If Taylor Swift ever decides to change careers, she could always open up a butcher shop; she certainly has a lot of experience with beef. The singer has clashed with exes, rappers, other singers, and various celebrities over the years, engaging in high-profile feuds that occasionally overshadow her upbeat public persona.
Of course, those feuds have helped Swift’s career. She’s written dozens of songs about her enemies and ex-lovers, and many of those tunes have become massive hits. Here’s a rundown of how her biggest feuds started—and what happened next.
How it started: For a time, Swift and Perry seemed to be best friends. In 2009, the pair exchanged tweets congratulating each other for their respective singles, and Perry even invited Swift to write a song with her.
@taylorswift13 You’re as sweet as pie! Let’s write a song together about the subject we know best… for my new record. It’ll be brilliant~
— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) July 6, 2009
In 2013, however, something changed. The Examiner published an interview with dancer Lockhart Brownlie, who had toured with both artists. Brownlie said that he left Swift’s RED Tour to join Perry’s Prism Tour and noted that he felt closer to Perry.
“Obviously we were with Katy for two and a half years, she’s like family to us,” he said. “So we were, like, ‘Absolutely’. We weren’t really dancing in Taylor’s tour anyway, so I had got a little bored and I really wanted to do a promo tour. The experiences were completely different. Taylor is very untouchable. When we did see her, we had so much fun with her, but she’s a lot more protected that Katy.”
Those comments set off a firestorm. In 2014, Swift released “Bad Blood,” a single that she said was aimed at a female musical artist who attempted to “sabotage” her by hiring people on her staff.
“For years, I was never sure if we were friends or not,” Swift told Rolling Stone. “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?’ She did something so horrible. I was like, ‘Oh, we’re just straight-up enemies.’”
The beef simmered for a while. In 2016, a fan asked Perry whether she’d collaborate with Swift.
“If she says sorry, sure!” Perry tweeted.
In May 2017, Perry dropped “Swish Swish” with Nicki Minaj (who had also beefed with Swift—more on that later). The lyrics seemed directed toward Swift, and shortly afterward, Perry spoke publicly about the feud.
“…[Swift] started it,” Perry told James Corden, “and it’s time for her to finish it. …I tried to talk to her about it, and she wouldn’t speak to me. I do the right thing any time that it feels like a fumble. [I got] a full shutdown, and then she writes a song about me. … That’s how you want to deal with it? Karma. …There is the law of cause and effect: You do something, there’s going to be a reaction, and trust me, daddy, there’s gonna be a reaction.”
Where it stands: Later in 2017, Perry tried to end the feud.
“I am ready to let it go,” she told Arianna Huffington. “I forgive her and I’m sorry for anything I ever did, and I hope the same from her. I think it’s actually like, I think it’s time. There are bigger fish to fry, and there are real problems in the world.”
In May 2018, Perry sent Swift a gift: an olive branch—literally—with a handwritten note. Swift shared a video of the gift on her Instagram with the caption “Thank you Katy,” officially squashing the beef. A year later, Perry had a cameo in Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down” music video.
We can safely say that this feud is over.
Kanye and Kim Kardashian West
How it started: If you lived through 2009, you remember how this beef started. Swift won the Best Female Video award at the MTV Video Music Awards, but while she was collecting the trophy, Kanye ran on stage.
“Yo, Taylor, I’m really happy for you, I’mma let you finish,” he said in the now infamous impromptu speech. “But Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time!”
There was an immediate backlash, and Kanye was castigated by just about everyone (including President Obama). The rapper tried to limit the damage, appearing on The Jay Leno Show and describing the moment as “rude, period.” He later called Swift to personally apologize.
“He was very sincere in his apology, and I accepted that apology,” Swift said.
That could have been the end of the beef, but, of course, it wasn’t. In 2011, Kanye walked back his apology, complaining that Swift never came to his defense.
“Taylor never came to my defense in any interview,” West said during a concert in New York. “And [she] rode the wave and rode it and rode it.”
