Katy Perry Vs. Taylor Swift: Pop Stars' Beef History Explained - Rolling Stone
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Katy Perry Vs. Taylor Swift: Pop Stars’ Beef History Explained

From stolen dancers to passive aggressive tweets, here’s a look back at the source of the alleged “Bad Blood”

Over the past few years, pop’s biggest beef has been between Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. Neither woman has ever explicitly confirmed the feud, and each has instead dropped not-so-subtle hints about their deteriorated friendship, bringing famous names into the fold – and creating two rumored diss songs out of it. As of May 2018, a truce seems to have been reached, but only time will tell. Here is a history of the pair’s beef.

The feud allegedly began in 2013.
During the first few years of their respective careers, both Swift and Perry were cordial to one another. Between tweeting support and joining each other on stage — they sang Perry’s “Hot n Cold” at a 2010 Swift concert — the two were friendly and encouraging. Even when Perry began dating Swift’s ex John Mayer in 2012, no reports of drama between the earnest, personal songwriters emerged.

Between 2013 and 2014, however, things soured. A trio of dancers on Swift’s Red World Tour had previously performed on Perry’s California Dreams trek; as later confirmed by dancer Lockhart Brownlie, that same threesome was then abruptly poached by Perry (for her own Prismatic tour) in the midst of Swift’s Red trek.

“We weren’t really dancing on Taylor’s tour anyway, so I got a little bored,” Brownlie told OK! Magazine. “The experiences were totally different.”

Now, we’ve got “Bad Blood.”
In her 2014 Rolling Stone cover story, Swift revealed that a then-unheard song off 1989, “Bad Blood,” was about a fellow female pop star. “For years, I was never sure if we were friends or not,” she explained. “She would come up to me at awards shows and say something and walk away, and I would think ‘Are we friends, or did she just give me the harshest insult of my life?'”

Swift then noted that the unnamed adversary did something “so horrible” that made them “straight-up enemies.” She got more specific: “She basically tried to sabotage an entire arena tour. She tried to hire a bunch of people out from under me.”

Tellingly, Perry posted a cryptic tweet just one day after the story was posted. “Watch out for the Regina George in sheep’s clothing…”

Enter Nicki Minaj.
No stranger to a feud herself, Nicki Minaj found herself unwittingly in a Twitter war with Swift. In 2015, Minaj was upset that her video for “Anaconda” was snubbed by MTV Video Music Awards’ Video of the Year category. “If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year,” she wrote vaguely.

Swift’s star-studded “Bad Blood” video, which eventually won Video of the Year at the ceremony a month later, featured a collection of cameos from her famous friends (supermodels, actresses, and fellow singers). The singer-songwriter then assumed Minaj was pointing a finger directly at her.

“I’ve done nothing but love & support you,” she wrote in response to Minaj’s tweet. “It’s unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your slot.”

Observing the Twitter skirmish, Perry (again, without naming names) posted her own tweet in response, nothing that she found it “ironic” that Swift would use the “pit women against other women argument” in spite of the lyrical content of “Bad Blood.”  Swift never responded, and buried the hatchet with Minaj at the VMAs, where the pair performed that contentious song together.

Calvin Harris gets in the ring.
For much of her 1989 era, Swift had a very public courtship with producer and superstar DJ Calvin Harris. By summer 2016, however, the romance dissolved, seemingly bitterly. When fans discovered that Swift had secretly co-written Harris’ hit Rihanna collaboration “This Is What You Came For,” Harris ranted that the credit was leaked to vilify him. In a mostly deleted thread of angry tweets, he expressed his frustration, referencing his ex’s feud 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,” he wrote.

In response, Perry posted a gif of Hillary Clinton.

“Don’t come for me.”
Aside from another brief romance (with Tom Hiddleston) and another feud (with the Kardashian-Wests), Swift has stepped away from the spotlight. She is currently in the midst of her longest break ever between albums, though she briefly re-emerged at the end of last year with the Zayn Malik collaboration “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” off the Fifty Shades Darker soundtrack. Perry, meanwhile, spent most of 2016 on the campaign trail supporting presidential nominee Hillary Clinton following the end of her Prismatic World Tour in late 2015.

Now back to work, Perry has been previewing tracks from her forthcoming fourth LP Witness, with accompanying promotional appearances. In one of her first interviews about the album, Perry remained vague about the subject of “Bad Blood,” telling Entertainment Weekly that it’s “not my question to answer.” Switching gears, she remained lightly menacing.

“One thing to note is: You can’t mistake kindness for weakness and don’t come for me,” she continued. “Anyone. Anyone. Anyone. Anyone. And that’s not to any one persona and don’t quote me that it is, because it’s not. It’s not about that. Honestly, when women come together and they decide to unite, this world is going to be a better place. Period end of story.”

“Another one in the casket.”
Just a few weeks ahead of the release of Witness, Perry surprised fans with her Nicki Minaj collaboration “Swish Swish.” The house-y song directly repeats that “don’t come for me” remark, and its cover art features a manicured hand holding a literal receipt (“Karma Coffee and Tea”). The title, of course, also bears a striking resemblance to Swift’s own name; on the track itself, Perry boasts and shares warnings to her haters and enemies. Even though Minaj and Swift seemed to mend their wounds, her guest appearance further fuels speculation that the track is, indeed, the long-awaited “Bad Blood” response.

Calvin Harris collaboration on the way.
Swift’s ex-boyfriend is also preparing a June album, Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1. When announcing the album’s title and release date, he also gave a preview of the many guests set to appear on the LP, which will include both Perry and Minaj.  

Katy spills to Corden.
Perry used a May 22nd Carpool Karaoke segment as a chance to clear the air and lay out her side of the story. As she explained it to Corden, the conflict initially arose when Perry notified some of her backup dancers – who were then on tour with Swift, on the condition that they would rejoin Perry when asked – that she wanted them back in the fold. “‘Look, just FYI, I’m about to start. I want to put the word out there,'” Perry recalls texting the dancers. “And they said, ‘OK, we’re going to go talk to management about it.’ And they did, and they got fired. And I tried to talk to her about it, and she wouldn’t speak to me.” The way Perry sees it, at this point the ball is in Swift’s court. “Honestly, like, she started it, and it’s time for her to finish it,” she told Corden.

Katy accuses Taylor of trying to “assassinate [her] character.”
In a NME interview coinciding with the release of her new album, Witness, Perry elaborated on her feelings about her rift with Swift. “I mean, I’m not Buddha – things irritate me,” she explained. “I wish that I could turn the other cheek every single time, but I’m also not a pushover, you know? Especially when someone tries to assassinate my character with little girls. That’s so messed up!”

Taylor returns to Spotify – at an interesting moment.
In November 2014, Taylor Swift famously pulled her catalog from Spotify, making her one of the more high-profile artists to take a stand against streaming. With little warning, she announced on June 8th that her music would return to streaming services at midnight the following day. “In celebration of 1989 selling over 10 million albums worldwide and the RIAA’s 100 million song certification, Taylor wants to thank her fans by making her entire back catalog available to all streaming services tonight at midnight,” read a tweet sent by her management. No mention was made of Perry’s album, which dropped on the exact same day and time, but it’s hard not to read the move as an attempt by Taylor to steal Katy’s thunder.

Katy’s sorry.
“I forgive [Swift], and I’m sorry for anything I ever did, and I hope the same from her, and I think it’s actually… I think it’s time,” a tearful Perry said during a weekend-long YouTube live stream session in June in support of her album Witness. “I love her and I want the best for her, and I think she’s a fantastic songwriter.”

Taylor’s back – ready to settle some scores.
After a three-year hiatus, Swift announces her new album (Reputation) with a scathing lead single, “Look What You Made Me Do,” in which she takes aim at various enemies and announces that the “old” Taylor is “dead.” She debuts the damning, Joseph Khan-directed video in the middle of the 2017 MTV VMAs – hosted by none other than Perry. While the song’s lyrics also seem to be an indictment of Kanye West, in the video, Swift, in one sequence, transforms into a Perry lookalike. Perry doesn’t openly acknowledge the diss track or video during the VMAs, but the darker, self-parodying Swift inarguably hijacked the entire night.

Katy extends an olive branch – literally.
Ahead of Swift’s first night on her Reputation world tour in May 2018, Perry called an end to their feud. The “Chained to the Rhythm” singer sent an actual olive branch with a note enclosed to to her frenemy, which Swift posted about on her Instagram story. “Hey old friend, I’ve been doing some reflecting on past miscommunications and hurt feelings between us…” the handwritten note begins. Swift narrated the gift in her Instagram Story video with a caption that read “Thank you Katy” with the two-heart emoji. The national nightmare is over – for now.

In This Article: Katy Perry, Taylor Swift


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