Taylor Swift has a policy for dealing with haters: shake it off. But there’s one thorn in her side that just won’t go away – Katy Perry.
Following yesterday’s back-and-forth with ex-boyfriend Calvin Harris following the revelation that Swift had a hand in penning his hit with Rihanna, ‘This Is What You Came For’, Harris invoked Perry’s name in his response to Swift – the Twitter equivalent of lighting the blue touch paper and running.
Those with short memories – or better things to do – might not remember how, exactly, this war of words between two pop titans started. So here, blow-by-blow, is the full story.
Round 1: On good terms… for now
Things started out friendly, with Swift and Perry frequently exchanging gushing Tweets.
@taylorswift13 lover you. you deserve all de awards in the world! VOTE FOR TAY TAY! p.s. your mothers day video made me cry, ur an angel!
— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) May 4, 2009
@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
The same year, Swift entered into a three-month relationship with US singer-songwriter John Mayer, which ended in February 2010. Later that year, Swift penned the track ‘Dear John’, which included the lyrics: “Dear John, I see it all now that you’re gone/Don’t you think I was too young/To be messed with?” Mayer later said that the song “humiliated” him, and branded it “cheap songwriting”.
Round 2: Dancer-Gate
Things started to heat up in August 2012 when Perry began dating Swift’s-ex John Mayer, following her divorce from British comedian Russell Brand months earlier – although neither commented on the new relationship.
In October 2012, Taylor Swift released her fourth album ‘Red’ and plotted a mammoth world tour in support. Joining her on that jaunt were three of the same dancers that Perry had used on her ‘California Dreams Tour’ less than a year earlier.
To mark the occasion, she celebrated with a Barbie-inspired cake. The cake bore notable resemblance to one Perry gave to dancer Scott Myrick a year earlier to celebrate his birthday. Perry, who often refers to herself as ‘Mother’ and ‘Mommacat’ addressed this on social media with a tweet insisting ‘Mothers always watching’.
— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) March 23, 2013
It was at this time that Perry readied the release of her new album, ‘Prism’, and plotted its accompanying world tour. Unsurprisingly, she wanted her dancers back, but the ‘Red Tour’ was still ongoing. Perry approached dancers Myrick, Leah Adler and Lockhart Brownlie to rejoin her live show when it commenced in 2014, but it required them to leave Swift’s mid-tour. All three agreed to join Perry on her tour.
In December 2013, Brownlie gave an interview to Australian newspaper The Examiner and discussed both Swift and Perry. “Obviously we were with Katy for 2 1/2 years, she’s like family to us, so we were, like, ‘absolutely’,” he said, in reference to being asked to rejoin Perry’s crew. In the interview he continued to say that “we weren’t really dancing in Taylor’s tour anyway” and as a result he got “a little bored”.
Round 3: Swift speaks out
Perry’s tour kicked off (with the dancers) and Swift’s came to a close, but the ‘secret’ feud became very public in September when Swift gave a revealing interview to Rolling Stone. In the feature she reveals that her new song ‘Bad Blood’ references a beef she has with a popular female artist, but refuses to name which. Although she never directly referenced Perry, Swift heavily hinted that the rivalry was born out of the dancer ‘coup’ Perry staged the year before – and insisted that it’s not about ‘a guy’ (likely John Mayer, who Perry had dated for the past two years).
Swift was quoted as saying: “She did something so horrible. I was like, ‘Oh, we’re just straight-up enemies’. And it wasn’t even about a guy! It had to do with business.”
“She basically tried to sabotage an entire arena tour. She tried to hire a bunch of people out from under me. And I’m surprisingly non-confrontational – you would not believe how much I hate conflict. So now I have to avoid her. It’s awkward, and I don’t like it.”
The same day the interview was published, Perry tweeted:
Watch out for the Regina George in sheep's clothing…
— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) September 9, 2014
That’d be Regina George from Mean Girls…
Round 4 – ‘Bad Blood’
In early 2015 Taylor refused to address the feud once again in an interview with The Telegraph, saying, “I’m not giving [the press] anything to write about” before adding, “I’m never going to talk about her in my interview. It’s not going to happen.” Perry remained silent.
Later in the summer, Swift was involved in a public Twitter row with Nicki Minaj following the VMA nominations. Swift was nominated for nine awards in major categories and Minaj for two – but Minaj wasn’t named as a ‘Video Of The Year’ contender. Minaj took to social media to lament the snub for her ‘Anaconda’ video in a series of tweets, which Swift perceived as a jab at her.
Perry later put this out there:
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
Round 5: ‘Truth becomes clear’
The feud was revived a year later when it was revealed that Swift had a hand in the writing of her then-boyfriend Calvin Harris’ new song ‘This Is What You Came For’ under a pseudonym. Harris later tweeted that he wouldn’t let Swift ‘bury’ him like ‘Katy’, in reference to their feud.
Perry responded by posting a Hilary Clinton GIF and retweeting a year old tweet about time being the ‘ultimate truth teller’.
— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) July 13, 2016
Time, the ultimate truth teller.
— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) May 9, 2015
Taylor, it’s your move.