Swift, for her part, has always been open about her writing about her ex-boyfriends. “If guys don’t want me to write bad songs about them, they shouldn’t do bad things,” the Grammy winner infamously quipped in 2009.
Following high-profile romances with Gyllenhaal, Joe Jonas, Harry Styles, Calvin Harris, John Mayer and Tom Hiddleston, Swift settled down with boyfriend Joe Alwyn. As a result, she started finding inspiration from other people’s relationships.
“I found myself not only writing my own stories, but also writing about or from the perspective of people I’ve never met, people I’ve known, or those I wish I hadn’t,” Swift explained in the album notes of her eighth studio album, Folklore, in 2020. “Picking up a pen was my way of escaping into fantasy, history and memory. I’d told these stories to the best of my ability with all the love, wonder and whimsey they deserve.”
However, in 2021, after rereleasing her 2012 album, Red, which was said to be inspired by her brief romance with Gyllenhaal, Swift made it clear that her albums are about her — not her exes. It’s why the Valentine’s Day actress admitted in an interview with Seth Meyers at the time, “I haven’t thought about [my ex’s] experience, to be honest.”
The “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” songstress’ bestie Selena Gomez, meanwhile, took a page from Swift’s playbook in 2019, scoring her first No. 1 hit with a song inspired by her on-again, off-again romance with Justin Bieber.
“I gave my all and they all know it / Then you tore me down and now it’s showing / In two months, you replaced us / Like it was easy,” Gomez sings in “Lose You to Love Me,” referring to Bieber’s marriage to Hailey Bieber (née Baldwin).
After the song dropped, a source confirmed to Us that Gomez’s rocky romance with Bieber inspired the track.
“Although the song ‘Lose You to Love Me’ was cowritten and a collaboration, Selena was very involved in writing and creating it, and the song is obviously about Justin,” a source told Us at the time. “The song was inspired by Selena’s breakup from Justin, but it would be incorrect to say it’s totally about Justin.” It’s actually about finally being able to love yourself and moving on from a toxic relationship.”
Keep scrolling to get the story behind the songs inspired by famous splits: