As we approach the halfway mark of 2023, one thing is clear: it’s been a fruitful year for maximalist pop culture.
Taylor Swift’s Eras tour is in full swing. Beyoncé’s Renaissance show, all three hours of it, has just kicked off in Stockholm. Prince Harry and his frost-nipped todger published Spare. The Selena-Justin-Hailey love triangle was seemingly rebooted. Angela Bassett did the thing.
And now, as the seasonal temperature is finally rising (OK, only a bit), a string of perplexing celebrity couples have popped up out of nowhere.
The most recent – and unfathomable – romantic pairing to make headlines is Taylor and Matty Healy. Last week, they were spotted holding hands on a double-date in New York with Margaret Qualley and her fiancé Jack Antonoff – he, of course, being one of Swift’s long-time collaborators, and also a producer on The 1975’s last album, Being Funny In A Foreign Language. Rumour has it Antonoff played Cupid and re-introduced the pair nine years after their first meeting, when Swift attended a 1975 gig.
A few days after that rendezvous, she was papped wearing one of the band’s tees, while Healy was spotted in a 1989 shirt, duly whipping up fan hysteria (and plenty of conspiracy theories) in the process. But in terms of a public-facing romance, though, all that came to naught. But almost a decade later, Swift is fresh from breaking up with actor Joe Alwyn after a six-year-long, extraordinarily private and by all accounts wholly comfortable relationship.
So what could possibly be the attraction between one of the world’s most press-trained and scrutinised pop stars and a sometimes cringe – and recently controversial – Brit indie kid? For Healy, perhaps it offers some much-needed image rehabilitation. As for the former, Swift’s US publicist Tree Paine is renowned for her bullish tactics when it comes to PR. Call us heart-of-stone cynics for whom celebrity romance can only over be a marketing tool, but might this be a conscious coupling?
Because, of course, nothing says “new era” like ditching your long-term, bland-I-mean-blonde boyfriend and entering into an entanglement with 2023’s TikTok-appointed musical bad boy. Does Swifty get Matty to brush his teeth after another 1975 show spent snogging the front row? Does he send her rambling voice-notes about the complexities of human life? TayTay’s been pictured cosying up to Healy’s mum Denise Welch, too. We wouldn’t be opposed to a surprise Loose Women appearance, to be honest. What are we talking about: we’d love that.
Then, the celebrity mismatch that started it all (this year, at least): Avril Lavigne and Tyga. To the naked eye, this link-up seems too random to be true. Firstly: how could the pop-punk chick who likes to rock out and throw shit around and the C‑list rapper have ever crossed paths?
Turns out their social connections run deeper than you might think, and bear with us here: Tyga once dated Kylie Jenner, whose step-sibling Brody (of The Hills fame) also dated Lavigne for a couple of years in the mid-2000s – they attended Kim Kardashian’s wedding to Kris Humphries together. And that’s just the start of their too-weird-to-be-true connections. This TikTok breaks it down with a much-needed visual aid.
Now for what might be this summer’s most baffling rumoured couple of them all: Timothée Chalamet and the aforesaid Ms Jenner. Although the Timmy/Kylie relationship has yet to be confirmed by either of their reps, we’re choosing to lean right in.
What we have so far are quotes from nebulous “sources” who assure us the pair are “enjoying hanging out” since they met at a Jean Paul Gaultier fashion show, plus pap shots of Kylie’s car outside Timmy’s house, and vice versa. So far, so very mysterious, so deliciously intriguing. Do they spend their time discussing the intricacies of Denis Villeneuve’s filmography over tacos before whacking on an arthouse neo-noir? Is a Chalamet-themed eyeshadow palette in the pipeline? Time will tell.
Arguably, Kanye West and Julia Fox and Pete Davidson and Kim Kardashian were last year’s blueprint when it came to odd-shaped celebrity dating. But in mid-2023, more and more celebs are taking notes and finding simpatico vibes with ostensibly un-simpatico partners – enough with the manicured perfection of couples like Austin Butler and Kaia Gerber, or Jacob Elordi and Olivia Jade. Hell, this season we’re not even fully onboard with Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell, whose riveting have-they-haven’t‑they romcom romance just makes a little too much sense.
We want chaos, where the edges are a little more jagged. We want to speculate, scratch our heads and connect the dots. We want a mismatch made in heaven. They say opposites attract, after all.