9 Artists Who Seemingly Wrote Songs About Taylor Swift, From Harry Styles to John Mayer
Taylor Swift is certainly very well known for writing songs that seem to pointedly reference other people. Her diaristic songwriting has endeared her to legions of fans, and she definitely often draws from her own life to create her work, which is part of what makes it so special and resonant with many. Over her years in music, Swift has not only dated many high-profile celebrities but also written songs about them, with the list of muses including Jake Gyllenhaal, Taylor Lautner, Joe Jonas, and Joe Alwyn — and only time will tell if her rumored new relationship with NFL star Travis Kelce will inspire any new tracks.
While Swift's been busy writing songs about other people, some have taken the time to return the favor as well. These songs have ranged from complimentary to scathing takedowns. Some have been in response to Swift firing the first shot, while others seemingly came out of nowhere. Some even seem to reference specific lyrics she's written in her own songs.
So, let's take a look at all the times Swift has seemingly been the subject of another songwriter's work, as well as what — if anything — she had to say about it.
Is "The Grudge" by Olivia Rodrigo About Taylor Swift?
The newest addition to this list comes from Olivia Rodrigo's second album, "Guts," which came out in September 2023. Many believe the song is about the rumored drama that occurred with Rodrigo's first album, "Sour."
In July 2021, Rodrigo retroactively added Swift to the credits of her song "Deja Vu" after some pointed out similarities to Swift's track, "Cruel Summer." Until then, Rodrigo and Swift had appeared to get on well. The former posted photos they took together, once called herself the "biggest Swiftie," and shared a handwritten note Swift had sent her, per The Standard. This is why the credits conflict may have hit Rodrigo hard, and resulted in the hurt feelings that are captured in "The Grudge" (if it is, in fact, about Swift).
The song opens with "I have nightmares each week 'bout that Friday in May," and "SOUR" was released on Friday the 21st of May. Additionally, Rodrigo sings of "flowers filled with vitriol" and about how someone "built me up to watch me fall," which may reference Swift's apparent support for Rodrigo that was later retracted. In the bridge, Rodrigo sings, "You have everything, and you still want more," which could certainly apply to Swift.
Neither party has referenced a feud, with Rodrigo telling The Guardian that she was "surprised" that her fans had linked her other song "Vampire" to Swift. She also told Rolling Stone in a September interview, "I don't have beef with anyone. I'm very chill. I keep to myself. I have my four friends and my mom, and that's really the only people I talk to, ever. There's nothing to say. There's so many Twitter conspiracy theories. I only look at alien-conspiracy theories." Additionally, at the VMAs, Swift was filmed applauding Rodrigo's "Vampire" performance.
But while it's clear Rodrigo and Swift aren't beefing, there's still a chance "The Grudge" is about Swift. Rodrigo admitted to Rolling Stone that the song credits controversy involving Swift was challenging for her. "At the time, it was very confusing, and I was green and bright-eyed and bushy-tailed," she said. "It's not something that I was super involved in. It was more team-on-team. So, I wouldn't be the best person to ask."
Is "Much Better" by the Jonas Brothers About Taylor Swift?
This might just be one of the most obvious references to Swift in a song — a direct call and response between two scorned lovers. Joe Jonas and Swift famously dated for a few months in 2008, and Swift famously claimed Jonas broke up with her in a 25-second phone call in an "Ellen Degeneres Show" interview.
There's little doubt that "Much Better," released by the Jonas Brothers in 2009, is directed at Swift due to a lyric about "tears on her guitar," which is seemingly a direct reference to Swift's song "Teardrops on My Guitar." Swift seemingly responded with the song "Better Than Revenge," a song believed by fans to be about Joe and his new girlfriend, Camilla Belle. It even references this song through the lyric, "Show me how much better you are."
Is "Perfect" by One Direction About Taylor Swift?
The only thing better than one boy band singing about two boy bands doing it!
Harry Styles and Swift's shortlived romance circa 2012 was perhaps one of her most iconic, and he inspired numerous tracks on her album, "1989." "Perfect" is about finding someone who can handle 1D's public lifestyle. It bears many resemblances to songs on "1989," as it discusses hiding your relationship, taking late-night car rides, and avoiding the paparazzi. But there's one specific line that caught "Haylor" fans' attention: "And if you're looking for someone to write your breakup songs about."
Swift is known for writing breakup songs about her exes, for better and worse, so who else could have inspired this lyric? Swift hasn't spoken out about this lyric but is believed to now be on good terms with Styles. Some fans even believe he'll be featured on "1989 (Taylor's Version)."
Is "Ever Since New York" by Harry Styles About Taylor Swift?
Speaking of Harry Styles, it seems he's been inspired by Swift even as he embarks on his solo career. A large part of Swift's "1989" era revolved around her love of New York, with the opening track even being called "Welcome to New York." That's why it's not a stretch to think a song about love in New York, which is where Haylor spent time together during their brief romance, is about his relationship with Swift.
But if we're looking for a Harry Styles song that's undeniably about Swift, we need to turn to his unreleased song, "Him." In it, he references being someone's "wildest dreams," which is the title of one of her songs. He also sings, "I was with you when you wrote that line," referencing her songwriting. It's a shame this song was never released, as it's a great one!
Is "Two Ghosts" by Harry Styles About Taylor Swift?
