Everyone has that one song they absolutely cannot stand. For most of us, it’s the Kars4Kids theme, the seemingly innocent track that pops up during a routine commercial break only to infect our brains with no reprieve for the next week. See also: “Baby Shark.” Urban legend has it that a shark dies if it stops swimming, which must be why “Baby Shark” just keeps going and going and going. What these songs both have in common is that they’re wildly catchy with little substance. They plant themselves in our brains like termites and chew incessantly. It’s pretty rare for the average person to get passionately angry at a song for some other reason. Then again, we’re not celebrities. By now, they should have learned that dating a songwriter is an occupational hazard.
Taylor Swift put it best more than a decade ago when she told Self (via Us Weekly), “If you don’t want me to write bad songs about you, then don’t do bad things.” Unfortunately, bad is a totally subjective concept. Celebs like Gavin Rossdale, David Coulier, and John Mayer have been blindsided by scathing songs about their former relationships, and obviously, they weren’t thrilled. Though the reasons may differ, these hit songs outraged A-listers. Honestly, we’re just happy for such a dramatic playlist that doesn’t have an aquatic theme.
David Coulier oughta know the high road is worth taking
The ’90s was an era of urban legends, so much so that there was even a (highly underrated) horror film called Urban Legends. Though the Bermuda Triangle never really turned out to be as big of a problem in adulthood as most of us would have thought, one urban legend has endured the decades: that Alanis Morissette wrote her vitriolic hit, “You Oughta Know,” about Full House‘s Dave Coulier. This one’s actually true, and Mr. Duplicity isn’t exactly excited about his incidental mark on pop culture history.
Coulier and Morissette dated in the early ’90s. It wasn’t until nearly two decades later that the actor finally admitted the song was about him to HuffPost Live. The tip off? The line that went, “I hate to bug you in the middle of dinner.” After the pair split, Morissette apparently did call him in the middle of dinner. “I’ve always taken the high road and said, ‘You know, the guy in that song is an idiot. I would hate to be that guy,'” Coulier said (via Us Weekly). If he’s thinking about the high road, that means he’s also thought about the low road. Do we sense a little anger in there?
The actor later told Oprah Winfrey’s Where Are They Now? that Morissette was always a “nice, genuine person,” saying he “never saw that angry white girl thing” she became known for. People change, especially when you allegedly cheat on them.
John Mayer thinks Taylor Swift's 'Dear John' was 'cheap'
If Alanis Morissette created the art of humiliating ex-boyfriends via song, Taylor Swift perfected it. Most of us forget that the veritable queen of breakup jams dated John Mayer sometime between December 2009 and February 2010 when she was 19 years old, according to Billboard. He’s more than 10 years her senior, so don’t you think that might be too young to be messed with? That’s the question Swift reportedly asked in her scathing track, “Dear John.” With lines like, “Maybe it’s you and your sick need to give love and take it away,” and, “Don’t you think nineteen’s too young to be played by your dark, twisted games,” it’s clear why Mayer was absolutely livid.
At the time, Mayer had just embarked on a two-year hiatus following two disastrous — and vaguely racist — Playboy and Rolling Stone interviews. In a subsequent interview with Rolling Stone, he claimed he was “really humiliated” by Swift’s song and “didn’t deserve it,” especially at a time when he was already at his lowest.
“I will say as a songwriter that I think it’s kind of cheap songwriting,” Mayer told the magazine. “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.”
Why did Tom Petty pick on Eddie Murphy?
Eddie Murphy did not have a sense of humor about his inclusion in Tom Petty and Bob Dylan’s collaboration, “Jammin’ Me.” The track shouted out Saturday Night Live heavyweights Murphy and Joe Piscopo, along with British actress Vanessa Redgrave. Murphy was reportedly so angry that he allegedly went on record at least once to say, “F**k Tom Petty.” According to Ultimate Classic Rock, the comedian believed Petty was claiming he was part of “the media oversaturation problem” since the song ran through a number of ’80s pop culture topics like war in the Middle East and Apple computers. At the time, Murphy had just traded his Saturday Night Live career for the silver screen.
Since Petty released the song under his own name, he did take the lion’s share of blame, but Murphy probably should have redirected his anger towards Dylan. “The verse about Eddie Murphy, that was all Bob,” Petty said (via Rolling Stone). “Which embarrassed me a little bit because I remember seeing Eddie Murphy on TV really p**sed off about it. I had nothing against Eddie Murphy or Vanessa Redgrave.”
Chrissy Teigan can't stand John Legend's 'Green Light'
John Legend told Shazam that his massive hit “All of Me” literally made wife Chrissy Teigan cry, but not all of his tracks have had the same bittersweet effect. In fact, the model cannot stand her husband’s Grammy-nominated single, “Green Light” — and she’s not afraid to repeatedly talk about.
In 2019, Teigan and Legend sat down to do a lie detector test with Vanity Fair. Legend asked the model if “Green Light” was the only one of his songs that she didn’t like. “You know it’s not that good of a song. You even said that it’s kind of a little radio-ish and not you,” she admitted, adding, “The worst is when it’s just you doing it on the piano. I was like, ‘Can this get any worse?’ And then it could.”
