Harry Hill may know how to sort out an argument, but in the music industry, the battleground is more of a moveable feast.
What was interesting about the latest pop feud between Dumfries’ answer to David Guetta, Calvin Harris, and Chris Brown (or more to the point, Chris Brown fans) was where it was conducted – on Twitter.
Cue a tweet from Calvin Harris last Tuesday: “Choked on my cornflakes when I heard new Chris Brown single this morning”.
After a barrage of abuse from Brown fans about not being on the same level as their idol, Rihanna’s very ex-boyfriend, Harris responded: “Listen if anyone ever sees me on the same level as Chris Brown, let me know and I’ll stab myself.”
The Harris-Brown face-off was the latest platform for that age-old duel known as the pop bust-up. Here’s where some (you may have others) have been conducted over the years:-
“Take it outside!” doesn’t work when you’re effectively the boss of your manager and you’re performing on stage in front of 10,000 screaming fans. See: Sting vs Stewart Copeland (The Police), Brandon Flowers vs Ronnie Vannucci (The Killers), Dave vs Ray Davies (The Kinks) Andy Burrows vs Johnny Borrell (Razorlight), Carl Dalermo vs Johnny Borrell (Razorlight)…
The upside of John Lennon and Paul McCartney breaking up the most successful song-writing partnership of the 20th century (with apologies to Richard Rodgers) was that John Lennon and Paul McCartney continued to write songs … often about each other. How Do You Sleep was the most memorably cruel. See: John Lennon’s How Do You Sleep, 2Pac’s Hit Em Up (about Biggie Smalls), Nas’s Ether (about Jay-Z), Pet Shop Boys’ How Can You Expect to be Taken Seriously (about, principally, Sting)
Thin line between love and hate
Break-ups begat more break-ups. It wasn’t just The Beatles and Spinal Tap, where love got in the way.
See: The Rolling Stones falling out over Anita Pallenberg, George Harrison and Eric Clapton both falling for Patti Boyd – though this was hardly a feud, Blur’s Damon Albarn and Suede’s Brett Anderson falling out over Justine Frischmann, and Mick Fleetwood dating bandmate Lindsay Buckingham’s ex Stevie Nicks.
This is normally between band members or after someone is seen to have lifted a song. Mike Joyce suing Morrissey, Tony McCaroll suing Oasis, Kris Novoselic and Dave Grohl taking on Courtney Love
“I’d like to thank my agent, my stylist and God. Not necessarily in that order.” Boring. “10 grand of my money, ten grand of his – who wants to see me fight Liam?” Slightly more interesting. See: Noel Gallagher taking down Michael Hutchence at the BRITs, Robbie Williams challenging Liam Gallagher at the BRITs, Kanye West making an enemy of Taylor Swift at the VMAs.
New Musical Enmity
The rock press, particularly weeklies like Sounds, Melody Maker and NME used to be the playground where rock stars liked to bully each other. Morrissey was the sultan of sour, from threatening to have Robert Smith and Patti Smith shot (NME), “If met Vic Reeves, I’d have no desire other than to smack him in the face.” (Q), “Brett Anderson will never forgive God for not making him Angie Bowie”. (Vox)
Tim Burgess called Morrissey “a fool” in – where else? – NME. Morrissey versus the NME key points, 1984-1989, 1992-1994, and 2007-present. Recent examples include Fiery Furnaces on Radiohead, M.I.A. on Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga, and Kasabian on Test Icicles.
The not-very social networks
Calvin Harris doesn’t plan to sue Chris Brown’s people – he just wanted to make a point on his own social network. The fact that Twitter exists means he could do that to his fans without the need for journalists, PR or even leaving his own bed.
See also: Courtney Love vs Taylor Momsen and Jess Origliasso (Twitter division), Lily Allen versus Cheryl Cole (on MySpace) and rather inevitably Lily Allen vs Courtney Love (Twitter).