- Some of the most iconic feuds of all time are between musicians, and even bandmates.
- Brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher of Oasis simply couldn’t make it work together.
- Taylor Swift and Katy Perry semi-recently squashed their long-running beef with an appearance in a music video.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
In the world of music and musicians, emotions are almost always running high, as writing and performing music is one of the most personal and vulnerable things you can do.
These 15 feuds between musicians sometimes end happily, and some end tragically.
Keep scrolling to learn more about these long-running beefs, from Kanye West and Taylor Swift to Axl Rose and Slash.
The beef between Taylor Swift and Kanye West began in 2009, and it truly shows no signs of slowing down.
This all began when West took it upon himself to hop on stage at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards to proclaim that, while Swift had a good music video, Beyoncé had the best music video of all time. It’s been 10 years of back and forth since then.
Swift released a song called “Innocent” about the situation, everyone including President Obama was mad at him, they eventually reconciled, and she presented him with the Video Vanguard Award in 2015. All was well.
That was until West released the song “Famous,” which included lines referencing how he was the one who made her famous, and said that the two “might still have sex.” Swift, for her part, released a statement that said she had not condoned the song or the lyrics calling her a “b—-.” West and his wife, Kim Kardashian, denied this – and Kardashian released a video that she claimed proved that Swift was lying and a “snake.”
This caused most of the public to turn on Swift, and she essentially went into hibernation until she released “Look What You Made Me Do,” which saw her reclaiming the snake imagery and called West a liar.
The beef continued through to Swift’s new album, released in 2019, and a leaked video that came out in 2020 that appears to be the entire, unedited phone conversation between Swift and West that seems to prove once and for all she had no idea what the full lyrics to “Famous” would be. Phew.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney are one of the most prolific songwriting duos of all time, but that doesn’t mean they always got along.
The two former Beatles wrote some of the most beloved songs of all time, but in their personal lives, it wasn’t always peachy keen.
According to Rolling Stone, by the end of the ’60s, they had different visions for the band: Lennon felt it confined him, whereas “McCartney loved the group profoundly.”
Lennon told Rolling Stone, “I pretty damn well know we got fed up of being sidemen for Paul.”
Once Lennon’s new love, Yoko Ono, entered the scene, things started to really break down. According to Lennon, McCartney “really gave it to [Ono and Lennon],” and he said he’d never forgive him or George Harrison.
Before Lennon’s death, however, the two were beginning to reconcile.
Taylor Swift and Katy Perry have dissed each other over the years, but they reconciled last summer.
Swift, a storyteller at heart, likes to inject real-life drama into lyrics, and fans love to scour the lyrics to figure out who she’s referring to. In one song on her smash “1989” album, “Bad Blood,” Swift sang about a feud she had with someone. She clarified during an interview that it was about a person she had a professional disagreement with, who “basically tried to sabotage an entire arena tour.”
Naturally, sleuths figured out that there were some dancers who left Swift’s tour to join Perry – but, conveniently, it was left out of the story that these dancers had worked with Perry first.
The feud between Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown resulted in jail time.
The feud between these two essentially arose from being pitted against each other in the late ’90s and early 2000s as two prolific female rappers. It grew bigger from songs like “The Notorious K.I.M.” and “Play Around,” which had a line many inferred to be about Brown. Brown responded with lyrics in “Bang Bang.”
Then there were actual shots fired between the entourages of Capone-N-Noreaga (Team Brown) and Lil’ Kim. Brown, for her part, said, “I really don’t know how it started. … Let’s just end it. We can even do a collaboration. We’re bigger than this.” But Lil Kim’ would end up going to jail in 2005 for lying to protect her friends that were present. The beef still hasn’t been squashed.
The Gallagher brothers (Liam and Noel) broke up Oasis because they couldn’t get along.
What to say about the feud between the Gallagher brothers? There have been many incidents between the founders of Oasis, including a fight in which “Liam eventually hurled a tambourine at Noel’s head,” according to Rolling Stone, the infamous “MTV Unplugged” performance that Liam refused to participate in and then threw beers at his Noel’s head while he was singing, and many other altercations.
Oasis broke up for good in 2009, with Noel releasing the statement: “I simply could not go on working with Liam a day longer.”
Now, they mainly fight with sub-tweets and jibes on social media.
The rap battles between Drake and Pusha T resulted in the public revelation that Drake had a son, Adonis.
The feud had been stewing for years, but reached its boiling point in 2018. It began back in 2011 when Drake joined Lil Wayne’s record label, Young Money, putting him in the crossfire between an existing beef between Pusha T and Lil Wayne.
After years of back and forth, Pusha T dropped a bomb: “The Story of Adidon.” The cover art featured Drake in blackface from an old photo shoot, and the lyrics alluded to a “secret son” that Drake had been hiding from the world.
