The rage and pain of bad breakups have spawned many great songs, but the 10 best angry breakup lyrics stand out for their brutal honesty as well as their cathartic potential. Several of these songs have inspired covers at least as powerful as the originals. They might make you cringe or cry, and some could even make you laugh.
- “Unsuccessfully Coping with the Natural Beauty of Infidelity.” Type O Negative dishes pure rage in a song that tops the list of 10 best angry breakup lyrics. Peter Steele describes his ex’s wantonness in excruciating detail before breaking into a chorus of, “I know you’re f***ing someone else!” The song’s raw energy alone might make you feel better.
- “Now You Know.” “Did you have blinders on, my dear, or were you just willing?” ask the Afghan Whigs in this track from their "Gentlemen" album. The entire opus is a cynical examination of relationships, mutual using, loathing and lust, and the ways couples destroy each other. “Now You Know,” the ninth track, is the Whigs at their bitter, bluesy best.
- “Before He Cheats.” Carrie Underwood knows how to handle an unfaithful ex. While vandalizing a vehicle the way she describes would probably land you in jail, and be grounds for a restraining order, there’s nothing wrong with living vicariously. So enjoy her account of damaging her ex’s cherished four-wheel-drive, and share in her resolution that “the next time that he cheats, oh, you know it won’t be on me!”
- “Wild Thing.” Comedian Sam Kinison transformed the Troggs’ paean to a wild woman into what should be a classic of angry breakup lyrics. The video features a lineup of 80’s bad-boy rockers and church-secretary-turned-scarlet-woman Jessica Hahn in the title role. With Kinison shrieking out such lines as, “Every time I kiss you, I taste what other men had for lunch!” this song offers both outrage and a rollicking good time.
“I Was Wrong.” Seminal Goth band the Sisters of Mercy has written some unforgettable breakup lyrics. “I Was Wrong” is among their more quietly bitter tracks, but the acoustic guitar underscores the song’s rage and despair. “Pain looks great on other people,” laments suitably named vocalist Andrew Eldritch. “I can love my fellow man, but I’m damned if I’ll love yours.”
“Dirt.” If you prefer your angry breakup lyrics in a more I’ll-punish-you-with-my-untimely-demise vein, check out the title track to Alice in Chains’ Dirt album. “I want you to scrape me from the walls,” grinds out vocalist Layne Staley, who eventually died of a drug overdose, “and go crazy like you’ve made me.”
“Used to Love Her.” “I used to love her, but I had to kill her” is the oft-repeated theme of this Guns N’ Roses classic. There isn’t much more lyrically, although we do learn that the complaining woman is buried in the backyard. For a twist on the song, check out the cover “I Used to Love Him” by female punk-grunge rockers L7.
- “Blue Monday.” New Order’s original may be more upbeat than outraged. But Orgy’s 1998 cover adds a brittle, angst-ridden edge to such angry breakup lyrics as, “I’m quite sure that you’ll tell me just how I should feel today.” The aggressive vocals and guitar of the chorus make a great soundtrack for a workout with a punching bag.
“Wish.” Out of an oevre filled with angry breakup lyrics, Nine Inch Nails may never have exceeded “Wish” for pure loathing. “I put my faith in God and my trust in you,” screeches Trent Reznor. “Now there’s nothing more f***ed up I could do!” If this song doesn’t make you want to hurl yourself into a mosh pit and smash expensive electronic equipment, nothing will.
- “Die Die My Darling.” You can’t beat lines such as “Your future’s in an oblong box” and “I’ll be seeing you in hell!” for post-breakup rage. The seminal Misfits did “Die Die My Darling” first, then Metallica covered it in their own inimitable style. So whether you like old-school punk or smoothly produced metal, you can find a version suited for banging your head. Just don’t bang your head against the wall, please.
Listen to a playlist compiled by actor and musician Christopher Mintz Plasse.
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