Legend claimed his wife didn’t like the song because of the lyrics, which include the line, “Do I have a girlfriend? Well, technically no.” Legend is not about to be let off the hook on a technicality, though the real reason Teigan hates “Green Light” may actually be much deeper. In 2018, the model revealed that she had a “jealousy-fueled meltdown” on the set of the music video when Legend was singing around a beautiful woman. “Keep in mind John and I met on a video,” she tweeted. “I was that girl! I know how this s**t works!”
Bitter is a bad look, G-Eazy
Halsey has been not-so-subtly suggesting that G-Eazy cheated on her during their relationship. Though she never named names, her 2019 Saturday Night Live performance sent a powerful message. If that wasn’t enough, Insider captured Instagram comments from the “Without Me” singer where she alleged that her ex had been abusive. Of course, G-Eazy didn’t take this lying down. He dissed his former flame in his track, “I Wanna Rock,” with a reference to their duet, “Him & I,” but the saga didn’t end there.
Most of us can block our ex’s number and never see or hear from them again. The problem with breaking up with an international, Grammy-nominated superstar is that you can’t block out the radio. You can’t turn off the song you hear in the grocery store. You can’t stop people from playing their hits in the club, and that apparently really makes G-Eazy mad.
According to Page Six, the rapper was reportedly caught loudly booing when a DJ at the Playboy Club New York played Halsey’s single “Bad At Love.” He then reportedly proceeded to mack it with his girlfriend, Victoria’s Secret model Yasmin Wijnaldum, on the dance floor. Dude, you have someone new. Just let it go.
Taylor Swift does not want to be part of this narrative
In our transient lives, the Kanye West-Taylor Swift saga is one of the few constants. Much like the sprawling roads through the Hollywood Hills or Apple’s oft-used snake emoji, the pair’s feud is chock full of twists and turns. In 2020, Kimye were still feuding with the “Lover” singer over West’s track, “Famous,” which bore the controversial lyrics, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that b**ch famous.”
As the tale goes, West claimed in a now-deleted 2016 tweet (via Cosmopolitan) that he asked for the singer’s permission to name-drop her in the song and had the video to prove it. Swift’s camp claimed (per The Guardian) that wasn’t exactly true. Rather, she “cautioned him about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message” and had no idea he’d call her “that b**ch.” Kim Kardashian then released parts of the recorded conversation on Snapchat to seemingly prove that Swift had lied. Cue: Swift’s infamous “I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative” line.
Then the tables not-so-swiftly turned. It took about four years, but a transcript leaked of the actual alleged conversation in 2020. According to BBC News, the leak proved West omitted the words “that b**ch” during their conversation, so it was clear why Swift was so angry. Shortly after the leak, the Internet threw a #KanyeWestIsOverParty, and Swift was vindicated!
Sophie Turner did not want to go to the year 3000 with Joe Jonas
There is a fine line between love and hate, and Sophie Turner has danced along it with former Disney Channel pop icon Joe Jonas. In an interview with Elle, the Game of Thrones actress revealed that she absolutely couldn’t stand the music her husband made with the Jonas Brothers. “My friends and I were not Jonas Brothers fans,” she admitted. Not cool, girl!
Turner’s passionate dislike largely stemmed from a single song: “Year 3000.” The track was originally performed by Busted, a UK boy band that was basically the British version of the JoBros. The band failed to crossover in the States, but the Jonas Brothers did cover their single, which sparked some kind of rivalry among their fan bases. One thing’s for sure: Turner was not impressed. “The Jonas Brothers covered the song and made it massive,” she told Elle. “And Busted broke up. We thought it was all the Jonas Brothers’ fault. So we hated them.”
Of course, Turner’s hatred didn’t last forever. According to Elle, the pair met in 2016 after Jonas slid into her DMs while touring the UK. They got engaged on their first anniversary.
Madonna would prefer if Lady Gaga didn't express herself
Madonna is the veritable patron saint of subtle shade, eye patches, and singing about fried fish (because apparently some people like to watch the world burn). It’s not really surprising that she let it rip when she was asked about Lady Gaga. Anyone with two eyes can see Mother Monster has been deeply inspired by the “Vogue” singer. Gaga even admitted to NME that Madonna was a huge inspiration when it came to making her album, Born This Way (along with Prince, German house music, and Whitney Houston). Unfortunately, Madonna never asked to be this inspiration and dissed the title track.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Gaga claimed that Madonna gave “Born This Way” — which bore clear similarities to her 1989 hit, “Express Yourself” — her blessing in an email. “If the queen says that it shall be, then it shall be,” she told Jay Leno in an interview. Madonna’s rep later claimed she wasn’t aware than any such email existed. Trust us: if Madge hits you up online, you know it.