"Ever Since New York" wasn't the only track on Styles's self-titled debut album that seems to be about Swift. The first couple lines of the song "Two Ghosts" seem to clearly riff off Swift's song "Style," which is widely believed to be about — you guessed it — Styles. In "Style," Swift mentions wearing red lipstick and being in an on-and-off relationship with someone who wears a white T-shirt. In "Two Ghosts," Styles sings, "Same lips red, same eyes blue / Same white shirt, couple more tattoos," making it seem like this melancholy tune was definitely a response to Swift.
Is "Paper Doll" by John Mayer About Taylor Swift?
Swift is layered with her songwriting and usually likes to keep some plausible deniability about any given track's muse, but there are seemingly two exceptions to this rule: "Style" (Harry Styles) and "Dear John" (John Mayer), who Swift dated briefly when she was 19 years old.
In "Dear John," Taylor sings about how 19 was too young to have been played with and that the man should've known better given his older age. Mayer was 32 when they dated, which didn't raise as many eyebrows as it perhaps should have at the time.
Mayer has publicly denounced "Paper Doll," calling it "cheap songwriting" and insisting he didn't deserve it in a 2012 interview with Rolling Stone. Only a year later, in 2013, he released "Paper Doll," which was quickly linked to Swift. He mentions her being "22 girls in one," referencing her hit song "22." He also sings, "Someone's going to paint you another sky," which is eerily similar to her lyric, "You paint me a blue sky".
Mayer hadn't publicly acknowledged the conversation surrounding "Paper Doll" until early 2023 when he admitted at a concert in Sacramento that the song came from a place of hurt feelings. Swift never responded to the song, but seemingly touched on the impact of her relationship with Mayer again in her "Midnights" album through the song "Would've Could've Should've."
Is "A Change of Heart" by The 1975 About Taylor Swift?
Before Matty Healy and Swift publicly (and controversially) dated in 2023, they were rumored to have a fling in 2014. They met when Swift attended a The 1975 concert, where she and Healy supposedly swapped numbers. Later, Swift was photographed walking on the street in a 1975 t-shirt, and Matty performed in a "1989" t-shirt.
People have speculated that "A Change of Heart," released by The 1975 in 2016, is actually about Swift and their brief romance. When asked if "A Change of Heart" and his other song, "She's So American," were about Swift, Healy has been coy on the subject. But a source close to Healy told Page Six that "A Change of Heart" is inspired by Swift, among others.
Fans are waiting with bated breath to see if the pair's most recent romance — which ended abruptly in June 2023 — will lead to new songs inspired by each other.
Is "Enchanted" by Owl City About Taylor Swift?
We've covered all the songs by Swift's exes, and now we move on to someone who was never her boyfriend, but certainly wishes he was. This is an amusing addition to our list, and perhaps the one least discussed by Swifties.
Swift released the song "Enchanted" in 2010 on her "Speak Now" album. It's said to be about Adam Young from the band Owl City. The two corresponded over email for a while and then met in New York, although nothing further progressed from this.
In response to the song, Owl City recorded a cover of "Enchanted" with a few lyric changes. The most notable lyric change is, "It was enchanting to meet you, Taylor." The two have never been linked again since.
Is "Swish Swish" by Katy Perry About Taylor Swift?
It's not just men singing about Swift, as we've got Katy Perry to add to the list.
The Katy Perry-Taylor Swift feud started in 2014 with the release of "Bad Blood" by Swift, which was unofficially confirmed to be about Perry. The initial argument is believed to be caused by Katy hiring many of Taylor's tour staff, which was seen as an act of 'sabotage' by Swift. She explained this in an interview with Rolling Stone but did not mention Perry by name. Additionally, there were many tweets by both Swift and Perry over the years that seemed to reference one another.
For years, fans wondered if Perry would ever respond to "Bad Blood," and it seems she finally did in 2017 when she released "Swish Swish." Throughout the song, Perry sings about how her opponent is outdated and no longer relevant. The video also has many references to Swift, such as mimicking the "Bad Blood" music video and tweets promising a "catastrophe" ahead of release, which was the name of Swift's character in the video.
But don't worry, the two pop icons have since made up, and Perry was even featured in the music video for "You Need to Calm Down."
Is "Famous" by Kanye West About Taylor Swift?
Rounding off the list is the ultimate showdown between two icons of the industry. For the story of "Famous," we need to go right to the beginning. In 2009, while accepting the award for best female video for "You Belong With Me" at the VMAs, Swift was interrupted on stage by Kanye West in a moment that went down in pop culture history. Swift has since explained how demoralizing this experience was, as she was only 19 years old at the time, and believed the audience's booing was directed at her. She discussed this event in her 2020 documentary, Miss Americana, as well as the later impact on her mental health.
Since then, Swift has only grown in popularity and sales. In 2016, West released "Famous," in which he raps, "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex" and "I made that b*tch famous," the latter of which is referencing the impact of their 2009 moment at the VMAs. The video also features several nude depictions of celebrities, including Taylor.
Four days later, Swift seemingly referenced this in her acceptance speech at the 58th Grammy Awards, where she received the album of the year award for "1989." "There are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success, or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame," she said.
In response, Kardashian leaked footage of Swift seemingly agreeing to the line, which Swift claimed was not the whole story. Later, the full footage was revealed, which demonstrated that Swift hadn't approved the line insinuating West was responsible for her success. Swift ultimately referenced both West and Kardashian in her "Look What You Made Me Do" video and throughout the "Reputation" album in general.