The 10 Best Pop Music Shade-Fests Of 2015

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Tis the season to be… shady? 2015 was a powerful year for music, but drama didn’t exactly take a backseat. The ether was strong in the atmosphere, as artists feuded with each other, with everyone else, and even with themselves. It trickled into the music, the #squadgoals, oh and of course into social media. But you know how the story goes — sometimes these things get uber-sensationalized and everyone is tuned into a fight that basically never happened. Or did it?

Hey, either way we’re here for the fiction and the non-fiction, and this year had enough to fill some shelves (or frames in iBooks). So let’s take a look back at some of this year’s most infamous feuds. Some were carried over from 2014, while others were brand new and may continue well into 2016. Healing takes time, people. Seriously though, can’t we all just get along?

Nicki Minaj vs. Everybody

Before we launch into this whole shady round-up, here’s a huge disclaimer: a lot of people fucked with Nicki Minaj this year. Nicki endured tidal waves of shade — some of it warranted, some of it petty. So in honor of her year of darkness, let’s deep dive into her shadiest moments first. This is a story with many chapters.

Chapter 1: Taylor Swift vs. Nicki Minaj

Gather ’round the campfire, kids. So the Prologue to this shady novel began with Nicki Minaj vs. MTV. When the nominations for Video of the Year were announced, “Anaconda” was conveniently not listed. Nicki wasn’t having it and clapped back on Twitter to voice her frustrations. Through a series of tweets, Nicki alluded to women with “slim” bodies, and “other” girls, to which Taylor Swift took it as a direct insult (her video for “Bad Blood” was nominated… and ultimately won). “I’ve done nothing but love & support you,” she tweeted to Nicki. “It’s unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your slot.” Nicki responded confused, considering she never mentioned Taylor’s name. Taylor offered to invite Nicki on stage with her if she won (semi-shade, tbh), and the internet all dove in. The result? These two made peace timed perfectly with a performance mash-up at the awards show ceremony. No harm, no foul. Right?

Chapter 2: Miley Cyrus vs. Nicki Minaj

WRONG. Someone should move the New York Times to Las Vegas, because every time someone shows up to talk to them, it’s like a winning slot machine. Everything falls out. In August, Miley spoke to NYT and the interviewer asked her about Nicki Minaj’s issue with her video for the single “Anaconda” not being nominated for Video Of The Year at this year’s VMA’s (Miley was the host as you already know). Her response to Nicki’s suggestion that the snub was race driven was… complex. “What I read sounded very Nicki Minaj, which, if you know Nicki Minaj is not too kind,” Miley told The Times in addition to some layered yogi mantras about approaching your shade with love. Oh, kay. Fast forward to the VMAs, where Nicki accepted her award for the Best Hip Hop music video and birthed the now infamous phrase “Miley, what’s good?” (so long “I’mma let you finish…”). The exchange felt half-joking half-serious, but you know Nicki had to say something. Barbz have zero time for shade via sound bytes in interviews. This point was further proven when she spoke to the New York Times Magazine herself in October and told the interviewer “Do not speak to me like I’m stupid.” She also made another quiet jab at Miley in her interview.

Chapter 3: Azealia Banks vs. Nicki Minaj

So then… Azealia Banks had to comment on Nicki’s Miley name drop in her NYT interview, and chastised her rap predecessor for playing the victim. As we reported in October, Azealia hopped on Twitter for her commentary. “I wish Nic would stop trying to turn this Miley thing into a race issue cuz she was mute about cultural approp. until she became ‘victim,’” Banks tweeted. “Plus how u gonna complain about a video with skinny women when ur body is enhanced .. You too were once a skinny woman.” YIKES. Just a month prior, she called Nicki, Miley, and Taylor’s music “basic” so there’s that. Azealia takes no sides.

Meek Mill vs. Drake

Okay, so this one also includes Nicki Minaj, but tangentially — mainly because of the gargantuan Drake bars “is that a world tour or your girl’s tour?” Let’s backtrack though. Meek Mill was really passionate about people tweeting about his album Dreams Worth More Than Money. He challenged his Maybach Music Group labelmate Wale for not promoting it, and clearly had some issue with Drake not doing it either. So late one night in July, Meek Mill decided to crack his trigger fingers and unleash some shade on Twitter, initially toward fiancé Nicki Minaj’s ex Safaree Samuels. Somehow Drake got thrown into the fire: “Stop comparing drake to me too…. He don’t write his own raps!” Meek tweeted, alluding to the idea that Drake had a ghostwriter, who Meek eventually called out by name: Quentin Miller. “That’s why he ain’t tweet my album because we found out!” He sealed it with a “tee hee” emoji.

