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Calvin Harris's lonely war on Taylor Swift and “Nils Sjoberg,” explained

Taylor Swift secretly wrote one of Calvin Harris's best songs. Now, he's very upset she told us.

Harris searches for meaning in this chaos we call life, and/or the beat just dropped.
Harris searches for meaning in this chaos we call life, and/or the beat just dropped.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

After a stunning Twitter rant, it’s official: Pop star DJ Calvin Harris does not <3 Hiddleswift.

If that sentence makes no sense to you, take heart! You’ve somehow avoided weeks of speculation and controversy surrounding photogenic new "couple" Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston, who have been photographed clutching each other’s hands from blustery Rhode Island beaches to the Coliseum and beyond.

Ever since Hiddleswift — not a Pokémon you missed but the couple moniker assigned to Swift and Hiddleston — came giddily crashing into our lives on June 15, rumors have swirled. Said rumors suggest the whole romance is a stunt to play with the media (which, hi, has apparently worked), or that these storybook dates are fodder for an upcoming Swift music video.

But largely absent in all the rumors is Calvin Harris, whom Swift had been dating for more than a year before they broke up in early June, right before Swift and Hiddleston became an unholy fusion of enthusiasm, fame, and whimsy — ergo, a tabloid favorite.

The latest Swift/Harris breakup rumor: Their secret collaboration on "This Is What You Came For" went south

iHeartRadio Music Awards - Show
Swift and Harris, in happier times. Probably.
Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for iHeartRadio / Turner

But on July 13, TMZ brought Harris back into the story when it reported that he and Swift broke up because they collaborated on "This Is What You Came For" — Harris’s smash single featuring Rihanna on vocals — and while Swift agreed to use a pseudonym to keep the focus off the pair’s couplehood, things went south when Harris went to promote the single.

Writes TMZ:

The problem in the relationship came the day the song was released. Calvin appeared on Ryan Seacrest's radio show and Ryan asked, "Will you do a collaboration with your girlfriend?" Calvin responded, "You know we haven't even spoken about it. I can't see it happening though."

A secret song collaboration leading to an explosive breakup is already a good story. But when Rolling Stone confirmed with Taylor Swift’s representatives that she wrote the lyrics for "This Is What You Came For" under the fantastic pseudonym "Nils Sjoberg"(which at least one Swedish guy who shares the name noticed in June), it became a great story.

Enter Calvin Harris, pissed off and ignored for a day too long:

If your jaw is still firmly attached to your face after reading these, you are a stronger person than I am.

Not only is Harris remarkably candid here, but he also nods toward the rumors that Swift blacklisted Katy Perry after a tour argument — reportedly inspiring Swift’s song "Bad Blood" — being true.

Perry, for her part, has issued a pointed — and pretty hilarious — response in the form of a subtweet gif, as is appropriate when reacting to a Twitter rant:

Then, Harris suggests that Swift confirming she worked on "This Is What You Came For" is tantamount to "tearing [him] down."

This response is at least one that Swift herself is familiar with. In the speech she gave at this year’s Grammys after winning Album of the Year for 1989, she said, "I want to say to all the young women out there, there will be people along the way who will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame."

At the time, pretty much everyone assumed this was about Kanye West, but, uh ... maybe not!

Or maybe it was about West, and any other person who might take credit from where it’s due — like, say, a bitter ex-boyfriend.


Swift has since ditched the pseudonym on the "This Is What You Came For" credits, but Nils Sjoberg will not be soon forgotten.

Calvin Harris went way off script — or did he?

swift harris credit

RIP, Nils Sjoberg (BMI)

More surprising than an ex-boyfriend going on a defensive Twitter rant, though, is that this is exactly the kind of public spectacle that just doesn’t happen with players in Swift’s tightly controlled circle. Statements are crafted, public appearances are painstakingly arranged, Instagrams are filtered and hashtagged with precision. Calvin Harris going in on Swift for trying to "bury" him is unexpected.

Or is it?

I fully admit that I’ve fallen so far down the Hiddleswift rabbit hole at this point that just about anything involving a person who’s so much as breathed the same eager air as Swift sets off my conspiracy sensors.

But if Calvin Harris proves to be in on whatever game Hiddleston and Swift might be playing, my cynical heart just might grow three sizes. A celebrity romance that plays a constant, seemingly exhausting game of cat and mouse with the media is tricky, but so far Hiddleswift and its assorted bit players are doing their damnedest. I salute their work.

On the other hand — and probably more believably — Calvin Harris could just be a salty dude who hates seeing his ex-girlfriend on the arm of a handsome Hollywood star and wanted to make sure everyone knew he’s still around.

But I prefer the explanations that cast Swift as a puppet master pulling the strings of chiseled men in exactly the way she pleases. It’s just more fun to imagine that somewhere out there, behind all the flashing cameras and scandalized hashtags, Nils Sjoberg is living her best life.

Updated to include Katy Perry's on point response, and Swift ditching her Swedish pseudonym, because at this point, why not?

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