Top 20 Rivalries in Music

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Lynyrd Skynyrd vs. Neil Young
Fightin' Words: "Well I hope Neil Young will remember/ A southern man don't need him around anyhow" ('Sweet Home Alabama,' Lynyrd Skynyrd)

Neil Young's 'Southern Man,' his biting rant about Confederate racism, was what drew the ire of proud rednecks Lynyrd Skynyrd and prompted their musical response.


Mariah Carey vs. Jennifer Lopez
Fightin' Words: "I don't know her." (Mariah Carey)

These divas first clashed over a sample that Jennifer Lopez rushed to use before Mariah could release it. Told that J-Lo got eight hours of sleep a night, Mariah replied, "If I had the luxury of not actually having to sing my songs, I'd do that too." Recently asked what she thought of Beyonce, Mariah was effusive in her praise. But when asked about J-Lo, she claimed ignorance.

Judges' Decision: Mariah -- but don't call it a comeback


Marilyn Manson vs. My Chemical Romance

Fightin' Words: "Rebels without applause/ I sell my shadow to those who are standing in it" ('Mutilation Is the Most Sincere Form of Flattery,' Manson)

The aging shock rocker took shots at a younger generation, claiming that MCR owes him an unacknowledged debt. MCR frontman Gerard Way, astutely noting that many feuds occur when one of the offending parties has a new record to promote, dismissed Manson: "If Elvis Costello said we sucked we would think about it a bit ... We still haven't found someone that has knocked us down that we need to take seriously."

Judges' Decision: My Chemical Romance gets the last laugh


Dandy Warhols vs. Brian Jonestown Massacre

Fightin' Words: "Not if you were the last Dandy on earth" (Brian Jonestown Massacre)

Rarely has a manufactured rivalry grown legs as long as these. Two West Coast bands with two modest hits between them, both by the Dandy Warhols, their running feud became the subject of the documentary 'DiG!' BJM frontman Anton Newcombe once sent the members of the Dandys personalized shotgun shells. The Dandys responded by filing a restraining order.

Judges' Decision: BJM by reason of insanity


Jay-Z vs. Nas

Fightin' Words: "My mother can't save you this time" ('Blueprint 2,' Jay-Z)

The death of Notorious B.I.G. brought resentment between Jay-Z and Nas to the surface, as both rappers vied for the unofficial title of King of New York. Lyrics alluding to Jay-Z's familiarity with Nas's ex set off a volley of disses, including 'Ether,' on which Nas questioned Jay's manhood. When Jay again played the girlfriend card, his mother demanded he apologize. Despite lingering ill will, the two sides announced a truce in 2005; Nas is now signed to Def Jam, Jay-Z's label.

Judges' Decision: Jay-Z, who can buy any judge he wants


Red Hot Chili Peppers vs. Mr. Bungle

Fightin' Words: "That stupid white band that does horrible cover versions of black musicians." (Mr. Bungle's Trevor Dunn)

RHCP's Anthony Kiedis took exception to Mike Patton's stage presence in Faith No More, which he thought ripped off his own. When Patton later fronted Mr. Bungle, the bands were set to release albums ('California' and 'Californication') on the same day and label. Bungle's was pushed back. Kiedis insisted that they be removed from Chilis-headlined festivals. A miffed Patton said, "We are not even a speck of dust on this guy's ass!" Bungle later put on a Peppers parody, mocking several songs.

Judges' Decision: Mr. Bungle in a split decision: Score one for the longshot


Nirvana vs. Pearl Jam

Fightin' Words: "That sort of s--- just makes really good copy." (Nirvana's Dave Grohl)

This one, like Beatles-Stones, was the rivalry the media really, really wished would blow up. The fact of the matter was that, while Kurt Cobain was occasionally dismissive of his fellow Seattle band in the press, the conscientious blokes in Pearl Jam never took the bait. Nirvana vs. Pearl Jam was pretty much a nonstarter: All apologies.

