Why can’t the music industry just stay in harmony? Pop stars have been getting into feuds for generations. Here are a few of the music rivalries that have exploded off the charts and into the headlines.
Katy Perry and Taylor Swift
Who saw this one coming? When Taylor Swift told Rolling Stone that an unidentified celebrity was the inspiration for her song “Bad Blood,” the race to identify the person was on. When Katy Perry responded with a Mean Girls inspired tweet – “watch out for the Regina George in sheep’s clothing” – the battle lines were clearly drawn.
The 2013 feud between Miley Cyrus and Sinead O’Connor seemed to go on and on. It erupted after the “Nothing Compares 2 U” singer penned an open letter to the twerker expressing her concern that the former child star thought it was “’cool’ to be naked and licking sledgehammers in…videos.” Cue Cyrus insulting O’Connor on Twitter and the Irish pop star refusing to drop the issue by writing three further open letters in response.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, somebody forgot to tell Lil’ Kim who has persistently accused Nicki Minaj of copying her style and image. In August 2014 the pint-sized rapper released a track called “Identity Theft” in which she said (in what some speculate is a reference to Minaj), “Anything you tryna sic do, I done did it.”
The feud between these two women blazed fiercely on camera when they were both judges on American Idol. During auditions with hopefuls in Charlotte, N.C. in October 2012 Nicki Minaj ranted against Mariah Carey saying, “I told them, I’m not f**king putting up with her f**king highness over there.” In response the “Hero” diva reportedly hired extra protection.
The feud between Madonna and Lady Gaga had gone quiet for a few years. (Remember when everyone drew comparisons between Gaga’s “Born This Way” and Madge’s “Express Yourself” and Ms. Ciccone called the track “reductive”?) But in a 2014 interview with Greek’s People magazine Lady Gaga said in reference to the Material Girl, “If I was an established artist, I would love to help younger artists.”
When Madonna and Lady Gaga got into a public spat it only added fuel to the “Vogue” singer’s feud with Elton John. John – who is a close friend of Gaga – has poured scorn over Madge in the past, saying (upon taking the stage at the 2004 Q Awards in London), “Madonna, best live act? F**k off!”
As music rivalries go, the one between the late Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur is legendary, ending, tragically, with both men being gunned down by the end of March 1997. The one-time friendship descended into a hip-hop war between after Tupac accused Biggie Smalls of being involved in an incident that saw him being shot five times. The Brooklyn rapper’s denials unfortunately fell on deaf ears.
Following the (still unsolved) murders of Tupac and Biggie you would think that rappers would stop warring with each other, trading insults on tracks. That didn’t stop Jay Z and Nas engaging in a prolonged feud that only ended in 2005. Speaking of their fight in an August 2014 MTV interview, Nas said, “It wasn’t just about being the top guy in rap, it felt like we were leaders of nations…”
Miranda Lambert fired the first shot at Chris Brown after he performed twice at the 2012 Grammys, three years after he beat his on-again, off-again girlfriend Rihanna to a pulp just before the 2009 awards. At the time she tweeted, “I don’t get it. He beat on a girl…” Brown responded by tweeting, “Using my name to get publicity? I love it!”
Following in the great tradition of boy bands sparring with each other, in recent years The Wanted and One Direction have traded multiple insults. It got so heated that The Wanted (who have since broken up) even challenged Harry Styles and his mates to thrashing things out in a boxing ring. One Direction declined saying, “We’re…too busy...”
At the heart of Eminem’s feud with Mariah Carey is the issue of did they or didn’t date and/or sleep together. In numerous tracks Slim Shady claims that he did, meanwhile Carey told CNN’s Larry King that she didn’t have a “sexual relationship” with the rapper. Eminem even dragged Nick Cannon into the mix rapping in 2009’s “Bagpipes From Baghdad” that he wished the TV presenter “luck with the f**kin’ whore.”
How low could the feud between Rick Ross and 50 Cent get? The “In Da Club” rapper appeared commenting on, and joking about, the mother of Ross’ child in footage that surfaced online showing the woman having sex with another man. In response to a lawsuit about the tape, 50 Cent has denied leaking it.
You can’t write songs about your former boyfriends and not expect some blowback. So it’s no surprise that John Mayer has spoken out about Taylor Swift’s song “Dear John” which is allegedly about him. A “humiliated” Mayer told Rolling Stone that he “didn’t deserve it” adding, “It was a really lousy thing for her to do.”
“You can’t walk around holding grudges.” That’s what Drake told BET about why he stopped fighting with Chris Brown who – like him – had a rocky relationship with their mutual ex-girlfriend Rihanna. The two artists joked about their rivalry at the ESPY awards in 2014, with Brown telling MTV News, “For me I just wanted to show my maturity.”
For Chris Brown and Drake it was Rihanna, but for Kid Rock and Tommy Lee their fight centered on Pamela Anderson. Both men were married to the former Baywatch beauty. The two even exchanged blows at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards, with Rock telling People, “I did what any man would do… It kills me just to…have my name in a sentence with him…”
Whether it was a rivalry stoked by the U.K. tabloids or not, in the mid-90s Oasis and Blur were Britpop bands at loggerheads. In August 1995 they released singles on the same day – “Country House” (Blur) and “Roll With It” (Oasis) – which battled it out in a race to top the charts. They’re all friends now but back then Noel Gallagher said in an interview he hoped Damon Albarn and Alex James of Blur would “catch AIDS and die.”
The mouthy Gallagher brothers from Oasis happily slung insults at other artists back in the ‘90s including Brit pop star Robbie Williams. Big bro Noel called the former boy band singer the “fat dancer from Take That” and Liam Gallagher rubbed salt in the wound by marrying Williams’ ex-girlfriend Nicole Appleton. Meanwhile Robbie once challenged Noel to “kiss my perfectly formed backside.”
Nothing is sadder than two high-profile women sparring for what appears to be no apparent reason. In 2011, Ciara told E! that when she ran into Rihanna at a party “she wasn’t the nicest person.” For the next couple of years the war continued on social media and TV, with Rihanna tweeting about her rival in April 2013, “Why am I still the main topic of her interviews!!”
In 2014 Rihanna taught TLC that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. After the surviving members of the group criticized RiRi for flashing too much skin, the “S&M” singer posted a cover photo on her Twitter page – a vintage shot of the girl group holding their naked boobs. T-Boz and Chilli later backtracked and said they weren’t talking about Rihanna specifically.
Snoop Dogg isn’t the only rapper who has got into a spat with Iggy Azalea. The Aussie star also got into an online feud with Azealia Banks who – referring to the XXL annual Freshman cover – tweeted in 2012, “How can you endorse a white woman who called herself a ‘runaway slave master’?” Azalea hit back saying, “Don’t bother including my @ name in any of ur salty thoughts either ‘cause I’m #blockinthatass today!!!!”
50 Cent and The Game’s feud is another example of two little boys fighting in a sandbox over their reps. Yawn.
It’s always sad when the relationship between former band mates descends into bitter rivalries. The one between the late Eazy-E and his N.W.A. cohort Dr. Dre produced the great line, “Damn it’s a trip how a n***a can go so quick from wearing lipstick to smoking on chronic at picnics.” E’s observation was a reference to Dre’s days in the electro pop group World Class Wreckin’ Cru.
He may have been a member of her late husband’s band but that didn’t stop Courtney Love from getting into a feud with Dave Grohl, which lasted the best part of two decades. The fight centered upon how to best manage Nirvana’s business dealings, as well as Kurt Cobain’s legacy. The pair finally made peace in 2014 during Nirvana’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction.