A look back on the pop stars' fascinating relationship – from mad love to "Bad Blood"
Taylor Swift and Katy Perry are two of the biggest pop stars (and, equally important, cat lovers) in the world, which means a lot of people have a lot of thoughts on their lives. A popular fan theory is that the two have been embroiled in a long-running feud, but most of the supposed drama has really played out through elusive quotes in magazine profiles and subtweets that don’t really say anything at all – until now.
In October 2016, both Perry and Swift attended Drake’s birthday party, with no drama to report. Yet a few days later at a Kanye West concert, Perry filmed herself dancing to those controversial Swift-bashing “Famous” lyrics, seemingly fanning the flames. Perry also teamed up with Nicki Minaj to release “Swish Swish,” her new single, which is allegedly about Swift. Most recently, however, it’s looking like the stars are one step closer to a reconciliation after Perry sent Swift an apology letter, which the Reputation crooner posted on Instagram Story ahead of her first tour stop.
In the name of Important Pop Cultural Research, let’s take a look back at their friendship over the years.
SEPTEMBER 2008: THE ORIGINAL SQUAD
Swift and Perry had a ball on the red carpet at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards, joined by another friend – Miley! Were we ever so young?
FEBRUARY 2009: PARTYING IT UP
Back in the days of “Love Story” and “I Kissed a Girl” success, the two would hang out up at parties, such as this 2009 Grammys event. They were young, happy and full of sparkle (literally – just look at these dresses!).
JULY 2009: MAD LOVE
Not only did the two get along IRL, but they also had lots to say about each other’s art. Swift tweeted her appreciation for Perry’s “Waking Up in Vegas” video.
Perry was so flattered, she suggested the two write a song together – sadly, spoiler alert, that day never came.
AUGUST 2009: FUNDON TOWN
Swift tweeted a photo of her and Perry, writing that her pal “really puts the ‘fun’ in Fundon.” She also uploaded another version of the photo covered in cats, because why not.
Perry tweeted back, “LYLAS! C u @ the VMA’s bbgirl! (TS is an angel!),” because speaking in abbrevs was a big thing in 2009.
OCTOBER 2009: BIRTHDAY BESTIES
Swift attended Perry’s birthday bash that year, and by all accounts, it was epic. She was very, very grateful and tweeted out her appreciation.
JANUARY 2010: REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD
The two reunited yet again at the 2010 Grammys, where they appeared very deep in conversation.
They also posed for photos, but made funny faces, because they’re just two friends who like to be silly together! Ah! Good times, fam, good times!
MARCH 2010: FEELING FEELINGS
Perry even gave Swift a sweet shout-out in a 2010 interview with Nylon magazine. “Sometimes, I really feel like I’m more of a Taylor Swift”, she said. “She tells stories, and I think that’s why she resonates with a lot of people. She hits the hidden chord in them [where they say], ‘Oh my God, I’ve been through that too,’ or, ‘You said it in a way I could never explain.'”
APRIL 2010: PERFORMING TOGETHER
Perry stopped by Swift’s Fearless tour to jam out to “Hot N Cold” together. This, friends, is what dreams were made of.
She also tweeted about it, writing, “Katy! LA! I will always love you!” She said always, guys.
NOVEMBER 2011: A NIGHT TO REMEMBER
Swift beat out Perry for the 2011 American Music Award’s Artist of the Year honor – but Perry was totally happy for her and congratulated her with a big hug.
NOVEMBER 2011: CAT WOMEN, UNITE!
Suddenly, the reason this duo was so chummy became clear – they both love cats. A lot. After Swift posted a photo of Meredith, Perry felt inclined to chime in.
And Swift was nothing but grateful. Also, they both really missed each other.
AUGUST 2012: THE LOVE TRIANGLE
Swift reportedly dated John Mayer through February 2010, and had since been linked to various other handsome men. Perry, on the other hand, had been married to Russell Brand, but divorced. She then began a relationship with Mayer that August.
FEBRUARY 2013: IT’S ALL GOOD
Swift and Perry ran into each other months later at the 2013 Grammy Awards, which Perry attended with Mayer. Things seemed pretty chill, though, as evidenced by this photo.
