17 Times Singers Dissed Their Exes In Songs & Left Everyone Shook
If you're a drama lover, then you know few things are more exciting than the debut of a diss track. Over the years, there have been plenty of singers who have dissed their exes in songs (or are rumored to have written songs about their exes) following a messy breakup, and while they haven't all revealed the inspiration behind their lyrics, that hasn't stop fans from jumping to conclusions. What's even juicier is when two artists go their separate ways and decide to write diss tracks about each other. Double the drama, double the bops — what's not to love?
For some singers, writing about a relationship gone wrong is a cathartic experience, and it makes sense. What better way is there to throw shade at a former lover than in a hit song? And while sometimes the resulting song is a heart-wrenching ballad like, "Slide Away" or "Call Out My Name," other times fans are gifted with a bitter breakup bop, like "Shout Out to My Ex" or "Fun Tonight." From subtle snubs to overt call-outs, here are just some of the most memorable diss tracks out there (and IMO, they're all awesome songs to listen to after a breakup).
Ariana Grande's "Positions"
Heaven sent you to me / I'm just hopin' I don't repeat history
Though Ariana Grande took an overt shot at several of her exes in 2019's "thank u, next," fans think Grande subtly threw shade at her ex-fiancé, Pete Davidson, with 2020's "Positions." In the intro, Grande sings, "I hope I don't repeat history," which some listeners interpreted as "re-Pete" history. Grande has never confirmed herself whether the perceived wordplay was intentional, but there are several other songs on Thank U, Next that are seemingly about Davidson as well.
Demi Lovato's "Still Have Me"
I'm a mess and I'm still broken / But I'm finding my way back / And it feels like someone's stolen / All the light I ever had
Just days after her breakup with Max Ehrich, Demi Lovato released "Still Have Me," and of course, fans assumed the breakup track is about her ex-fiancé. Lovato never confirmed that's the case, but the lyrics are still pretty telling, TBH.
Justin Bieber's "Love Yourself"
My mama don't like you and she likes everyone / And I never like to admit that I was wrong / And I've been so caught up in my job, didn't see what's going on / But now I know, I'm better sleeping on my own
While Justin Bieber has seemingly penned dozens of songs (both romantic and not-so-romantic) about his ex Selena Gomez, one of the shadiest is 2015's "Love Yourself." Fans think the song title was perhaps inspired by Gomez's back tattoo — which reads "Love Yourself First" in Arabic — and though Bieber has never confirmed the breakup ballad is about her, he suggested as much during an interview with Ryan Seacrest.
During an April 2015 appearance on On Air With Ryan Seacrest, Bieber opened up about Gomez's influence on his Purpose album as a whole. "A lot of my inspiration comes from her," he said. "It was a long relationship and a relationship that created heartbreak and created happiness, and a lot of different emotions that I wanted to write about."
Selena Gomez's "Lose You to Love Me"
I gave my all and they all know it / You turned me down and now it's showing / In two months, you replaced us / Like it was easy / Made me think I deserved it / In the thick of healing, yeah
Gomez has also released tons of shady songs about Bieber both during and after their seven-year romance, including "Same Old Love," "It Ain't Me," and many of the songs on her Rare album, but the most overt is probably 2019's "Lose You to Love Me." Fans interpreted the song as a direct response to "Love Yourself," especially since Bieber notably started dating Hailey Baldwin two months after he and Gomez broke up for the final time. In the song, she also name-drops Purpose, Bieber's 2015 album, with the lyric "set fire to my purpose."
Soon after releasing the track, Gomez all but confirmed "Lose You to Love Me" is about Bieber during an October 2019 On Air With Ryan Seacrest appearance. "I wrote this song over a year ago. I feel completely different from when I wrote it," she said. "It's more beautiful for me because I know exactly where I was when I wrote it and how I felt."
Bella Thorne's "SFB"
You wanted me for clout, and I should've thrown you out / But I never resist the way you bite your lower lip
Bella Thorne didn't have to tell anyone 2020's "SFB" is about Tana Mongeau — the lyrics say it all. Although the two seemingly ended things amicably in February 2019 after dating for over a year, the lyrics of "SFB" hint they aren't on good terms anymore. In the song, Thorne accused Mongeau of only using her for clout, and she also appeared to shade her ex for opening an OnlyFans account right after her.
While Throne hasn't explicitly confirmed the song is about Mongeau (despite casting a Mongeau lookalike in the video), Mongeau's reaction video to "SFB" makes it clear how she feels about the perceived shade.
Ed Sheeran's "Don't"
And I never saw him as a threat / Until you disappeared with him to have sex, of course / It's not like we were both on tour / We were staying on the same f*cking hotel floor
During a Click 98.9 radio interview in September 2013, Ed Sheeran said he and Ellie Goulding briefly dated earlier that year. The following year, he released the song "Don't" — which was reportedly written about Goulding allegedly cheating on him with Niall Horan while they were staying the same hotel — so I think it's safe to say things didn't end well.
