Did Taylor Swift Know Katy Perry Was Trouble When She Walked In? Deciphering Pop's Newest Feud

Taylor Swift is never, ever getting back together — as friends, colleagues, or anything else — with a mystery diva who's the subject of one of her upcoming songs.

Taylor Swift and Katy Perry at The 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards - Salute To Icons event in 2010 (Photo: Kevin Mazur)
Taylor Swift and Katy Perry at The 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards - Salute To Icons event in 2010 (Photo: Kevin Mazur)

But who is this unnamed fellow female superstar whose alleged backstabbing inspired the track called "Bad Blood"? And does her name rhyme with Matey Fairy?

There won't be nearly as much speculation about which ex-boyfriends inspired which singles on Swift's 1989 album (due out Oct. 27) because, as she told Rolling Stone in a new cover story, she hasn't even gone out on a date in the last year and a half, which marks the period in which she broke up with Harry Styles for a second time. The magazine says that what few boy/girl songs the album has are "mostly wistful and nostalgic, not finger-pointy or score-settling."

Yet there is one track about which Swift says: ""I would just be constantly writing all these zingers — like, 'Burn.'" In this case, the celebrity who should be feeling the heat is a female artist whose career path is at least close enough to Swift's that they're both on the arena circuit.

"For years, I was never sure if we were friends or not," Swift says of this "competitive" mystery singer. "She would come up to me at awards shows and say something and walk away, and I would think, 'Are we friends, or did she just give me the harshest insult of my life?'"

And then in 2013, as Swift recounts it for Rolling Stone, "She did something so horrible. 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 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."

Since there haven't been any guys in her life to lyrically guess about, speculation has gone wild as to exactly which superstar gal will never be following in the footsteps of Selena Gomez, Lorde, or Lena Dunham as a Swift BFF. For all we know, Taylor could be harboring some super-secret beef with Lady Gaga, P!nk, or Stevie Nicks. But all known signs point in the direction of Katy Perry.

In the circumstantial evidence department: These two fit the profile of cordial… but not effusively cordial. Exchanging tweets about cats seemed to be as close as they came to being BFFs. They collaborated musically once, when Perry came out as a surprise guest at L.A.'s Staples Center on Swift's Speak Now tour to join the host for a duet of "Hot n Cold" — but we're talking close to six years ago.

Since then, Perry notably dated John Mayer, which would indicate that she wasn't nearly a fan enough of Swift's songwriting to have found "Dear John" as credible a cautionary tale as everyone else did did.

But Swift did say it wasn't "over a guy," (although, she did note there were "personal" aspects to the drama)... but business, right? The un-circumstantial clues, then: In July of 2013, three dancers on Swift's Red tour jumped ship mid-trek to join Perry's camp, first on a brief "promo tour" of Europe promoting her Prism album, followed by a full international tour in 2014.

These three — Lockhart Brownlie, Scott Myrick, and Leah Adler — had previously toured with Perry in 2011, so they may have felt they were being most loyal by returning to the Katy fold instead of finishing out the Swift tour. At the time, anyway, based largely on who was unfollowing whom on Twitter, attentive fans speculated that the dancers' exit had not gone down well.

John Mayer with Taylor Swift in 2009 and with Katy Perry in Jan. 2014
John Mayer with Taylor Swift in 2009 and with Katy Perry in Jan. 2014

Speaking of hot 'n' cold, then… Last December, Brownlie gave an interview to the Examiner in his native Australia that discussed the switch. "I was with Taylor for the first six months. It was a great experience and she's a great person to work with, but then Katy contacted us," said Brownlie (whose beefcake photos have made him a fan favorite on gay websites). "We weren't really dancing in Taylor's tour anyway, so I had got a little bored and I really wanted to do a promo tour," the dancer told the newspaper, probably little realizing how closely his words would be examined this year.

"The experiences were completely different. Taylor is very untouchable. When we did see her, we had so much fun with her, but she's a lot more protected than Katy. Katy's 28 now and can do her own thing. Her team are so lovely, so we have such a good connection."

Finally, Perry all but confirmed the speculation by tweeting the following pointed message:

Perhaps this is all just a coincidence and Swift really wrote the song about a completely different hired-help thief. But until it's proven otherwise, remind us not to invite her and Perry to the same Mayer-exes dinner party.

Swift told Rolling Stone that although she didn't want to reveal who "Bad Blood" is about, she wanted to emphasize that it was about a woman, just to head off speculation that it might be about one ex-boyfriend or another: "I know people will make it this big girl-fight thing. But I just want people to know it's not about a guy. You don't want to shade someone you used to date and make it seem like you hate him, when that's not the case."

Writer Josh Eells confirms that several songs on the forthcoming album do seem to be about Styles, but gently, given their post-dating status now as "friends." And Swift maintains that "in this period of my life, my heart was not irreparably broken. So it's not as boy-centric of an album, because my life hasn't been boy-centric."

Somehow she got 13 songs out of this nearly Enquirer-free period anyway. "I feel like watching my dating life has become a bit of a national pastime," Swift tells the mag. "And I'm just not comfortable providing that kind of entertainment anymore. I don't like seeing slide shows of guys I've apparently dated. I don't like giving comedians the opportunity to make jokes about me at awards shows."

Yet it wouldn't be a Swift album if she hadn't left us with something to guess at, whether it makes good grist for future Michael J. Fox gibes or not.