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Courtney Love Vs. Taylor, Madonna and More: An (Incomplete) Beef Timeline

The Hole singer generated headlines for her recent comments about Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, and Beyoncé, but they’re part of a pattern that goes back decades

Courtney Love

Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Courtney Love has never been shy when it comes to sharing her opinions about other people. Going all the way back to the early Nineties, the Hole singer has generated headlines by publicly trashing rock musicians, pop singers, movie stars, and even members of her own family. It’s a level of brutal candor you rarely see with public figures, but as Courtney Love told Rolling Stone in 1994, she simply doesn’t care what others think about her. “If people try to put me in the crazy box–’crazy fucking Courtney’–go ahead,” she said. “But if you think you’re going to stop me from where I’m going, you’re not going to do it.”

She’s been relatively quiet in recent years, but the old Courtney came roaring back in a recent interview with The Standard, where she blasted many of the biggest names in music, including Taylor Swift and Beyoncé.

As she awaits the inevitable wrath from the two biggest stan armies on the planet, let’s revisit some of her most memorable beefs from years past, along with ones she created just this past week.

Brad PittAccording an interview Courtney Love gave Marc Maron in 2022, she lost out on a role in 1999’s Fight Club after telling Brad Pitt he couldn’t create a Kurt Cobain biopic. “I don’t know if I trust you, and I don’t know that your movies are for profit,” she claims to have said to him. “They’re really good social justice movies, but…if you don’t get me, you kind of don’t get Kurt, and I don’t feel like you do, Brad.” When news of this broke in 2022, Love took to Instagram to clarify her thoughts. “I told the story because I felt Pitt would not stop pursuing Kurt — unless I said it in public,” she said. “I don’t want Brad to be pissed off at me and become his resentment. I want him to do better. I’m not into assault. Cmon brother Pitt. I wish you well, truly. If he’s mad at me, that’s his problem. I enjoy him as a movie star immensely. Not so much as a biopic producer.”

Dave Grohl – Courtney Love and Dave Grohl have had an extremely rocky relationship going all the way back to the Nirvana days. Things heated up in the late Nineties when Grohl implied to Howard Stern that Love didn’t write many of her own songs. “That stupid motherfucker,” she said in response. “He knows exactly what I wrote, he knows exactly the input I had on [Nirvana’s] third album. Kurt came [to the studio] to play with [Hole] more than he did with Nirvana because he liked us better.”

The situation deteriorated greatly in the 2000s, especially when Love accused Grohl of inappropriate behavior towards Frances Bean Cobain, something both parties emphatically denied, but they made a fragile truce in 2014 when Nirvana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “Early on in the evening I just tapped her on the shoulder,” Grohl told Rolling Stone that year. “She turned around and I just said, ‘Hey.’ She said, ‘Hey.’ Then we gave each other a big hug. I said, ‘How are you?’ She goes, ‘Good, how are you?’ I said, ‘All right.’ And she said, ‘Let’s do this. Let’s rock this tonight.’ We’re family, no matter what. And we all love each other, no matter what.”

Wendy O’Connor (Kurt Cobain’s Mother) – Custody issues surrounding Frances Bean Cobain throughout her childhood drove a huge wedge between Love and her former mother-in-law. A low point came in 2003 when they got into a tussle during a custody hearing at the Los Angles courthouse. “Wendy went nuts,” Love said. “She shoved me, and I slapped her like a 4-year-old, though I’ve never slapped a 4-year-old…She was just screaming. I saw sheer hate. I think she realized that the paranoia power games were gonna stop.” (O’Connor was appointed Frances’ temporary guardian in 2009.)

Trent Reznor – According to multiple reports, Trent Reznor briefly dated Courtney Love after Hole toured with Nine Inch Nails in 1994. A year later, she bashed him to Spin in a highly personal matter. “Don’t call your band Nine Inch Nails,” she said, “if you have a three-inch one.” In 1999, Nine Inch Nails released the song “Starfuckers Incorporated,” and many people saw swipes at Love in the lyrics. “My god comes in a wrapper of Cellophane,” Reznor wrote. “My god pouts on the cover of the magazine/ My god’s a shallow little bitch trying to make the scene.”

Olivia Rodrigo – In 2021, Olivia Rodrigo released promotional images from her Sour Prom special that were reminiscent of the Hole’s 1994 Live Through This album cover. “Stealing an original idea and not asking permission is rude,” Love wrote. “This person’s music has nothing to do with my life. Possibly never will. It was rude, and I gave every right to stick up for my work. Don’t gatekeep me! I’m honourable as fuck to my fellow artists, and I expect the same.” Rodrigo brushed off the accusation when asked about it during an interview with GQ magazine. “To be honest, I’m just flattered that Courtney Love knows that I exist,” she said.

Madonna – Shortly after the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards, Madonna was speaking to Kurt Loder when a makeup compact landed at her feet. She looked down to see that Courtney Love threw it up. “Courtney Love is in dire need of attention right now,” Madonna said. “She’s throwing her compact at me.” This led to an agonizingly awkward encounter on live TV where Love began rambling about why she wanted to work in a hospital. “Nice clothes,” she said. “Good money…” Madonna cut her off with a legendary zinger: “And a lot of available drugs.” Earlier this week, Love shared some thoughts about Madonna. “I don’t like her, and she doesn’t like me,” she said. “I loved Desperately Seeking Susan, but for the city of New York as much as her.”

Kathleen Hanna – On the 1995 Lollapalooza tour, Love smacked Bikini Kill singer Kathleen Hanna backstage. “She was my husband’s worst enemy in the world, someone who would stop at nothing to aggravate us,” Love wrote in Spin. “I’m onstage talking to Beck when [Hole guitarist] Eric [Erlandson] comes up and says, ‘Kathleen’s behind you. You should give her some candy and freak her out.’ And there she was, sort of smirking at me. I dropped my sweater on the floor, and she sort of whispered under her breath, ‘Where’s the baby? In the closet with an IV?’ I just snapped. My hand was filled with Skittles and a couple of Tootsie Rolls. I just threw them up in the air and went, ‘BAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!’ And then she shoved me, and then I clocked her.” Nearly a quarter century later, when Bust Magazine wrote about their excellent for Bikini Kill’s upcoming reunion tour, Love commented, “Speak for yourself. Biggest hoax in history of rock and roll.”

Taylor Swift – In the ultimate demonstration that she continues to not give a shit what people think about her, Courtney Love spoke ill of Taylor Swift to The Standard this week. “Taylor is not important,” she said. “She might be a safe space for girls, and she’s probably the Madonna of now, but she’s not interesting as an artist.”

Lana Del Rey – In almost the same breath, she went after Lana Del Rey. “I haven’t liked Lana since she covered a John Denver song, and I think she should really take seven years off,” Love said. “Up until ‘Take Me Home Country Roads,’ I thought she was great. When I was recording my new album, I had to stop listening to her as she was influencing me too much.”

Beyoncé – If she didn’t anger enough passionate fan bases when bashing Taylor Swift and Lana Del Rey, she also spoke negatively about Beyoncé’s music. “I like the idea of Beyoncé doing a country record because it’s about Black women going into spaces where previously only white women have been allowed, not that I like it much,” Love said. “As a concept, I love it. I just don’t like her music.”

From Rolling Stone US