Sheeran seemingly confirmed the rumors about the inspiration for "Don't" during an October 2014 interview with The Sun. "I got over the anger the moment I wrote the song," he said. "That's the end of it. I'm grateful I could get a song out of it, to be honest." However, he later denied saying "Don't" was about Goulding during a May 2015 interview with Entertainment Tonight... though fans are still unconvinced.
Ellie Goulding's "On My Mind"
Next thing that I know I'm in the hotel with you / You were talking deep like it was mad love to you / You wanted my heart but I just liked your tattoos
In 2015, Goulding released "On My Mind," which fans interpreted as a response to Sheeran's "Don't." The song alludes to a relationship one person took more seriously than the other — as well as to a guy with a notable collection of tattoos. Hmm...
During a September 2015 interview with MTV News, Goulding said she didn't mind fans speculating about the song's meaning, though she claimed it wasn't about a particular person. "I'm sorry to all the people that want it to be about someone — it's not, it's like a myth," she said, adding, "People can read into it however they want. It's fun to do that. I would do that, too." Again, fans remain skeptical.
Jhené Aiko's "Triggered"
Who am I kiddin'? / Knew from the beginnin' / You'd ruin everything, you do it every time / You are my enemy, you are no friend of mine
If you're familiar with Big Sean and Jhené Aiko's wild relationship timeline, then you likely understand why fans immediately knew 2019's "Triggered" was about Sean. Aiko released the song right around the time of their March 2019 breakup, and during a February 2020 interview with Essence, she opened up about Sean's reaction to the song.
"He was just like, 'Wow, I'm not your friend,'" she said. "I was like, 'Well, I was feeling that in the moment. This is just a song.' ... Those are the things that I may feel, and I know that they are irrational and coming from just an angry emotional place, but that's what's so beautiful about art is that you can just throw paint on a blank canvas, and do something crazy and that's your release." Luckily, by the end of 2019, Sean and Aiko were able to reconcile.
The Weeknd's "Call Out My Name"
I said I didn't feel nothing, baby, but I lied / I almost cut a piece of myself for your life / Guess I was just another pit stop / 'Til you made up your mind / You just wasted my time
Fans suspect there are several songs on My Dear Melancholy inspired by Gomez, but it definitely seems as though The Weeknd's "Call Out My Name" is about his ex, who he dated for a little under a year. The breakup ballad seemingly alludes to Gomez's kidney transplant (and The Weeknd even suggests he was a potential donor), and it possibly shades Gomez for getting back together with Bieber soon after he and Gomez split in October 2017.
Though The Weeknd later confirmed the 2018 album was about his own personal experiences, he replied, "No comment" when asked by Esquire in August 2020 if someone in particular inspired those songs.
Miley Cyrus' "Slide Away"
Move on, we're not 17 / I'm not who I used to be / You say that everything changed / You're right, we're grown now
Miley Cyrus is no stranger to throwing shade at exes (please see her 2008's bop "7 Things"), but her 2019 song "Slide Away," which is reportedly about her divorce from Liam Hemsworth, hits particularly hard. The track was released just days after the two announced their decision to separate in August 2019 after 10 years together, and the music video seemingly included nods to their relationship. Fans also think she threw shade at Hemsworth during her VMAs performance of the song, when she changed the lyrics to "You're right, I'm grown now."
During an August 2020 interview with Apple Music's Zane Lowe, Cyrus said she wrote the song months before her marriage actually came to an end. "I wrote 'Slide Away' in February of the year before. And I just keep speaking these things into existence," she said.
Halsey's "Without Me"
And then I got you off your knees / Put you right back on your feet / Just so you can take advantage of me
G-Eazy and Halsey's split was anything but amicable, and both artists threw plenty of shade at each other following their split. Not long after their second breakup, Halsey released "Without Me" in October 2018, and the singer made it clear the song was about G-Eazy.
"I have to be honest, [writing "Without Me"] led me to my decision [to break up with G-Eazy] at that time," Halsey told Zach Sang in an October 2018 interview, explaining that the song actually preceded their split. "I listened to what I wrote and went, 'Oh my god, is that how I feel? If that's how I feel I need to put the pause on this thing right now. I'm obviously talking about my relationship.' So the song happened first. And it was, just like, this moment of like sincerity."
