Famous Songs Written About Other Celebrities
Celebrities fall in love like the rest of us, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they can get their hearts broken. Although they may seem to have everything they could want or need, they don’t always succeed at love. On a positive note, those tumultuous emotions sometimes lead to amazing songs about falling in love and heartbreak.
When you sing along, you probably have some non-celebrity in mind, of course, but imagine if the whole world knew exactly who you were singing about. That would be pretty brave, right? Queue the drama! These famous songs you belt out in your car about your high school crush were actually written about some pretty famous people.
"You're So Vain" by Carly Simon
The lyrics of this hit song are so taunting: "You're so vain, I bet you think this song is about you." In November of 2015, Simon admitted that the second verse was about Warren Beatty, but the big reveal didn’t stop there. The song is also about two other famous men.
Unfortunately, Taylor Swift is one of the only people who knows who the other two men are. On her Red Tour in 2013, Swift brought Carly Simon onstage to sing the hit song. A "behind the scenes" video revealed that Simon told Swift who inspired the song — but she didn’t tell the audience.
"Hollaback Girl" by Gwen Stefani
In an interview with Seventeen Magazine, Courtney Love compared being famous to being in high school. She declared Gwen Stefani was a cheerleader and said she didn't want to be like her. Stefani, not liking the comment, fired back with the hit song "Hollaback Girl."
In order to understand the lyrics, you need to understand that a "hollaback girl" is someone who only responds to verbal insults with verbal insults. So, when Stefani is singing "I ain't no hollaback girl," she is declaring war on the fellow celebrity.
"Famous" by Kanye West vs. "This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things" by Taylor Swift
One of the most well-known celebrity feuds took place between Taylor Swift and Kanye West. It started when West interrupted Swift’s award acceptance speech. Shortly after, Swift wrote the song "Innocent" about him, saying that everybody makes mistakes, and she wasn't going to hold it against him. They later reconciled and were friendly.
However, it all changed when West came out with his song "Famous" with the lyrics "I made that b*@ch famous." Swift fired back with a song called "This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things." The lyrics in the song tell the story of a friendship that has soured.
"You'll Be in My Heart" by Phil Collins
Phil Collins initially wrote this song as a lullaby for his daughter, Lily Collins. Later, it was finished and recorded for the Disney movie "Tarzan" in 1999. The lyrics are about a loving and protective relationship.
Collins wrote about a child too young to fend for herself, and he will be there to fight for her and protect her. This part of the song was misinterpreted by many people as being about romantic love. The song started as a lullaby and is actually a pretty sweet tribute.
"Thank U, Next" by Ariana Grande
The lyrics make it quite obvious who the song is about. "Thought I'd end up with Sean, but he wasn't a match. Wrote some songs about Ricky, now I listen and laugh. Even almost got married, and for Pete, I'm so thankful. Wish I could say thank you to Malcolm, because he was an angel."
Big Sean, Mac Miller and Ricky Alvarez are clearly the inspirations of the song. However, something you might not have known is that when writing the song, Grande made several versions of the lyrics with Pete Davidson, depending on their relationship status.
"All of Me" by John Legend
Not surprisingly, this song is about John Legend's wife, Chrissy Teigen (although she was only his fiancee at the time the song was written). The production of the song was inspired by Imogen Heap's song "Hide and Seek." The song has very subtle instruments with the main sound focused on the vocals of the legendary singer.
As for the lyrics, it focuses on opposites like "Even when I lose, I'm winning" and "My head's underwater, but I'm breathing fine." When falling in love, you lose some things, but what you gain is so much greater.
"Delicate" by Taylor Swift
Ever since her album Reputation came out, it has been clear that Taylor Swift is very much in love with her boyfriend, actor Joe Alwyn. That is especially clear in the track "Delicate," where she talks about trying to hide their relationship from the media.
A notable track from her Lover album is the title track. In it, she sings, "With every guitar string scar on my hand, I take this magnetic force of a man to be my lover." Gone are the days of heartbreak, because now she has found a love that will last forever.
