Though Katy Perry recently gave one of the most roundabout non-answers ever regarding whether or not any of the songs on her forthcoming Witness album would respond to Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” (which the latter at one point also tried to say was about an ex-lover so maybe it’s a combo platter of ire), it’s pretty evident that “Swish Swish” is the response. And there’s really no better person to tap for a diss track that’s liable to merely perpetuate an already long-established feud than Nicki Minaj (see: “No Frauds“). And to add further venom to the track, it’s no coincidence that Minaj herself was involved in a beef with Swift after calling out “Bad Blood” for getting nominated Best Video of the Year at the 2015 VMAs solely because, “If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year.” When Swift entered the k-hole of responding, Perry, too, eventually weighed in on the matter in favor of Nicki.
Though, generally speaking, Perry has been rather mum on Swift’s (a word that rhymes quite well with “swish”) admission in a 2014 Rolling Stone interview that the song was “about another female artist Swift declines to name.” She went on to say, “For years, I was never sure if we were friends or not. 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?'” Swift concluded, “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.” Ah, the white girl signature of passive aggressiveness. I know it well.
But now it seems Perry isn’t avoiding anything, and, as everyone knows, the California Gurl was the one who poached many a dancer (back) from Swift for her Prismatic World Tour. Unloading all of the things she seems to have been bottling up inside, Perry finally confesses, “You’re ’bout as cute as an old coupon expired” (not quite as good as the “Battle of Troy” simile in Selena Gomez’s latest, but not bad).
Sampling from DJ Le Roi featuring Roland Clark’s 2000 track, “I Get Deep,” Perry brings underground house to pop mainstream in a way that’s probably only going to get critics to hate her a little more. And if the backing beat sounds familiar for more reasons than just it being from Nicki Minaj’s “Truffle Butter” bonus track off the Pinkprint album, it’s also because it’s originally sampled from Maya Jane Coles’ beloved club hit, “What They Say,” from 2010.
Ribbing off the media headlines that swirled when Kim Kardashian leaked the video of Kanye West asking Swift’s permission to be referenced on “Famous,” Perry assures, “Karma’s not a liar, she keeps receipts.” The subtle West/Kardashian allegiance also expands to the fact that Kanye was originally planning to call The Life of Pablo, what else, Swish. And of Swift’s attempt at saying “Bad Blood” wasn’t about any “one person,” per se (like Madonna’s manager trying to say that “Two Steps Behind Me” wasn’t about Lady Gaga), Minaj merely shrugs on Perry’s behalf, “Don’t be tryna double back/I already despise you.”
And it’s a joint despisal that has made both for a danceable pop hit, as well as a Pandora’s box opening of the floodgate for sub-feuds that also include rather stupide insults from one of Swift’s seeming legion of famous friends, Ruby Rose. Let the games begin–none of them basketball-related.