DiscoverRivals: Music's Greatest Feuds
Rivals: Music's Greatest Feuds
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Rivals: Music's Greatest Feuds

Author: iHeartRadio

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Beatles vs. Stones. Biggie vs. Tupac. Kanye vs. Taylor. Who do you choose? And what does that say about you? Actually, what do these endlessly argued-about pop music rivalries say about us? Music opinions bring out passionate debate in people, and music journalists/critics Steven Hyden and Jordan Runtagh know this firsthand. They’re both obsessed with the biggest (as well as the most obscure) rivalries in music history. Each week, they’ll break down the details of a different colorful feud, and attempt to figure out why many of our favorite pop and rock stars can’t seem to get along.

43 Episodes
In the mid-'90s, no two rock stars struck more fear into the hearts of parents than Trent Reznor and Marilyn Manson. These toxic twins started out having a teacher-student dynamic, with Reznor guiding Manson musically to stardom. But Manson's shock-rock antics soon overshadowed his mentor, who was hard at work for years trying to finish his masterwork "The Fragile." In time, Reznor would come to see Manson as a "dopey clown" while Manson seethed about Reznor literally losing the master recording to his early albums.  Learn more about your ad-choices at
For ‘80s babies, Britney and Christina represent the ultimate fan face-off. Originally friends and co-stars on The Mickey Mouse Club reboot in the early ‘90s, by the decade’s end they were pitted against one another in the press and in the charts. On the surface, the comparisons were obvious. They were two blonde, ex-Disney stars turned pop upstarts, barnstorming Billboard with suggestive ear-candy like “…Baby One More Time” and “Genie in a Bottle.” But a close listen to their discographies reveals a stark contrast between Britney’s bubble-gum electro-pop and Christina’s R&B leanings. As they grew older, their individual expressions of sexuality made them lightning rods for controversy. Soon they were forced into a troubling cultural dichotomy. The Southern-born Britney was portrayed in the media as the “Good Girl” who publicly renounced sex before marriage. The NYC-raised Christina Aguilera made no such proclamations. Her public “Bad Girl” reputation was enhanced by songs like “Dirrty” that celebrated her sexual agency. For a time, the cultural firestorm threatened to overshadow their massive talent. Now both are recognized as beloved entertainment icons. Learn more about your ad-choices at
If you were an alienated teenager in the 1980s — or an alienated teenager during any era who loves the music of the 1980s — then you have probably spent a lot of time listening to The Smiths and The Cure. But the lead singers of those bands, Morrissey and Robert Smith, hated listening to each other. Starting with an interview in 1984 in which Morrisey expressed his desire to shoot Smith, the rivalry between these two mope-rock kings has been vicious and often extremely hilarious. When it comes to crafting insults about overly sensitive individuals, Don Rickles has nothing on these guys. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Our special two-part series on the battles between Van Halen and their two most famous singers concludes with this exploration of the Van Hagar years. Before he joined Van Halen, Sammy Hagar was a journeyman rock howler with a love of fast cars and mind-controlling aliens. In retrospect, most fans prefer the Roth years, but Hagar was at the head of four consecutive no. 1 albums for Van Halen in the late 1980s and early '90s. And he had a true friendship with Eddie Van Halen, until various factors — including the Twister soundtrack — conspired against them. But in their prime, Van Hagar sold millions of albums to listeners hungry for synth-heavy power ballads with excellent guitar solos. Learn more about your ad-choices at
In tribute to the late Eddie Van Halen, we’re devoting a pair of episodes to the two distinct eras of his namesake band. The first installment explores the guitar virtuoso’s relationship with the group’s original frontman, a karate kicking, spandex wearing, hyperactive rock ’n’ roll peacock named David Lee Roth. More a musical marriage of convenience than genuine friendship, the sparks between the pair both onstage and in the studio helped make Van Halen the biggest band in the world. But fame inflated their egos, and soon the bandmates were at each other’s throats. Diamond Dave loathed Eddie’s use of synthesizers on the album 1984. The global success of the record — and the pop crossover smash “Jump” — wasn’t enough to repair their creative rift, and Roth departed Van Halen in 1985 in pursuit of solo stardom and a film career. The band carried on without him, first enlisting Sammy Hagar and (briefly) Gary Cherone, before finally welcoming him back into the fold in 2007 for a series of reunion tours and a new album. Fans rejoiced, but the old tensions were never far from the surface. Learn more about your ad-choices at
