It’s been such a shitty year that making a list of the biggest music beefs — like I did last year, and the site has been doing for long before that — feels frivolous in light of all the bad, shitty things that have been going on. But even as the world as we know it is falling apart, celebrities are finding new (and reliably old) ways to pick fights with each other. And, for just a few brief moments, their petty dramas and insignificant spats can provide a brief respite from the all-too-real crushing weight of our every day lives. So while many artists used their vocal platforms to take a stand against all that is wrong with the world, others still used their time in the spotlight to … well, start beefs. The most entertaining of them are below.
18. Smash Mouth Vs. Oakland Athletics
Smash Mouth pretty much solely exist to get clowned on — see the great bread pelting incident of 2015 — but they had a small victory (if you can call it that) when their Twitter trolling forced the Oakland A’s to apologize to them after the band got into some heated words with whatever intern runs the baseball team’s account. During a World Series game between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians, Smash Mouth took a local sports reporters’ tweet about the game as an opportunity to bash their hometown team. “The A’s are a joke, good for CC!” they retorted, CC referring to former Oakland Athletics player/current Indians player Coco Crisp. A few hours later, the Athletics’ Twitter account started firing back in some now-deleted late-night tweets before following it up with an apology in the morning. “Sorry we let our competitive juices get the best of us,” they wrote. “Tickets and a 1st pitch are on us anytime you’re in the East Bay.” “Lets do it!,” Smash Mouth replied. Yawn! Too polite! I thought sports beefs were supposed to be fun with all that unregulated testosterone…
17. Ex-Mushroomhead Dude Vs. Mushroomhead
Mushroomhead are a bad band full of bad people. The Ohio-based band, whose biggest claim to fame is an ongoing feud with the infinitely more-popular Slipknot, regularly use the Confederate Flag on their merchandise and one of their members proudly signed a petition declaring Black Lives Matter a “terrorist organization.” It turns out one of their former band members also hates the band, though not for (exclusively) politically charged reasons. Former vocalist Waylon Reavis, who joined the band in 2004 and left it in 2015, had some choice words for them in an interview: “Mushroomhead is nix. I hope they die slowly. I hope their fan base just goes down, and down, and down. I will never sing a song with them ever again. I wish I had never met ’em.” He also adds some fuel to the Mushroomhead vs. Slipknot fire: “Slipknot is better. Flat out. Corey Taylor, you’re a badass fuckin’ singer.”
16. Matisyahu Vs. His Fans
Matisyahu opened for 311 and Sublime With Rome on a series of tour dates this year, and apparently he wasn’t very good, according to some local news reports and disgruntled personal messages from people on Facebook, which the roots-reggae artist defensively shared on his social media account. “Saw a video a while back and witnesses [sic] how awful you are first hand. Just quit dude, we all fucking hate you,” one of them reads.
One status in particular, which criticized his appearance in Woodlands, TX, drew his ire: “Dumb people don’t usually get it,” Matisyahu wrote in response. “It seems the Cornier your music is the more people like it. That’s cause most people are dumb unfortunately.” He went on to attack the person, who commented that she was “a huge fan” who was “disappointed” in his set: “I would just like to say that your child is ugly as fuck and your name is stupid. Good evening Katie Loo Fuckington. Take your ‘honest’ review’ and Suck it!” Ouch! Matisyahu followed that up with an apologetic Facebook post that still managed to come across as dickish: “At the end of the day I feel it’s more important to connect with the people who actually have some purpose or need to be listened to.”
