8 episodes

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.

Rivals: Music's Greatest Feuds iHeartRadio

    • Music Commentary

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.

    Mike Love vs. Brian Wilson: Beach Brawl

    Mike Love vs. Brian Wilson: Beach Brawl

    At the heart of the Beach Boys, one of America's biggest bands ever, are two men: Brian Wilson and Mike Love. Brian is the songwriter and resident genius, and Mike is the cocksure frontman. For most of the 1960s, their partnership worked as the Beach Boys scored dozens of hits. But a conflict over the magnum opus "Pet Sounds" revealed that Brian was out to pursue high art at all costs, while Mike prefered to stick with "the formula." For the next 50 years, this battle has raged over what truly constitutes the "real" Beach Boys.
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    • 1 hr 5 min
    Nirvana vs. Pearl Jam: Flannel Fight

    Nirvana vs. Pearl Jam: Flannel Fight

    At the height of Nirvana’s success in the early ‘90s, Kurt Cobain slammed fellow Seattle grunge gods Pearl Jam in the press, labeling them bandwagon-jumping “corporate puppets” who aped his band’s style in the vapid pursuit of fame. Eddie Vedder, a great admirer of Kurt’s, never retaliated publicly, but their relationship grew strained as Pearl Jam’s popularity eclipsed Nirvana’s. Before the two could settle their differences, Cobain took his own life — leaving Eddie to simultaneously mourn the loss of his hero and make sense of their complex, adversarial bond.
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    • 50 min
    Robbie Robertson vs. Levon Helm: Broken Band

    Robbie Robertson vs. Levon Helm: Broken Band

    When The Band first emerged in the late 1960s, they epitomized the era's hippie, back-to-the-land ethos. Every member was considered equal, and they played with an uncommon power and sensitivity as a leader-less ensemble on classics like "The Weight" and "Up On Cripple Creek." But as time wore on, and The Band got more successful, cracks in this foundation were caused by inequitable money distribution and petty arguments over attention. The central conflict was between Robbie Robertson, the guitarist and songwriter, and Levon Helm, the lead singer and soul of the group. After they broke up in 1976 with "The Last Waltz" concert, their spat became public, turning one of rock's greatest fairy tales into a sad cautionary tale about how commerce can really screw up art.
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    • 56 min
    Michael Jackson vs. Prince: Who’s Bad?

    Michael Jackson vs. Prince: Who’s Bad?

    Though he’d achieved complete commercial domination with Thriller, the King of Pop spent much of the ‘80s looking over his shoulder at the Prince of Paisley Park. As far as MJ was concerned, the musical landscape was big enough for only one eccentric, androgynous, Midwest-raised genre-bending star with killer dance moves and a propensity for Xanadu-like private compounds. He even crafted “Bad” as a duet to serve as their on-mic showdown, but the Purple One turned him down. Over the years they duked it out in the charts, onstage, and even on the Ping-Pong table. The rivalry pushed them towards artistic greatness, but despite a begrudging mutual respect, the pair would never be simpatico.
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    • 49 min
    Elton John vs. Billy Joel: Piano Men

    Elton John vs. Billy Joel: Piano Men

    Elton and Billy’s parallel careers intersected with a long-running duets tour, but things went south after Billy abruptly backed out in 2010. Elton publicly blamed Billy’s alcoholism and criticized his lack of recent musical output. An irate Billy fired back by saying Elton’s latest albums were lackluster and dragged down his legacy. The public sniping ultimately died down but their feud highlighted the two paths available to Artists of a Certain Age: fall back on past glories or valiantly press on at the risk of artistic misfires. In other words, is it better to burn out or fade away?
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    • 58 min
    Taylor Swift vs. Katy Perry: Bad Blood

    Taylor Swift vs. Katy Perry: Bad Blood

    The two pop queens started off as friends, sharing sweet birthday tweets and cat photos. Things got a little weird when they shared a man — John Mayer — but a case of pilfered backing dancers in 2014 made them, in Taylor’s words, “straight-up enemies.” Taylor threw the first punch by alluding to Perry’s misdeeds in a highly publicized interview. Then she dropped the track “Bad Blood” and its big budget Superhero Mean Girls video. The war of words continued in songs, social media and the press for years until the two hugged it out in Taylor’s 2019 video for “You Need to Calm Down.” A truce was declared but, to quote Katy, is it ever really over?
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    • 44 min

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