In reality, it seems like the Material Girl didn’t give Gaga her blessing at all. She’s decidedly not a fan. In an interview with ABC News, Madge famously called the track “reductive.” When asked if that was a “good” thing, she snidely said “look it up” before taking a dramatic sip from her teacup and transforming herself into a live-action Kermit the Frog meme.
Battle of the Beliebers
Selena Gomez hadn’t released an album in four years when she made her triumphant return in October 2019. While Selenators were ecstatic, not everyone was as pleased with the star’s comeback single, “Lose You To Love Me.” The gutting breakup track supposedly detailed her on-and-off relationship with former flame Justin Bieber, which lasted the better part of a decade. According to The Cut, the pair called it quits for good in 2018, and Bieber proposed to Hailey Bieber (née Baldwin) just four months later.
Gomez’s track wasn’t particularly scathing, but it did seemingly call out his new relationship with the lines, “In two months, you replaced us / Like it was easy / Made me think I deserved it / In the thick of healing” — and Hailey was mad. Or, at least, fans believed she implied she was mad through a seemingly passive-aggressive Instagram post. According to The Cut, Hailey posted Summer Walker’s single, “I’ll Kill You,” to her Instagram Story mere “moments” after Gomez premiered her song. For those who haven’t heard it, “I’ll Kill You” is a rather aggressive track about women who may potentially come between two lovers.
Enough people picked up on the supposed shade that Hailey closed her comments section. Gomez later took the high road and urged her fans to “please be kind to everyone” in an Instagram Live (via E! News). Can we just leave Gomez alone now? Let the poor girl get over her breakup.
Gavin Rossdale isn't thrilled Gwen Stefani sang about their divorce
Gavin Rossdale had already cast himself as the villain when he reportedly forgot to unlink the family iPad and proceeded to text his mistress vulgar things, according to E! News. It was allegedly a major okay boomer moment. After ending his 13-year marriage with Gwen Stefani, Rossdale was awarded some negative headlines and split custody of their three children. Stefani walked away with (hopefully) an even split of assets and some songwriting material. The latter proved to be quite painful for the Bush frontman.
In an interview with The Guardian, Rossdale admitted that he wasn’t sure what to feel after hearing Stefani’s painful breakup ballad, “Used to Love You.” His emotions fell somewhere around “horrible, tragic, or terrible.” Part of that has to do with the fact that he was blindsided in an airport. “They had one of those little kiosks playing it and I heard the song about how she used to love me,” he said. “So I stood in the store and listened to it from beginning to end going: ‘Okaaaay.'”
“If she had to do that, if she needed to do it, that’s her perspective and everyone has that,” Rossdale continued. “It’s just that … look, it’s bad enough getting divorced, but getting divorced publicly from her was f**king next level.” Perhaps someone should show him Snapchat, where the messages disappear.
Drake stung Rihanna with 'Scorpion'
Drake seems like the kind of guy who’d wear an oversized sweater and gleam wistfully out of a rainy window while pining after his ex. Rihanna, on the other hand, seems like the kind of bad babe who’s so busy running a makeup empire that she doesn’t have time to keep love on the brain. You know what she says: work, work, work, work, work. Nonetheless, Hollywood Life claimed that the “Rude Boy” songstress was angry about Drake’s 2018 album Scorpion — particularly, the track “Summer Games,” which allegedly referenced their relationship. RiRi’s immediate reaction was reportedly “sad, disappointed, and hurt over some of the lyrics.”
“She feels Drake must be angry over some of the comments she has made about their relationship, so he is retaliating, which is frustrating to her,” an anonymous source told Hollywood Life. “She feels both mad and let down at the same time.” Could this be the reason the singer told Vogue that she no longer had a friendship with the rapper? As of 2020, they were playfully teasing each other on Instagram, so perhaps time heals all scorpion stings (at least the ones that don’t kill you).
Live and let gossip
Elton John and Madonna don’t exactly have the warmest relationship. The “Tiny Dancer” singer has famously lobbed insults at the Material Girl for decades. Per CBS News, these have varied from calling her a “miserable cow” (though her personal trainer would probably disagree) to labeling her a “fairground stripper.” According to The Hollywood Reporter, which found enough insults to create a literal best-of list, he even called one of her tours a “disaster” that “couldn’t happen to a bigger c**t.” Needless to say, John does not think the Queen of Pop deserves her crown, much less a highly lucrative soundtrack spot in a James Bond film.
In a 2012 interview with the UK’s Sky News (via CBS News), John admitted he thought Madonna’s eponymous theme song for Die Another Day was “the worst Bond tune ever” — even over that bizarre pairing of Jack White and Alicia Keys. “It hasn’t got a tune,” John said. “James Bond themes are usually very camp and this one’s different … They should have gone for somebody like Lulu and Shirley Bassey, or maybe I’m in that league?”
Okay, we get MDNA Madonna might not have been the best fit if you’re the kind of person who hoped you’d be asked to record the song instead, but there’s zero denying that Madame X Madonna — the one with the bedazzled eye patch — isn’t practically a bond villain waiting for her moment to live and let die.
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