In the early '90s, no couple in rock was more notorious than Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love. The tabloid circus that followed them wearied Cobain's bandmates in Nirvana, and that tension only grew worse after Cobain's untimely death in 1994. For the next 20 years, Courtney and Nirvana's former drummer and current Foo Fighter, Dave Grohl, engaged in a war of words in songs and Howard Stern interviews. In the process, cultural institutions like Guitar Hero and The Muppets were dragged into the melee. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Marvin Gaye's 1971 masterpiece What's Going On was recently voted by Rolling Stone magazine the greatest album of all time. But one person who was not a fan of that record initially was the head of Gaye's label, Berry Gordy, the visionary founder of Motown. Gordy believed that alienating white audiences and deviating from a proven pop-R&B formula was commercial poison. But even before What's Going On, Gaye and Gordy were at odds, playing out a twisted father-son dynamic that Gaye instilled from his own deeply troubled childhood. Over time, Gaye and Gordy's professional squabbles would spill into their personal lives, as Gaye married (and acrimoniously divorced) Gordy's sister Anna. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Joy Division and New Order are two of the greatest and most important post-punk bands of all time, and at the center of those groups are two men: Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook. For years, they had a fruitful partnership: Sumner was the quiet and introspective one, and Hook was the gregarious rocker. But as the '80s unfolded, and New Order became one of the era's top indie pop groups, their relationship started to break down from clashes over the artistic direction of the band and their incompatible personalities. After 30 years, they finally split up, and the resulting acrimony remains heated to this day. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Eric Clapton had earned a reputation as “God” in the mid-‘60s for his virtousic guitar work in R&B-inspired British bands like the Yardbirds and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. Then an unknown American named Jimi Hendrix hit London in 1966 and changed the game entirely. Hendrix’s unparalleled playing and explosive style forged a new genre and redefined what it meant to be a guitarist — and sent the British boys back to the woodshed. Clapton’s status as London’s top axe-man had been challenged, but their rivalry was mostly a friendly one. Clapton was in awe of Hendrix’s talent and the pair bonded over music and mutual admiration. Hendrix’s tragic passing in 1970 left Clapton devastated. In the 50 years since, the reputations of both men have diverged. Hendrix has been sanctified in death and his immense talent seemingly magnified. Clapton, on the other hand, has been dinged for a series of questionable musical and personal decisions later in life. The question in this episode is not “Who’s the better guitarist?” but rather, “Is it better to burn out or fade away?” Learn more about your ad-choices at
Whitney Houston ruled the pop world in the late '80s with a string of infectious hits that included seven consecutive number ones. But when Mariah Carey burst onto the scene at the start of the new decade, America's Sweetheart turned bitter and famously shaded the newcomer in a series of interviews. The vocal powerhouses spent much of the '90s duking it out on the charts, breaking records with their multi-octave ranges. Though they publicly buried the hatchet with a high profile duet, their relationship would forever be marked by competition. In addition to their supreme talent, both women were bonded by personal struggles that threatened to detail their musical careers. When Houston succumbed to her addictions in 2012, it was Carey who led the tributes to the fallen diva. Learn more about your ad-choices at
The final part of our epic trilogy exploring the rivalries within CSNY examines the arrival of Neil Young, whose introduction to the highly-combustible supergroup made the band all the more explosive. Initially hired by his ex-Buffalo Springfield rival Stephen Stills as a sideman for CSN’s live performances, Young earned a full partnership in the group. He ultimately became the most influential member through a mix of sheer talent and masterful passive aggressive manipulation. While CSN prioritized the collective, Young felt allegiance to no one but himself and used the band's immense popularity as a launching pad for his burgeoning solo career. His willingness to walk away at the slightest provocation forced the other three to cater to his whims, tipping the delicate balance of power in his direction. As the drawing power of CSNY became exponentially greater than CSN, the trio would be forced to make even greater concessions to the mercurial Young. CSNY would be done Neil’s way, or not at all — much to the chagrin of Stills.  Learn more about your ad-choices at
Phil Spector: Murderer. Musical genius. His story is told from the perspective of those who knew him best, his famous so-called friends. Blood On The Tracks is part true crime, part historical fiction, part spoken word lo-fi beat noir brought to you by Jake Brennan, the host of the award winning music and true crime podcast, DISGRACELAND, featuring the fictionalized voices of Lenny Bruce, Ronnie Spector, Ike Turner, Debbie Harry and more. Just like Phil Spector, this podcast sounds like nothing you’ve heard before. Because you can’t push the needle into the red, without leaving a little blood on the tracks. Blood On The Tracks launches August 12, 2020 and will be released weekly on Wednesdays. This podcast is explicit and features adult content. Learn more about your ad-choices at
In the second part of our special series on the rivalries within the greatest supergroup in rock history, CSNY, we look at the group's original musical leader, Stephen Stills. In the early days, he took the lead in the studio, writing many of the songs and playing most of the instruments on the band's iconic 1969 debut. But Stills' hold on CSN started to slip with the addition of Y — his old friend and nemesis from Buffalo Springfield, Neil Young. While Young could exert his power often by acting in a passive-aggressive way, Stills was driven to a series of impotent power grabs, before finally faltering from alcohol and drug abuse. Learn more about your ad-choices at
