Whether you'll be blasting love songs or belting breakup anthems this Valentine's Day, there's one thing we can all agree on: There's no better way to express how you feel about someone than through song! In honor of the 2018 Grammys on Jan. 28, Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at the celebrities who inspired some of pop's biggest hits. Keep reading to get the song scoop, starting with two-time 2018 Grammy nominee Ed Sheeran. He's currently nominated for his album "÷" (pronounced "Divide") and hit song "Shape of You." But it's some of his older music that comes with a tale of celebrity inspiration: It's widely believed that Ed's extremely detailed 2014 breakup anthem "Don't" is about his famous ex and her hookup with a certain boybander. The English singer-songwriter, however, has never officially confirmed the rumors: "I never let it slip," he told Entertainment Weekly in 2015. "What happened was one of the newspapers in England just printed that it was confirmed when it never was. We got in touch and they took the story down. But obviously the damage had already been done by that point because every other newspaper picked up on it. So I never actually confirmed it." So who did he never actually confirm that "Don't" is about?
Ed Sheeran's "Don't" is allegedly about his ex-girlfriend Ellie Goulding and her supposed affair with One Direction's Niall Horan. But the "Love Me Like You Do" singer has denied that she and Ed were ever an item: "We've known each other for a few years," she told Seventeen in 2016. "I think he's a really nice guy and a brilliant musician. We've bumped into each other and we've hung out and stuff, but the thing is, if I hang out with someone, it's instantly like I'm 'dating' them. We were never in a relationship." As for Niall, "We went on a few dates," she admitted.
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In April 2016, Queen B released the visual album "Lemonade" — and raised questions about the state of her marriage to JAY-Z by frequently bringing up the topic of cheating. (It wasn't the first time the power couple faced speculation that there were problems in their relationship.) "Her heaven will be a love without betrayal. Ashes to ashes, dust to side chicks," Beyonce says on the spoken word track "Apathy." She then concludes the song "Sorry" by saying, "He better call Becky with the good hair." Which raised the question: Just who IS Becky with the good hair?
Just hours after "Lemonade" debuted on HBO, Rachel Roy took to Instagram to share a photo of herself, which she captioned, "Good hair don't care, but we will take good lighting, for selfies, or self truths, always. live in the light #nodramaqueens." The wording seemingly confirmed that the fashion designer was Beyonce's (and therefore JAY-Z's) Becky with the good hair. (It wasn't the first time she'd become entangled in the Bey-Z rumor mill.) Page Six later reported that Becky was actually a composite of many women. "I don't think Beyonce is calling out one girl. It is many girls. The rumors have been around for years," an inside source told the gossip column.
When Justin Bieber's hit song "Friends" with BloodPop was released, people instantly jumped to conclusions and assumed that it was aimed at his former girlfriend. Perhaps the tune, which revolves around wanting to be friends with an ex, wouldn't have been so suspicious if not for its release date — summer 2017, right before he reunited with this person! So which ex is it?
It's Selena Gomez, of course! Just a few months after the release of "Friends," Justin Bieber and Selena were spotted everywhere together. From cute bike rides and church services to ringing in the New Year in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, these two made it clear they were certainly back on — and who knows, maybe the song played a part!
When it was time for One Direction singer Harry Styles to go solo and write his own songs about famous exes, he had plenty of material to work with. Even though the former boybander has romanced his fair share of famous faces, people assumed his 2017 tune "Only Angel" fit a specific woman…
While Harry Styles certainly dated plenty of Victoria's Secret models, investigative sleuths claim his song "Only Angel" is about ex Kendall Jenner. The two dated on and off through 2013 and 2014 and were again linked in 2015 and 2016.
Gwen Stefani released the late-2015 single "Used to Love You" after headlines declared her marriage had imploded because of a nanny cheating scandal. "I had been writing because my life blew up," she said during an appearance on Los Angeles' KIIS FM radio station in November 2015. "Everybody knows that my life blew up last February. I'd just been dealing with that… There was one night, the epicenter of the whole thing — that's the most I can say about that — and the next day, I wrote the chorus to 'Used to Love You.'"
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Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale announced plans to divorce in August 2015 after nearly 13 years of marriage and 20 years as a couple. Two months later, she released "Used to Love You," her breakup anthem about the Bush frontman.