Drake eventually confirmed the existence of his son, Adonis, on his fifth album, “Scorpion.”
When Zayn Malik left One Direction, it wasn’t amicably.
The “Pillowtalk” singer essentially blindsided fans when the band announced on Facebook that Malik was leaving the band, effective immediately, in March 2015.
At first, it seemed like there was no bad blood between Malik and the remaining quartet, but that soon changed. First, there was Twitter beef between Malik, Louis Tomlinson, and Malik’s new collaborator Naughty Boy that ended with Malik tweeting at Tomlinson, “remember when you had a life and stopped making b—– comments about mine ?”
Since then, Malik has continuously insulted the music that One Direction makes, called the band uncool, said he had no real friends in the band (including Tomlinson, who he has a matching tattoo with), and has generally distanced himself from the group.
Besides Tomlinson, who has said the chance of reconciliation is gone after Malik failed to show up for Tomlinson’s first performance after his mother died, the other three have remained relatively neutral on the subject, though none would say they are still friends.
Many accused Lady Gaga of ripping Madonna off … including the Queen of Pop herself.
The “feud” started in earnest when Gaga released the song “Born This Way,” which many, including Madonna, thought sounded similar to her hit song, “Express Yourself.” “I thought, ‘this is a wonderful way to redo my song.’ I mean, I recognised the chord changes. I thought it was … interesting,” Madonna told ABC News. She also called Gaga’s song “reductive.” Gaga called the comparison “moronic.”
The bad blood didn’t end there. After Madonna began performing a mash-up of “Express Yourself” and “Born This Way” on tour, people began asking questions again. “The only time I ever criticised Lady Gaga was when I felt like she blatantly ripped off one of my songs,” Madonna told Rolling Stone in 2015.
One year later, Gaga told Beats 1 radio host Zane Lowe that “I wouldn’t make that comparison at all and I don’t mean to disrespect Madonna, she’s a nice lady, and she’s had a fantastic huge career, biggest pop star of all time,” reported Page Six. “But I play a lot of instruments. I write all my own music. I spend hours a day in the studio. I’m a producer. I’m a writer. What I do is different.”
In another 2016 interview, Gaga said that she had “basically been hoping that I would become so good that one day I would piss off Madonna.”
Tupac and Biggie traded barbs before their deaths.
In the early-to-mid ’90s, these two were the biggest rappers around. Biggie represented NYC and the East Coast rap scene, while Tupac repped California and the West Coast. Predictably, many people tried to pit the two against each other, including their record labels. But the two actually began as friends, as Vice reported.
Things started to break down after Tupac was shot five times in 1994. He believed Biggie and his entourage had something to do with it, or at least knew it was going to happen and had no intention of warning Tupac, according to “Original Gangstas: The Untold Story of Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur, and the Birth of West Coast Rap.”
Tupac’s decision to sign with Suge Knight and Death Row Records cemented the feud between the two rappers, as Knight had public issues with Biggie’s manager Diddy and his label, Bad Boy Records. They began trading barbs in lyrics, with Biggie’s song “Who Shot Ya?” and Tupac’s song “Hit ‘Em Up” referencing the feud.
Three months later, in September 1996, Shakur was killed in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada. Six months later, in March 1997, Biggie was also murdered in a drive-by shooting. Both murders remain unsolved, and they are the focus of multiple conspiracy theories.
Elton John and Madonna are the dictionary definition of “frenemies.”
This beef is mainly one-sided and began in 2002, when John insulted Madonna’s “James Bond” song for “Die Another Day.”He told Sky News it was “the worst ‘Bond’ tune ever,” and said, “I don’t think it’s the best Madonna record and I’m a big fan.”
In 2004, while accepting an award, John publicly mused about Madonna’s nomination in the best live act category at the 2004 Q Awards, “Since when has lip-syncing been live? Anyone who lip-syncs in public on stage when you pay £75 to see them should be shot. That’s me off her Christmas card list, but do I give a toss? No.”
Madonna, for her part, released a statement through her rep denying any lip-syncing, and added, “Elton John remains on her Christmas card list whether he is nice … or naughty.”
In 2005, after publicly saying he was wrong for a year, John doubled down on the hate, and reportedly called Madonna a “miserable cow” because she wouldn’t perform at John’s bachelor party. The Queen of Pop responded through her rep again: “Madonna wishes Elton all the best, and hopes married life will make him a happier person.”
Madonna has continuously laughed off their feud in public – after John said she had “no f—ing chance” of beating him at the Golden Globes in 2012 (which she did) – she said, “He’s been known to get mad at me, so I don’t know. He’s brilliant, and I adore him, so he’ll win another award. I don’t feel bad.”