"Dear John" by Taylor Swift vs. "Paper Doll" by John Mayer
It’s no secret that Taylor Swift hasn’t been shy when it comes to writing songs about people who don't treat her right. One of those times is when she penned the song "Dear John" about her relationship with John Mayer.
She sings "Dear John, I see it all, now it was wrong, don't you think nineteen is too young to be played by your dark twisted games when I loved you so? I should've known." Later, John Mayer fired back. He called Swift’s song "cheap songwriting" and came out with a response song called "Paper Doll."
"Style" by Taylor Swift vs. "Perfect" by One Direction (Harry Styles)
While the obvious clue is the name of the song "Style" is essentially Harry's last name, there is also a lot more evidence in the song that points at him. "Long hair, slicked back, white T-shirt" sounds like a pretty good description of the British boy. Also, there is "Midnight, you come and pick me up, no headlights."
This parallels with the lyrics "If you like midnight driving with the windows down" in "Perfect." Also, considering Swift is the queen of writing breakup songs, you can probably assume the lyric "If you're looking for someone to write your breakup songs about" is Styles way of taking a jab at Swift.
"Bad Blood" by Taylor Swift vs. "Swish Swish" by Katy Perry
This feud started when Katy Perry hired dancers who were a part of Taylor Swift's Red tour without her knowledge. Clearly, there was a lot of miscommunication and hurt feelings, but Swift was the first to sing about it in her hit Grammy-winning song "Bad Blood." Later, Perry fired back with her song "Swish Swish."
However, these days, the two have reconciled and are good friends again. Perry even made an appearance in Swift’s music video for "You Need to Calm Down," and they lovingly embrace. Looks like there is no more bad blood here!
"Don't" by Ed Sheeran vs. "On My Mind" by Ellie Goulding
The song "Don’t" is said to be about Ellie Goulding cheating on Ed Sheeran with Niall Horan from One Direction. Sheeran sings: "And I never saw him as a threat, until you disappeared with him to have sex, of course, [...] and I wasn't looking for a promise or commitment, but it was never just fun, and I thought you were different."
In Goulding’s song "On My Mind," she says, "You wanted my heart, but I just liked your tattoos." This is similar to Ed talking about how the relationship wasn't totally serious, but he was still heartbroken.
"Cry Me a River" by Justin Timberlake vs. "Everytime" by Britney Spears
Another heartbreaking song is Justin Timberlake's hit ballad "Cry Me a River." The song is reportedly about the end of his relationship with Britney Spears. The lyrics "You don't have to say what you did, I already know, I found out from him" suggest cheating, and he goes on to say that now that they will never be together again she should cry a river for him.
Spears’ song "Everytime" is clearly an apology to Timberlake. The lyrics include "I may have made it rain, please forgive me, my weakness caused you pain, and this song's my sorry."
"Sex on Fire" by The Kings of Leon
One of the few love songs on this list is "Sex on Fire" by The Kings of Leon. The song is about model Lily Aldridge, who is married to lead singer Caleb Followill (although they were just boyfriend and girlfriend at the time the song was written).
Interestingly, Followill was a bit embarrassed about the sexual language in the song and had to be talked into recording it. It's a good thing he did because the song went on to win a Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.
"7 Things" by Miley Cyrus
As teenagers, Miley Cyrus and Nick Jonas were a very famous couple. They met when The Jonas Brothers were an opening act on Miley's Hannah Montana Meet Miley Cyrus Tour. The pair then dated for a while but eventually broke up.
It became clear that Cyrus’ song was about Jonas when the music video came out. In the video, she is wearing his medical tags around her neck, holding it in her hand while she sings to the camera. She also holds a picture up to the camera, and although the guy's face is blurred out, the hair clearly belongs to Jonas.
"Love Bug" and "Wedding Bells" by The Jonas Brothers (Nick Jonas)
In The Jonas Brothers documentary "Chasing Happiness" that released in 2019, we finally got an answer about who their song "Lovebug" was about — Miley Cyrus. The brothers talked about how Nick Jonas was totally smitten when he met Cyrus and how he wrote the song about her.
