Pop Star Feuds: An Inside Look At What Happened

As long as there have been celebrities, there have been feuds between them. Dating back to the days of old Hollywood and running through the TikTok trends of today, celebrity fights are often backhanded and backstabbing — and easy fodder for fans to follow.

As history tells us, many of the most legendary famous feuds have followed the brightest stars time and time again. This pattern is not new — the likes of Bette Davis, Jayne Mansfield, and Frank Sinatra faced a number of Hollywood foes that kept their names in the spotlight and the tabloids. The trend continued throughout the 20th century, ranging from stars of stage and screen to singers, songwriters, athletes, and everything in between.

Now, within the 21st century, celebrity feuds have become a viable form of fame for many. From pop princess royalty to music icons in their own right, an infinite number of fans have been privy to the innermost inklings of unrest between some of the world's most famous faces.

Taylor Swift vs. Kanye West

One of the most infamous celebrity feuds of all time is between Taylor Swift and Kanye "Ye" West, a battle that has raged for almost fifteen years. The whole saga started on the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards stage, where Swift won best female video for her smash song "You Belong With Me," besting the likes of Beyoncé and her iconic "Single Ladies." As viewers worldwide watched, Ye stormed the stage, stole the mic, and proclaimed that "Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time." The shrug seen around the world began a years-long media circus that outlined multiple peaks and valleys in their famous on again-off again feud.

By 2015, all seemed well between the music superstars. They returned to the VMAs stage that year, where Swift presented Ye with the prestigious Video Vanguard Award and hung out with him and his then-partner Kim Kardashian. But the seemingly mended friendship tore at the seams once again in 2016 when Ye released the song "Famous." The track included lyrics that shamed Swift: "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that b*tch famous." Cue the back-and-forth of the century, with leaked phone conversations, not-so-subtle acceptance speeches, and tweets about snakes taking over the internet.

For now? Swift and Ye are still on the outs, but that hasn't stopped the latter from sharing the occasional jab at his former frenemy.

Taylor Swift vs. Katy Perry

Kanye "Ye" West isn't the only "K" that Taylor Swift has had beef with. Her feud with fellow pop star Katy Perry started off nicely with some sweet tweets between the two and even a duet on the former's "Fearless" tour. But the duo entered frenemy territory in 2014 when Swift revealed that the pair's party-happy friendship was not all as it seemed. "For years, I was never sure if we were friends or not," she 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?'"

That's not all — Swift claimed that Perry practically ruined one of her tours. "She tried to hire a bunch of people out from under me," she told the magazine. This caused Perry to share a now-infamous tweet, stating, "Watch out for the Regina George in sheep's clothing," likening Swift to the vengeful antagonist from "Mean Girls." Perry further refuted the claims on James Corden's "Carpool Karaoke." The "Teenage Dream" singer explained that Swift ghosted her and then wrote a song shading her. "And I'm like 'Okay, cool, cool. That's how you wanna do it? Karma,'" Perry said.

In classic pop girl style, the two released a pair of songs aimed at each other. Swift's "Bad Blood" set the internet agog in 2015, while Perry's "Swish Swish" made waves in 2017. The duo eventually made up in 2019 when Perry appeared in Swift's "You Need To Calm Down" video.

Taylor Swift vs. Her Exes

Taylor Swift has been known to write a symphony of songs about her past relationships. Several of her most famous feuds have come from her lyrics about her heartbreak, particularly with fellow famous folk.

One of Swift's most famous — and long-lasting — breakups is with musician and noted ladies man John Mayer. Swift released the not-so-subtle "Dear John" in 2010; the song included scathing lyrics like "Don't you think 19 is too young / To be played by your dark twisted games, when I loved you so?" In 2022, Swift allegedly revisited her sour relationship with Mayer in "Would've, Could've, Should've." As Swift is known for her album easter eggs, the fact that the song was track 19 on her "Midnights" album had fans shook.

Swift has been more public about some of her breakups, too. There was the time that she called Joe Jonas out on "The Ellen Show" for breaking up with her over the phone. Plus, there was that other time when she was caught on camera mouthing, "Shut the f**k up!" when her ex Harry Styles appeared on the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards.

In 2022, Swift brought her faded fling with actor Jake Gyllenhaal back to the surface with the release of "All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor's Version)." The lyrics had fans theorizing about the intimate details of the pair's falling out during their brief reported romance in 2011.

Madonna vs. Elton John

Madonna is arguably known as much for her famous feuds as she is for her trailblazing discography. One of her most publicized feuds was with fellow music icon Elton John. Things took off in 2002 when John criticized Madonna's Bond theme "Die Another Day," the first of many disparaging public statements the Rocket Man would make about the Material Girl.

In 2004, John mocked Madonna's nomination for best live act at the now-defunct Q Awards, rhetorically asking "Since when has lip-syncing been live?" In 2005, John called Madge a "miserable cow" when she reportedly refused to sing at his civil union with partner David Furnish. Things came to a head at the 2011 Golden Globes, where both John and Madonna were nominated for best original song. While John and Furnish shared some "fighting words" about their fellow nominee on the red carpet, it was Madonna who took home the award. John's husband reacted with scathing comments on social media, while John shared his true feelings about the pop diva with the media once again.

