Everything You Need To Know About The Legendary Beef Between Taylor Swift And Katy Perry
A comprehensive history of the pettiest celebrity feud in existence.
In the world of celebrity drama, there’s no greater saga than the torrid tale of Katy Perry versus Taylor Swift.
Taylor and Katy’s epic antagonism has everything you want from a celebrity beef — a petty origin, public call-outs, talk-show throw downs and best of all, devastating revenge. And with the news that an actual literal olive branch has been extended, potentially ending this feud forever, it’s worth going back and investigating the history of the greatest celebrity beef of all time.
Hot & Cold
Back in the sweet, naive days of 2009, Taylor Swift and Katy Perry had a mutual fan thing going on, where they would tweet each other compliments and promise to write songs together. It was all a saccharine, sad premonition to the whole affair.
@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
They even performed Perry’s song ‘Hot n Cold’ together at one of Swift’s concerts, and the friendship publicly trudged along, with wholesome statements about birthday parties and sunshine and rainbows. Swift even dated Perry’s ex, John Mayer, without there seeming to be any ill-will.
But who cares, let’s get to the beef!
Few realise that one of the key players behind the buckets of bad blood that fuel this feud is an Australian. It all began when a trio of dancers, including Australian-born Lockheart Brownlie, were poached from Taylor Swift’s Red tour to join Katy Perry on her Prism tour.
Lockheart Brownlie justified the decision from his end by saying that they weren’t dancing much on Swift’s tour.
“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.”
Stealing a couple of dancey boys seems to be a petty reason for a feud — I mean, how much is a dancer even worth? What’s the exchange rate for a sick pirouette? But it must be a deadly insult amongst popstars because not only was it the lynchpin of the grudge, but it has also been constantly referred to throughout this entire beef.
In her 2014 Rolling Stone interview, Swift revealed that her upcoming and soon to be iconic song ‘Bad Blood’ was about a fellow female popstar. It was pretty easy to deduce which one, but she basically confirmed it later in the interview when she said:
“She basically tried to sabotage an entire arena tour. She tried to hire a bunch of people out from under me.”
Such a messy move to make an entire song and video clip about the issue, but as we’ll see, this is how Taylor Swift plays grudges. She’s not above using her art as a weapon in her feuds.
Katy hit back with a semi-ambiguous tweet.
Watch out for the Regina George in sheep's clothing…
— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) September 9, 2014
Later, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Katy Perry was asked about whether ‘Bad Blood’ was about her.
“One thing to note is: You can’t mistake kindness for weakness and don’t come for me,” she said. “Anyone. Anyone. Anyone. Anyone. And that’s not to any one person 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. But, let me say this: Everything has a reaction or a consequence so don’t forget about that, okay, honey.”
Strong words. Strong, bewildering words.
Fairly recently, she expanded on the issue on the powerful platform that is James Corden’s ‘Carpool Karaoke‘:
“She started it,” Perry continued. “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 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. Trust me daddy, there’s gonna be a reaction.”
I Knew You Were Trouble
Things remained at something of a stalemate for a while after this, with Taylor embroiling herself in a couple of other celebrity beefs, such her short-lived feud with Nicki Minaj and her endless and ongoing skirmish with the Kardashian-Wests.
During this whole period, Katy spent most of her time dropping in and making tart comments, as well as continuing to fail to make an album as good as Teenage Dream.
Finding it ironic to parade the pit women against other women argument about as one unmeasurably capitalizes on the take down of a woman…
— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) July 22, 2015
In response, Taylor had one of her backup dancers dress up as a shark, which people believe is a dig at Katy Perry’s infamous “left-shark” incident.
— nick ?? (@nick_jackson13) July 26, 2015
However, probably the most iconic power move of the entire affair happened in 2017, when on the same day that Katy Perry launched her new album Witness, Swift “coincidentally” dropped her entire back catalogue onto Spotify.
Taylor Swift decides to make her entire back catalogue available on Spotify: pic.twitter.com/cidDWohLyE
— Teigan Reamsbottom (@teiganish) June 9, 2017
On that same album was a song called ‘Swish Swish’, which basically describes how terrible Taylor Swift is. Honestly, will this all never end?
Meanwhile, Swift dropped her new album Reputation, and continued the ancient tradition of subtweeting her enemies. In the video for ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ (which sucks), she made not-so-subtle digs at Katy. Sigh.
Katy had been telling the media she was ready to forgive and forget for a while — perhaps because she’d conceded defeat to Taylor, or maybe just because she’d grown as a person.
She addressed the feud last year on The Thrive Global Podcast, where she stated that she was ready to let the whole thing go.
“I forgive her and I’m sorry for anything I ever did, and I hope the same from her … I love her, and I want the best for her. And I think she’s a fantastic songwriter.”
This has culminated in the famous LITERAL sending of an olive branch to Taylor, on the opening of her Reputation tour. “So I just got to my dressing room,” she explained in an Instagram video captioned ‘Thank You Katy’, “and found this actual olive branch. This means so much to me.”
Katy Perry sent Taylor an olive branch for the opening night of the reputation Stadium Tour! pic.twitter.com/6GDamcxezI
— Taylor Swift Updates (@TSwiftPR) May 8, 2018
Considering this whole thing started a thousand years ago on tour, it’s like things have come full circle. Perhaps friendship can blossom again where there was only spite and hate? The feud has been buried, laid to rest, forgotten.
OR HAS IT.
There’s been very unsubstantiated reports that Katy Perry is “puzzled” over Taylor’s decision to post the branch on social media, and that Taylor’s lack of reciprocal apology has been noted. But who WOULDN’T post an actual apology branch on social media? This is exhausting.
Everyone just needs to log off.
Patrick Lenton is an author and staff writer at Junkee. He tweets @patricklenton.