Later, when Cyrus was first engaged to Liam Hemsworth, Jonas came out with another song about her called "Wedding Bells." In the song, he talks about not wanting to hear the wedding bells that symbolize how they will never be able to reconcile their relationship.
"The Heart Wants What It Wants" by Selena Gomez vs. "Sorry" by Justin Bieber
One of the most talked-about, high profile relationships — it was even known as "Jelena" — was between Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber. Their rocky relationship played out in the constant media frenzy surrounding them as well as the hit songs that were inspired by their love story.
One of the most revealing songs by Gomez was her hit single "The Heart Wants What It Wants." The song revealed that she had taken her love back time and time again, even after he had hurt her numerous times. Bieber responded to the song with his hit "Sorry" as an apology to Gomez.
"Lose You to Love Me" by Selena Gomez
Selena Gomez's recent hit song made it clear she was finally done with Justin Bieber. The beautiful song talked about the way she was finally able to let go of the relationship: "I needed to lose you to love me." After facing the reality of the loss, she was able to recognize how much better her life was and finally move on.
Bieber is now married, so clearly, he has said goodbye to the relationship too, but he hasn’t explicitly responded to the song. Maybe this is literally where the chapter closes, and they can both now sing about their happy new lives.
"Call Out My Name" by The Weeknd
As noted, Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber had an on-again/off-again relationship. At one point when they were off, Gomez dated The Weeknd. They had a fairly serious relationship, even posing together on the red carpet at the Met gala (celebrity speak for being "official") in New York City. However, eventually the relationship ended, and Gomez resumed her relationship with Bieber.
The Weeknd's song talks about how he helped her through a hard time, but he gave too much of himself to her, and he regrets it. He sings: "We found each other, I helped you out of a broken place, [...] but falling for you was my mistake."
"Boyfriend" by Ashlee Simpson
This hit song was written in response to being accused of stealing another girl's boyfriend. Specifically, Lindsay Lohan accused Simpson of stealing her boyfriend, Wilmer Valderrama.
The lyrics, however, deny the allegation saying, "Hey, how long 'til the music drowns you out? Don't put words up in my mouth, I didn't steal your boyfriend. Hey, how long 'til you face what's going on? 'Cause you really got it wrong, I didn't steal your boyfriend." Simpson confirmed that the song was indeed written about Lohan during a game of "plead the fifth" on Andy Cohen's show.
"Much Better" by Joe Jonas vs. “Better Than Revenge" by Taylor Swift
One of the first public relationships Taylor Swift had as a teenager was with Joe Jonas from The Jonas Brothers. The first song she wrote about him was called "Forever and Always," which was a breakup song for him.
But Swift wasn't quite done with Jonas with just the single song. She went on to release the song "Better Than Revenge," taking a shot at Camilla Belle who dated Jonas after her. The song was also a response to Jonas, who wrote the song "Much Better," implying his relationship with Belle was much better than his relationship with Swift.
"Last Kiss" and "Holy Ground" by Taylor Swift
On the same Speak Now album where she called out Jonas’ girlfriend, Taylor Swift also wrote the mellow heartbreak song "Last Kiss" for Jonas. The song talks about an unexpected heartbreak, and Swift tearfully sings: "Never thought we'd have a last kiss."
However, a short time later, on her Red album, she included the song "Holy Ground," which talks about fondly looking back at a relationship. She sings: "Darling, it was good, never looking down, and right there where we stood, was holy ground." Clearly, Swift had gotten over the hurt and the heartbreak and was ready to move on.
"All Too Well" and "The Moment I Knew" by Taylor Swift
"All Too Well" wasn’t one of her hit singles, but this song was ranked number one on the ranked Taylor Swift song list by Rolling Stone. Most Taylor Swift fans would say it’s the saddest song she has ever written. And the subject of the song? Jake Gyllenhaal.
The song talks about how she couldn't forget about him because she remembered their story "all too well." Other songs allegedly about Gyllenhaal include "The Moment I Knew," which talks about being stood up at her own birthday party and realizing at that moment that their relationship was over.
