Did Charli XCX diss Taylor Swift on ‘BRAT’? Fans sure think so

Scholars on Genius think they’ve identified the “girl [who] taps my insecurities” on Charli XCX’s critically acclaimed album ‘BRAT’. 

Charli XCX debuted her sixth studio album BRAT over the weekend, and in between all the hilarious memes and rave reviews (it is currently the most acclaimed album of 2024) fans have been pouring over the lyrics of one particular song on the tracklist. 

‘Sympathy is a knife’ — the album’s third song (and arguably it’s best) — is on its surface about Charli’s insecurities, the competitiveness of the industry, and the artifice of fame, but the scholars over at Genius think they’ve identified which woman Charli refers to throughout the song. And the Swifties aren’t happy. 

Charli XCX Australia
Credit: Charli XCX YouTube

Produced by longtime collaborator EASYFUN, ‘Sympathy is a knife’ see Charli mention “this one girl [who] taps my insecurities.”

While that alone isn’t enough to prove the track is about Taylor Swift, a more identifying lyric arrives in the second verse. “Don’t wanna see her backstage at my boyfriend’s show,” she wails, “Fingers crossed behind my back I hope they break up quick.” 

For those unfamiliar with the lore, the “boyfriend” Charli is referencing is her now-fiancé George Daniel, the drummer of the indie rock band, The 1975.

That band is also home to raw meat-eater and general nuisance Matty Healy, who famously had a three-month fling with Swift in 2023, around the same time that Charli and Daniel were dating.

By that logic, it stands to reason that Charli might’ve actually encountered Swift “backstage at my boyfriend’s show,” fuelling speculation that the track is aimed squarely at the Bad Blood singer.

Adding fuel to the fire, fans revisited the two pop stars’ history, recalling that Charli was the opening act during Swift’s 2018 Reputation tour. 

The following year, Charli told Pitchfork that opening for Swift felt like “playing to a bunch of 5-year-olds”, comments which she later said were “taken out of context” in a statement.

Regardless, it isn’t too much of a leap to suggest that Swift is in fact the subject of ‘Sympathy is a knife’, with other lyrics mentioning how Charli “couldn’t even be her if I tried”, perhaps referencing her inability to reach Swift’s popularity.  

Other fans have theorised that the track is about fellow musician Rina Sawayama, whom she briefly beefed with in 2023.

In any case, ‘Sympathy is a knife’ isn’t the only ‘BRAT’ song to vaguely reference Charli’s peers, with lead single ‘Von dutch’ said to be about an unnamed musician and ‘Girl, so confusing’ supposedly a reference to Lorde (or Camilla Cabello, or Marina…you’re guess is as good as mine).