OCTOBER 2013: HAIRY MEMORIES
After performing at the iHeartRadio listening party celebrating the release of Prism, one fan asked Perry what she keeps in her purse, E! News reported at the time.
Perry replied that she keeps a “big empty purse” now, but launched into a story that incorporated her friendship with both Swift and Cyrus.
“One of the first times I went to the Grammys, I got to share a dressing room with Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift, and I asked them for a lock of their hair from each one of them, which is totally creepy, but awesome,” she said. “I put little bows on them individually and put them in my purse. And that was my little secret, and I’m a freak!”
SEPTEMBER 2014: WHAT’S HAPPENING?
In an interview with Rolling Stone right before the release of her album 1989, Swift spoke a little about the meaning behind her song “Bad Blood” (which the magazine described as the “angriest” song on the album).
“For years, I was never sure if we were friends or not,” she said. “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?'” Then last year, the other star crossed a line. “She did something so horrible,” Swift says. “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.”
She also admitted there might have been a personal element to the conflict. “But I don’t think there would be any personal problem if she weren’t competitive,” she added. So one question remains: Who’s she talking about?
SEPTEMBER 2014: THE REGINA GEORGE METAPHOR
Soon afterward, Perry tweeted this poetic remark.
JANUARY 2015: SO WHAT DOES SHE MEAN?
When asked about that tweet in her cover story with Billboard right before her 2015 Super Bowl halftime show performance, Perry simply said, “If somebody is trying to defame my character, you’re going to hear about it.”
MARCH 2015: NO COMMENT
Swift finally addressed the alleged feud with Perry by, well, not addressing it. “I’m not giving them anything to write about,” Swift told The Telegraph. “I’m never going to talk about her in my interview. It’s not going to happen.”
She also got really real about having friends and enemies. “It’s not real if someone appears to never have any issues with anyone,” she said. “I have my friends. I have enemies. I have bad days when I don’t want to go to a photo shoot, but I’m not going to show up four hours late. I’m going to be there on-time. I’m not nice all the time, but I try not to be carelessly rude to people who don’t deserve it.”
MAY 2015: NOW WE’VE GOT BAD BLOOD?
The long anticipated “Bad Blood” music video premiered, and it was as epic as we all expected … and also did very little to squash rumors that the song was about Perry, considering Swift’s enemy in the video is played by Gomez in a dark wig with blunt bangs.
JUNE 2015: THE VMAS TWEET STORM
Swift kind-of-sort-of-accidentally involved herself in a heated Twitter exchange with Nicki Minaj after MTV Video Music Awards nominations were announced. Minaj, who wasn’t nominated for video of the year, tweeted out, “If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year.”
Some people thought this was an attack on Swift – including Swift herself. She replied, “I’ve done nothing but love & support you. It’s unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your slot..”
Minaj was quick to reply – and deny – that she was casting any shade. “Huh? U must not be reading my tweets. Didn’t say a word about u. I love u just as much. But u should speak on this.”
Swift was quick to call a truce as she finished the exchange on a friendly note, saying: “If I win, please come up with me!! You’re invited to any stage I’m ever on.”
But, wait, there’s more! Perry chimed in during the short-lived feud.
She was met with support from Camilla Belle, who dated Joe Jonas after Swift and is rumored to be the subject of her song “Better Than Revenge.”
Are you following?
OCTOBER 2015: THE SONG WE WILL NEVER FORGET
If you thought the world would ever be done talking about “Bad Blood,” you thought wrong. In an interview with GQ magazine, Swift had us scratching our heads yet again when she talked about the meaning behind the hit song.
When asked why she doesn’t specify who she’s writing songs about, Swift replied, “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.”
MAY 2016: SELENA GOMEZ GETS INVOLVED
Gomez has long been Swift’s BFF, so we’d expect her to take her bestie’s side in any sort of drama (real or not) … so it was unexpected when she and Perry had a moment of solidarity.
Gomez then retweeted the message and added the prayer hands emojis; this is 2016 after all, everybody.
