This betrayal anthem finds Swift chronicling the tension between herself and another female musician. The songstress claimed to Rolling Stone that the bad blood between the pair arose after her rival "tried to sabotage [her] entire arena tour." "She did something so horrible," Taylor said. "I was like, 'Oh, we're just straight-up enemies.'"
"And it wasn't even about a guy! It had to do with business," she added. "She basically tried to sabotage an entire arena tour. She tried to hire a bunch of people out from under me. And I'm surprisingly non-confrontational ' you would not believe how much I hate conflict. So now I have to avoid her. It's awkward, and I don't like it."
Swift told Rolling Stone that she hopes the press don't turn the lyrics into a 'gossip-fest'. "Sometimes the lines in a song are lines you wish you could text-message somebody in real life," she explained. "I would just be constantly writing all these zingers ' like, 'Burn. That would really get her.' And I know people are going to obsess over who it's about, because they think they have all my relationships mapped out. But there's a reason there are not any overt call-outs in that song. My intent was not to create some gossip-fest. I wanted people to apply it to a situation where they felt betrayed in their own lives.'"
Despite Taylor's concerns about the song turning into a 'gossip-fest' it did gander a lot of interest in the identity of the female musician who betrayed her. Media speculation centered on Katy Perry:
An Examiner.com interview described how three dancers on Taylor's tour left before it was completed to join Katy's.
Several sites pointed out that Taylor dated John Mayer before his relationship with Katy, which may have added to the friction between the pair.
Katy herself tweeted a Mean Girls-referencing message ("Watch out for the Regina George in sheep's clothing") not long after the Rolling Stone interview hit the net.
Taylor played this song to her pal Ed Sheeran as soon as she wrote it back in 2013. The British singer-songwriter loved the tune so much, he wanted it to be the first song to be released from 1989, but Taylor had other ideas. "At that point, it was just a really basic demo track … and he was going, 'This has to be the first single! This has to be the first single!' And I was like, 'Eh, we'll see.'" she said during an interview for On Air with Ryan Seacrest. "But since he's now heard the album and heard the final track, he loves it even more. It's so cool to have friends who are so supportive … I feel so lucky. And he does have a really good ear."
The music video was directed by Joseph Kahn, who previously directed the clip for the second single from 1989
, "Blank Space
." It was filmed in Los Angeles in April 2015, but set in London.
The star-studded video features Swift starring as Catastrophe, a fierce woman battling a number of females all looking to do her some damage. Rapper Kendrick Lamar co-stars as Welvin Da Great spitting several verses on this remixed version of the song.
Among the well-known females appearing in the clip are:
Models Martha Hunt, Lily Aldridge, Gigi Hadid, Karlie Kloss, Cara Jocelyn Delevingne and Cindy Crawford.
Singers Selena Gomez, Hayley Williams, Ellie Goulding and Zendaya.
Actresses Jessica Alba, Hailee Steinfeld, Lena Dunham, Ellen Pompeo and Mariska Hargitay.
Hayley Williams' superhero alter-ego in the video is called The Crimson Curse. Asked by a fan on Twitter why she chose the name, the Paramore frontwoman replied that she was inspired by female menstrual cycles. She wrote, "because what is as brutal as a period? NOTHING I TELL YA".
The video racked up a record 20.1 million views in its first day. It unseated the previous record-holder Nicki Minaj's "Anaconda
," which had 19.6 million views in 24 hours when she released the song's music clip in 2014.
The record was broken by Adele's clip for "Hello
," which achieved 23.2 million views on its first day after release.
Eighteen different characters show up in the video, which references seven different movies: Sin City, Tron, The Fifth Element, Lady Snowblood, Kill Bill: Vol. 1, The Hunger Games, and Kingsman: The Secret Service.
The song was written by Swift with Max Martin and Shellback. Martin's string of successful singles go back to Britney Spears' debut hit "…Baby One More Time
" and also cover many of Katy Perry's chart-toppers. This was his 20th Hot 100 leader as a songwriter; only Paul McCartney, with 32 #1s, and John Lennon (26) have more.
