When Taylor Swift first broke out into the music scene, she was a sweet teen with big dreams. But as she rose to stardom, so did the controversies surrounding her.
Who can forget the Kanye West VMA drama that lingered for longer than it should have? Remember her famous feud with Katy Perry where both singers tried sabotaging each other?
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Besides Taylor’s feuds with other celebs, she has also encountered numerous music rights battles, too – leaving “bad blood” between her and other key music industry players.
To find out what other shocking situations the star has found herself in, here’s a list of Taylor Swift’s controversies and scandals.
1. Kanye West Interrupts Taylor’s VMA Speech
This scandalous moment will forever live in our heads rent-free. There was no wrongdoing on Taylor’s part here, but this unforgettable moment certainly set a series of unfortunate events in motion – Taylor and Kanye became the biggest enemies in showbiz, and other celebs saw it as an opportunity to feud with Tay, as well.
Kanye West has done some shocking things, but this was outrageous. In 2009, the rapper stormed the VMA stage while Taylor was giving her acceptance speech for ‘Best Female Video’. Shockingly, he snatched the mic out of her hand and claimed that Beyoncé should have won the award, instead.
Naturally, Taylor was left dumbfounded, as Kanye sabotaged her glory and took away the joy of winning such a prestigious award. The Life of Pablo rapper did admit during an interview the following day that his actions were wrong, but the damage had already been done…
2. Taylor Feuds with Katy Perry
For a good five years (2008-2013), Taylor Swift and Katy Perry had a close relationship, having risen to fame at the same time. But in 2013, fans noticed that they were no longer pals.
Their long-lasting feud began when Taylor’s backup dancer jumped ship and went to perform for Katy Perry on tour, instead of her own. Taylor was also dating Katy’s ex, John Mayor, at the time, giving fans all the more reason to suspect a possible feud.
The two best-selling females were clearly at war after throwing shade at each other and bad-mouthing one another in public. Taylor called Katy her “straight-up enemy” in a Rolling Stone interview; Katy gave us the iconic “Regina George in sheep’s clothing” tweet; and Taylor released Bad Blood, which fans believed to be about Katy (more on that later).
That said, after years of cryptic messages and lyrics, the ladies have patched things up when Taylor asked Katy to appear in her You Need To Calm Down music video.
3. Kanye Releases ‘Famous’, Kim Kardashian Strikes
The saga with Kanye West continued when he released his track Famous in 2016. The controversial song featured the lyrics, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/ Why? I made that b**ch famous.”
Following the release of the song, Taylor’s rep released a statement which read, “Kanye did not call for approval, but to ask Taylor to release his single ‘Famous’ on her Twitter account. She declined and cautioned him about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message. Taylor was never made aware of the actual lyric, “I made that bi**h famous.’”
Ye’s wife at the time, Kim Kardashian then got involved by insisting in an interview that Taylor did hear the lyrics over the phone and approved them.
Taylor’s team then released a second statement reinforcing that she did not hear the part where Kanye called her a “b**ch”. Kim later released a short clip from the alleged phone call, which, as Taylor insisted, still didn’t reference the words “I made that b**ch famous”.
The hashtag #KimExposedTaylorParty started trending, and it was a full on war between the two. It all came to an end, though, when the full phone call leaked online, proving that Taylor was right all along. Kim put an end to the feud by tweeting:
4. Taylor Feuds With Calvin Harris
When this famous couple got together, it seemed like a match made in heaven. But their love only ran the course of 15 months, before spiralling into something unhinged.
There were multiple rumored causes of the Harris-Swift breakup, including age difference, Calvin feeling “intimidated” by Taylor’s success, and wait for it…Taylor cheating on Calvin with Tom Hiddleston.
Anyway, as if these rumors weren’t enough to get the people talking, Calvin went on a rampage on Twitter, cussing Taylor, saying she tried to make him “look bad” and “bury him like Katy Perry.”
For reference: Swift revealed to People that she actually wrote This Is What You Came For. She sent it to Harris, and they both went into the studio to do a full demo version with Swift on vocals, but they agreed that they didn’t want their relationship to overtake the song, so, Swift decided to use a pseudonym – “Nils Sjöberg”.
During their relationship, Harris had told Ryan Seacrest that he wouldn’t collaborate with his then-girlfriend in the future. This hit a nerve, which led to Taylor’s revelation that she was the creative mind behind the track. This beef is likely what caused their breakup.
