Skip To Content

    17 Popular Songs You Probably Didn't Realize Were About Famous People Until Reading This Post

    Lauryn Hill's 1998 hit "Ex-Factor" is about her affair with fellow Fugees member Wyclef Jean.

    1. Taylor Swift's "Style" from her legendary album 1989 is allegedly about her early 2010s romance with Harry Styles.

    Taylor Swift in her "Style" music video; Swift and Harry Styles walking together in New York City in the early 2010s
    Big Machine / David Krieger / Bauer-Griffin / Getty Images

    In a 2020 interview, when asked about Taylor Swift's songs about him, Styles said: "I think about what it means to me to write a song about somebody else and for somebody else to do that — it's, like, flattering, even if the song isn't that flattering. You still spent time on it. And, ultimately, using Taylor as an example, she's a great songwriter. So, at least they're good songs."

    Listen to the song here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Big Machine / Via youtube.com

    2. "Obsessed" by Mariah Carey is about her infamous feud with Eminem. After she claimed over and over again they never dated, Eminem persisted they did, and Carey released this hell of a diss track.

    Mariah Carey singing: "Why you so obsessed with me? Boy I want to know, lyin' that you're sexing me;" Carey dressed as Eminem in the "Obsessed" music video; Eminem dressed in a hoodie at an entertainment event
    Island / David M. Benett / Getty Images

    Listen to the song here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Island / Via youtube.com

    3. Amy Winehouse's "Me & Mr. Jones" from her final studio album, Back to Black, is about her relationship with Nas. She even references their shared birthday (Sept. 14) in the lyric: "Mr. Destiny 9 and 14, nobody stands in between me and my man."

    Nas and Winehouse hanging out together in 2010
    Sylvia Linares / FilmMagic / Getty Images

    Nas said in a 2011 interview: "I don't really remember if Salaam (Winehouse's producer), who was really close to her [introduced us], if he told me about it or not. I don't remember right now. But I heard a lot about it before I even heard the song."

    Listen to the song here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Island / Via youtube.com

    4. Lauryn Hill's "Ex-Factor" from her Grammy Award–winning album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, is about her affair and tumultuous breakup with fellow Fugees member Wyclef Jean.

    Lauryn Hill in her "Ex-Factor" music video; Hill posing with Pras and Wyclef Jean from the Fugees in the late '90s
    Ruffhouse / Columbia / Paul Natkin / Getty Images

    The first track from Hill's Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, "Lost Ones," is also allegedly about her relationship with Jean.

    Listen to the song here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Ruffhouse / Columbia / Via youtube.com

    5. Kurt Cobain wrote the 1993 Nirvana hit "Heart-Shaped Box" about Courtney Love's vagina.

    Kurt Cobain in Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box" music video; Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain at the MTV Awards in the early '90s
    DGC / Kevin Mazur / Getty Images

    Listen to the song here:

    View this video on YouTube

    DGC / Via youtube.com

    6. Katy Perry revealed in a 2008 interview that her first major hit, "I Kissed a Girl," was inspired by Scarlett Johansson.

    Katy Perry in her "I Kissed a Girl" music video; Scarlett Johansson on the Late Show with Conan O'Brien in the mid-2000s
    Capitol / NBC / Getty Images

    Perry said: "I was with my boyfriend at the time, and I said to him, 'I'm not going to lie: If Scarlett Johansson walked into the room and wanted to make out with me, I would make out with her. I hope you're okay with that.'"

    Listen to the song here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Capitol / Via youtube.com

    7. Nick Jonas wrote the Jonas Brothers song "Lovebug" about his relationship with Miley Cyrus in the mid-2000s.

    Nick Jonas in the Jonas Brothers music video "Lovebug;" Miley Cyrus and Nick Jonas on a roller coaster at Six Flags in the mid-2000s
    Hollywood / Mathew Imaging / Getty Images

    In the Jonas Brothers' 2019 documentary Chasing Happiness, Kevin Jonas confirmed Nick wrote "Lovebug" about Miley Cyrus. He said: "That [relationship] changed girls for Nick forever — he met Miley. I think that kid's head exploded."

    Listen to the song here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Hollywood / Via youtube.com

    8. "I Need a Girl (Part One)" by Diddy is partially about his 2001 breakup from Jennifer Lopez after dating on and off for a few years.

    Diddy in his "I Need a Girl (Part One)" music video; Jennifer Lopez and Diddy at the 2000 MTV Awards
    Bad Boy / Arista / KMazur / Getty Images

    Listen to the song here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Bad Boy / Arista / Via youtube.com

    9. Little Mix's "Shout Out to my Ex" is allegedly about Perrie Edwards' breakup with Zayn Malik in 2015. Only a few months after Malik broke off their engagement via text message, he started dating Gigi Hadid.

