With the sad news that American Idols Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj are feuding , we got to thinking of some of the great diva rivalries of all time: Bette Davis versus Joan Crawford, Naomi Campbell versus Tyra Banks, Patti LuPone versus… everyone. Walk with us, won’t you, down the Diva Feuds Hall of Fame.
Nicki Minaj vs. Lil’ Kim
This is clearly not Nicki’s first time at the diva-feud rodeo: When Minaj giggled her way onto the scene a few years ago, effectively filling with her ample assets the throne Lil’ Kim had left vacant, the Queen Bee got her stinger ready. Kim’s an old pro at beef—her longstanding rivalry with Foxy Brown resulted someone getting shot and Kim spending a year in jail—and recognized a chance for a comeback when she saw it. The Bionic Booty quickly fired off a Black Friday mixtape that dissed Minaj, and later tweeted that its sales made her the “#1 seller on PayPal ever.”
To which Nicki graciously responded, “Bwaahhhhahha!”
Whitney Houston vs. Mariah Carey
Whitney Houston (may she rest) owned the 1980s, racking up over $20 million in sales and seven consecutive Number One hits with her first two albums. But the 1990s saw her struggling to find her way, a path made even more difficult by the arrival of a young eight-octave upstart with a deafening whistle register. Rumors persisted that Whitney and Mariah didn’t get along, until the two decided to clear the air—in song!—with the duet “When You Believe.”
Then again, sometimes rumors are simply just rumors, as Mariah told Vibe in 1998 : “When I came out people had comments. That had a lot to do with producers she [Whitney] had worked with. When you’re a young girl, you don’t have control, and you’re being marketed as the New Little Diva…We never had any issues between us. The media and everybody made it an issue.”
Michael Jackson vs. Prince
Michael Jackson (may she rest) was one of the greatest performers of the 20th century, but that didn’t keep him from being jealous—particularly of that Sexy Muthafucker, Prince. “MJ asked me why people didn’t think of him the same way they though of Prince, as a serious songwriter,” Black Eyed Pea’s will.i.am told Vibe. “It was a shock to hear that from such an iconic artist.”
The Purple One was also naturally competitive and opted out of Jackson’s 1985 “We Are The World” benefit single, as well as a proposed duet with Jacko on Bad. Then Prince included this lyric on his album 2004 Musicology: “My voice is getting higher/And Eye ain’t never had my nose done/That’s the other guy.” Even during his final days, the King of Pop allegedly expressed fears that God might give his ideas to Prince.
Elton John vs. Madonna vs. Lady Gaga
Having been in feuds with everyone from Sandra Bernhard to Lady Gaga, it’s safe to say that Madonna doesn’t really get along with anyone. She’s been putting the “b” in bitch since the early ’80s but she’s got nothing on the Queen Bitch, Sir Elton John. (The Rocketman’s been throwing shade since Madge was still a brunette living in Michigan.) Over the years the two have exchanged bitter insults, only to kiss and make up time and time again. Most recently, Elton called out Madonna as a “carnival stripper” and attacked her for being “horrible to Gaga.” Madge responded by dedicating her song “Masterpiece” to the out pop star.
Those two will be buried next to one another, their corpses giving each other the finger.
Aretha Franklin vs. Tina Turner (with an assist from Beyoncé)
Beyoncé referred to Tina Turner as “the queen” at the 2008 Grammys did not sit well with the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, who dismissed Bey’s remarks as “a cheap shot for controversy.” Tina Turner shimmied her way into the heart of the matter by declaring, “She’s the queen of soul, and I’m the queen of rock ‘n’ roll. There were so many kings and queens there that night. Her ego must be so big to think she was the only one.” To which, Aretha responded: “I never figured her to resort to tacky press just to sell a few tickets. I really had put her in a different class— higher than that.” And Beyoncé’s evil plan to divide and conquer continues.
Barbra Streisand vs. Diana Ross
In the galaxy of diva-stars, few shine as bright or—burn your face off as quickly—as Barbra Streisand and Diana Ross. Both have been known to throw their weight and fur coats around, though when Diana first started out, Babs was her idol: “Diana’s always measured herself against Barbra Streisand,” said Marvin Gaye according to our well-worn copy of the unauthorized biography, Call Her Miss Ross. (Page 198, if you’re curious.)
After the Supremes did a Funny Girl album in 1967, Streisand reportedly said, “I just don’t like the idea of her singing my songs and with my musical arranger. Who the hell does she think she is? The world doesn’t need another Streisand!” At which point, Streisand tried to cut off Diana Ross’ head, but her thickly-shellacked wig took the blow.
We couldn’t end this diva-feud retrospective without a snippet from the web series Got 2 B Real, a master class in grande-dame reading.
Who are your favorite dueling divas?