"Obsessed" by Mariah Carey vs. "Bagpipes from Baghdad" by Eminem
Although Mariah Carey has consistently denied the rumor that she ever dated rapper Eminem, these songs may make you believe otherwise. Eminem's song came first with the lyrics "Mariah, what ever happened to us, why did we have to break up?"
Carey then released the song "Obsessed," which included the lines "You’re delusional, boy, you’re losing your mind" and "Why are you so obsessed with me? Lying that you’re sexing me." Clearly, Carey is sticking with her story that they never dated, but whose side of the story is true? That's up to you to decide.
"Wrecking Ball" by Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth met on the set of their movie "The Last Song." Their romance blossomed quickly, and then the pair became engaged. However, their happiness was short-lived, as they broke up after only a few months of being engaged.
After the breakup, Cyrus released the song "Wrecking Ball" about their relationship. She sings: "I came in like a wrecking ball, I'd never hit so hard in love. All I wanted was to break your walls, all you ever did was wreck me." It seemed like they would never be together again — at the time.
"Malibu" and "Slide Away" by Miley Cyrus
Fans loved it when it seemed the relationship between Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth was given a second chance with the announcement of a second engagement. Cyrus seemed happy when she sang her song "Malibu," which talked about their happy life living together in Malibu. They even ended up getting married the second time.
However, after only a few months of marriage, they split up again. Cyrus came out with yet another breakup song about Hemsworth called "Slide Away." She sings: "Woke up one day, it had turned to dust, baby, we were found, but now we're lost, so it's time to let it go."
"Getaway Car" by Taylor Swift
Okay, sorry, but the list of Taylor Swift songs continues. (The artist does love to use songwriting as therapy!) "Getaway Car" talks about how she wanted to end her relationship with Calvin Harris, so she did so by dating Tom Hiddleston. However, "nothing good starts in a getaway car." She implies her relationship with Tom was like running away from the scene of a crime in a getaway car.
The impulse was a mistake, and the relationship was doomed from the beginning. She ends the story with "took the money and the bag and I stole the keys, that was the last time you ever saw me."
"Back to December" by Taylor Swift
In an interesting twist, this song has a story that isn’t often found in Taylor Swift’s songs. It’s a breakup song like many others, but the song fully acknowledges that it was Swift’s fault the relationship ended.
In the song, she takes full responsibility for the failure: "So, this is me swallowing my pride, standing in front of you, saying I'm sorry for that night" and "I'd go back in time and change it, but I can't, so if the chain is on your door, I understand." Who is the guy she wronged so badly? That would be the teen heartthrob from Twilight, Taylor Lautner.
"What Goes Around Comes Around" by Justin Timberlake
It’s not actually clear who inspired this song, but it is crystal clear that whoever Justin Timberlake is singing about messed up big time! The song talks about a girl who cheated on him who will likely get cheated on too in a circle that continues.
Speculation as to who the song is about suggests it could have been inspired by his good friend Trace Ayala, who was engaged to actress Elisha Cuthbert until she cheated on him with a friend of his. Other suspicions claim the song could be about his own relationship with Britney Spears.
"Man of the Woods" by Justin Timberlake
When talking about his album, Justin Timberlake declared that this song was a love letter to his wife, actress Jessica Biel. The song includes some sweet lyrics: "How do I ever explain what I've got with you? I try to find the words, but they hide, and that's the truth, and nobody ever will understand what we do, there's only one me and you."
It’s clear they are very much still in love. Another song called "Young Man" is also a love song that was inspired by their son, Silas.
"I Kissed a Girl" by Katy Perry
The story behind this song isn’t as scandalous as you might think. The idea was born when Katy Perry was flipping through a magazine and saw a photo of Scarlett Johansson. She showed her then-boyfriend the photo and made a comment that inspired the lyric: "I kissed a girl, and I liked it. Hope my boyfriend don't mind it."
As for Scarlett Johansson's response, she was dating Ryan Reynolds at the time, so she said she was flattered but already taken. Now, Katy Perry is engaged herself, so the song remains a fantasy.