15. Eddie Money Vs. His Band
It sure seems that playing with ’80s AOR hitmaker Eddie Money is a miserable experience. This year, drummer Glenn Symmonds brought a wrongful termination suit against Money after being fired from the band because (according to him) of his age and physical disabilities, which are the result of a back injury and a fight with bladder cancer. According to the lawsuit, Money made fun of Symmonds on stage throughout the tour, saying it was sponsored by Depends in reference to Symmonds’ incontinence due to his chemotherapy. He also repeatedly referred to Symmonds as “Chemo The Drummer.” To add insult to injury, Symmonds’ fiancee Tami Landrum also filed a lawsuit against Money that alleged he sexually harassed her on tour, at one point dragging her into a bathroom and refusing to let her leave. In response to the allegations, Money denied the claims, saying (through his lawyer) that “Landrum is a rock and roll groupie and has a history of ‘coming on’ to musicians” and that his mocking of Symmonds was all good-natured fun, and that he was protected under the First Amendment when he performs music, which means that his choice of band members falls under that protection. Hmm, that doesn’t sound right!
14. Steve Miller Vs. The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
It’s pretty much universally agreed upon that the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame is outdated and out-of-touch, and Steve Miller took the institution to task when he was inducted into the Class Of 2016 earlier this year. His gripes had to do both with how the artists are treated on a personal level — “They make this so unpleasant,” he said after his acceptance speech, referring to the red tape and hefty price tag attached to the organization’s annual ceremony — and the narrow-minded view the committee has when selecting which acts should be honored: “I encourage you to keep expanding your vision to be more inclusive to women … and more transparent to the public,” he said during his speech. In a follow-up interview with Rolling Stone, he leaned in even harder, calling the whole affair “an amateur production,” and adding: “Everybody is kind of a dick and an asshole. And every artist you talk to will tell you that.” His whole spiel made the Black Keys regret being the ones to induct him, and if you’re pissing those dudes off, you must be doing something right.
13. Adele Vs. Tony Visconti
Even bats recognize Adele’s immense talent, but one human who was skeptical is long-time David Bowie producer Tony Visconti, who used the singer as an example of computerized voices dominating the radio: “We know Adele has a great voice but it’s even questionable if that is actually her voice or how much has been manipulated. We don’t know,” he said in an interview. Well, we do know that Adele’s voice is really that good, and Adele knows it too, and she had some harsh words for Visconti during a show that happened shortly after the interview was published. “Some dickhead tried to say that my voice was not me on record,” she told a crowd in Paris. “Dude, suck my dick.” Visconti later backtracked and apologized for his comments, saying that “Adele has a great voice and it brings pleasure to millions.” Well, all’s well that ends well. But respect motherfucking craft when you hear it.
12. Zappa Vs. Zappa
Dweezil Zappa, one of Frank Zappa’s sons, has been playing under the name Zappa Plays Zappa for years, paying tribute to his late father by faithfully recreating his songs. But earlier this year he was forced to change the name of his longtime touring act after his brother and former bandmate Ahmet Zappa denied him the use of the name after gaining control of the Zappa estate following the death of Frank’s widow Gail Zappa. The battle played out not behind closed doors but through New York Times articles and Facebook open letters in which both brothers argued about matters best left to lawyers. Ahmet called the NYT story “incomplete” and “misleading,” while Dweezil still insists he’s being shut out of his right to the family name. Most recently, Dweezil announced that he would tour under the umbrella of Dweezil Zappa And The Others Of Intention, both paying tribute to his father’s band, Frank Zappa And The Mothers Of Invention, and cleverly avoiding copyright-infringement accusations.
11. Bad Religion Vs. Bring Me The Horizon
Bad Religion and bad metalcore act Bring Me The Horizon both played Spain’s Resurrection Festival earlier this year, and Brian Baker — the founding guitarist of Minor Threat who has been playing with Bad Religion for two decades — took offense to a flyer he saw backstage meant to alert security guards and personnel to BMTH’s special privileges: “These people are not to be stopped ever. They may not have a pass. They can escort who they want where they want with or without a pass,” it read. “I’m going to stop these people every time I see them today and tell them how much their band sucks,” he wrote on Instagram.