Thus began a tangled web that many will argue having left Drake the victor. Meek tweeted, and tweeted, and tweeted, and tweeted. Meanwhile Drake headed to the studio and cut a series of diss tracks, starting with the fiery “Charged Up.” That was just the warm-up, as he pushed further with the venomous “Back To Back.” Still no word from Meek. A promise to premiere his diss with Funkmaster Flex at New York’s Hot 97 was left unfulfilled until Meek eventually barked back with the tepid “Wanna Know.” He peppered in some shade via concert freestyles, but “meh” is the word here. Rumor has it that peace was made, even after Drake made a whole scrolling marquee of Meek Mill-inspired memes at this year’s OVO Fest and Meek leaked actual Quentin Miller reference tracks. This beef was so meta, and as of right now it’s over… but it’s far from over.

Zayn Malik vs. Our Hearts And Souls

Most 1D fans will remember two things in their lives: the moment they decided Harry Styles was no longer their favorite in One Direction, and the day Zayn Malik announced his departure from the group. While it was a solid five years fueled with highs and lows, that wasn’t the shady part of this here equation. What followed was the real drama-rama.

Chapter One: Zayn Malik vs. Louis Tomlinson

Okay so here’s the Prologue: when Zayn ruined all of our lives in March by announcing his breakup with 1D, there was a swift pivot that longtime 1D ally producer Naughty Boy was in the studio with Zayn. Louis started picking at the scab, poking fun at Naughty Boy and making the pettiest of jabs for his alliance with Zayn. He charged at Naughty Boy for even posting a photo in the studio with Zayn, captioning his shade with a tweet: “Replace this.” Naughty Boy clapped back his fair share, but things got ugly once Zayn jumped in with the heartbreaking tweet to Louie: “remember when you had a life and stopped making bitchy comments about mine?” Then for some reason Sam Smith unfollowed Naughty Boy on Twitter (YASSSS SHADE YASSSSS), and by July Zayn wasn’t friends with Naughty Boy.

Chapter Two: Zayn Malik vs. Naughty Boy

So after Naughty Boy endured a huge beating from the remaining members of One Direction (Louis even had a Naughty Boy piñata at a show), Zayn wasn’t feeling his former collaborator either. “you fat joke stop pretending we’re friends no one knows you,” Zayn tweeted. Rude much? “Someone learned how to upload a video… maybe now he should learn how to use logic ha you ain’t shit but a faker,” he added, clearly charging at Naughty Boy’s production skills. The sad part here is that Naughty Boy got his feelings hurt, like legitimately. Clearly Zayn doesn’t get along well with producers.

Chapter Three: Zayn Malik vs. Calvin Harris

As evidenced by his final (for now) shade-tuation with Calvin Harris. It started with a meme that Zayn shared on Twitter, which targeted Taylor Swift’s profit margin in the midst of her challenging streaming music services. Calvin Harris was not having it, tweeting: “You’ve made your money? Cool… fuck the 99% of musicians who depend on these services to survive right? Yeah fickk em.” The two exchanged some pot shots, leading Zayn to respond to Harris’ tweet “Meaning… stay out of things you don’t understand” with “you clearly didn’t understand what I just said either,” followed by “so i suggest you calm your knickers before them dentures fall out.” DENTURES! The sneak attack of shade came from Louis once again who FAVORITED one of Calvin Harris’ shady tweets. *slaps forehead* A month before this happened, Zayn tweeted Liam in response to 1D’s 5-year anniversary. Such is life.

Taylor Swift vs. Katy Perry… Again

Here’s a 2014 carry-over, as this feud was actually in our 2014 shade roundup. You all know the story by now: John Mayer, Taylor Swift, John Mayer, Katy Perry, blah blah blah. It was a particularly toxic feud that left us all bewildered, but it took another calendar year for everything to come together. They say hindsight is 20/20 and when Taylor was recording her 1989 album, she very obviously was getting pretty introspective about her life, particularly with friendships. Cut to the “Bad Blood” video, where Taylor has a whole squad of badass ladies, including Gigi Hadid, Selena Gomez, Ellie Goulding, Zendaya, and even Cindy Crawford in the mix.