Calvin Harris had this to say about his 2016 single "My Way" during a chat with Z100 DJ Elvis Duran: "I thought of the concept years ago when I left [grocery store] Safeway. I was trying to move to London and I was working in the store in Scotland. I was trying to go down and make music for a living, but I couldn't because I didn't have any money. … You get brainwashed into thinking it's as good as you're going to get, and then you have to realize actually there's a whole world out there. When you're stuck in that situation you can't see that, you don't think you're going to become anything. So it's really just that. That was just a concept in the back of my mind, but I had no idea how to put that into words until very recently." Still, the general consensus is that the song was inspired by his breakup with a certain singer…
Calvin Harris released "My Way" just months after he and Taylor Swift ended their relationship of more than a year. He sang a different tune about what inspired the hit during an interview with Ryan Seacrest: "It could be a job that you hate, and then you quit the job then life is awesome. It could be about a relationship and you get rid of the girl or the guy, then life is awesome," he said. "I think it's like an amalgamation of events in my life since maybe the past 10 years." No doubt a highly publicized breakup with one of the biggest stars on the planet is an important part of that amalgamation!
It's now synonymous with the perfect wedding song, but when John Legend wrote the sweet 2013 love ballad "All of Me," he only had one woman in mind…
This one is a no-brainer — John Legend's ultra-romantic ballad "All of Me" was written about his true love, wife Chrissy Teigen. Not only did he write the impossibly sweet lyrics about the beauty, but he also involved her in the song's sexy music video.
Taylor Swift has flip-flopped on the inspiration behind her 2015 No. 1 hit "Bad Blood," but the prevailing theory is that it's based on her rivalry with another singer. In 2014, she told Rolling Stone magazine that a "female artist" inspired the song: "For years, I was never sure if we were friends or not," she said. "She did something so horrible. I was like, 'Oh, we're just straight-up enemies.' And it wasn't even about a guy! It had to do with business. … She basically tried to sabotage an entire arena tour." Explained Taylor, "She tried to hire a bunch of people out from under me." The following year, the "Shake It Off" singer claimed to GQ that the song wasn't actually inspired by a rival but by a former lover and that she'd lied to Rolling Stone "to divert them away" from the true source of inspiration. But we're not buying that…
On Sept. 9, 2014, a day after Taylor Swift's interview with Rolling Stone went live, Katy Perry seemingly acknowledged their feud — and that she was the inspiration for "Bad Blood" — by referencing the main villain from "Mean Girls" in a cryptic tweet: "Watch out for the Regina George in sheep's clothing," she wrote. So even if Taylor has since denied that the song is about Katy, the "Dark Horse" singer clearly thinks that it is!
In May 2016, Nick Jonas confirmed during an interview with Entertainment Weekly that the song "Champagne Problems" from his "Last Year Was Complicated" album is about his mid-2015 breakup with a certain former beauty queen. "It's funny. It sounds like a party jam, but in reality, it's about something pretty sad," he said. "We had this bottle of champagne that we were saving for our anniversary… We decided that we were going to celebrate the years we had together and the time that we spent together by sharing this bottle of champagne and closing that chapter of our life. Although it was really a sad moment, it was a nice way to kind of close things up."
In June 2015, Nick Jonas and former Miss USA Olivia Culpo ended their relationship of two years. "I'm sure she's heard 'Champagne Problems' at this point," he told Entertainment Weekly. "The concept of the song, which maybe doesn't stand out on first listen, is 'You're amazing, you're all the things I hope to find with somebody, but timing, circumstances, all these things play into it not being right.' Champagne is amazing; it tastes delicious, but gives you a really bad hangover."
This is perhaps one of the best breakup anthems ever. We're talking about Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me A River." The 2002 hit was about his recent split from another mega-famous singer.
This one's about the legendary Miss Britney Spears. "Cry Me a River" dealt with the alleged infidelity that went on during the couple's relationship, as Britney is rumored to have cheated on Justin Timberlake with the couple's friend, choreographer Wade Robson. Giving fans another hint that the song was about Brit? Justin hired someone who could pass as Britney's body double to play the woman who broke his heart in the track's music video.