But over the next few years, the feud seemed to disappear, and there were rumors that Kanye and Swift would collaborate on a single. In 2015, Swift even called Kanye her friend as she presented him with the Video Vanguard Award at the VMAs.
Everything changed in 2016, when Kanye’s track “Famous” dropped. In it, Kanye said of Swift, “I made that b**** famous.”
Swift was very upset, but in a now-deleted tweet, Kanye claimed that he showed the song to her before its release—and that she supported the lyrics. When Swift won the 2016 Album of the Year Grammy, she spent part of her speech addressing the controversy.
“As the first woman to win Album of the Year at the Grammys twice, I want to say to all the young women out there: There are going to be people along the way who will to try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame,” Swift said.
Kanye’s camp adamantly insisted that Swift had approved the lyric…and they had video evidence. In July 2016, Kim Kardashian West put a video on her Snapchat story that showed her husband discussing “Famous” with Swift on a phone call.
On the phone call, West appears to run part of the lyrics in question by Swift.
“Go with whatever you line you think is better,” Swift says. “It’s obviously very tongue-in-cheek either way. And I really appreciate you telling me about it, that’s really nice.”
When that video went viral, Swift quickly released a statement.
“While I wanted to be supportive of Kanye on the phone call, you cannot ‘approve’ a song you haven’t heard,” Swift wrote. “Being falsely painted as a liar when I was never given the full story or played any part of the song is character assassination.”
The video for the song also came out that summer, and it used realistic wax figures of many celebrities’ unclothed bodies, including Swift’s, without their consent.
In 2017, Swift released the single “Look What You Made Me Do,” with lyrics clearly pointed toward Kanye.
“I don’t like your little games, don’t like your tilted stage,” she sang. “The role you made me play of the fool. No, I don’t like you.”
Where it stands: This beef probably won’t fizzle anytime soon. In March 2019, Swift took aim at Kim in comments to Elle Magazine.
“In my experience, I’ve come to see that bullies want to be feared and taken seriously,” she wrote. “A few years ago, someone started an online hate campaign by calling me a snake on the internet. The fact that so many people jumped on board with it led me to feeling lower than I’ve ever felt in my life.”
But Kim feels like Swift lost the feud, according to a source close to the couple quoted by Radar Online.
“Taylor got the rug swept from under her, and regardless of if she lied or not, Kim thinks Taylor still lost big,” the source said.
How it started: Kanye isn’t the only rapper to have drawn Swift’s ire during the MTV VMAs.
In 2015, Nicki Minaj was nominated for three Video Music Awards, but she still felt snubbed—neither her video for “Anaconda” nor the “Feeling Myself” video with Beyoncé got a nomination for Video of the Year.
— MEGATRON (@NICKIMINAJ) July 21, 2015
In a series of tweets, Minaj questioned whether she’d have received more recognition if she was a more conventional artist.
“When the ‘other’ girls drop a video that breaks records and impacts culture they get that nomination,” she wrote. “If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year.”
Swift interpreted those comments as a slight against her, since her “Bad Blood” video had received several nominations.
“I’ve done nothing but love & support you,” Swift tweeted. “It’s unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your slot.”
Huh? U must not be reading my tweets. Didn’t say a word about u. I love u just as much. But u should speak on this. @taylorswift13
— MEGATRON (@NICKIMINAJ) July 21, 2015
After a bit of back and forth and conversations behind the scenes, Swift apologized.
“I thought I was being called out,” she said. “I missed the point, I misunderstood, then misspoke. I’m sorry, Nicki.”
Where it stands: During Minaj’s performance at the awards ceremony in question, she had Swift come on stage, and the two sang “Bad Blood” together. They shared a warm hug at the end of the song, seemingly putting the beef to bed.
As noted, Minaj was featured on Katy Perry’s Swift diss track, but the two seem to be on good terms now—Swift featured a Minaj impersonator in her “You Need to Calm Down” video during the lines, “I see you over there on the internet / Comparing all the girls who are killing it / But we all know now, we all got crowns.”
