry on her upcoming Prism tour. The next year, in a Rolling Stone interview, Swift reveals that her song “Bad Blood” is about a female musical artist who “tried to sabotage” her tour by hiring her staff.
Peak beef moment: After dropping a seeming diss track by the name of “Swish Swish,” Perry appears on Carpool Karaoke where she proceeded to tell James Corden that Swift “started it” and that “it’s time for her to finish it.” She later elaborated on how she tried to resolve the issue earlier. “I tried to talk to her about it, and she wouldn’t speak to me,” she said. “I do the right thing any time it feels like a fumble. [I got] a full shutdown, and then she writes a song about me [‘Bad Blood’]… that’s how you want to deal with it? Karma. There’s the law of cause and effect: you do something, there’s going to be a reaction.”
Resolved? No. While Perry has been vocal about wanting to make amends with Swift, the Internet seems to think that some of the barbs in Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” are directed at Perry.
Taylor Swift vs. Harry Styles, est. 2013
How it started: The pair broke up in early 2013 after a few months of dating. Two of Swift’s 1989 songs are rumored to be about Styles: “Style” and “Out of the Woods,” which she said was about “a relationship that I was in that the number one feeling I felt in the whole relationship was anxiety” during a performance at the Grammy museum. No one knows for sure who that relationship partner was, but he was not fictional.
Peak beef moment: In a 2017 interview with Rolling Stone, Styles said that his relationship with Swift was a “learning experience,” but was gracious about being immortalized in her music. “Certain things don’t work out. There’s a lot of things that can be right, and it’s still wrong,” he said. “In writing songs about stuff like that, I like tipping a hat to the time together. You’re celebrating the fact it was powerful and made you feel something, rather than ‘this didn’t work out, and that’s bad.’ And if you run into that person, maybe it’s awkward, maybe you have to get drunk…but you shared something. Meeting someone new, sharing those experiences, it’s the best sh-t ever. So thank you.”
Resolved? Seems like it.
Taylor Swift vs. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, est. 2013
How it started: The two Saturday Night Live alums poked fun at Swift’s widely covered dating history with a joke when they hosted the 2013 Golden Globes awards ceremony.
Peak beef moment: In an interview with Vanity Fair, Swift addressed the Golden Globes joke by quoting Katie Couric. “You know, Katie Couric is one of my favorite people,” she said. “Because she said to me she had heard a quote that she loved, that said, ‘There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.’” Both Fey and Poehler took it in stride, with Fey telling Entertainment Tonight that it was “a lighthearted joke” and Poehler pithily remarking to The Hollywood Reporter that “I feel bad if she was upset. I am a feminist, and she is a young and talented girl. That being said, I do agree I am going to hell. But for other reasons. Mostly boring tax stuff.”
Resolved? Perhaps not. In the second season of Fey’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess) remarks to another that “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women,” a seeming reference to Swift’s reaction to the joke.
Taylor Swift vs. streaming services est. 2014
How it started: Swift has long been vocal about the rights of artists. Before releasing 1989, Swift pulled her entire back catalogue from Spotify, offering her reasoning for leaving in a 2014 TIME interview: “I think there should be an inherent value placed on art. I didn’t see that happening, perception-wise, when I put my music on Spotify. Everybody’s complaining about how music sales are shrinking, but nobody’s changing the way they’re doing things. They keep running towards streaming, which is, for the most part, what has been shrinking the numbers of paid album sales.”
“We hope she’ll change her mind and join us in building a new music economy that works for everyone,” the streaming giant wrote in a blog post. “We believe fans should be able to listen to music wherever and whenever they want, and that artists have an absolute right to be paid for their work and protected from piracy.”
Peak beef moment: Swift’s actions helped convince Apple to pay artists royalties during the free trial period that they offered new users. As a result, Apple was one of the only streaming services to have 1989 and her entire back catalogue.
Resolved? Yes. Swift reinstated her entire back catalogue to Spotify in June 2017 in celebration of 1989 selling more than 10 million copies worldwide; to the internet’s fascination, the date it returned was the exact date that Katy Perry’s new album was released.
Taylor Swift vs. Nicki Minaj, est. 2015
How it started: After Minaj didn’t receive a Video of the Year nomination for “Anaconda” for the MTV Video Music Awards in 2015, she took to her Twitter to call out what she perceived to be underlying racism towards women of color, tweeting “If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year.” That’s when they took things tweet to tweet. Taylor appeared to think Minaj was referencing her video, tweeting, “I’ve done nothing but love & support you. It’s unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your slot..”
Peak beef moment: Katy Perry posted a cryptic subtweet during Swift and Minaj’s Twitter spat about the irony of pitting women against one another since “one unmeasurably capitalizes on the take down of a woman.” Swift and Minaj seemed to reconcile and eventually performed together at the VMAs. But that didn’t stop Minaj from sending a kiss face emoji in reply to Perry’s tweet.
Resolved? Yes. Minaj was quick to deny that she was casting any shade on Swift. Finally, Swift called a truce, capping off the exchange on a friendly note, saying: “If I win, please come up with me!! You’re invited to any stage I’m ever on.” Swift also apologized. That said, it’s worth noting that Minaj appeared on Perry’s 2017 diss track, “Swish Swish,” which is widely believed to be about Swift.
Taylor Swift vs. Demi Lovato, est. 2016
How it started: Lovato, former bestie of key Swift squad member Selena Gomez, has critiqued Swift’s celebrity friendships and her take on feminism. But she came out against Swift in a Twitter spree judging Swift for her $250,000 donation to Kesha during her legal battle with Dr. Luke. According to Lovato, she thought Swift should have spoken out against sexual assault.
Peak beef moment: In an interview with Glamour, Lovato called out Swift for her song “Bad Blood,” questioning Swift’s girl power message. “I think that having a song and a video about tearing Katy Perry down, that’s not women’s empowerment,” she said. “We all do things that aren’t, but I have to ask myself, ‘Am I content with calling myself a feminist?’ Yes, because I speak out.”
Resolved? Probably not. Although if she’s still at odds with Swift as a person, Lovato apparently has no issues singing her songs.
Taylor Swift vs. Calvin Harris, est. 2016
How it started: Following the pair’s split in early 2016, it was revealed that Swift penned Harris’ hit song with Rihanna, “This Is What You Came For” under the pseudonym Nils Sjoberg. In a series of now-deleted tweets, Harris slammed Swift and her camp for the way that the announcement came out, with Harris referencing Swift’s history with Perry. “I know you’re off tour and you need someone new to try and bury like Katy ETC but I’m not that guy, sorry,” he wrote. “I won’t allow it.”
Peak beef moment: A couple of months after Harris collaborated with Perry on his summer 2017 hit “Feels,” Swift’s zombie persona in the “Look What You Made Me Do” music video is seen digging a grave as a tombstone with the name Nils Sjoberg looms in the background.
Taylor Swift vs. Kim Kardashian West, est. 2016
How it started: Her husband and Swift publicly sparred in 2016 after West name-checked the pop star in a song and declared that “I made that b-tch famous.” West said that he and Swift had an hour-long phone call about the song, while Swift maintained that the particular line was not approved. Following their back-and-forth, Kim Kardashian West shared excerpts of the phone call in the form of a Snapchat video. All of this fascinated the internet, and took their disagreement to a new level.
Peak beef moment: Swift seemed to mock the reality television star with a reference at the end of her “Look What You Made Me Do” music video, where one of her personas takes selfies and then says she’s getting “receipts.”
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