Most recently, in October 2019, John called Madonna “ungracious and nasty” in regards to her relationship with Lady Gaga,NME reported. But he also apologised for calling her a “fairground stripper” back in 2012.
Frank Sinatra once said he’d like to kick Sinead O’Connor in the behind, to put it mildly.
O’Connor caused an uproar around the world when she tore a photo of the Pope in half on live television, during her performance at “Saturday Night Live.” She did it to bring attention to the rampant child abuse that was present in the Irish Catholic Church, though she was widely condemned at the time.
Someone who took particular offence was Sinatra. On stage in New Jersey soon after, he said, “This must be one stupid broad,” according to the Tom Santopietro book, “Sinatra in Hollywood.” He continued, “I’d kick her a– if she were a guy. She must beat her kids to stay in shape.” He also had an issue with her refusing to play the national anthem before one of her performances in his home state.
When the Chicks (formerly known as the Dixie Chicks) insulted President George Bush, the entire country music establishment turned on them.
Not many artists can say they have weathered a bigger storm than the Chicks did due to their comments about the president back in 2003, when lead singer Natalie Maines said she was ashamed that George Bush was from Texas, due to the invasion of Iraq and the war that would follow.
The response was almost immediate. Country radio refused to play their songs, and soon began advocating listeners to stop buying their albums and attending their concerts. Fellow country star Toby Keith began performing in front of a doctored photo “Maines cuddling with Saddam Hussein on a large screen at several of his concerts,” CMT reported.
The Chicks responded with the song “Not Ready to Make Nice,” accompanied by a powerful Entertainment Weekly cover of the three covered in names they had been called. After the backlash, they took a 14-year hiatus, only releasing new music in 2020.
Nicki Minaj and Cardi B famously got into a physical altercation at New York Fashion Week.
The two female rappers have been pitted against each other since Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow” took the world by storm. However, the two repeatedly denied any tension and even appeared on the Migos song “MotorSport” together, although some speculated that the two took shots at each other in their respective verses. Minaj also publicly congratulated Cardi for achieving her first No. 1 with “Bodak Yellow.”
“I feel like people just want that drama because it’s entertaining,” Cardi told Complex at the time.
However, a few months later, things boiled over. Minaj spoke to Beats 1’s Zane Lowe, and explained that the “MotorSport” drama hurt her feelings. “I really, fully supported her and up until this recent interview I did, I had never seen her show me genuine love in an interview and I can imagine how many girls wish they could’ve been on a song with Nicki Minaj,” she said.
Predictably, the outspoken Cardi didn’t let that stand. She responded with a Notes app screenshot on Instagram that detailed their interactions from the “I Like It” rapper’s perspective. “I addressed you once in person, I addressed you a second time in person, and every time you copped the plea!! But when you mention my child, you choose to like comments about me as a mother, make comments about my abilities to take care of my daughter is when all bets are f—-in off!! … B—— talk all that s— in they raps but in real life they p—-!! This s— really is for entertainment,” she wrote.
This all culminated with Cardi reportedly throwing a shoe at one of Minaj’s friends at a New York Fashion Week party in 2018. Cardi was escorted out with a giant lump on her forehead,TMZ reported.
Guns N’ Roses members Axl Rose and Slash famously do not get along.
It took two decades for the two band members to fully reconcile after Slash acrimoniously left the band in 1996 due to Rose’s “dictatorial control over his bandmates,” according to Slash’s autobiography, as reported by NME.
“It wasn’t even me necessarily leaving the band, it was not continuing on with the new band that [Rose] put together that he was now at the helm of, which was the new Guns N’ Roses. I was given a contract to basically join his new band, and it took about 24 hours before I decided, I think this is the end of the line,” he told Piers Morgan in 2012.
Rose has said he shouldn’t have been touring at the time due to drug abuse and other issues, and he blamed Slash and their former manager for caring more about money than his wellbeing. He also refused to show up at Guns N’ Roses induction ceremony into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.
However, the beef has been squashed. Slash rejoined the band in 2016 for a reunion tour, aptly titled the “Not In This Lifetime Tour,” after Rose stated in 2012 that a reunion wouldn’t happen in this lifetime.
Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey reportedly couldn’t stand to be around each other on the set of “American Idol.”
These two actually started out as collaborators – Minaj appeared on a remixed version of Carey’s song “Up Out My Face” in 2010.
Two years later, things changed. Once the two were both confirmed to be judges on “American Idol,” feud rumours popped up almost immediately. The two denied it, but just a few weeks later, they were videotaped yelling at each other with Minaj declaring, “I told them, I’m not f—ing putting up with her f—ing highness over there.”
- Read more:
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- 15 on-screen best friends that reportedly hated each other in real life
- 18 co-star couples who had to keep working together after breaking up in real life
- 18 of the most epic sibling rivalries of all time
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