Peanut butter and jelly. Instagram and videos documenting unlikely animal friendships. Lamb and tuna fish. These are some of the penultimate combinations that mankind has discovered work together in perfect conjunction. For every one of those, though, there are toxic pairings that aren’t as symbiotic: Computers and your grandparents, big water slides and loose bathing suits, and of course, Taylor Swift and Katy Perry.
There was a time when the relationship between these two larger-than-life pop stars would have fallen into the former group, but to put it lightly, their dynamic has gone through plenty of ups and downs over the years. Very famously, the two are currently embroiled in one of the longest-standing pop feuds in recent memory. It’s been a long and winding road between the beginning of it and now, and although we’ve covered this before, enough developments have… developed since then that it’s worth revisiting this hot-button topic.
So let’s look back now and remember how sweet things used to be between Swift and Perry, when diplomacy soured, and where it all stands now, beginning with:
Before The Storm (2009-2012)
Before every feud, there’s a time where the parties involved, at the very worst, are indifferent to each other. They might even like each other. Back in the day, it seemed like Swift and Perry were downright besties. For instance, the two had some fun with each other on Twitter in 2009: In response to a now-deleted Swift tweet from July 2009 in which she wrote, “I think I’m going to hang [Perry’s] poster on my wall now,” Perry suggested that the two write a song together. A few months after, Swift tweeted that Perry threw a birthday party that was “party-licious.”
In 2010, Perry brought Swift on stage at the Staples Center, and the two performed an excitable rendition of “Hot N’ Cold”:
At this point, it seemed like two of the world’s most recognizable faces were on fantastic terms with each other, and that’s because they were. The problem, though, is that nothing last forever.
It Starts (2013-2014)
Have you ever seen the video where the guy knocks over a tiny domino, which then knocks over a domino 1.5 times its size, which then continues to knock over progressively larger dominoes until a giant slab at the end finally falls over? That whole reaction began with something relatively small, and it seems there’s a parallel between that clip and Swift vs. Perry.
Here’s what happened: In 2013, some of Perry’s backup dancers signed on to join Swift on her RED tour, but they were given an out to leave the tour with 30 days notice if Perry started a tour of her own and their services were needed there. Well, that’s what happened, dancers notified Swift that they were heading out with Perry.
This incident apparently irked Swift enough to inspire her to write “Bad Blood,” one of the more famous diss tracks of the past decade. One of the dancers who worked with both Swift and Perry went on to be Right Shark (not the dance-impaired Left Shark) at Perry’s famous Super Bowl performance, and Swift later made fun at that rhythmically challenged sea-dweller during a performance of “Bad Blood,” which only added fuel to the prevalent rumors that the song was about her deteriorating relationship with Perry.
In a 2014 Rolling Stone interview, Swift said that the song is about another pop star, and although she did not call Perry out specifically, she described a situation that sounds a ton like the aforementioned backup dancer dispute:
“For years, I was never sure if we were friends or not. 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?’ […]
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 article prompted a cryptic response from Perry, who tweeted shortly after its publication, “Watch out for the Regina George in sheep’s clothing…”
The Aftermath (2015-2017)
At this point, the main action of the feud has come and gone, so all that’s left is the fallout. The seas are becoming calmer, and Swift, again not naming names, gives a level-headed explanation during a GQ interview about the song’s “target” and her original statement of it, saying simply that the song “was about the loss of a friendship”:
“You’re in a Rolling Stone interview, and the writer says, ‘Who is that song about? That sounds like a really intense moment from your life.’ And you sit there, and you know you’re on good terms with your ex-boyfriend, and you don’t want him—or his family—to think you’re firing shots at him. So you say, ‘That was about losing a friend.’ And that’s basically all you say. But then people cryptically tweet about what you meant. I never said anything that would point a finger in the specific direction of one specific person, and I can sleep at night knowing that. I knew the song would be assigned to a person, and the easiest mark was someone who I didn’t want to be labeled with this song. It was not a song about heartbreak. It was about the loss of friendship.”
Fast-forward about a year, and a fan asks a classic fan question of Perry, wondering if she would collaborate with Swift. Perry’s response? “If she says sorry, sure!” About a month after that, Perry filmed herself dancing to Kanye West’s “Famous” at one of his concerts. That song, of course, has some controversial lyrics about Swift, who of course also has beef with Kanye.
By the time 2017 rolls around, the fiery feud seems to be more like a cooling pile of smoldering coals. Then again, Perry may have released a response to “Bad Blood” if fan theories about “Swish Swish” are to be believed. She told Jimmy Fallon that the song is an “anti-bullying anthem” as opposed to a direct confrontation of anybody specific, although she did later tell James Corden that the two have definite beef.
Redemption? (2017- Present)
If all good things must come to an end, is that also true of all not-so-good things? This feud may not last forever, since at least one side is willing to bury the hatchet. In a SiriusXM interview about a year ago, Perry said when asked if she would get on Facetime to resolve the Swift situation, “Absolutely. By the way, I am ready because I think when women unite, the world is going to heal.”
Perry also said she tried to end this beef at some point before “Bad Blood”: “I did try and reach out to her. I tried to do the right thing, the good thing, and, you know, she shut me down and wrote a song.”
Not only did Swift not accept Perry’s alleged squashing of the beef, but she may have subtly added more fuel to the fire by bringing her music to streaming services on the same day Perry released Witness, possibly as an attempt to overshadow Perry (which she did). The day after that, though, Perry didn’t seem too bothered by it, since she told Arianna Huffington in an interview that she loves Swift:
“I think it’s time. There are bigger fish to fry, and there are real problems in the world. You know what I’m saying? And I love her, and I want the best for her. And I think she’s a fantastic songwriter, and I think that, you know, if we, both her and I, can be representatives of strong women that come together despite their differences, I think the whole world is going to go like, ‘Yeah, well we can do this.’ I don’t know. Like maybe I don’t agree with everything she does and she doesn’t agree with everything I do, but I just really truly want to come together in a place of love and forgiveness and understanding and compassion.”
It’s also worth noting that people have theories about the relationship between “Swish Swish” and Swift, namely, that one of the characters in the song’s video is Catastrophe, who shares a name with Swift’s “Bad Blood” character. Maybe that’s a stretch, but maybe it also means that Perry isn’t feeling as open-armed as she once was. Whatever the case, the tension between the two didn’t die with 2017.
On a recent episode of American Idol, on which Perry is a judge this season, she had an eyebrow-raising response to a singer who cited Swift as a big influence: “I love her… as a songwriter, as well,” she said, seemingly emphasizing that quality before making a face that says there’s more to what she said than meets the eye (or ear, I suppose).
So that’s where we stand now: Although the feud doesn’t burn as brightly as it did a few years ago, it seems that Swift and Perry are still more toothpaste and orange juice than babies and applesauce. They’re definitely not tagging each other in memes and commenting with heart-eyed emojis on Instagram, but they’re at least putting a PR-friendly face when each other’s names come up in conversation. Ultimately, they seem relatively happy, and although a renewed friendship would be a satisfying end to all of this, the quality of the interpersonal connection between these two celebrities has no meaningful impact on my life and I feel fine.
Also, I just made it through this whole piece without writing one “Bad Blood” joke and I’m proud of myself… unless you count that as one. In that case, this conclusion is a personal defeat, and a really deep cut.