BMTH drummer Matt Nicholls saw the post and took the bait, responding in the comments: “Hahah I can’t imagine being as old as you are and still acting like a 14 year old girl. Saw you at least 10 times and you didn’t bat an eye lid. You got bigger things to worry about nowadays anyway, like ya pension, or cold weather. Dickhead.” Baker responded with a fiery explanation of his position, which deserves to be reprinted in full:
It seems you’ve missed the point entirely. The issue here is entitlement. My post was a comment on your collective delusion that working local crew at a thirty band festival should be required to memorize your faces to spare you the indignity of breaking stride on the way to your backstage oasis or even worse, the humiliation of carrying credentials. Your literal display of arrogance (and the hilariously unrecognized irony within it) was what I was sharing with my followers. I honestly don’t know if your music is bad or good – it’s not for old people! I meant that you suck as humans. Sorry for the confusion.
Burn! Love a good Instagram comment battle.
10. Nash Vs. Crosby
None of the members of Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young seem to like each other very much anymore, and the latest spat to crop up was between David Crosby and Graham Nash. Toward the beginning of the year, Nash said in an interview that he was done dealing with Crosby’s shit: “I don’t like David Crosby right now. He’s been awful for me the last two years, just fucking awful. I’ve been there and saved his fucking ass for 45 years, and he treated me like shit,” he said in an interview. “Leave me the fuck alone. I need to concentrate on me now.” The two of them traded verbal spars throughout the year in various interviews, and the most recently we’ve heard about it was last month. When Crosby was asked about the current status of his relationship with Nash, he responded: “We don’t have one. We don’t talk, and I don’t think we will.”
09. Jeremih Vs. PARTYNEXTDOOR
Jeremih was kicked off the Summer’s Over tour with PARTYNEXTDOOR after walking off stage, sending out an imposter, and shit-talking the headlining PND, all apparently because of resentment that he was opening instead of having headliner or co-headliner status. After Live Nation removed Jeremih from the remainder of the tour, PARTYNEXTDOOR addressed the beef on stage: “I appreciate everybody filling up this room, and standing in this room, and not refunding your ticket, because you want to see a real person. … I might not have the most hits in the game that’s under my name — I might not sing the best falsetto … Everyone knows I’m a real person and I don’t have time for any other fake shit.” I guess no tour is better than some tour!
08. Ghostface Vs. Martin Shkreli
At the beginning of the year, who would’ve thunk that douchebag extraordinaire Martin Shkreli would turn out to barely be a blip on the radar of reprehensible shit that happened in 2016? But back in January, the impotent little worm-weasel was still making headlines over his successful bid for one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, and the pharma bro’s press antics got the attention of Ghostface, who called Shkreli a “shithead” that he wouldn’t have sold the album to if he had known about his business practices at the time. In subsequent interviews, Ghostface goaded the thin-skinned snake with jokes about his “Michael Jackson nose” and vague threats like, “I’ll break your heart in four days.” Doofus emeritus Shkreli responded with a lame comeback video featuring some goons surrounding him, and Ghostface came back again with a 12-minute video mocking the pathetic lizard boy. Neither of them came out of that spat looking all that good, but at least one of them isn’t a pile of fetid shit. Right before the election, Shkreli promised to release some of the Wu-Tang Clan album is Trump was elected. We all know what happened there, and the tiny skidmark took to Periscope to play some of Shaolin. No one is happy.
07. Morrissey Vs. Supreme
Morrissey is a repeat offender on this list, and this year, the cantankerous former Smiths frontman was no stranger to his characteristic attention-grabbing antics, like his back-and-forth with Riot Fest organizers, his accusations against LAX immigration officials for stealing money from his wallet, his dismissal of the new official Smiths Twitter account, and his usual bout of cancellations and postponements. But none of those were as memorable or juicy as Moz’s beef with Supreme.
