The art of the diss song is one that was mastered by hip-hop decades ago. Biggie vs. Tupac, Kanye vs. 50 Cent and more recently Azealia Banks vs. everything and the kitchen sink. It seems, however, pop music is beginning to develop some sting to its candy-laden melodies.
Last week, Lily Allen released the title track from her forthcoming album, Sheezus. In it, she name-drops Beyonce, Lorde, Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Katy Perry before proclaiming “give me the crown bitch, I wanna be Sheezus”. Lily’s no stranger to controversy but taking on Queen B is something very few have survived unscathed.
In celebration of pop’s left turn into darkness, we’ve compiled the 10 best disses in pop music. We were tempted to include Taylor Swift’s entire back catalogue but we got far too confused by her tangled web of celebrity boyfriends.
Taylor Swift- We Are Never Getting Back Together
“And you would hide away and find your peace of mind
With some indie record that’s much cooler than mine”
A record cooler than Taytay’s? Impossible. The Queen of over-sharing took a hit at former boyfriend Jake Gyllenhaal on her 2012 record, Red. The chanting chorus will be forever lodged in his head along with her growing string of other celeb lovers who never took her records as a precautionary warning to not enter into the relationship.
John Mayer- Paper Doll
“You’re like twenty-two girls in one
And none of them know what they’re runnin’ from
Was it just too far to fall?
For a little paper doll”
Warning: Never date a musician who’s as prone to whinging as yourself. Mayer shot back at Swift after their break-up in this polite, alt-country track. It could well be the most beige diss song in pop’s short history of dissing, but it’s a brave move nonetheless. A move that will most likely end in an entire record written about Mayer by the country bumpkin who dabbles in dub-step.
Justin Bieber- All Bad
“Ooh, you know females
And how they like to run their mouths”
Receiving a Bieber diss is very similar to having a dachshund nibbling at your heels: annoying but largely ineffective. The Biebs nibbled at former girlfriend, (or present, now? Someone hand me an NW) Selena Gomez, following their well-publicised break-up and his descent into DUIs and Usher-dissing. Despite this, he’s not all bad.
Mariah Carey- Obsessed
“Finally found a girl that you couldn’t impress
Last man on the earth still couldn’t get this
You’re delusional, you’re delusional”
Mariah was all like, why you so obsessed with me to Eminem in 2009 following a long-feud over whether or not they dated. Mariah goes for it on Obsessed, accusing him of narcotics use (shock) before calling herself ‘the real MC’. Em responded in the same year on The Warning rapping “Shut the f-ck up before I put up all the phone calls you made to my house when you were “Wild N’ Out”. Wisely, Mariah then denied the song was ever about him.
Gwen Stefani- Hollaback Girl
“So Im ready to attack, gonna lead the pack
Gonna get a touchdown, gonna take you out
Thats right, put your pom-poms down, getting everybody fired up”
How could a song with so much time dedicated to bananas be a diss? Previous to Hollaback Girl, Courtney Love said in an interview “I’m not interested in being Gwen Stefani. She’s the cheerleader, and I’m out in the smoker shed.” Gwen responded with a number one single, surely making her the winner of this feud. I’m also willing to bet that Love has been caught spelling BANANAS at one point.
Foo Fighters- I’ll Stick Around
“I had no hand
in your ever desperate plan
it returns and when it lands
words are due”
Courtney Love and Dave Grohl made up this year, in the name in Nirvana, but it has been a very rocky path since the death of Love’s former partner, Kurt Cobain for the pair. Being the gentleman that he is, Grohl doesn’t explicitly call out Love, instead he subtly labels her a controlling bitch- not in those words, exactly.
Chris Brown- Deuces
“You ain’t nothin but a vulture
Always hopin for the worst
Waiting for me to fuck up”
Writing a diss song about a woman you’ve physically abused is never a good idea, but such is the nature of Brown. When Rihanna broke-up with the singer following the incident on the eve of the 2009 Grammy’s, Brown wrote this colourful diss. Last year, he retracted his opinions singing on a guest spot in Tyga’s Fuck For The Road, “I know I make mistakes, I know I f–ked up, but my heart beats for you, baby.” I guess all is forgiven then.
Justin Timberlake- Cry Me A River
“You should’ve picked honesty
Then you may not have blown it”
JT and his pop queen, Britney Spears, seemed like the perfect couple in matching double denim but it seemed it was not to be. Following the split, Timberlake fired out this perfectly constructed RnB moment that just about defines the turn of the millennium, while Britney turned to Kevin Federline. While Cry Me A River was a stroke of genius, Britney coined the phrase ‘it’s Britney bitch’. I’d call it a tie.
Frankee- F U R B
“You questioned did I care
Maybe I would have if you woulda gone down there
Now it’s over
But I do admit i’m glad I didn’t catch your crabs”
Remember Eamon? If not, it’s likely you’ll remember this fiery retort to his 2004 single, Fuck It (I Don’t Want You Back). Frankee claimed that Eamon and her were in a relationship when the song was released, giving reason for her diss. However, as it turns out Frankee had never dated Eamon, not that either of them cared. Frankee earned herself a number one single in Australia and the UK while Eamon was unfazed as he said he stood to earn thousands of dollars worth of royalties from the song. Respectable #popmusic.
Lana Del Rey- So Legit
“Stefani, you suck, I know you’re selling twenty million.
Wish they could have seen you when we booed you off in Williamsburg.”
Meow. It turns out the sultry Video Games singer has a bitchy side. This diss wasn’t even meant to surface, though. It’s a leaked track, meaning that Del Rey likes to strike at her opponents behind their back. It’s likely that her Twitter account would have gone into meltdown following the leak given the sheer force of Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters. So much Summertime Sadness 🙁