While promoting A Star Is Born, Gaga has said in multiple interviews, in reference to her director/co-star Bradley Cooper: “There can be 100 people in a room and 99 don’t believe in you. And you just need one to believe in you.” Madonna, meanwhile, shared a snippet of her own 1989 interview on Instagram stories in which she says something strikingly similar: “If there are 100 people in a room and 99 say they liked it, I only remember the one person who didn’t.”
The original Gaga-Donna disagreement began when the 32-year-old singer released her 2011 single “Born This Way,” which prompted Madonna fans — and Madge herself — to point out its similarities to 1989’s “Express Yourself.” This ignited a plethora of low-key shots between the two pop icons through interviews over the past few years. Below, Billboard has compiled a timeline of their back-and-forth, with every insult and social media post leading up to this week’s swipe.
2011: Lady Gaga Releases “Born This Way,” and Fans Point Out Similarities to Madonna’s “Express Yourself”
“What a completely ridiculous thing to even question me about,” Lady Gaga said of the accusations during a 2011 NME interview. “I will look you in your eyes and tell you that I am not dumb enough or moronic enough to think that you are dumb enough or moronic enough not to see that I would have stolen a melody. If you put the songs next to each other, side by side, the only similarities are the chord progression. It’s the same one that’s been in disco music for the last 50 years. Just because I’m the first fucking artist in 25 years to think of putting it on Top 40 radio, it doesn’t mean I’m a plagiarist, it means that I’m fucking smart. Sorry.”
Below is a side-by-side mash-up of the two songs.
2012: Madonna Disses Gaga’s “Born This Way” Track
The following year, during a 2012 interview with ABC News, Madonna made it clear that she was unamused by Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.” “It feels reductive,” she said. When asked if that was a good or bad thing, the singer simply replied with “look it up,” as she took a sip of her tea.
2015: Madonna Temporarily Ends the Pop Icon War
The 60-year-old pop star later squashed the feud in a 2015 Rolling Stone interview, outlining that no one can really take her place in the pop music world. “The only time I ever criticized Lady Gaga was when I felt like she blatantly ripped off one of my songs,” Madonna told Rolling Stone. “It’s got nothing to do with ‘she’s taking my crown’ or ‘she’s in some space of mine.’ She has her thing. I do think she’s a very talented singer and songwriter. It was just that one issue.”
2016: Gaga Says She’s Nothing Like Madonna
Gaga responded to claims of similarities between her and Madonna in an interview with Zane Lowe on Beats 1 before the release of her Joanne album that year. “Madonna and I are very different,” Gaga said in the interview. “Just say, ‘We’re very different.’ I wouldn’t make that comparison at all and I don’t mean to disrespect Madonna, she’s a nice lady, and she’s had a fantastic huge career, biggest pop star of all time. But I play a lot of instruments. I write all my own music. I spend hours a day in the studio. I’m a producer. I’m a writer. What I do is different.”
Gaga also tweeted about Madonna’s powerful speech as Billboard’s 2016 Woman of the Year about overcoming adversity as a woman in the music industry.
@Madonna your speech at the Billboard Music Awards was inspiring. You’re so brave & strong. Thanks for being that for us girls we need that.
— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) December 12, 2016
2017: Gaga Addresses Madonna in Netflix Documentary Gaga: Five Foot Two
In her 2017 documentary, Gaga blatantly addressed the longstanding feud. “I’m Italian and from New York, so if I have a problem, I’m gonna tell you to your face,” she said in the film. “She wouldn’t look me in the eye and tell me that I was reductive or whatever. Telling me you think I’m a piece of shit through the media? It’s like a guy passing me a note through his friend.”
Still, she claimed to admire her pop predecessor. “So the thing with me and Madonna, for example, is that I admired her always,” Gaga said. “And I still admire her, no matter what she might think of me. I just want Madonna to push me up against the wall and kiss me and tell me I’m a piece of shit.”
2018: Lady Gaga, Madonna & 100 People in the Room
Since then, the feud temporarily died down, only to be revisited this year. Footage surfaced of Gaga repeating the same line during the press tour for A Star Is Born: “There can be 100 people in the room, and 99 don’t believe in you, but you just need one to believe in you,” the pop icon said in various different ways at press events this year.
The overused phrase grabbed everyone’s attention, including Madonna’s. In a since-deleted Instagram story, the pop star posted a video of a 1989 interview in which she says, “If there’s 100 people in the room and 99 people said they liked it, I only remember the one person who didn’t.”
Watch both icons use the phrase below.