Joining the likes of Neil Young and Lou Reed as older musicians modeling for the clothing brand, Morrissey did a shoot with vile photographer Terry Richardson, but apparently wasn’t happy with the results and refused to sign off on any of the photos. Supreme went ahead with the campaign anyway, putting up posters and selling a T-shirt with one of the pictures on it, and Moz was not happy. In one of his many notes on unofficial fanzine True To You, he wrote:
I apologize enormously for the enfeebled photograph of me issued this week by Supreme. The shot was taken in October 2015. I considered the photograph to be fit only for a medical encyclopedia and I pleaded with Supreme not to use it. This was before I learned that Supreme were sponsored in part by the beef sandwich pharaoh known as White Castle. Supreme were issued with a legal caution not to use the photograph and their fee would be returned. Evidently Supreme have ignored my lawyer. No safety within the corridors of law. Ugh.
Ugh! Supreme fired back with a statement trying to clarify the situation and their efforts to get money back from Morrissey that he apparently kept after he wasn’t happy with any of the photos. Moz alleged that he was hadn’t been paid for his participation in the campaign: “As a matter of fact, I do not have, do not want, nor do I need, any money from the company called Supreme,” he wrote in a follow-up note. “The photograph is dreadful and will help neither myself nor Supreme. Who needs it? Nobody.” The posters and T-shirts went on sale as planned, and it turned out that the Supreme hypebeasts barely even knew who Morrissey was. Karmic justice!
06. Azealia Banks Vs. Russell Crowe
Azealia Banks almost had a way out. With the release of her pretty-good Slay-Z mixtape this past spring, there could maybe have been a world in which everyone chose to brush away her many, many controversies and started treating her like a legitimate artist again. But, nope, she fucked that one up real good. After getting her Twitter account suspended for a racist tirade about Zayn Malik (which she later apologized for) and gleefully endorsing Donald Trump, she’s forever relegated herself to the Hall Of Music Villains.
The wildest story to come out of the Banks camp this year involves Russell Crowe and a vicious game of he-said-she-said. In October, Banks was brought along to Crowe’s hotel room in Los Angeles as a guest of RZA’s (whose label she was apparently going to sign to). After allegedly insulting Crowe’s guests (“boring white men,” she said), she picked up a glass and threatened the entire room: “You would love it if I broke my glass, stabbed you guys in the throat, and blood would squirt everywhere like some real Tarantino shit.” When Banks went to throw the glass, Crowe picked her up and carried her out of the room, and she was removed from the hotel by security. Banks alleged that Crowe assaulted her, but the LA District Attorney’s office came to the conclusion that his use of force was “justified to prevent the imminent violence threatened by Banks.”
Banks went on more than a couple talk shows to tell her side of the story, but the most damning judgement came from RZA, who posted a statement on Facebook about the bizarre incident that ended with: “I have a wife, daughters, sisters and females on my staff so I protect women everyday. I pray none of them ever behave the way I witnessed Azealia Banks behaved that night.”
05. Liam Gallagher Vs. Potato
Noel Gallagher is a potato. Haven’t you heard? It’s what Liam Gallagher has been saying all year! 2016 could have been beneficial to the Britpop group’s legacy between the Supersonic documentary and the Be Here Now reissue, but with both brothers firmly entrenched in solo projects, they had plenty of time to snipe at each other.
Mostly, that meant Liam’s admirable dedication to his potato tweet series throughout the year. And what great tweets they are! Every so often, he’d find an unflattering picture of Noel and caption it “POTATO,” with little explanation. When pressed in a rare interview earlier this year, he admitted that it was mostly in good fun — “We’re having a stand off, but it’s a funny one, we’re not putting in each other’s windows or messing with each other’s tires, trying to kill each other.” — but Noel doesn’t seem particularly amused:
I guess it was about him staying relevant. If you’re him, what else is there to tweet about? How his spring/summer collections are doing for his clothing firm? I’m not sure that warrants a tweet. Should he ever climb out of the “where are they now” basket and grant you an interview, ask him. I’m sure you’ll get a typically fucking surreal answer.
Let us pray that the potato tweets never stop, or at least that they make up and get back together. Here’s my favorite tater tweet. What’s yours?