MAY 2016: PERRY’S TWITTER ACCOUNT IS HACKED
Perry’s 89 million Twitter followers saw a number of uncharacteristic tweets after her Twitter account was hacked just this week. Along with a string of homophobic and racist messages, as well as a link to an apparent unreleased song on SoundCloud called “Witness,” one message included a shout-out to Swift. “Miss u baby @taylorswift13,” the tweet said.
JULY 13, 2016: CALVIN HARRIS DROPS A TRUTH BOMB … AND PERRY RESPONDS
He was mostly fired up that Swift was “trying to tear your ex bf down for something to do.” The tweet, which has since been deleted, also said that Swift “buried” Katy Perry. Commence Internet freak-out.
To make things even more interesting, Perry responded in her own low-key way, with a gif of Hillary Clinton:
She then retweeted an old tweet from May 2015:
SEPTEMBER 2016: OH, THE SHADE OF IT ALL
Perry caused a veritable Internet frenzy when she responded to a tweet about the possibility of collaborating with Swift. When one user tweeted, “Will you collab with Taylor swift,” the pop star responded with: “If she says sorry, sure!”
Swift, who remained pretty quiet on social media in the wake of her reignited feud with Kanye West, did not respond to Perry’s latest tweet. In fact, it looks like the “Bad Blood” singer was having too much fun at Fashion Week to care.
OCTOBER 2016: PARTYING TOGETHER?
Swift and Perry were both spotted at Drake’s 30th birthday party. Another potentially awkward guest? John Mayer, an ex of both Perry and Swift.
It’s unclear whether Swift crossed paths with Perry, whom she reportedly wrote “Bad Blood” about, or Mayer, who is rumored to have inspired the pop star’s 2010 song “Dear John.” Perry also dated Mayer for several years before finally calling it quits in July 2015.
OCTOBER 2016: REIGNITING THE FEUD?
At a Kanye West concert in Inglewood, California, Perry added more fire to the alleged feud. As West rapped his controversial “Famous” lyrics (“I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex”), Perry recorded herself dancing along enthusiastically.
She then zoomed in closer at the most controversial lyric, which the crowd sang along with him: “I made that bitch famous!”
MAY 2017: FEELING INSPIRED
In an exclusive interview with Entertainment Weekly, Perry opened up about her album and whether it had a follow-up to Swift’s “Bad Blood,” which was rumored to be about Perry. The “Roar” singer said her album was “very empowered” and that “there is no one thing that’s calling out any one person.”
“One thing to note is: You can’t mistake kindness for weakness and don’t come for me. Anyone. Anyone. Anyone. Anyone,” Perry said. “And that’s not to any one person and don’t quote me that it is, because it’s not. It’s not about that. Honestly, when women come together and they decide to unite, this world is going to be a better place. Period end of story.”
She continued: “But, let me say this: Everything has a reaction or a consequence so don’t forget about that, okay, honey. [Laughs] We got to keep it real, honey. This record is not about anyone else! This record is about me being seen and heard so that I can see and hear everyone else! It’s not even about me! It’s about everything that I see out there that I digest. I think there’s a healing in it for me and vulnerability. If people want to connect and be healed and feel vulnerable and feel empowered and strong, God bless and here it is.”
MAY 2017: A SURPRISE SONG
Perry dropped a surprise new song featuring Nicki Minaj called “Swish Swish,” and her fans think it’s the response to Swift they’ve been waiting for.
“Don’t you come for me/No, not today/you’re calculated/I’ve got your number/Because you’re a joke/and I’m a courtside killer queen,” go Perry’s lyrics.
Minaj’s rap verse includes more lyrics that sound directed at Swift, with whom she previously had a Twitter disagreement: “Don’t be tryna double back/I already despise you/All that fake love you showin’/couldn’t even disguise you.” Fans also pointed out Minaj might be referencing longtime rival Remy Ma in another line: “Silly rap beefs just give me more checks.”
After the song dropped, the “Shake It Off” singer’s close friend Ruby Rose slammed Perry on Twitter, writing, “I just think with everything going on in the world to go from rebranding as a political activist only to ditch it and go low.. is.. a bummer.”
