11 of the most notorious feuds in music, from Blur vs Oasis to Eminem vs Mariah Carey

Music history is littered with examples of rivalries that have got out of hand

Monday 06 December 2021 10:11
<p>Top left clockwise: Liam Gallagher, Eminem, Noel Gallagher and Mariah Carey</p>

Top left clockwise: Liam Gallagher, Eminem, Noel Gallagher and Mariah Carey

Feuds are a long-standing tradition of the music industry. Whether it’s Blur and Oasis squaring up to one another, Noel and Liam Gallagher squaring up to one another, or Liam Gallagher squaring up to pretty much anyone who annoys him, music provides a fertile breeding ground for competition.

Some of them, such as Rod Stewart and Elton John, are (mostly) good-natured. Others are built on misunderstandings then exacerbated by the media and the music industry’s penchant for pitting people against one another. Some people (Liam, looking at you here) just can’t resist an argument.

Here are some of the most memorable feuds in music from the past few decades.

Liam Gallagher vs Noel Gallagher

Despite fans’ hopes of an Oasis reunion, there’s virtually zero public evidence to suggest we’ll see Noel and his younger brother Liam sharing a stage anytime soon.

The duo were notorious for their antics from the very start, but things reached boiling point in 2009 when they were involved in a heated confrontation at Rock en Seine festival in Paris. The show was cancelled, and Noel issued a statement shortly after revealing he had quit the band. “People will write and say what they like, but I simply could not go on working with Liam a day longer,” he said.

Since then, with the advent of social media, the brothers have found new ways to take swipes at one another.

They’ve made jibes about their respective solo ventures, including Noel’s band High Flying Birds. In 2017, Liam mocked the group for including a scissors player during their live shows. In an interview with The Independent, he questioned the VIP “enhanced experience” on offer for the band’s tour, commenting: “Sounds like a f***ing massage parlour, you know what I mean? ‘Come and see Noel Gallagher, an enhanced experienced,’ f***ing hell.” However, in the same interview he complimented his older brother, saying: “Noel’s a good songwriter and I’ve said a million times before, I’m not really having a pop at him, I’m just letting him know I’m here. I’ve helped him and all his f***ing cronies get to where they were, as much as he helped me.”

Later that year, following the Manchester terror attack, Liam called out Noel for not attending the tribute concert at Old Trafford, apparently because he was not in the country at the time. Meanwhile, Noel has ignored Liam’s constant references to getting Oasis back together, but said on the Jonathan Ross Show this year that he’d do it for £100m.

This year, possibly returning the compliment, Noel admitted that Liam’s solo venture has proved to be a huge success.

“He’s doing massive gigs, he’s selling more records than I am and he’s selling more tickets than I am, if you can believe that,” he told Chris Evans’ How to Wow podcast.

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“So he’s doing his thing and I’m doing mine and we’re both pretty happy doing that at the moment.”

Is some peacemaking on the cards? Who knows, but it is the season, after all.

Taylor Swift vs Kanye West

Kanye West invading the stage as Taylor Swift accepts her VMA in 2009

Kanye West caused uproar after invading the stage at the 2009 VMAs to swipe an award out of a 19-year-old Taylor Swift’s hands, declaring it should have gone to Beyoncé. He was widely condemned – including by then-US president Barack Obama – for his behaviour, and later apologised for the stunt. Apparently at the urging of West’s mentor, Jay-Z, the pair briefly reconciled and were pictured together at the 2015 VMAs, where Swift presented him with the Vanguard award.

Just months later, however, West unveiled a new track, “Famous”, which included the now-notorious lyrics: “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/ Why? I made that bitch famous.”

It was initially reported that Swift approved the line, but she soon denied doing so. When she became the first woman in history to win Album of the Year twice at the 2016 Grammys, she appeared to make a dig at West and anyone who attempted to “undercut your success or take credit for their accomplishments”. Then West’s then-wife, Kim Kardashian, entered the row, and claimed Swift had approved the lyric. A leaked phone call showed Swift appearing to tell West she was OK with the line: “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex.” However, it did not show her approving the lyric: “I made that bitch famous.”

