Thanks to Katy Perry's unending trouble with Taylor Swift, music feuds are back in the news again. But long before those two had bad blood, plenty of other pop stars, divas, and rappers were in on the feud game. Here, a roundup of the 12 biggest music battles of all time, featuring guest appearances by Andy Cohen, Barbara Walters, and a fax machine.
1. Lady Gaga vs. Madonna
Almost since the moment she debuted, Lady Gaga has drawn comparisons to that other queen of downtown cool, Madonna—particularly when the 2010 music video for "Alejandro" included plenty of Madonna-esque religious iconography. But things didn't really escalate until 2012, when Madonna said Gaga's "Born This Way" sounded "very familiar" and "feels reductive" (plenty of people had already noticed the song's similarities to Madonna's "Express Yourself"). Gaga responded by saying that "things are really different than they were 25 years ago," and the pair have been trading barbs ever since.
2. Mariah Carey vs. Jennifer Lopez
It all started in the early 2000s, when a TV reporter asked Mariah about a few of her fellow divas. Asked about J.Lo, Mariah replied, "I don't know her," and thus a legendary feud was born. In 2015, J.Lo got caught texting during Mariah's performance at the Billboard Music Awards, which the internet promptly interpreted as a diss; she later said she "may have looked down for one second." J.Lo then went on the Wendy Williams Show and said that Mariah is "forgetful," to which Mariah responded, via TMZ, "I still don't know her." Later, when Andy Cohen asked Mariah about J.Lo yet again (see above), she explained that she doesn't "know" her in the way she "knows" people like Andy. So basically, Mariah Carey still doesn't know Jennifer Lopez.
3. Mariah Carey vs. Nicki Minaj
Back in 2012, American Idol hired Mariah and Nicki as judges on the show. Rumors about their mutual dislike of one another started circulating immediately, and soon after the season started, they got into it during auditions. Mariah then told Barbara Walters that she'd hired extra security to protect herself from Nicki, at which point Nicki tweeted that Mariah knew people would believe Mariah's story because it played into stereotypes about rappers. Things eventually settled down, and Nicki even admitted that Mariah is one of her favorite artists ever, but don't get your hopes up that they'll be invited back for the reboot.
4. Sinéad O'Connor vs. Pope John Paul II
During her 1992 appearance on Saturday Night Live, Sinéad ripped up a photo of Pope John Paul II in protest of child abuse in the Catholic Church (which at that point was not the widely known topic that it is today). NBC immediately got tons of calls about the incident; in the following week's episode, host Joe Pesci held up a taped-together photo of the Pope and said he would have given Sinéad a "smack." Sinéad's career never really recovered but she's still not super into the church.
5. Katy Perry vs. Taylor Swift
You can read a complete breakdown of this conflict here, but the gist is this: Katy and Taylor employed some of the same dancers, Taylor wrote a song about it, and Katy called her a "Regina George in sheep's clothing." Katy now says it's Taylor's responsibility to fix the situation but denies that her Witness single "Swish Swish" is about any one person.
6. Aretha Franklin vs. Patti LaBelle
You can't talk about music feuds without talking about Aretha Franklin, who knows how to execute a brush-off better than literally anyone else in the world. Only Aretha and Patti know how deep this bad blood runs but the infamous GIF of Aretha ignoring Patti's outstretched hand at a White House concert (above) says it all. Aretha maintains that there is no feud but after Patti's sweet potato pies became a sensation, Aretha announced she was starting her own line of food products, saying, "Ms. Patti's gonna have to move that pie to the side."
7. Aretha Franklin vs. Dionne Warwick
Aretha and Dionne's rivalry goes back decades, but Aretha's current problem with Dionne is a "libelous" statement Dionne made about Aretha…five years ago. At Whitney Houston's funeral in 2012, Dionne said that Aretha could not be at the funeral (accurate—she was resting up for a performance) but that she loved Whitney because she was Whitney's godmother. According to Aretha, that latter part is false and she clarified as much by sending "a lengthy fax" about it to the Associated Press in 2017. Aretha could not have been Whitney's godmother, she said, because she was "far too busy" to be anyone's godmother. Dionne did not respond.
8. Taylor Swift vs. Kanye West
One day, your kids will ask you where you were when Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift on stage at the 2009 VMAs, so you better have a story planned that's more exciting than "drunk in my windowless apartment, watching with my roommates who hated me." After Kanye wouldn't let Taylor finish and President Barack Obama called Kanye a "jackass," Kanye sort of apologized. In 2015, Taylor buried the hatchet by presenting Kanye with the MTV Video Vanguard Award at the VMAs and everything was fine until Kanye released "Famous" in 2016. Taylor claimed that she told him not to release the song as such, but Kim Kardashian later produced video proof that Taylor wasn't telling the whole story. There's no way Taylor won't write about this on her next album so consider this one still in development.
9. Justin Bieber vs. Selena Gomez
Ah, young love—so sweet at the beginning, and so sour when it ends and the paparazzi and Orlando Bloom get involved. Justin and Selena—Jelena, if you will—started dating in 2010, and stayed off and on for the next four years. Things really escalated after Selena got photographed with Orlando and Orlando punched Justin in the face in Ibiza. Jelena continued to talk about each other in interviews, Selena performed the probably-about-Justin song "The Heart Wants What It Wants" at the 2014 AMAs, and Justin released the probably about-Selena album Purpose. The feud reached a new low point in 2016, when Selena commented on Justin's Instagram of rumored girlfriend Sofia Richie. As of 2017, Selena seems to have truly moved on with The Weeknd, but you never can predict when these two will start circling each other again.
10. Miley Cyrus vs. Nicki Minaj
This one started because of a different feud, wherein Taylor Swift accused Nicki of not supporting other women when Nicki made some accurate observations about the 2015 VMAs nominees. Taylor and Nicki (at least publicly) resolved their issues during the VMAs telecast, but Miley inserted herself into the drama by telling the New York Times that Nicki was just making the whole thing about herself. Nicki, rightfully so, did not take that well, and launched a thousand T-shirts when she confronted Miley at the same VMAs with three simple words: "Miley, what's good?"
11. Elton John vs. Madonna
These two icons were once friends but that all ended in 2002, when Sir Elton said Madonna's "Die Another Day" was "the worst Bond tune ever." Two years later, he accused her of lip-syncing, which he did a few more times over the years before working up to describing her as a "fairground stripper" in 2012. As of 2016, Sir Elton claims that the two made up over dinner but never give up hope that he's got a few more withering insults left in him.
12. Jay Z vs. Nas
Jay Z and Nas aren't technically pop stars, but there's no question that their infamous feud has had plenty of influence on feuds that came later. The two rappers started taking lyrical shots at each other in the mid-'90s and continued into 2001, when Jay Z released "Takeover" and Nas responded with "Ether." By 2005, things had cooled enough that Nas made a surprise appearance during Jay Z's tour; later, Nas signed to Def Jam while Jay Z was the label's president.