MAY 2017: ON THE RECORD
A few days after the song dropped, Perry evaded the question when Jimmy Fallon asked if “Swish Swish” was meant to be a diss track in response to “Bad Blood,” claiming: “I think it’s a great anthem for people to use whenever someone’s trying to hold you down or bully you.”
She added: “It’s a liberation from all the negative that doesn’t serve you.”
But on May 22, Perry went on the record with her side of the story during her Carpool Karaoke segment on The Late Late Show With James Corden, telling the host that Swift sparked their feud. “There’s a situation. Honestly, it’s really like she started it, and it’s time for her to finish it,” she said, explaining, “It’s about backing dancers, there were three backing dancers. I tried to talk to her about it and she wouldn’t speak to me.”
“I do the right thing any time that it feels like a fumble,” Perry continued. “It was a full shutdown and then she writes a song about me, and I’m like, ‘OK, cool, cool, cool, that’s how you want to deal with it? Karma!’ ”
After Corden asked if “the beef would ever be off the grill,” Perry responded, “What I want to say is that I’m ready for that BS to be done. Now, there is the law of cause and effect. You do something, there’s going to be a reaction, and trust me, daddy, there’s going to be a reaction. It’s all about karma, right? I think personally that women together, not divided, and none of this petty bulls–t, women together will heal the world.”
JUNE 2017: SHE TRIED TO ‘ASSASSINATE MY CHARACTER’
In a follow-up interview with NME the week of her Witness album release, Perry furthered the comments she made to Corden.
“I wish that I could turn the other cheek every single time, but I’m also not a pushover, you know?” she continues. “Especially when someone tries to assassinate my character with little girls. That’s so messed up!”
Weeks earlier, she told SiriusXM she was ready for the back-and-forth to be over. “I am ready because I think when women unite, the world is going to heal,” she said. “I don’t have any beef really with anyone. I love everyone, and honestly I love everyone and I think we need to unite more than ever. I think we see that today especially — like we need to come together and love on each other today.”
JUNE 8, 2017: TAYLOR MAKES A MOVE
Though she has yet to reply to Perry’s more recent comments, on June 8 — the day Perry dropped Witness — Swift returned her entire catalogue to streaming platforms including Spotify (she’d pulled her music for financial purposes in 2014). Fans saw the move as a silent slap, going crazy on Twitter with conspiracy theories.
RELATED VIDEO: Katy Perry Said She Would Rewrite ‘I Kissed a Girl’: ‘It Has a Couple of Stereotypes’
JUNE 10, 2017: GOOD VIBES
Are things taking a turn? During a chat on Ariana Huffington’s The Thrive Global Podcast, Perry said, “I am ready to let it go. I forgive her and I’m sorry for anything I ever did, and I hope the same from her … I love her, and I want the best for her. And I think she’s a fantastic songwriter.”
Perry added that she believes she and Swift could put their differences aside and be “representatives of strong women.”
“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,” the singer said.
AUGUST 23, 2017: NEW ALBUM IN THE WORKS
After days of teaser videos and mysterious disappearing social media posts, Swift announced her sixth album Reputation is set to debut on Nov. 10, with its first single on Aug. 25. While people were excited about the much-anticipated news, it also raised some eyebrows, namely because…
AUGUST 24, 2017: PERRY’S ‘SWISH SWISH’ DROPS
…this was the week Perry had planned to drop her music video for “Swish Swish,” which is a rumored clapback to Swift’s “Bad Blood.” Perry released the video despite Swift’s news.
MAY 8, 2018: SAYING SORRY
Ahead of her first Reputation Stadium Tour show, Swift received a surprising gift from her longtime frenemy. The “Delicate” singer shared a video of the package — which included an olive branch and sweet letter — on her Instagram Stories.
“Hey Old Friend — I’ve been doing some reflecting on past miscommunications and hurt feelings between us,” Perry wrote in the partially obscured letter, in which she also wrote she was “deeply sorry” and wanted to “clear the air.”