West’s video, released a month later, showed wax lookalikes of Swift in bed with Donald Trump, Caitlyn Jenner, Amber Rose and more, including Rihanna and Chris Brown next to one another. It was widely condemned for misogyny.

Swift, for her part, returned with her hiatus in 2017 with Reputation, which included songs that appeared to reference her feud with West and Kardashian. “It would be nice if we could get an apology from people who bully us, but maybe all I'll ever get is the satisfaction of knowing I could survive it, and thrive in spite of it,” she told Elle magazine that year.

With the release of her critically acclaimed (and surprise) 2020 release, Folklore, Swift appeared to reference the feud again in a more reflective state, singing: “Women like hunting witches, too/ Doing your dirtiest work for you/ It's obvious that wanting me dead/ Has really brought you two together.” On the song, “Peace”, there’s another apparent dig in the lyric: ““But there’s robbers to the east / Clowns to the West.” It was a possible duel reference to Scooter Braun – West’s New York (east)-based manager and the man who bought Swift’s former label and rights to her back catalogue, despite her protests – and West, who lives in Wyoming, the western United States.

50 Cent vs Ja Rule

Few hip-hop feuds are as long-running, or exasperating, as the ongoing rivalry between 50 Cent and Ja Rule.

The two rappers have been throwing jibes (and the occasional punch) at one another since 1999. Their conflict has been simmering ever since, but flared up in recent years.

Things first got nasty when Ja Rule was robbed for his chain at gunpoint in Southside Jamaica, Queens while he was filming a music video in 199. According to 50 Cent, Ja Rule was incensed after seeing Fiddy at a club with the man who robbed him.

But Ja, who later confirmed the robbery took place, denied he ever saw Fiddy with the robber. He claims that the bad blood between them stemmed from Fiddy being snubbed by the Murder Inc. crew during a video shoot for his single “Murda 4 Life”. From there they swapped diss tracks, including Fiddy’s “Life’s on the Line” and “Back Down”, the latter from his best-selling debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin’. In 2013, Ja said he felt 50 Cent had won the feud, only for Fiddy to start things up again a year later. In 2017, 50 Cent mocked Ja Rule for his involvement in the infamous Fyre Festival saga.

In 2018, 50 Cent trolled Ja Rule by buying 200 tickets to his forthcoming show in Las Vegas, for a total of around $3,000 – so the front rows would be empty. Ja Rule seemed to find the prank just as amusing as Fiddy did (he still got paid, right?), and responded by posting an image of his rival with makeup photoshopped on (real mature, Ja).

Following a skit on Saturday Night Live that referenced their infamous beef, 50 Cent replied to an Instagram comment by Ja Rule, which said “#PULL UP”, and said: “It's never over. We may take a break, but [it] ain't over till one of us is gone”.

Their latest exchange took place just over a week after 50 Cent claimed to have bought 200 tickets to Ja Rule's forthcoming concert in Las Vegas, so the seats would be empty.

Ja Rule fired back by first mocking 50 Cent for the stunt, then posting a photoshopped image of his rival dressed in drag. However, 50 Cent does seem to have grown tired of Ja Rule's comments on his social media – after their most recent exchange, Ja Rule tweeted that 50 had blocked him.

Blur vs Oasis

Liam Gallagher and Damon Albarn during a charity football match

In the ultimate battle of Britpop, Blur moved the release date of their single “Country House” to coincide with “Roll With It” by Oasis, throwing down the gauntlet. The press, sensing blood, jumped on the rivalry between the preening, university-educated southerners and the swaggering, working class northerners. Things had been relatively civil until 1995, when Liam Gallagher (who else?) rubbed Oasis’s first No 1 (“Some Might Say”) in Albarn’s face during their celebration party.

“Noel Gallagher used to take the piss out of me constantly and it really, really hurt at the time,” Albarn would later admit in a Blur documentary. “Oasis were like the bullies I had to put up with at school.”

Suffice to say, then, that any opportunity to get one over on the other band was not going to be turned down. “Country House” outsold “Roll With It” at 274,000 copies to Oasis’s 216,00. Later that year, Gallagher made his notorious “I hope the pair of them catch AIDS and die” remark, ahead of the release of their respective albums – Blur’s The Great Escape in September, and Oasis’s (What’s the Story?) Morning Glory in October. Noel swiftly apologised, but things didn’t cool down until Oasis split in 2009.

A few years later, Noel joined Albarn and Coxon onstage for a Teenage Cancer Trust show, much to the chagrin of Liam. “We don’t talk about our past, we talk about our present,” Albarn told The Sun in 2018. “I value my friendship with Noel because he is one of the only people who went through what I did in the Nineties.” Liam, who’s made several digs at the pair’s newfound friendship over the years, denied a claim by Matt Lucas in 2020 that he, Noel and Albarn once sat down for “a friendly drink” at the height of Britpop.

Elton John vs Rod Stewart

Sirs Rod Stewart and Elton John

While this feud is more tongue-in-cheek than pistols at dawn, Rod Stewart and Elton John have enjoyed a rivalry for decades.

Just last month, Stewart claimed we were more likely to see Scotland’s men’s football team win the next World Cup than him collaborating with John.

Addressing their good-natured professional rivalry, which dates back to their early success in the 1970s, Stewart added: “It went on for years and years and years. I think we still adore each other. I think we have just grown apart like lovers do sometimes.

“He has got his two boys and he doesn’t drink any more. That was almost like a bond in the old days. Not the two kids but [the drinking]. He is living a clean life now. As I am, somewhat. I still like my drink every night.”

Stewart and John fell out seriously in 2018 after the “Maggie May” singer said John’s extensive farewell tour “stinks of grabbing money”.

In his 2020 memoir Me, John shot back, writing that he would not accept a lecture on the “feral spirit of rock and roll” from a man who had “spent most of the last decade crooning his way through the Great American Songbook and ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’”.

However, they since appear to have patched things up.

Eminem vs Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey and Eminem fell into a spat in the early Noughties

The pop queen and the rap star have been involved in a bitter spat for years, and it essentially boils down to a case of “he said, she said”. Around 2001, Eminem began claiming he’d dated Carey for about six months, but she denied ever being involved in him and said they’d actually only met a few times. Eminem then began dropping disses against her in his music, prompting Carey to hit back with songs such as “Clown”, which include the lyrics: “I should've left it at ‘I like your music too’...You should never have intimated we were lovers / When you know very well we never even touched each other.”

In 2005 during his Anger Management Tour, Eminem then began playing voicemails – reportedly left by Carey – that implied she’d tried to see him when he was getting back with his ex-wife. Eminem then pretended to be sick into a toilet before playing his song, “Puke”. However, he had a change of heart in 2009 when he released “Bagpipes from Baghdad”, a track from his sixth album Relapse, which saw him mention Carey’s then-husband: “I want another crack at ya… Nick Cannon better back the f*** up. I'm not playing, I want her back, you punk.” Cannon expressed anger and disgust at Eminem in a statement from his website.

Carey took things into her own hands in June 2009 with her hit single, “Obsessed”, the video for which saw her dress as an Eminem lookalike who stalks Carey around town. While many fans agreed this was a major win for the pop singer, Eminem didn’t let things go, taking another swipe at Cannon on his Fat Joe collaboration “Lord Above” in 2019.

The latest was a swipe from Carey in June this year, when she celebrated the anniversary of “Obsessed” by dressing up again as her Eminem character.

Nicki Minaj vs Cardi B

Cardi B escorted out of fashion party after lunging at Nicki Minaj

It’s rare these days that feuding musicians actually come to physical blows, but that was almost the case between rappers Cardi B and Nicki Minaj in 2018. While the media had attempted to fuel a previously nonexistent rivalry between them, they appeared to fall out after both featuring on the Migos track, “Motorsport”. Less than a year later at the Harper’s Bazaar Icon party, a brawl broke out as video footage showed Cardi B shouting “bitch, come here” and lunging at a woman later confirmed to be Minaj.

Cardi was shown leaving the event with a large bruise on her forehead, allegedly from being elbowed by a member of Minaj’s security team.

She later posted on Instagram: ”I’ve let a lot of s*** slide! I let you sneak diss me, I let you lie on me, I let you attempt to stop my bags, f*** up the way I eat! You’ve threaten (sic) other artists in the industry, told them if they work with me you’ll stop f****** with them!!

She added: “I let you talk big shit about me!! I addressed you once in person, I addressed you a second time in person, and every time you copped the plea!! But when you mention my child, you choose to like comments about me as a mother, make comments about my abilities to take care of my daughter is when all bets are f****** off!! I’ve worked to (sic) hard and come too far to let anybody f*** with my success!!!!”

However, after a month of back and forths on social media, the pair appeared to call a truce, with Minaj writing: “Let’s focus on positive things only from here on out. We’re all so blessed. I know this stuff is entertaining and funny to a lot of people but I won’t be discussing this nonsense anymore. Thank you for the support and encouragement year after year. Love you.”

Biggie vs Tupac

From friends to mortal enemies, the rivalry between late rappers Biggie and Tupac Shakur is one of the most notorious (no pun intended) in music history. They are widely believed to have met in 1993, later performing together at venues including Madison Square Garden.

Things soured a year later when Tupac rebuffed Biggie’s advice to stay from entertainment executives Jimmy Henchman and Haitian Jack. In 1994, he was shot outside Quad Recording Studios in Times Square, New York, and was led to believe that Biggie was the one behind the shooting.

From there, he proceeded to take public swipes at Biggie, including bragging that he’d slept with his wife, Faith Evans. On 7 September 1996, Tupac was shot during a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, and taken to hospital, where he died six days later. Six months after his death, on 9 March 1997, Biggie was killed in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles, California. Neither shooter has ever been found.

Taylor Swift vs Katy Perry

It seems fair to say both the media and the music industry had a part to play in the feud that developed between two of the world’s biggest pop stars, Taylor Swift and Katy Perry. While their musical styles were completely different, it didn’t take long for people to begin comparing them, with other celebrities frequently asked to choose their favourite of the two in Q&As.

They started out as friends. In 2009, they swapped compliments over Twitter and attended one another’s parties. In 2010, Perry even joined Swift on stage during her Fearless tour, where they performed Perry’s hit song “Hot n’ Cold” together.

Around 2012, however, three of Perry's dancers for her concluded California Dreams tour were offered spots in Swift’s live shows, in support of her album, Red. However, before Swift finished her tour, the dancers apparently left to rejoin Perry for her Prismatic dates. Most fans were unaware of any issue surrounding this until Swift released “Bad Blood” and told Rolling Stone it was about another pop star.

“It had to do with business,” she said at the time. “She basically tried to sabotage an entire arena tour. She tried to hire a bunch of people out from under me.” Shortly after the interview was published, Perry tweeted: “Watch out for the Regina George in sheep’s clothing,” referring to the Mean Girls character. This led fans to conclude the pair were feuding. Their theories were fuelled by a moment during Swift’s 1989 tour where, as she performed “Bad Blood”, a dancer wearing a shark costume remarkably similar to the one made famous by Perry’s Super Bowl show popped up in a window, making Swift laugh.

In 2015, Swift found herself in a row with Nicki Minaj after the rapper made a comment about videos starring “women with slim bodies” being nominated at the VMAs (Swift’s “Bad Blood” video was nominated, while Minaj’s “Anaconda” was not). Swift asked Minaj not to “pit women against one another” and suggested “one of the men” had taken her slot, to which Minaj said she hadn’t been referring to any one artist in particular. Perry then chimed in on Twitter, remarking: “Finding it ironic to parade the pit women against other women argument about as one unmeasurably capitalises on the take down of a woman…” seemingly referring to the success of the “Bad Blood” video.

Taylor Swift in the music video for ‘Bad Blood’

In 2016, after Swift split from Calvin Harris, the producer went on a rant after it emerged that she’d co-written Rihanna’s hit song (produced by Harris) “This is What You Came For”) with him. She’d initially gone under the pseudonym Nils Sjöberg, to prevent their relationship from overshadowing the song.

“I know you're off tour and you need someone new to try and bury like Katy ETC but I'm not that guy, sorry. I won't allow it,” Harris wrote on Twitter, apparently referring to Swift’s feud with Perry, who then tweeted: “Time, the ultimate truth teller.”

Finally, in 2017, Perry confirmed the long-rumoured feud between her and Swift was real, and that it did start about backing dancers. She claimed to have attempted to talk to Swift about it, but she’d “written a song about me instead”. In June that year, she also accused Swift of trying to “assassinate her character”. Later that month, Swift famously chose to release her entire catalogue back on Spotify… the same day Perry was releasing her new album, Witness. “I forgive her, and I’m sorry for anything I ever did, and I hope the same from her,” Perry – seemingly very keen by now to bury the hatchet – told Ariana Huffington on her podcast.

She made a few similar comments in other interviews before sending Swift a literal olive branch, which the Reputation artist posted about on her Instagram. Swift sent Perry cookies, Perry appeared in Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down” music video, which includes the lyrics: “And we see you over there on the internet/ Comparing all the girls who are killing it/ But we figured you out/ We all know now, we all got crowns.” Swift also sent Perry a hand-embroidered blanket for her newborn daughter, Bloom. And all was good and right in the pop world once more.

Axl Rose vs Slash

Axl Rose and Slash of Guns N' Roses perform during the Vive Latino festival in Mexico City on 14 March 2020.

In 1996, Slash quit Guns’n’Roses following a poor reception to their covers album, The Spaghetti Incident?. Around this time, rumours began circulating about whether the musician had clashed with Axl Rose over the band’s direction – in his 2007 autobiography, he confirmed Rose exerting control over his bandmates had been a source of tension.

“It wasn’t even me necessarily leaving the band,” he told Piers Morgan in 2012. “It was not continuing on with the new band that Axl put together that he was now at the helm of, which was the new Guns N’ Roses. I was given a contract to basically join his new band, and it took about 24 hours before I decided, I think this is the end of the line.”

However, former manager Doug Goldstein later claimed their feud was actually started when Slash went on tour with Michael Jackson. “I told him not to do it because Axl was molested by his father when he was two, and he believed the charges against Michael Jackson,” he told Rolling Stone Brazil. “[Axl] thought Slash would support him and be against all abuse… From the point of view of Axl, that was the only problem. He could ignore the drugs and the alcohol, but could never ignore the child abuse.”

For years after that, the pair avoided each other as much as possible, until – to the shock of fans – they reunited onstage for a surprise show at the Troubadour, on 1 April 2016. It was no April Fool’s. “It’s very cool at this point,” Slash told Sweden’s Aftonbladet TV. “You know, let some of that, sort of, negative… dispel some of that negative stuff that was going on for so long.”

Little Mix vs Jesy Nelson and Nicki Minaj

Little Mix members Perrie Edwards (left) and Jade Thirlwall (right) support Leigh-Anne Pinnock at the premiere of her film debut, ‘Boxing Day'

After months of rumours, it was finally confirmed that Jesy Nelson was leaving Little Mix after five years, citing the toll being in the band had taken on her mental health. But fans were surprised to see Nelson sharing photos of herself in a recording studio just weeks later, having signed a solo deal with Polydor.

Rumours of a rift between Nelson and her former bandmates started brewing following the release of her debut song “Bad Boyz” ft Minaj, which drew allegations against Nelson of blackfishing – where someone changes their appearance to appear Black or racially ambiguous. It was rumoured – and later confirmed by the band themselves – that Nelson had been spoken to about this while still in the group. In interviews, Nelson said she had been “shocked” when met with accusations of blackfishing. However, in an Instagram Live, she appeared to laugh as Minaj attacked her former bandmate, Leigh-Anne Pinnock (who is Black) and accused her of being “jealous” of Nelson.

Nicki Minaj (arriba a la izquierda) y Jesy Nelson (abajo a la izquierda) participaron en un Instagram Live en el que parecían burlarse de la ex compañera de banda de Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock.

Following a backlash, Nelson went on The Graham Norton Show and admitted she and her former bandmates were no longer speaking. “We’re not talking any more. It is sad but honestly there is no bad blood from my side, and I still love them to pieces and genuinely wish them all the best,” she said. However, the rumour mill went into overdrive in November 2021 after Nelson was photographed in London with Emily in Paris star Lucien Laviscount, who’d reportedly dated Pinnock back in 2012. While reports later claimed Nelson was “mortified” over the photos and was definitely still single, fans appeared convinced it was another dig at her former bandmate.

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