There are so many rivalries within Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young that we're devoting a three-episode arc to parsing them all. In our first episode of this special series, we focus on David Crosby, the one member of CSNY who is currently on the outs with everybody else in the band. But that wasn't true in the beginning: Back in the 1960s, he was the king of L.A., the ultimate scenester who acted as a link between Stephen Stills and Graham Nash, paving the way for the most successful supergroup ever. However, personal tragedy and a raging ego would cause him to fall into an abyss of drug abuse in the '80s. Miraculously, he survived, but then he proceeded to alienate his bandmates by repeatedly putting his foot in his mouth in interviews. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Before the Gallaghers were even born, the Davies brothers were the quintessential Brit-Pop sibling rivalry, brawling backstage, onstage, and in the studio. Their creative tensions formed the crux of the Kinks, making them one of the most unique bands of the ’60s. Ray’s gift for observation and self-reflection allowed him to craft poetic social commentary couched in stately melodies. Extroverted Dave livened things up with raw proto-punk guitar and Carnaby Street flair, injecting the vibrant spirit of Swinging London into the group. Both men were crucial to the Kinks’ success, but Dave felt constantly undervalued by his elder sibling. Ray, meanwhile, struggled with the burden of being the band’s chief songwriter and grew resentful of his freewheeling brother. Their contrasting personalities ultimately tore the band apart, leading to a split in 1996. When the brothers announced a reunion in 2018, most fans couldn’t help but wonder: Was two decades enough to chill these guys out? Learn more about your ad-choices at
At a time when most punk and new wave bands cranked their guitars and jacked up their song tempos, Talking Heads came out of NYC with a completely original and utterly funky sound. By the early '80s, they were one of the most popular and infectious bands on the planet. But inside the band, it was life during wartime, especially between lead singer David Byrne and the romantically linked rhythm section of Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth. Years after their acrimonious breakup, Chris and Tina would claim that David stole credit for songs and ideas. And yet ... they kept wanting to work with him. Learn more about your ad-choices at
In the late '90s, The White Stripes came on the scene as a true anomaly: A post-modern blues-rock duo from the Midwest. A few years later, however, another blues-rock duo from the Midwest, the Black Keys, emerged and eventually became one of the most popular rock bands in America. After the White Stripes folded in the early 2010s, Jack White started speaking out about these upstarts, claiming in interviews (and leaked emails from his ex-wife) that he was being ripped off. But it is possible that there really is room for all these dudes to play good time rock 'n' roll? Learn more about your ad-choices at
In the late '90s, a time of peace and prosperity for America, two of this country's biggest bands were Creed and Limp Bizkit. In retrospect, they seem like perfect signifiers for a decadent, bored nation on the verge of a major fall. But at the time, these groups ended up raging against each other, with their respective frontmen, Scott Stapp and Fred Durst, almost coming to blows over a misunderstanding at a music festival. What was it about these bands that so enchanted people once upon a time? And why did they come to hate each other? Learn more about your ad-choices at
Joan Baez was the undisputed queen of folk in the early ‘60s when she began sharing the stage with her new boyfriend, a Woody Guthrie-worshipping up-and-comer from Duluth who went by Bob Dylan. Thanks in no small part to Baez’s early support, Dylan quickly ascended to the height of fame and cultural influence. As his career eclipsed her own, Baez grew frustrated that he wasn’t as generous with the spotlight as she had been in his early days. Dylan, for his part, resented Baez’s pressure to use his platform for overt political statements and sought to distance himself from the “protest singer” movement she represented. Their romance ended by the mid-‘60s, but their time together would inspire some of their best late-era work. Learn more about your ad-choices at
For much of the 2010s, Nicki Minaj was the most successful female rapper on the planet, selling more albums than any woman in hip-hop ever. But then a former exotic dancer, reality show star, and political science major named Cardi B exploded on the scene, stealing much of Minaj's thunder in the process. Nicki, of course, was not about to take this lying down, sparking a war of words that culminated with an infamous shoe-throwing incident. In the end, however, is this feud really about the sexism of an industry in which only one female MC is allowed to succeed at once? Learn more about your ad-choices at
Comments (11)

Ron Grant

LOOOOOVED this episode! Thanks for doing it!

Oct 15th

Phil Barksdale

how about the Van Halen wars. might be a 2 parter lol

Aug 19th

julie dodge

how about the Killers vs the Bravery

Jun 20th

joseph flynn

how about Liam vs Noel Gallagher

May 9th
Reply (2)


love their vast knowledge... I dont think they are douches

Apr 8th

Jonas Grumbie

great story, douche hosts.

Apr 3rd

Yasmine C

Remember when we all thought MJ was the normal one, and Prince was the weirdo? This was a fun episode.

Mar 24th
Reply (1)

Yasmine C

why anyone would fight over p.o.s John Mayer is completely beyond me.

Mar 11th
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