Beyoncé and Taylor Swift have never had the rivalry many try to suggest

Left - EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - JULY 29: (Editorial Use Only) (Exclusive Coverage) Beyoncé performs onstage during the "RENAISSANCE WORLD TOUR" at MetLife Stadium on July 29, 2023 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood)

Right - SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 24: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO BOOK COVERS.) Taylor Swift performs onstage during "Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour" at Allianz Parque on November 24, 2023 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/TAS23/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management)

Beyoncé and Taylor SwiftKevin Mazur/Buda Mendes/Getty ImagesCNN — 

Beyoncé vs Taylor Swift is less about them than it is about a larger discussion about erasure and ethnicity.

Both women have been successful performers for decades, endorsing each other’s artistry along the way. But many of their supporters and cultural critics continue to compare their careers, along with how their work is received and acknowledged.

The latest example was the reception this week to Swift being named Time’s 2023 Person of the Year. New York Times bestselling author and cultural critic Luvvie Ajayi Jones noted Beyoncé’s omission from the list of individuals considered.

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“Taylor being TIME person of the year while Beyoncé was not even nominated when they had VERY comparable years in terms quantifiable impact is actually wild,” Ajayi Jones wrote on Instagram.

“They both had record-breaking sold out world tours and BOTH shifted economies ad BOTH had documentaries come out,” she continued. “ONE of them was crowned the PERSON OF THE YEAR. While the other was not even considered for the title.”

Swift’s “Eras Tour” reportedly grossed more than an estimated $1 billion, while Beyoncé’s “Renaissance” tour reportedly grossed an estimated $570 million. However, she had 56 tour dates compared to Swift’s 146.

“Whether or not you are BeyHive [the term for her hardcore fans] or can’t stand her, you cannot deny the obvious erasure,” Ajayi Jones added. “Because there is only ONE main thing that makes her and Taylor different. You can be one of the most influential women in the world, and because you’re Black you can still be locked out.”

Other well known people, including journalist Cari Champion, responded with support in Ajayi Jones’ comments on the post.

“When tell you that YOU always have the time and you are ON TIME,” Champion remarked.

TV personality and author Nicole Waters commented, “She’s won everything and still can’t win. We thank God she doesn’t measure her worth by accolades issued by ‘not us.’ And that’s the lesson.”

For some, the selection of Swift is a continuation of the debate about industry disparities between Black and white artists and how their work is valued.

Taylor Swift, right, and Beyoncé.

Taylor Swift and Beyoncé.Getty Images

In 2017, there were accusations of racism after Adele topped Beyoncé in the album of the year category at the Grammy awards.

Yet the argument can be made that far from allowing issues of race to hold her back, Beyoncé has used it to fuel her art (see “Lemonade,” “Black Is King” and “Renaissance” for confirmation of that). It also bears mention that while she has not yet won an album of the year Grammy, Beyoncé holds the all-time record for most Grammy wins by a single artist with 32.

So while comparisons between the two artists may continue, the women themselves have only shown each other love.

Taylor Swift pushes back on comparing tours

In her interview with Time, Swift called out those who would position her in competition with Beyoncé.

“There were so many stadium tours this summer, but the only ones that were compared were me and Beyoncé,” Swift said. “Clearly it’s very lucrative for the media and stan culture to pit two women against each other, even when those two artists in question refuse to participate in that discussion.”

She also hailed Bey, saying “She’s the most precious gem of a person — warm and open and funny.”

“And she’s such a great disrupter of music-industry norms,” Swift said. “She taught every artist how to flip the table and challenge archaic business practices.”

Concert films

Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Taylor Swift attend the "Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour" Concert Movie World Premiere at AMC The Grove 14 on October 11, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.

Beyoncé and Taylor Swift attend the “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” movie premiere.John Shearer/Getty Images

Both artists recently released films documenting their tours and attended the film premieres for the other.

In October, Swift gushed about Beyoncé showing up for the premiere for her “Eras Tour” concert film in Los Angeles.

“I’m so glad I’ll never know what my life would’ve been like without @beyonce’s influence. The way she’s taught me and every artist out here to break rules and defy industry norms,” Swift wrote in the caption of a video posted on social media showing the two of them inside of the theater. “Her generosity of spirit. Her resilience and versatility. She’s been a guiding light throughout my career and the fact that she showed up tonight was like an actual fairytale.”

Swift returned the gesture the following month, when Beyoncé’s film premiered in London.

Beyoncé literally gives Swift her flowers

In 2021, both women had a big night at the Grammys.

Swift won album of the year for “Folklore” and Beyoncé notched her 28th Grammy, becoming the most Grammy-winning female artist of all time.

The latter sent the former a beautiful bouquet of flowers with a note that read, “Congratulations on your Grammy. It was great seeing you on Sunday night. Thank you for always being so supportive. Sending love to you and your family. B.”

Swift shared a photo of the flowers and note on social media writing, “Woke up to flowers from the queen of grace & greatness @beyonce and suddenly it’s the best Friday EVER. Thank you B and congratulations on your epic achievement Sunday night!!”

Beyoncé shares the stage with Swift

Kanye West leaping on stage to hijack Swift’s win for best female video at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards has gone down in pop culture history.

West grabbed the microphone and said, “Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you. Imma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time!”

The camera panned to Bey in the audience, looking flabbergasted.

Later, when Bey’s “Single Ladies” won for video of the year she brought Swift out to have the moment she had earlier been denied.

“I remember being 17 years old up for my first MTV Award with Destiny’s Child and it was one of the most exciting moments in my life,” Beyoncé said. “So I’d lke for Taylor to come out and have her moment.”

Taylor Swift (R) speaks after Beyonce (L) allowed her to finish her speech, that was cut short by Kanye West, after Beyonce won "Best Video of the Year" during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on September 13, 2009 in New York City.

Taylor Swift speaks after Beyonce allowed her to finish her speech, that was cut short by Kanye West at the 2009 MTV VMAs.Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Afterwards Swift had nothing but praise for what she had done.

“They told me to stand by the side of the stage and I didn’t really know what was going to go down, but I thought it was so wonderful and gracious of her to do what she’s always done,” Rolling Stone reported Swift as saying at the time. “She’s always been a great person before anything else. Before the talented artist, the superstar, she’s always been a great person and I just, I thought I couldn’t love Beyoncé more tonight, then tonight happened and it was just wonderful.”

That love clearly couldn’t be more mutual.

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