Taylor Swift & Katy Perry’s Battle Over Backup Dancers on Rivals

2011 American Music Awards - Red Carpet

Rivals is a new podcast from music journalists and critics Stephen Hyden and Jordan Runtaugh exploring the rivalries between some of the biggest stars in the music business. Whether it’s Tupac vs. Biggie, the Beatles vs. the Stones, or Kanye vs. Taylor, they’re ready to break down all the juicy details of these battles of the bands. For their first episode, they dive into the years-long feud between pop stars Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, giving us an in-depth look into each of the singers’ rise to fame, how their careers and creativity were affected by their beef, and of course all the greatest clapbacks their Twitter feeds had to offer.

Katy Perry originally started her career as a Christian pop singer, but didn’t really break into the business until she signed with Capitol Records and put out her first hit single, “I Kissed a Girl.” In 2010, she solidified her place on the charts with her album Teenage Dream, “one of the best pop records of modern times,” Stephen says. Taylor, on the other hand, experienced almost instant fame; her first album in 2006 did extremely well, topping the country music charts for 150 weeks and selling around 8 million copies. She was on her way to being a huge pop star in 2010, at the same time Katy was topping the charts. At first, the two seemed friendly, tweeting nice things to each other; at the Grammys, Katy said she got locks of hair from Taylor and Miley Cyrus and walked around with them in her purse, “which is completely not voodoo behavior at all,” Jordan says, and Stephen agrees: “It does not creep me out in any way.” 

But it all fell apart when Taylor was touring for her 2012 album Red. She hired some backup dancers who had originally worked with Katy Perry. During Taylor’s tour, Katy put out her album, Prism, and called a few of the dancers to ask them to leave Taylor’s tour early to join her on the road. Jordan thinks she just had a good relationship with the dancers and wanted to work with them again, and it was not done maliciously. “We can speculate about that,” Stephen says. Whatever the reason, Taylor took it personally, and decided that they were “straight-up enemies.” (There is another theory of John Mayer being “a chaos agent,” trying to turn Katy against Taylor, though Taylor has gone out of her way to say their rivalry was “never about a guy - it was all business.”) 

This rivalry started an intense Twitter beef, full of hilarious GIFs, and plenty of nods to their feud in Taylor’s big-budget, Mean Girls-inspired video for “Bad Blood.” Years of enmity go by, until they finally embrace in a surprise cameo during Taylor’s video for “You Need To Calm Down.” How – and why – did they finally make up? Hear all the details, fan theories, and juicy tidbits about this pop culture conflict on this episode of Rivals

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