    Little Mix in their music video "Shout Out to my Ex;" Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik at a fashion event in 2016
    Syco / Darren Gerrish / Getty Images

    Listen to the song here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Syco / Via youtube.com

    10. Green Day's classic song "Holiday," from their album American Idiot, is about George W. Bush. In a concert, Billie Joe Armstrong introduced the song as, "a big 'Fuck you!' to George W. Bush."

    Billie Joe Armstrong in Green Day's "Holiday" music video; George W. Bush making his State of the Union address in 2004
    Reprise / WEA / William B. Plowman / Getty Images

    Listen to the song here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Reprise / WEA / Via youtube.com

    11. Lil' Kim released "Black Friday" in 2011 in response to Nicki Minaj's song "Roman's Revenge," which was allegedly about the '90s rapper. The title "Black Friday" is a direct diss toward Minaj's debut album, Pink Friday.

    Lil' Kim's mixtape cover for "Black Friday;" Nicki Minaj's album cover for "Pink Friday"
    I.R.S. Records / Young Money / Cash Money / Universal Motown

    Listen to the song here:

    View this video on YouTube

    I.R.S. Records / Via youtube.com

    12. Lenny Kravitz wrote "It Ain't Over 'til It's Over," from his 1991 album Mama Said, about getting divorced from his then-wife, Lisa Bonet.

    Lenny Kravitz in his "It Ain't Over 'til It's Over" music video; Kravitz with Lisa Bonet and their daughter, Zoë Kravitz, in the late '80s
    Virgin / Vinnie Zuffante / Getty Images

    In a 2018 interview with Rolling Stone, Kravitz said: "I wrote that to my ex-wife [Lisa Bonet]. We were going through our break-off, which led to a divorce. We had our child [Zoë Kravitz] and a great life together. We were sort of mirror images of each other; she was the female version of me and I was the male version of her, and we blended together — so, it was a very difficult time."

    Listen to the song here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Virgin / Via youtube.com

    13. Stevie Nicks wrote "Landslide" about her difficult breakup with Lindsey Buckingham in 1974 just before they joined Fleetwood Mac.

    Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham on the cover of their album, "Buckingham Nicks;" Fleetwood Mac posing for a picture together in the mid-1970s
    Michael Ochs Archives / GAB Archive / Getty Images

    On Oprah's Master Class, Nicks revealed the real inspiration behind writing "Landslide." She said that in 1974, her romantic relationship with Buckingham was turning unhealthy and stressful. She considered going back to school if their music career never panned out, and claimed that the year before she and Buckingham joined Fleetwood Mac was a tumultuous one. "This didn't do a lot for our relationship," Nicks said, "because fear never helps relationships, and when you're scared about where your next money is coming from, it's really nerve-racking."

    Listen to the song here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Reprise / Via youtube.com

    14. Diana Ross's 1984 hit "Missing You" was written by Lionel Richie in honor of their late friend, Marvin Gaye, who had been murdered five months earlier. The music video contains old concert clips of Ross performing with Gaye, filled with pure and utter joy.

    Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye performing together in concert in the early '80s
    RCA Records

    Listen to the song here:

    View this video on YouTube

    RCA Records / Via youtube.com

    15. Carole King wrote "You've Got a Friend" for James Taylor in response to his song "Fire and Rain." She wrote it when she heard Taylor sing, "I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend."

    James Taylor and Carole King in 1971; James Taylor and Carole King in 2010
    Keystone / Christopher Polk / Getty Images

    Listen to the song here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Ode / A&M / Via youtube.com

    16. Florence Welch wrote Florence + the Machine's 2018 song "Patricia" about her admiration for legendary rock 'n' roller Patti Smith.

    Florence Welch performing live in concert in 2019; Patti Smith wearing a hat while being interviewed on a radio show in the late '70s
    Pacific Press / Tom Hill / Getty Images

    In a 2018 interview with Rolling Stone, Welch recalled the process of writing "Patricia." She said: "When I was making High as Hope, I was thinking about how to live creatively without chaos. [Patti Smith's] writing was like a blueprint. She seems to bring such reverence to the act of living that I find so inspiring. I could just read her write about her morning coffee for pages."

    Listen to the song here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Label Republic / Virgin EMI / Via youtube.com

    17. And "Ms. Jackson" by Outkast is André 3000's apology to Erykah Badu's mom for the breakup between the two hip-hop artists.

    André 3000 in Outkast's "Ms. Jackson" music video; Erykah Badu and André 3000 in Badu's "Otherside of the Game" music video
    Arista / LaFace / Kedar Records

    In an interview with Rap Radar, Badu revealed how she felt when she first heard "Ms. Jackson." She said, "I still kind of had a sore spot — I didn't wanna hear that. But when I heard André's verse, I felt very good because his verse was really, really inspiring. He just told [us] how he felt, and I've always respected that and listened to what he felt and appreciated it."

    Listen to the song here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Arista / LaFace / Via youtube.com

    What's *your* favorite popular song written about a celebrity? Let us know in the comments below!

    BuzzFeed Daily

    Keep up with the latest daily buzz with the BuzzFeed Daily newsletter!

    Newsletter signup form