THE POTATO STRIKES BACK LG x pic.twitter.com/F8V8Wwnwka
— Liam Gallagher (@liamgallagher) September 29, 2016
04. Lady Gaga & Mark Ronson Vs. The Chainsmokers
The “MOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” heard round the world! After chart-topping douchebag duo the Chainsmokers said that Lady Gaga’s Joanne lead single “Perfect Illusion” “sucks” in one of their many repulsive interviews, Gaga pulled a master-class diva move by tweeting at them directly with both an iTunes and Spotify link to her then-new song “A-YO,” ensuring that it would be retweeted endlessly. It started a #GagaEndedTheChainsmokersParty on Twitter, and served as some killer promotion.
Recognizing that they couldn’t and shouldn’t put up a fight against Gaga, the Chainsmokers dutifully kissed the ring and paid their respects and gently scurried back to the gold shit tower on top of which they regrettably sit, while Joanne languished into obscurity.
Mark Ronson got involved a few days too late, tearing down their formula with a try hard and too-technical burn: “Back to being the charisma-bypassed champions of 2 bar Ableton loops? Well, smash it while it lasts, fellas!!,” he tweeted, not realizing that everyone had already moved on. Sorry, Ronson! Better luck next time.
03. B.o.B. Vs. Neil Degrasse Tyson
At the beginning of the year, B.o.B. came out as an idiot and a flat Earth truther. In an absurdly long series of tweets (most of which have now been deleted, though apparently not out of shame since he still believes the planet is not round), B.o.B. tried to argue his case, sharing a photo of him standing against the horizon and bravely asking: “The cities in the background are approx. 16miles apart… where is the curve ? please explain this.” Follow-up tweets included such gems as “Btw… Go Pros have curved lenses” (a “jet fuel can’t melt steel beams” for the flat Earth community) and advice like “there’s no way u can see all the evidence and not know… grow up.”
A fight between B.o.B. and rational logic would be enough to make this list, but famous scientist man Neil DeGrasse Tyson entered the ring and elevated this beef to a whole ‘nother stratosphere. (Sorry.) The rapper then went into the studio to record a diss track aimed at Tyson. Really! “Flatline” includes direct callouts like “Neil DeGrasse Tyson need to loosen up his vest/ They’ll probably write that man one hell of a check” and conspiracy theorist musings like “Why is NASA Part of the department of defense?” At one point, B.o.B. even encourages his audience to “do research” on Holocaust denier David Irving.
Tyson recorded a response track with the help of his nephew, TYSON, which serves as a corrective to B.o.B.’s fake science and is also very, very bad. Tyson proceeded to go on The Nightly Show to set the record straight, saying that the flat Earth theory represented “a growing anti-intellectual strain in this country that may be the beginning of the end of our informed democracy,” which sounds all too prescient considering the events that transpired at the end of the year.
02. Nils Sjoberg Vs. Calvin Harris
2016 was the year that the well-oiled Taylor Swift PR machine careened off a cliff. The pop star, who didn’t release an album on her every-other-year schedule for the first time in a decade, faced a particularly rough time in the beefs arena this year.
The cracks in Swift’s facade started to show in the summer, after she and Calvin Harris called it quits. The breakup appeared to go smoothly enough at first: Harris tweeted out some well wishes (“The only truth here is that a relationship came to an end & what remains is a huge amount of love and respect”), which Swift proceeded to retweet, but it only took a few weeks for each of them to completely wipe all evidence of their relationship off their respective social media accounts. That was right around the time Swift started seeing actor Tom Hiddleston (or maybe it was just a big conspiracy?). Then, a few weeks later, all gossip hell broke loose.
In mid-July, a source leaked the news that Swift had written “This Is What You Came For,” Harris’ then-hit song with Rihanna. According to the report, Swift wrote the song on piano and sent it to Harris as a demo, and they recorded another version of the song in the studio. Swift agreed to release a version featuring Rihanna instead to avoid the relationship-talk that would inevitably follow its release, but kept the publishing rights to the track and got a songwriting credit under the pseudonym Nils Sjoberg (which she would ditch soon after the news broke).