Some of the stars in the video have been linked to Katy as pals in the past, but it felt like the lines were clearly drawn in the sand here. The song in and of itself is perhaps one of the wildest break up letters in the game. “Band-Aids don’t fix bullet holes,” after all. While it was never fully expressed by Taylor that the track and video had anything to do with Katy (come on, it totally did and in her Rolling Stone interview she KIND OF spilled the beans), Taylor made a reference to soured friendships in her summertime feature with Vanity Fair. “I’ve trusted people before in friendships or relationships and have felt betrayed,” Swift told the publication. “If you betray your friend, if you will talk about them badly behind their back, if you will try to humiliate them or talk down to them, I have no interest in having a person like that in my life.” Oh.

Katy hasn’t exactly been quiet either. When Nicki and Taylor had their brief Twitter beef, Perry subtweeted with: “Finding it ironic to parade the pit women against other women argument about as one unmeasurably capitalizes on the take down of a woman.” It used to be mad love. Now it’s just mad.

Justin Bieber vs. Himself

Biebs was shadowboxing this year forreal. He likes to subtweet and do cute things like that from time to time, but twice this year his shady magnetism found no metal surface. Poor Biebs. And here we thought the biggest shade against him this year was someone leaking his vacation nudes.

Chapter 1: Justin Bieber vs. Shawn Mendes

Pop music upstart Shawn Mendes has been slowly compared to Justin Bieber, as the Ontario teen is making his mark in American Pop in a major way. But when Justin Bieber was asked in September by New York radio station 95.5 host Ralphie Aversa about Mendes, Bieber replied with “Who’s Shawn Mendes?” The tone was assumed by most to be a “Hardy har har who is that unknown?” and when Ralphie didn’t giggle with him — rather he responded with Mendes’ growing C.V. — Bieber replied “No, I don’t know him, but I will check him out, for sure.” Welp. Bieber was a good sport, eventually tweeting “Shawn I checked out the music and I’m so proud! So glad to see another boy from Canada crushin it. #canadiansdoitbetter.” Awwww. Yeah, Bieber has a problem with pretending he doesn’t know famous people.

Chapter 2: Justin Bieber vs. Bette Midler

And another one. So let’s call the nudes the Prologue to this tale, as Bieber’s dad Jeremy attempted to make light of the situation by congratulating his son on the size of his junk (inappropriate). Midler, who just a year prior was schooling Ariana Grande about herself, challenged the elder Bieber’s comments with her own remark: “I think the biggest dick in this situation is the dad who abandoned his son.” Justin tried to pepper in some shade during his interview with Billboard where he referred to Bette Midler as “Britt Meddler,” claiming he didn’t even know who she was. Say what? The Divine Miss M flashed a light on the shade by tweeting to Biebs: “Britt Meddler! I don’t know who that is either! But damn that bitch!” She even retweeted the snark coming from the Twitter account @BrittMeddler. At least you tried, Justin.

Iggy Azalea vs. Papa John’s 

Stop, you know you totally loved this shade-fest. If anything, this situation taught us that pizza can be shadier to ourselves beyond the carbs. Apparently Iggy loves Papa John’s pizza, and one night the food chain had a different delivery guy arrive at Azalea’s home. Upon realizing who he was delivering to, the kid had a minor meltdown. “I didn’t want to be rude to the boy, he was a young guy,” she told Ryan Seacrest during a visit to On-Air With Ryan Seacrest, but what happened after that was pretty shady. Iggy’s cellphone number got in the wrong hands, and it wasn’t long before Iggy was getting texts asking if she was Iggy Azalea. Apparently the delivery guy passed off Iggy’s number to his brother. WTF?

So Iggy got on Twitter with her text screen shots from the fanboy and tweeted at Papa John’s with: “I ordered a cheese pizza but instead I got tons of calls and messages like this one.” After she still wasn’t pleased with how Papa John’s handled things, she tweeted with “@PapaJohns was my favorite pizza but the drivers they use give out your personal phone number to their family members.” The social media account holder at Papa John’s must be sporting some neon troll hair, because this was the response: “#We should have known better. Customer and employee privacy is important to us. Please don’t #bounce us!” DiGiorno Pizza’s Twitter account tweeted at Iggy with “delivery. smh,” to which Iggy replied “I know right!” This hilarious shade-fest ended politely, and Iggy is hanging out at Pizza Hut a lot more these days.

What was your favorite beef of 2015? Let us know below, or by hitting us up on Facebook and Twitter!