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The feud between Taylor Swift and Kanye West has turned heartless. The coldest story ever told.
But the spat continues to make both top-selling recording artists even more famous.
The song "Famous" started the latest flare up. If you've been living under a social-media free rock, Yeezus released the single earlier this year, in which Kanye claims he made Taylor famous, that maybe they could have sex, and he calls her the b-word. (Warning: adult content)
Ouch. There's no shaking that off.
Swift went public with her outrage, saying "Famous" had a "strong misogynistic message." At the Grammy Awards, she doubled down without referring to West by name. "There are going to be people along the way who try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame," she said.
Fans rallied around Taylor, and as for Kanye, well, he couldn't get much wronger.
Then last month, West's wife, Kim Kardashian, broke the internet (again) by releasing videos of Kanye apparently getting Taylor Swift's blessing for the song — though not letting her know he calls her the b-word. She seemed fine with the content.
"Fakers gonna fake fake fake fake fake"? Swift's perfect girl persona suddenly looked a little mean. Criticism started creeping into her love life as she began dating Tom Hiddleston. More than ever, people wondered if she dates for research rather than for love.
Let's review a few past examples:
Joe Jonas (7/8-10/8)
"Forever and Always" was about Jonas, who broke Swift's heart, and it appeared on the album "Fearless," which went on to be the bestselling album of 2009.
John Mayer (12/9-2/10)
"Dear John" speaks for itself. It appeared on "Speak Now," which sold over a million records in its first week.
Jake Gyllenhaal (10/10-1/11)
Pretty much the entire album "Red" seems to be about Gyllenhaal, which became the fastest-selling album in over a decade. "The Last Time," "Red," "All Too Well," and "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" may have all found their roots in dating the actor. The Red Tour grossed an estimated $150 million.
Harry Styles: (12/12-1/13)
Some think Swift may have written a song about Styles even before they started dating, foreseeing that it wouldn't last, with "I Knew You Were Trouble." After they broke up, it's believed he may have provided fodder for "Out of the Woods," a single download that soon went platinum.
Note to future Swift BFs: Before you start dating Taylor Swift, make her sign an agreement splitting future revenues on your inspiration. Because she never ever ever ever ever ever can stop herself from doing that.
So, who's winning in this spat? Everyone. Even Justin Bieber wants a piece of the spotlight!
Short term, Kanye found that that don't kill him can make him stronger. His latest album, "Life of Pablo," moved up two spots to No. 23 on the Billboard 200 in the last week. Swift's latest album, "1989," which has been on sale for much longer, moved down two spots to 66th.
Long term, however, Swift always seems to prevail. She has a knack of turning negative attacks into best-selling songs (see above). Imagine the song coming out of this experience?
She has also outsold West over their respective careers, with an estimated 170 million sales overall versus 132 million. Forbes reports she is making more money this year than both Kanye and Kim combined.
But the biggest winner is ... Kim Kardashian. She exercised patience, business savvy, and a masterful use of social media, though she may yet face legal questions about releasing tapes of a conversation without two-part consent. However, Kardashian scored points for:
1) standing by her man
2) boosting her Snapchat following by teasing the videos she posted there on other social media platforms
3) timing the release of the tapes to maximize ratings for the latest season of "Keeping Up With the Kardashians."
Don't act like I never told ya.