Judges' Decision: Postponed indefinitely


Dwarves vs. QOTSA

Fightin' Words: "Whatcha gonna do?" (QOTSA's Josh Homme, after pouring beer over the Dwarves' Blag Dahlia)

After dousing the Dwarves' frontman at an L.A. nightclub, Homme allegedly bashed him over the head with the bottle. Dahlia joked, "He seemed very angry. It was almost as if somebody made him listen to one of his records." The incident was triggered by a Dwarves lyric addressed to "Queens of the Trust Fund": "You slept on my floor, and now I'm sleeping through your motherf------ album."

Judges' Decision: Dwarves in a technicality -- Homme sentenced to anger management


Killers vs. Bravery/Fall Out Boy

Fightin' Words: "How do you defend that? If you say, 'My heart really belongs to what I'm doing now, but you used to be in a ska band." (Brandon Flowers)

Killers frontman Flowers has a real knack for cheesing people off. When he mocked rival band the Bravery, singer Sam Endicott swung back in an interview, calling Flowers a "little girl." Then Flowers complained about losing the attention of his label to Fall Out Boy, a rant which received a swift reply from Pete Wentz. Wentz later dismissed the whole affair, saying, "We both use too much hair product and run our mouths way more than our bands would like."

Judges' Decision: Killers, for sheer number of punches thrown


Eminem vs. Michael Jackson

Fightin' Words: "I've done touched on everything but little boys/ That's not a stab at Michael/ That's just a metaphor" ('Just Lose It,' Eminem)

Eminem grew up in awe of Michael Jackson's talent. He showed it in 'Just Lose It,' dressed like Jackson and frolicking on a bed with young boys, a fake nose and hair aflame. Michael was hurt, and called for a boycott of the video. "I'm just happy Michael Jackson has heard of me," Eminem said.

Judges' Decision: As usual, MJ buys a win: he now owns publishing rights to a music catalog that includes Eminem songs


Oasis vs. Blur

Fightin' Words: "I hate that Alex and Damon. I hope they catch AIDS and die." (Oasis' Noel Gallagher)

Class warfare was the underlying motive behind the mid-'90s scrum between the working-class Gallagher brothers and the art-damaged Damon Albarn and co. Ironically, it was Noel who accused Albarn of slovenliness, saying he "looks like a dustbin man these days." When Albarn's side project, Gorillaz, debuted, Liam dismissed it as "3-year-olds' music." Albarn's rebuttal? At one point he chided the Gallaghers for being featured in lightweight celebrity magazines. Ouch!
UPDATE: In Sept. 2007, Liam called a truce. "I don't mind Blur," he told Mojo, "I'm over [the rivalry]. It was a laugh man, that's what you do when you're young."

Judges' Decision: Oasis, in a Tyson-esque first-round knockout


Toby Keith vs. Dixie Chicks

Fightin' Words: "I'm not ready to make nice" ('Not Ready to Make Nice,' Dixie Chicks)

Natalie Maines said Toby Keith's song 'Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue' made country music sound "ignorant." Keith said Maines was a lame songwriter. When she trashed the Bush administration, he toured with a backdrop depicting Nat with Saddam Hussein. She wore a T-shirt to the ACM awards that read "FUTK," and no one believed it stood for Freedom, Understanding, Truth and Knowledge. "I think it was bad for everybody involved," Keith told a reporter. At least Fox News got some mileage out of it.

Judges' Decision: Chicks in late-round surge


50 Cent vs. The Game

Fightin' Words: "50 Cent can suck my ..." (The Game)

Former G-Unit member the Game drew the ire of its honcho when he ignored the boss' advice not to collaborate with artists on the G-Unit persona non grata list. Fiddy claimed he didn't get enough credit for the success of Game's breakthrough, 'The Documentary.' Fiddy was doubly ticked when his label pushed back his album to focus on promoting Game. The Game joked about "G-Unot," and 50 promptly trademarked "G-Unit" to keep Game from using it.

Judges' Decision: Still in progress, with both sides throwing haymakers


Christina Aguilera vs. Britney Spears

Fightin' Words: "Dark." (Spears dissing Aguilera)

When Aguilera got flirty with Spears' ex Justin Timberlake, Britney was not amused, and she left Xtina off the guest list for her wedding to K-Fed. Aguilera, in a moment of clairvoyance, called the wedding "cheap," later adding that Spears "let herself go" during pregnancy. She also accused Brit of lip-synching during their appearance with Madonna on the VMAs. Britney, perhaps punch-drunk over such a flurry of blows, could only manage to question Xtina's disposition.

Judges' Decision: Xtina, who kept the upper hand until the end, sending a conciliatory gift basket


John Lennon vs. Paul McCartney

Fightin' Words: "The only thing you done was yesterday/ And since you're gone you're just another day" ('How Do You Sleep?,' Lennon)

Lennon managed to puncture two of his former collaborators' songs with one shot on this bitter dis from 'Imagine.' Lennon's was responding to McCartney's own bitter pills on his solo releases, which featured a photo of a beetle getting screwed and the line "You took your lucky break and broke it in two." Lennon expressed regret for the feud before his death, and McCartney has grown wistful for his old mate in recent years. Still, Macca couldn't resist lobbying to have his name reversed with Lennon's on some credits. Yoko was not amused.

Judges' Decision: McCartney, by default


Eazy E vs. Dr. Dre/Ice Cube

Fightin' Words: "You got jealous when I got my own company/ But I'm a man, ain't nobody humpin' me" ('No Vaseline,' Ice Cube)

Ice Cube was the first member to leave NWA, in a royalty dispute. Cube's 'A Message to the Oreo Cookie' was interpreted as a dig at Eazy-E. NWA replied with the unmistakable dis 'A Message to B.A.,' which called Cube "Benedict Arnold" and suggested a personal greeting from a broomstick. Cube shot back with with a similar offer in 'No Vaseline' widely considered one of the all-time best dis songs.

Judges' Decision: Ice Cube by a verbal knockout


Metallica vs. Megadeth

Fightin' Words: "Everything about you has been one big charade/ What will you do now that the well's run dry cry?/ To sell out all your friends and stab them in the back" ('Something I'm Not,' Megadeth)

Megadeth frontman and ex-Metallica member Dave Mustaine said for years that he wasn't credited for Metallica songs he helped write. He and Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich sat down for therapy during the filming of the Metallica doc 'Some Kind of Monster' to try to patch up their feud. When edited footage of the sit-down appeared against Mustaine's wishes, the rivalry kicked back into gear.

Judges' Decision: Megadeth, for accusing Ulrich of "enissophobia" (zing!)


James Brown vs. Joe Tex

Fightin' Words: "You keep her" ('You Keep Her,' Tex)

Tex and Brown were labelmates in the 1950s, and Tex was credited for one of Brown's early hits. But that didn't make them friends. Tex felt that Brown swiped his stage moves. Soon enough the Godfather would swipe something more personal: Tex's wife. When Bea Ford joined the James Brown Revue, Tex recorded 'You Keep Her.' They periodically shared bills until Tex mocked Brown's famous act by throwing a blanket over his shoulders and singing "Please, please, please get me out of this cape!" Brown fired several rounds at his rival in a nightclub, reportedly paying off patrons hit by stray bullets with $100 bills.

Judges' Decision: James Brown, despite the foreign object


Notorious B.I.G. vs. 2Pac

Fightin' Words: "Grab your glocks when you see 2Pac" ('Hit 'Em Up,' 2Pac)

When Tupac Shakur got shot in the lobby of a Manhattan recording studio in 1994, he was convinced that East Coast rival Notorious B.I.G. was involved. In one of the all-time best dis songs, 'Hit 'Em Up,' he claimed to have slept with Biggie's wife, Faith Evans. Biggie vowed not to respond, but when Shakur was murdered in Las Vegas, the rotund rapper was immediately suspected. Biggie's murder in 1997, a year after Tupac's, makes this short but very sour feud the most deadly in music history.

Judges' Decision: Double KO


Jerry Lee Lewis vs. Chuck Berry

Fightin' Words: "You're on, Chuck." (Lewis)

That's what the original Killer allegedly said to fellow future Hall of Famer, Chuck Berry, at the legendary '50s show that both wanted to close. After much debate, the promoter convinced Lewis to go on first. He played one of the wildest sets of his career, finishing by dousing his piano with gasoline and setting it aflame. With sirens blaring and the crowd in delirium, he calmly delivered his three-word kiss-off: "You're on, Chuck." (Or, as a Lewis biography claims, a less charitable version that ended with the n-word.)

Judges' Decision: Jerry Lee Lewis, no contest