As the initial reports were coming in, Harris acknowledged that she wrote it with a nice-enough message: “And she sings on a little bit of it too. Amazing lyric writer and she smashed it as usual,” he tweeted. But things soon turned ugly as he realized that it was probably someone within Swift’s camp that leaked the news: “Hurtful to me at this point that her and her team would go so far out of their way to try and make ME look bad at this stage though,” he said. “I figure if you’re happy in your new relationship you should focus on that instead of trying to tear your ex bf down for something to do,” and continued: “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.”
That last tweet referenced Swift’s long-standing but never-discussed beef with Katy Perry, who responded with a GIF of Hillary Clinton giving a “told ya so look” and retweeted an older tweet: “Time, the ultimate truth teller.”
Swift never directly responded to the ensuing drama (though she did cover the song in concert a few months later), partially because what the hell would she even say, but mostly because she had bigger fish to fry…
01. Kanye Vs. Taylor Vs. Kim
Kanye West took a meeting with Donald Trump this week. That’s reprehensible and extremely disappointing, and it comes at the end of a year in which Kanye’s actions were largely indefensible, even while he released another great album and was obviously going through some shit. His music can usually be compartmentalized from all the controversies that plague the rest of his public life, but they crossed over in a big way on The Life Of Pablo, mostly due to this infamous line on “Famous“: “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/ Why? I made that bitch famous.”
The drama stemming from those words spanned the entire year and sparked the lightbulbs for a thousand thinkpieces, and you should expect nothing less from three master manipulators of the press. Putting aside the offensive nature of lyric itself and the implications of the reactions on both sides, this was some prime entertainment for anyone watching along at home.
The beef started churning right after the album’s big Madison Square Garden debut in February. One report said that Swift approved the line in a phone call with West, another said that she declined a request to debut it on her Twitter account and “cautioned him about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message.” That last report drew West’s attention, who went on one of his trademark tweetstorms to address the issue: “I called Taylor and had a hour long convo with her about the line and she thought it was funny and gave her blessings […] Bitch is an endearing term in hip hop like the word Nigga […] I’m not even gone take credit for the idea… it’s actually something Taylor came up with … […] She was having dinner with one of our friends who’s name I will keep out of this and she told him […] I can’t be mad at Kanye because he made me famous! #FACTS.”
While accepting the Grammy Award for Album Of The Year later that week, Swift made what many perceived as a veiled reference to the controversy: “I want to say to all the young women out there — there are going to be people along the way who are going to try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame.”
Things calmed down for a few months after the album’s release, but picked back up again in June, when Kim Kardashian addressed the controversy in a GQ cover story: “She totally approved that. She totally knew that that was coming out. She wanted to all of a sudden act like she didn’t.” Kardashian said that multiple people were present for the phone call, and that a videographer was there filming the entire conversation. In the same article, Swift’s camp issued a rebuttal to her story, saying that West never told her he was going to use the term ‘that bitch’ in reference to her.
A week later, Kanye released the video for “Famous,” which featured a wax figure of Swift naked, sleeping in a bed alongside many other naked celebrities.
A month later, right in the middle of Swift’s drama with Calvin Harris (see above), a clip was released from Keeping Up With The Kardashians in which Kim said that Swift was “playing the victim,” adding: “At this point I really don’t give a fuck. So I’ll do whatever to protect my husband.” The next day, it happened: Kardashian posted video clips of the Swift/West phone conversation on her Snapchat, which were then widely disseminated through other forms of social media.
As it turns out, those clips proved inconclusive and pretty unhelpful to both sides, as it didn’t show West explicitly telling Swift about the “that bitch” line, which gave Swift enough of an out to be able to post this:
That moment when Kanye West secretly records your phone call, then Kim posts it on the Internet. pic.twitter.com/4GJqdyykQu
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) July 18, 2016
The jury’s still out on what actually happened. In the days after the release of the Snapchat videos, there was some talk of legal action from Swift and some confusing smokescreens about communication laws, but the world largely moved onto much more terrifying things.