It’s the celebrity feud that lasted for more than a decade. When Kanye West stood on the stage at the MTV Video Music Awards 2009 and took the Taylor Swift microphone to give her own speech, viewers knew it would make headlines. What no one could have predicted was how it would continue to generate them for many years to come.
By mid-2020, both musicians had recorded the event – and those who followed – several times. It also had a presence in the documentary Miss Americana. And of course, their cheating has made its way into their music. Here are Swift’s songs about West and how they charted on the Billboard Hot 100.
“Look what you made me do”
After many years of love songs, Swift has changed the tune for several of her hits. In the wake of the 2016 West-West events and released her in “Famous”, she has attached her album 2017 Reputation. Her first single, “Look What You Made Me Do,” did not call West by name, but it contained many hints to him.
The whole of the first verse is believed to be about the West, from the “leaning scene” of his Saint Pablo tour to how he laughs during their 2016 phone call leaked by his wife, Kim Kardashian West. “Look What You Made Me Do” is one of Swift’s five No. 1 hits, remaining on the Billboard chart for 20 weeks.
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After Reputation came Swift’s next seventh album, Lover. The singer released three singles and one PR single before the album was released in August 2019. In the months that followed, she focused on other projects. But in early 2020, she released another Lover single: “The Man.”
While the song only explicitly exclaims one person (Leonardo DiCaprio), the music video indicates that she had West in mind as she wrote it. The main character (“Tyler Swift,” played by Swift himself) runs down a corridor that looks like one in the West’s own house. “The Man” was on the Billboard Hot 100 for eight weeks and topped No. 23.
“I forgot you existed”
Lover is considered to be the reverse of Reputation. Where Swift’s sixth album was dark, representing a vengeful persona of the artist, its follow-up is an easier, more positive work, even when it concerns West. Case in point? The opening track “I Forgot You Existed” about how she has put this person and their drama behind them.
It has been debated whether this song is about West or Swift’s ex-boyfriend, Calvin Harris. (This reddit thread breaks everything down). Although Swift has never said anything in one way or another, many think this was her way of closing the chapter on her feud with West once and for all. “I forgot you existed” peaked at No. 28 and spent two weeks on the chart.
‘Call it what you want’
This Reputation The track, which reached No. 27 and spent two weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, is not openly about West. It’s mainly about her blossoming relationship with Joe Alwyn, who Swift started dating when he wrote the album. (She even sang it for him in Miss Americana.) But the verses contain remarks bound to West.
“That’s why we can’t have nice things”
Finally, is “That’s why we can’t have nice things”, which never created the chart without the doubt of the West. She sings about how they became friendly again in 2015 when she gave him the Vanguard Award – just because he would drop “Famous” and the now discredited (and edited) phone call. Interestingly, West cited this very achievement in an interview in July 2020 as his reason for becoming president.