How it started: Swift dated Joe Jonas for a while toward the beginning of her career. They broke up in 2008…and Swift recounted the story on Ellen.
“That guy’s not in my life anymore, unfortunately,” she said, referring to Jonas. “That’s, ouch. …We haven’t talked since … but you know what, someday I’m gonna find someone really, really great who’s right for me. …I’m not even gonna be able to remember the boy who broke up with me over the phone in 25 seconds when I was 18.”
The media jumped on the moment, lambasting Jonas for his bad breakup skills. He stayed mostly quiet on the subject, but on the Jonas Brothers’ 2009 album, a song called “Much Better” featured the line, “So done with all the teardrops on her guitar,” referencing Swift’s multiplatinum single “Teardrops on My Guitar.” She responded in kind, loading her 2010 jam “Better Than Revenge” with the sarcastic line, “Come show much better you are. You deserve some applause ‘cause you’re so much better.”
Where it stands: In 2019, Swift returned to Ellen and expressed regret for the way she’d exposed her former beau. The host asked Swift about the most rebellious thing she’d done as a teen.
“Probably when I put Joe Jonas on blast on your show,” she said. “That was too much.”
Jonas accepted her apology.
“[The apology] did feel nice,” he said. “It’s something that I was probably feeling pretty bad about when I was younger. But at the end of the day, I’ve moved on. I’m sure Taylor’s moved on. And it feels nice. We’re all friends. It’s all good. We were all so young.”
These days, Jonas is married to Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner, while Swift is dating actor Joe Alwyn.
Demi Lovato, Justin Bieber, and Scooter Braun
How it started: In 2019, Scooter Braun, a music manager, purchased Big Machine Label Group, the record label Swift was signed to for her first six albums (for her forthcoming album Lover and beyond, she’ll be with Republic Records). Big Machine still has significant control over her back catalog, and the $300-million deal prompted Swift to express her frustration and disgust on Tumblr.
Although Swift seemed to be mainly upset that she was not given an opportunity to purchase full ownership of her songs, she was also hurt by the label she’d been with since she was 14 years old entrusting her art to a man that did not have her best interests at heart.
“All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years,” Swift wrote of Braun. “Like when Kim Kardashian orchestrated an illegally recorded snippet of a phone call to be leaked and then Scooter got his two clients together to bully me online about it.”
Yeah, that old beef is relevant again—Kanye was one of Braun’s clients.
She also described the sale as her “worst case scenario” and posted a picture of singer Justin Bieber chatting with Braun and Kanye. Bieber posted the photo to his Instagram in 2016—right in the middle of the “Taylor Swift is Over Party”—with the caption: “Taylor swift what up [sic].”
Swift circled Braun in the picture, adding the caption: “This is Scooter Braun, bullying me on social media when I was at my lowest point. He’s about to own all the music I’ve ever made.”
Many of Braun’s clients, like Bieber and singer Demi Lovato, quickly came to their manager’s defense.
“I have dealt with bad people in the industry, and Scooter is not one of them,” Lovato wrote on social media. “He’s a good man. Personally, I’m grateful he came into my life when he did. Please stop ‘dragging’ people or bullying them. There’s enough hate in this world as it is.”
Bieber’s response addressed the photo Swift shared of his 2016 Instagram post.
“First of all i would like to apologize for posting that hurtful instagram post, at the time i thought it was funny but looking back it was distasteful and insensitive,” he wrote. “… [Braun] didnt have anything to do with it and it wasnt even a part of the conversation in all actuality he was the person who told me not to joke like that.. Scooter has had your back since the days you graciously let me open up for you.!”
Where it stands: This beef is still going nuclear. Swift seems unlikely to accept Bieber’s half-apology, and there’s no love lost between her and Lovato—the two have been on the outs for years.
Then again, we never thought Swift would make up with Katy Perry, so there’s always hope. Swift sang, “I swear I don’t love the drama—it loves me” on her 2017 single “End Game,” and we expect that to remain true for the foreseeable future. Here’s hoping that the singer finds some peace.