5. Taylor Dates Many Famous Men
As you’ve noticed, most of Taylor Swift’s controversies stem from feuding with other celebs. But she’s also made headlines for her dating life.
Taylor’s relationships have been heavily scrutinized throughout her career. The Evermore singer certainly has a reputation of dating famous men, which have ultimately led to very public heartaches.
Tay has dated Hollywood hunks including Taylor Lautner, Jake Gyllenhall and Tom Hiddleston; musicians like Joe Jonas, John Mayer, Harry Styles and Calvin Harris; and most recently, other high-profile celebs including Joe Alwyn and Matt Healy.
What has made Taylor’s relationships so publicized, however, is her way of famously putting her exes on blast, either through interviews or song lyrics – which brings us to our next point…
6. Taylor Writes Songs About Her Exes
Taylor has always turned her breakups into great material for her successful albums (I mean, go girl?). She’s been known to release personal encounters with her exes or even bad-mouth them in her songs. But the most memorable ones have been about these famous exes:
Taylor stirred up a storm when she released her track, Dear John. John Mayer clapped back, claiming that Taylor didn’t even get in touch to let him know that she’d be releasing the song (it’s giving “hypocrite” for her reaction to Famous).
In an interview with Rolling Stone, he revealed that he felt “humiliated” – “I will say as a songwriter that I think it’s kind of cheap songwriting. I know she’s the biggest thing in the world, and I’m not trying to sink anybody’s ship, but I think it’s abusing your talent to rub your hands together and go, ‘Wait till he gets a load of this!’ That’s bulls**t.”
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Her breakup songs sat better with Jake Gyllenhaal who wasn’t really bothered by the subtle references to their relationship. Unlike Dear John, Taylor didn’t name names, instead, her entire album Red was rumored to be inspired by the love and heartache she experienced with Jake. It’s believed her track All Too Well, is almost certainly about the Spider-Man star.
Considering this relationship only lasted three months, there was plenty of drama surrounding it. Taylor even wrote the song Never Getting Back Together about Harry. She pretty much confirmed the track was dedicated to him whilst collecting her award at the 2013 VMAs, saying, “I also want to thank the person who inspired this song, who knows exactly who he is, because now I got one of these” – before the camera turned to the One Direction star.
7. Taylor Unveils her ‘Squad’ in ‘Bad Blood’ Video
Taylor confirmed that her song Bad Blood was based on her former enemy, Katy Perry in an interview with Rolling Stone, saying that it was inspired by a fellow “female artist”, who “tried to sabotage an entire arena tour”.
The accompanying music video for the diss song was finally released, showing Taylor going up against a female enemy, with her girl squad behind her. This “squad” featured the likes of Selena Gomez, Ellie Goulding, Gigi Hadid, Zendaya and Ellen Pompeo. These celebrity cameos basically insinuated that Taylor had powerful supporters against Perry, too.
This (rather childish?) move caused a lot of online chaos, with critics commenting on Taylor’s actions, calling her an “anti-feminist”. It even ignited a feud with Nicki Minaj, where the rapper accused Taylor of “pitting women against each other.”
8. Taylor Sues a Radio DJ For Assault
On a more serious note, Taylor took a Colorado DJ to trial in 2017, claiming that he “groped her” at a meet-and-greet in 2013. Former DJ David Mueller allegedly tried reaching under Taylor’s skirt and grabbed her whilst taking a photograph together. Following the accusations, the DJ was fired and he filed for defamation, claiming Taylor had him wrongfully terminated.
Taylor then counter-sued Mueller for battery and sexual assault. She won the case after a grueling trial and was awarded $1 million in compensation. Standing up for sexual assault victims across the globe, Taylor announced that she would donate to “multiple organizations that help sexual assault victims defend themselves.”
9. Taylor Quits Spotify, Returns to Spite Katy
In 2014, Taylor started her streaming controversy when she pulled all of her music from Spotify, due to the small royalties she was earning from each song. She was annoyed that her music was being offered for free, so decided to move to Tidal.
In 2015, Taylor had a similar run-in with Apple Music when they offered a free trial for three months to its customers. Originally, Apple wasn’t going to pay artists royalties for the trial period, but after Taylor’s outburst, Apple changed their minds and released a statement that they would pay these, even through the trial period. Taylor then made her music available on Apple Music.
After a three-year boycott of the streaming service, Taylor finally decided to forgive Spotify and make her entire library available again, thanks to the success of her album 1989 passing 10m sales.
However, not all was as it seemed. Fans speculated that Taylor decided to return to Spotify to get back at her enemy at the time – Katy Perry. Coincidentally (or not?), Taylor chose to reappear on Spotify on the same day that Perry was releasing her album Witness.
10. Taylor Feuds With Scooter Braun
In 2019, Taylor was taken by surprise when she learned that her former label, Big Machine Records had sold the master recordings of her first six albums to music producer Scooter Braun.
She only learned about the new deal when news broke out to the world. Fighting to get the rights to her masters, Taylor took to social media to call this her “worst case scenario”, calling Scooter Braun a “bully” and “manipulator”.
With authority over the rights for her music, Braun then sold Taylor’s masters to an investment group, beyond her control. Taylor then took matters into her own hands by deciding to re-record all of her albums and gain complete ownership over them. Fearless (Taylor’s Version) and Red (Taylor’s Version) immediately broke record sales and streaming and chart records.
11. Taylor Faces ‘Shake it Off’ Copyright Issues
Copyright claims and legal battles surrounded Taylor for a full five years after Sean Hall and Nathan Butler claimed that her hit Shake It Off plagiarized their song, Playas Gon’ Play.
Apparently, the lyrics, “players gonna play, play, play, play, play” and “the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate” violated their 2000 song’s copyright, which included the lines, “Playas, they gonna play / And haters, they gonna hate.”
In 2021, Taylor filed to dismiss the lawsuit, but her motion was denied. Come December 2022, and the lawsuit was dropped with no final verdict. Go Tay!
12. Taylor is Accused of Stealing ‘Folklore’ Logo
In 2021, a small business owner brought to light that Taylor’s team had stolen her company logo, which was used on Swift’s album merchandise. Amira Rasool claimed that Taylor’s Folklore logo was directly ripped from her retailer’s, The Folklore.
More controversy followed Taylor when Rasool took to social media (see below) to urge her followers to notice the issue.
The photo was captioned, “This morning, it came to my attention that musician #TaylorSwift is selling merchandise to go along with her new album Folklore. She is currently selling merchandise with the words ‘The Folklore’ printed on them. Based on the similarities of the design, I believe the designer of the merch ripped off my company’s logo. I am sharing my story to bring light to the trend of large companies/celebrities copying the work of small minority-owned business owners. I am not going to let this blatant theft go unchecked.”
But Taylor was quick to squash any beef, praising the Black business owner’s work and offering to make a contribution to her company. She also decided to change her Folklore merchandise.
13. Taylor Slams TicketMaster
When Taylor announced that she was going on her Eras tour in late 2022, she broke the internet. And when tickets for these concerts finally went on sale, Ticketmaster *actually* broke.
The website crashed, leaving fans stranded in line, waiting to secure their tickets for hours. Eventually TicketMaster had to cancel its public sale, and many fans were unable to obtain their tickets, despite being given verified access.
This chaos led Taylor to publicly slam TicketMaster, explaining that she’s “protective” of her fan base:
“There are a multitude of reasons why people had such a hard time trying to get tickets and I’m trying to figure out how this situation can be improved moving forward,” she wrote. “I’m not going to make excuses for anyone because we asked them, multiple times, if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could. It’s truly amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets, but it really pisses me off that a lot of them feel like they went through several bear attacks to get them. And to those who didn’t get tickets, all I can say is that my hope is to provide more opportunities for us to all get together and sing these songs. Thank you for wanting to be there. You have no idea how much that means.”
14. Taylor is Accused of Being ‘Fatphobic’
This is something no one expected from Taylor Swift considering her issues with body image and eating disorders. When the hitmaker released the music video for Anti-Hero, fans and critics were offended by one particular scene that was deemed “fatphobic”. In the clip, Swift stands on a scale with the word “fat” on it, while her counterpart looks at it in disappointment.
Taylor said the video represented her “nightmare scenarios and intrusive thoughts,” but it sparked controversy on social media with activists and health professionals slamming the Reputation star. As a result, Taylor was forced to edit the entire video and remove the clip.
So, there you have it – Taylor Swift’s most controversial moments ever. Clearly, the popstar isn’t shy about making some noise and speaking up for what she believes in – and there’s nothing wrong with that. We support strong women!
Whether you love her or hate her, Taylor Swift’s controversies will forever break headlines and her biggest scandals will always get the people frowning. Yet, she remains one of the best-selling musicians in history.
Which controversy surprised you the most? Let us know by leaving a comment in the section below.
There are sections in this article that were written by Angela Stephanou.
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