The Catch-22 of Writing Songs About Your Breakup: We Investigate Taylor Swift, Little Mix, Selena Gomez and More

Stars who are known for their heartbreak music but refuse to talk about their relationships

By Kendall Fisher Feb 28, 2017 10:46 PMTags
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We all do it: use cryptic Instagram quotes and subliminal tweets with song lyrics and memes to shamelessly throw a bit of public shade at the ex who broke our hearts without actually having to talk about it...

But what happens when that public platform includes the entire world's eyes, all the craziest tabloids and millions of fans and followers? 

Well, you typically get Taylor Swift and a catch-22...but she's definitely not the only one!

Performers like Selena Gomez, Little Mix's Perrie EdwardsJustin Bieber and even Adele have written songs that were obviously directed at an ex but tend to shy away from talking about that relationship publicly.

And here's what happened... 

Young Celeb Breakups

Little Mix: The girl group got us thinking about all of this when they took the stage on the Today Show Tuesday and performed their new single, "Shout Out to My Ex." The song immediately had people guessing Perrie Edwards helped wrote it about her ex, Zayn Malik, as she sings, "This is a shout out to my ex/ Heard he in love with some other chick/ Yeah yeah, that hurt me, I'll admit/ Forget that boy, I'm over it/ I hope she gettin' better sex/ Hope she ain't fakin' it like I did, babe/ Took four long years to call it quits/ Forget that boy, I'm over it."

Edwards and Malik dated for four years, from 2011 to 2015, which was the first sign that it was directed at him.


However, when asked about her previous relationship at this point, the singer stays pretty quiet. For example, in an interview last year on The Jonathan Ross show she admitted she'd never "get into detail" about it because it's "just too personal."

The catch-22 in all of this would be to argue that her lyrics about sex and "faking it" are pretty dang personal, too, right?

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Taylor Swift: Deemed the queen of writing about her exes—hello, "Dear John," "Style," and "Out of the Woods"—Swift stays quiet when it comes to actually answering any questions about her relationships and specifically who these songs are about.

For example, when she was asked about "Dear John" in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres in 2011, she played coy. "I've had a few main goals and priorities [with success]: in spite of success, remain the same person, and in spite of success, remain the same songwriter."

She added, "Just because more people are a more interested in the subject material of those songs now...I'm still going to continue writing about my life now, and I guess people are going to continue to speculate about it and I'm going to continue to never tell them who the song's about."

Little Mix's Perrie Edwards Reveals the Inspiration Behind Their Hit Breakup Song, "Shout Out to My Ex"
Getty Images

Selena Gomez: With songs like "The Heart Wants What It Wants," "Same Old Love" and now "It Ain't Me,"Gomez has pretty much given us a musical play-by-play of her love life (which we know because we've watched it transform publicly with Justin Bieber).

However, in a Q&A with Rolling Stone last year she refused to talk about it. "Honestly, what I would love to be printed is that I am so beyond done with talking about that, and him...I'm just tired of talking about it. I never intended for my life to become a tabloid story."

Justin Bieber: Despite his songs like "Where Are Ü Now" and "What Do You Mean," SelGo's former flame also refuses to talk about  their relationship.

Questions about her are usually taken off the table completely for interviews, but we all remember that one, heated moment during his court deposition.

When asked, "Have you ever talked to Selena Gomez and discussed your feelings about the paparazzi?," Bieber shook his head, put his face in his hand, then looked up and glaringly said, "Don't ask me about her again. Don't ask me about her again. Don't ask me about her again," before storming out.

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Adele: The Grammy-winning singer pours her heart into her music, which often touches on her various relationships and heartbreaks. But when it comes to talking about the details of her private life, she stays quiet. 

She famously told Rolling Stone, "My career's not my life. It's my hobby," and later reiterated that point in an interview with Time magazine.

She explained, "My record is about my real life, so I have to talk about it. If you try to intrude or come near my family, I'm a lioness. Especially because my boyfriend isn't famous. So I think it's really unfair for anyone to want unlimited access to my family when we're not a brand. Some people do, and if you're happy to do it, then kudos—that's f--king great. But I don't want my family to be part of my package."

What do you think about musicians who write songs about their breakups but won't talk publicly about them? Sound off in the comments below.