The song may or may not be about the "bad blood" between Swift and Katy Perry, but the singers share a common collaborator in Max Martin, who co-wrote this song and also worked on Perry's "Dark Horse
" and "Roar
." All three songs have a military-style "hey" chant in the mix - one of Martin's favorite techniques.
Martin and Shellback also produced the track. The song was Martin's 18th Hot 100 #1 as a producer. Among all producers, only George Martin, who helmed The Beatles chart-toppers, has more leaders with 23.
This song blasts right into the chorus, grabbing the listener's attention right away. Putting the chorus before the verse was a popular trend at the time: other songs that did it include "Hey Mama
" by David Guetta, "See You Again
by Wiz Khalifa, and "Shut Up And Dance
" by Walk the Moon.
Kendrick Lamar told the UK magazine Shortlist about collaborating with Taylor Swift on this song. "She reached out and expressed how much of a fan she was," he recalled. "She knew all my raps so I knew it was true. We got in the studio, vibed out and she produced a record."
"Then a week later she says, 'We gotta shoot the video.' So I'm like, 'Cool, let's shoot that motherf---er.'" Lamar continued. "I'm thinking it's just going to be a regular video. I get to the set and I see these beautiful women, big production and I think, 'I gotta step my game up.'"
The video won for Video of the Year at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards. "There's been a lot of discussion about this video and what it means," Swift said in her acceptance speech, adding, "I'm just happy that in 2015 we live in a world where boys can play princesses and girls can play soldiers."
Swift was asked by GQ magazine about the talk that the song is about Katy Perry, which originated from the singer's September 2014 Rolling Stone feature. "You're in a Rolling Stone interview, and the writer says, 'Who is that song about? That sounds like a really intense moment from your life,'" she explained. "And you sit there, and you know you're on good terms with your ex-boyfriend, and you don't want him - or his family - to think you're firing shots at him. So you say, 'That was about losing a friend.' And that's basically all you say. But then people cryptically tweet about what you meant."
"I never said anything that would point a finger in the specific direction of one specific person, and I can sleep at night knowing that. I knew the song would be assigned to a person, and the easiest mark was someone who I didn't want to be labeled with this song," Swift continued. "It was not a song about heartbreak. It was about the loss of friendship... So I don't necessarily care who people think it's about. I just needed to divert them away from the easiest target."
"Listen to the song," she concluded. "It doesn't point to any one person or any one situation. But if you'd listened to my previous four albums, you would think this was about a guy who broke my heart. And nothing could be further from the truth. It was important to show that losing friendships can be just as damaging to a person as losing a romantic relationship."
The song reached #1 in several other countries, in addition to the US. They include Australia, Canada, Israel and New Zealand.
This won the Grammy for Best Music Video at the 2016 ceremony. 1989 also picked up Album Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Album.
Kendrick Lamar was unaware that the song is allegedly about Swift's feud with Katy Perry.
"No, I wasn't aware of that, bro. On the record, no," he told Rolling Stone
. "Which makes it even more funny now, for sure. That's far beyond my concern. I have to stay away from that, for sure. That's some real beef."
Katy Perry took revenge on Taylor Swift by means of commerce. In 2016 she unveiled her latest perfume, which she named "Mad Love." As in, "Now we've got bad blood, it used to be mad love" from this song. Taylor is well known for trademarking the phrases she invents, so it was a crafty move by Katy to ensure she basically owns two of her pop rival's words.
Kendrick Lamar spoke about the collaboration with Swift on Howard Stern's Sirius XM show. "We both was in LA, so I came to her studio session," he recalled. "She had the music up and I started writing and jumped in the booth and we laid it down."
"With this particular record, it was me just vibing and catching her lyrics," Lamar added. "I didn't want to get into her head too crazy. I just wanted to have my own inspiration and see where it took it... Fortunately, the vibe was right and it didn't take too many takes and we was really locked in on the chemistry and we really felt what was going on when I was in the booth."