Alas, the feud seemingly ended in 2012 — all in front of a French restaurant. "She came in, and I sent over a note," John told Extra. "She was very gracious. I apologized profusely because what I said should never have appeared in public. She accepted our apology, and then we bought her dinner. That's over and done with." Madonna later dedicated a song to John at a concert in France, telling the audience, "I forgive him."

Madonna vs. Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga has long been likened to Madonna in terms of song style and visual iconography, cone bras included. When Gaga released the title single "Born This Way" in 2011, many compared it to Madonna's "Express Yourself" – including Madonna herself, who told ABC News the single was "reductive." She added, "I certainly think she references me a lot in her work. And sometimes I think it's amusing and flattering and well done."

The statement didn't sit well with Mother Monster. "It's the same [song style] that's been in disco music for the last 50 years," she told NME (via E! News). "Just because I'm the first f***ing artist in 25 years to think of putting it on Top 40 radio, it doesn't mean I'm a plagiarist, it means that I'm f***ing smart." Even when Madge began performing a "Born This Way"-"Express Yourself" mash-up on her 2013 tour, Gaga focused on the meaning of the moment. "All it meant to me was that Madonna Ciccone was singing my song on her stage!" Gaga told Attitude Magazine (via HuffPost). "And as a punk-rocker from New York, I've basically been hoping that I would become so good that one day I would piss off Madonna!"

The two continued to share various barbs across media, from Rolling Stone interviews to Netflix documentaries. But in 2019, the pair sparked new rumors — this time that their feud was officially over — by posing for a photo together at Madonna's Oscar party the night that Gaga won for best original song.

Madonna vs. Cher

Despite both having long-tenured careers in showbiz, these one-named divas never seemed to get along. As a result, Cher and Madonna had a public falling out for multiple decades. One of the first public barbs traded was by Cher in a 1991 interview with Steve Kmetko: "There's something about her that I don't like. She's mean. I don't like that." In another interview with Terry Wogan, the notoriously blunt Cher didn't mince words: "She's unbelievably creative because she's not unbelievably talented, she's not beautiful, but she's kind of, she's rude." Ouch!

Despite the harsh words, Cher has also wrapped her insults in a bit of playful shade — with a dash of genuine compliments thrown in for good measure. "I never hated her, I just thought she was a b***h," she shared in a Reddit AMA in 2013. "Actually I quite respect her. Actually I think Madge might be one of the most amazing artists I've known."

While Madonna hasn't commented publicly on the feud, the two did pose together for some photos at the 2017 Women's March in Washington, D.C. Looks like not all of the blood between the two is bad!

Mariah Carey vs. Eminem

Mariah Carey has had many messy feuds in Hollywood, but it's her one with Eminem that sparked more than a decade of diss tracks. In 2002, rapper Eminem alluded to a relationship with Carey; in his song "Superman" he boasts, "What you tryna be? My new wife? / What, you Mariah? Fly through twice." When Carey was pressed to answer the dating rumors on "Larry King Live," she denied them: "I hung out with him, I spoke to him on the phone. I think I was probably with him a total of four times. And I don't consider that dating somebody."

But that didn't stop either artist from taking shots at one another in song and on tour. Carey came out with "Clown" in 2003 and brought out a blonde-headed clown in a Detroit Pistons jersey — Em's home team — on tour. Meanwhile, the rapper fought back with scathing lyrics in several songs like 2006's "Jimmy Crack Corn."

Things came to a head in 2009 when Eminem trashed Carey and then-husband Nick Cannon in "Bagpipes From Baghdad," prompting Cannon to post a defensive rebuttal on his blog (which was later deleted). Carey came back with a diss track of her own, "Obsessed," in which she croons, "Oh, why you so obsessed with me (boy, I wanna know) / Lying that you're sexing me (when everybody knows)." This back-and forth continued with several more songs — mainly on Em's side — but things have since died down. Yet, the viral fame of "Obsessed" continues to live on...

Mariah Carey vs. Jennifer Lopez

It was the "I don't know her" heard around the world. Megastars Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez have had a storied feud between them ever since Carey uttered those four shady words in an early 2000s interview on the German show "Taff." The origins of the Carey-Lopez feud trace back to J-Lo supposedly ripping off one of Carey's tunes from her "Glitter" soundtrack for what would eventually become "I'm Real." This obviously didn't sit well with Carey, as "I'm Real" went on to be a success compared to the box office bomb that was "Glitter."

There may have been other forces at play behind the scenes, but in front of the camera, the feud fought on. Mimi threw shade on multiple talk shows, including a now infamous interview with "Larry King Live" in 2002 where Carey made a blunt comparison between her own artistry and Lopez's. "There are rivalries, but I don't think she has anything to do with me. I mean, my whole thing is singing, writing songs."