G-Eazy's "Had Enough"
Uh, rebounds, I see who I'm replaced with / You took no time, you can't waste it / You drag my name, I don't say sh*t / But let somebody say 'G-Eazy' you go ape sh*t / Thank God we stayed split
Though G-Eazy never directly responded to Halsey's criticism, fans are pretty certain his 2020 song "Had Enough" is a diss track aimed at his ex. In the song, he refers to an ex who took "no time" to replace him (seemingly alluding to how Halsey moved on with Yungblud following their split). He also seemingly referred to the time Halsey called out a troll who said G-Eazy's name during their pre-Super Bowl concert. G-Eazy has yet to confirm whether the song is actually about Halsey.
Little Mix's "Shout Out To My Ex"
Heard he in love with some other chick / Yeah yeah, that hurt me, I'll admit / Forget that boy, I'm over it / I hope she gettin' better sex / Hope she ain't fakin' it like I did, babe / Took four long years to call it quits / Forget that boy, I'm over it
A year after Perrie Edwards and Zayn Malik called off their engagement in 2015, Edwards' band Little Mix released the song "Shout Out to My Ex," and the lyrics seemed to take allude to Edwards' messy split. In the song, Edwards (who dated Malik for four years) also seemingly calls out her ex for moving on so quickly with Gigi Hadid.
Though fans still think the song was penned with Malik in mind, Edwards told E! News during a December 2016 interview the song was more about breakups in general. "We just thought, 'You know what? Women need to feel empowered,'" she said. "Everybody needs to feel empowered after a breakup, and we feel like this song can relate to everyone because everybody's had an ex."
Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me A River"
You don't have to say, what you did / I already know, I found out from him / Now there's just no chance / With you and me / There'll never be
After Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake went their separate ways in 2002 after three years together, Timberlake seemingly responded with "Cry Me a River," which he dropped soon after their split. In his 2018 book, Hindsight: & All the Things I Can't See in Front of Me, the former NYSNC member all but confirmed "Cry Me a River" was about his breakup with Spears. "I wrote 'Cry Me a River' in two hours. I didn't plan on writing it," he explained, per People. "The feelings I had were so strong that I had to write it, and I translated my feelings into a form where people could listen and, hopefully, relate to it."
If the shade wasn't obvious enough, Timberlake also cast a Spears lookalike in the music video. During a March 2011 interview with Rolling Stone, Spears shared her reaction to the stunt (as well as his cheating accusations). "I think I was in shock, to be honest," she said. "I didn't know what to say, what to do. That was the last thing I ever thought somebody might do. I was really shocked sh*tless. But you live and you learn." Timberlake has since faced backlash for painting Spears in a negative light and controlling the narrative after their messy split.
Taylor Swift's "Dear John"
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?
Though Taylor Swift has reportedly written shady songs about several exes (including Harry Styles, Joe Jonas, Calvin Harris, and Jake Gyllenhaal, among others), the most obvious diss track is 2010's "Dear John," which reportedly refers to her short-lived relationship with John Mayer. Swift and Mayer dated in 2009 when Swift was 19, and apparently, it didn't end well.
During a June 2012 interview with Rolling Stone, Mayer made it very clear he wasn't pleased with the song. "It made me feel terrible. Because I didn't deserve it," he said. "I'm pretty good at taking accountability now, and I never did anything to deserve that. It was a really lousy thing for her to do." Swift has never responded to the claims or Mayer's criticism.
John Mayer's "Paper Doll"
You're like 22 girls in one / And none of them know what they're runnin' from / Was it just too far to fall? / For a little paper doll
Fans are pretty sure Mayer's 2013 song "Paper Doll" was written as a response to "Dear John," especially since he seemingly refers to Swift's song "22" in one of the lyrics. When asked during a July 2013 appearance on the Today show whether Swift inspired the song, Mayer gave a cryptic answer. "Yeah, songwriters write songs because of people, about people," he said. "Anything someone else wrote is their reception of a song. I don't get involved with [it]. It's none of my business."
Lady Gaga's "Fun Tonight"
You love the paparazzi, love the fame / Even though you know it causes me pain / I feel like I'm in a prison hell / Stick my hands through the steels bars and yell
After releasing one song inspired by an ex-fiancé (2016's "Perfect Illusion" is about Taylor Kinney, FYI), Lady Gaga seemingly used her second broken engagement for inspo when she wrote 2020's "Fun Tonight." Fans think the ballad refers to her breakup with Christian Carino, who she was with for two years before they called off their engagement in February 2019.
Gaga's "Fun Tonight" lyrics allude to an ex's obsession with fame, which seem to echo what a source reportedly claimed to Us Weekly in March 2019 about the former couple's decision to split. The source reportedly claimed, "Chris didn't treat Gaga very well toward the end of their relationship," adding, "he was jealous" and "trying to find her all the time and texted her a lot." However, Gaga has yet to confirm herself whether she had Carino in mind when the song was created.
Thanks for the incredible breakup ballads, celebs.