In late 2015, One Direction released "Perfect," one of their final singles as a group. In the song, Harry Styles sings, "And if you like cameras flashing every time we go out / And if you're looking for someone to write your breakup songs about / Baby, I'm perfect." It appeared as though the wording was a nod to a member of the group's famous ex-girlfriend — a singer who's known for writing breakup songs about her former lovers.
It's widely believed that the line is a nod to Taylor Swift, who dated Harry Styles in 2012 — and wrote several songs about him after they parted ways in early 2013. Harry wouldn't confirm that "Perfect" is about his ex: "I think people interpret songs in different ways," he told People magazine. "I'm never going to tell someone what a song's about because I feel like it's up to them." Louis Tomlinson, who co-wrote the song, had this to say on the subject: "I think everybody draws from personal experiences, so of course to a degree I'm sure that influenced some of it. … Down to specifics to who that song is exactly about, that's fan's interpretation, I suppose." Well, consider it interpreted then!
Way back in 2003, Jessica Simpson released her hit single "With You" in which she sings the praises of a special someone who let her be her true self. But who was it?
We're still mourning these lovebirds! Jessica Simpson penned the tune "With You" for ex-husband Nick Lachey when they were still on good terms and starring on the hit MTV reality show "Newlyweds." Jessica wasn't shy about sharing who the song was about, but just two years later the once-happy couple called it quits.
John Mayer's 2017 release "Still Feel Like Your Man" featured lines that made many think it was about one of his famous exes. Surprisingly, John even fessed up to exactly who he was thinking about while penning the lyrics!
This one's about Katy Perry! Want proof? John Mayer told People magazine himself! "Who else would I be thinking about?" he said. "And by the way, it's a testament to the fact that I have not dated a lot of people in the last five, six years. That was my only relationship. So it's like, give me this, people." It's true: Before Katy, John dated a bevy of Hollywood beauties… but they didn't all inspire songs!
Selena Gomez's breakup with a certain pop star reportedly inspired her 2014 single "The Heart Wants What It Wants." The song is so emotional for the singer-actress that she refused to perform it during her 2016 Revival tour. "There are things that I can't do," she told Entertainment Weekly of the decision. "I won't be performing it on this tour because I don't want to," she added. "It's like when you smell a scent and it takes you back to a place that maybe wasn't the best place. That stuff is a little bit more difficult."
"The Heart Wants What It Wants" is widely believed to be about Selena Gomez's off-and-on romance with Justin Bieber. She seemingly addresses their relationship in the opening of her emotional music video for the song: "I know his heart, and I know what he wouldn't do to hurt me, but I didn't realize feeling so confident, feeling so great about myself and then it just be completely shattered by one thing — by something so stupid," she says. "But then you make me feel crazy because you make me feel like it's my fault. I was in pain."
Did you expect anything less? On her 2017 album "Reputation," Taylor Swift again opts to borrow from real life experience when it comes to her lyrics. Case in point? "Call It What You Want," which happens to be about — what else? — a man in her life. But which one this time?
It's new beau Joe Alwyn! Taylor Swift's latest album is full of songs that allude to her latest main squeeze and "Call It What You Want" talks about a new type of love she found after taking time away from the spotlight. It's not hard to connect the dots.
The release of Miley Cyrus's hit single "Wrecking Bell" coincided with the implosion of her off-and-on relationship with a certain Australian actor in the summer of 2013. The following year, the singer-actress confirmed rampant speculation that the song was about her ex with an expletive-filled introduction dedicated to the people who "broke my heart — particularly one." "Enjoy hearing this song for the rest of your life. This song is called 'Wrecking Ball,'" she said before launching into the anthem.
Though they've since reconciled, Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth's reps confirmed that the duo had officially called off their engagement in September 2013, a month after the singer-actress released "Wrecking Ball." "She wants nothing to do with him, and vice versa. It's bad," a source told Us Weekly following their 2013 breakup. Their split might have been temporary, but "Wrecking Ball" is forever!
The song "Ghost" off Katy Perry's 2013 album "Prism" is about her real-life split from a certain British funnyman. "You sent a text / It's like the wind changed your mind," she sings in the opening lines of the breakup anthem. So who dumped the singer via text back in 2011?
In 2013, Katy Perry told Vogue that Russell Brand broke up with her via text message: "He's a very smart man, and I was in love with him when I married him," she said. "Let's just say I haven't heard from him since he texted me saying he was divorcing me Dec. 31, 2011." Ouch!