J-Lo herself commented on "What What Happens Live" in 2014. "I don't have a feud against her at all. I know from back in the day, I've read things that she's said about me that were not the greatest, but we have never met," she said. The media back-and-forth continued for several years until Carey addressed the "I don't know her" moment in a 2018 interview with Pitchfork. "I really was trying to say something nice or say nothing at all," she said. "I really was."

Mariah Carey vs. Nicki Minaj

These two megawatt stars started out as friends, even collaborating on the 2009 single "Up Out My Face." But by the time they became judges on "American Idol," their respect for one another began to dim. After TMZ released a video showing Nicki Minaj cussing out Mariah Carey on the set of "Idol" during the audition process, tabloids went crazy over the new celebrity feud. However, this footage came out before the season began airing on TV, causing many to speculate if the feud was generated by producers to bump up viewership.

The media circus continued with multiple narratives. Things started off calmly; when Minaj guested on "The Ellen Show" in 2013, she chalked the viral moment up to "two big ole divas" being in the moment. Carey, however, tapped a famous publicist-of-sorts to share her side of the story. Veteran journalist Barbara Walters revealed on "The View" that Carey confided in her after the viral audition moment, where she claims that Minaj threatened to shoot her. "It felt like an unsafe work environment," Carey later told Walters on ABC News. Minaj later refuted the claims on Twitter.

As things simmered down between the two, Minaj revealed a simple explanation for why the feud was blown out of proportion, which also went along with Carey's claims that producers were trying to increase ratings. "[Carey's] admitted that she did not want another female doing the show, thinking somebody's coming to steal her shine," Minaj shared on her "My Truth" special on E!.

Christina Aguilera vs. Eminem

One of Christina Aguilera's first celebrity feuds was with Eminem, and the battle raged long and lasciviously for a few years. In 1999, the then fresh-faced newcomer Aguilera spilled the beans on MTV News that Eminem had married his longtime on-and-off again flame, while simultaneously drawing light to the violent lyrics he wrote about her. She shared, "I heard he's married now ... the girl that he talks about killing on his record, actually."

Em fought back in his mega hit "The Real Slim Shady" and took things to a new level, accusing Aguilera of giving him a venereal disease (VD) and making sexist comments about her rumored relationships with Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst and "TRL" host Carson Daly. Aguilera released her own diss track, 2002's "Can't Hold Us Down." While not as obvious as Em's track, she did croon, "Call me a b***h cause I speak what's on my mind / Guess it's easier for you to swallow if I sat and smiled."

Fans thought the beef was done in 2003 when Aguilera handed Eminem a Video Music Award, prompting him to thank her. But in 2018, Em picked up the boxing gloves once more and mentioned Aguilera in his song "Kick Off." Aguilera commented on the song on a 2019 episode of "Watch What Happens Live," saying, "It was thirsty then, it's thirsty now. Have something else to talk about."

Christina Aguilera vs. Pink

All seemed well between powerhouse vocalists Christina Aguilera and Pink when they featured on 2001's epic "Lady Marmalade" cover from "Moulin Rouge." The song was a smash, and the two seemed celebratory together of its success. However, things weren't quite as celebratory behind the scenes ...

In an episode of VH1's "Behind the Music," Pink claims that not only did Aguilera's team come in hot to assume control of "Marmalade," but also lamented about her frequent collaborator Linda Perry working with her supposed rival. "I took it really personally when [Perry] started working with other artists," she said, "particularly artists that I didn't like."

Years later, Pink took to frequent feud-squashing platform "Watch What Happens Live" to share that she and Aguilera had ended their beef — but not before she claimed that Aguilera tried to assault her during the height of their fight. "She swung on me in a club, which is hilarious," the "So What" singer claimed. However, Aguilera took a moment on her own appearance on "WWHL" in 2019 to refute those claims. "I seem to have a different memory of a night we had at a club where we played spin the bottle," she said. Contrasting stories aside, the two haven't feuded publicly since.

Christina Aguilera vs. Kelly Osbourne

From the moment she mocked her on her family's reality show, Kelly Osbourne put up a pretty big fight against Christina Aguilera. On a 2002 episode of "The Osbournes," the titular rock-and-roll family, particularly daughter Kelly, harshly derided Aguilera's Christmas album. Afterward, Osbourne continued to berate Aguilera in the press, once claiming (via the Daily Mail), "She is one of the most disgusting human beings in the entire world ... I've seen drag queens who look better." 

Aguilera bit back at the 2003 American Music Awards, prompting an all-out media war between the two. According to MTV News, the two were catty all throughout the 2003 MTV Europe Music Awards — refusing to walk the red carpet at the same time, throwing darts at a picture of the other in a pre-taped skit, you name it.

From there, the beef simmered for a bit until 2011, when Aguilera bought the Osbourne family home and re-sold it two years later. The real estate deal clearly didn't sit well with Osbourne, who commented on an episode of E!'s "Fashion Police" (via Us Weekly). "Maybe she is just becoming the fat b***h she was born to be," she said. "I don't know. She was a c**t to me. And she bought my house!" Osbourne stood by her body-shaming of Aguilera in 2012, claiming the "Come On Over" diva started it first. But since then, the feud has seemingly died down to but a faint flicker of what once was.