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, 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. Most recently, Perry teamed up with Nicki Minaj to release “Swish Swish,” her new single, which is allegedly about Swift.
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.
Watching the Waking up in Vegas video. I love Katy Perry. I think I’m going to hang her poster on my wall now.
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) July 6, 2009
Perry was so flattered, she suggested the two write a song together – sadly, spoiler alert, that day never came.
@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
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
As any good friend would, Perry threw Swift an epic birthday party. She was very, very grateful and tweeted out her appreciation.
@Katyperry knows how to throw a birthday party! I would even go as far as to say it was party-licious. Best EVER. Happy bday, pretty girl!!
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) October 25, 2009
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 , ‘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.
Surprise guest at Staples Center: @katyperry!! We sang Hot N Cold and jumped up and down a lot. Katy! LA! I will always love you!
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) April 16, 2010
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.
That same night, the two posed for a photo with Nicki Minaj and Selena Gomez. To quote Mean Girls, “I wish we could all get along like we used to in middle school.”
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.
— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) November 4, 2011
— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) November 4, 2011
And Swift was nothing but grateful. Also, they both really missed each other.
@katyperry YES! And currently chasing her own tail. PS I miss you!
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) November 4, 2011
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.
Watch out for the Regina George in sheep’s clothing…
— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) September 9, 2014
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.
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
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.”
@katyperry Couldn’t have said it better…
— Camilla Belle (@CamillaBelle) July 23, 2015
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.
— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) May 12, 2016
Gomez then retweeted the message and added the prayer hands emojis; this is 2016 after all, everybody.
— Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) May 13, 2016
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:
— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) July 13, 2016
She then retweeted an old tweet from May 2015:
Time, the ultimate truth teller.
— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) May 9, 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!”
— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) September 10, 2016
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 is 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.
Katy recording herself during Kanye’s Taylor lyrics pic.twitter.com/YRPexiW8BA
— malek (@legendarymalek) October 26, 2016
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. 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.”
I just think with everything going on in the world to go from rebranding as political activist only to ditch it and go low.. is.. a bummer.
— Ruby Rose (@RubyRose) May 19, 2017
Perry’s new album, Witness, drops on June 9; if it contains more supposed references to the alleged feud remains to be seen.