Jerk songs are part of a proud tradition: using music to vent. Pretty much every punk and hardcore song ever written is about jerks, though we’ve limited our hardcore input to just one song and attempted to give a broad overview of pop’s various odes to a-holes.
- “You’re So Vain” is the ultimate jerk song and it’s about Mick Jagger. Carly Simon wrote the song after a bitter break up with Jagger and revealed him to be the source of the lyrical vitriol many years later at a charity auction. Stinging lines like “You had one eye in the mirror as you watched yourself gavotte” and of course, “you’re so vain I bet you think this song is about you” turn the track to acid.
- “Hey Jude,” one of McCartney’s and The Beatles’ best songs, arose from the behavior of a man who could be the biggest jerk around if he wanted to–John Lennon. Lennon more or less ignored his first song, Julian, and devoted his attentions instead to his music and, later, Yoko Ono. McCartney, being the all-around good guy he was, took an active role in raising Julian and wrote “Hey Jude” for him.
- “Hit the Road Jack” is super-corny but in many ways the only appropriate response to jerks. Scram, you turd! And don’t come back. Enough said.
- “Soul Sucking Jerk” is exactly what you’d guess from the title. Over a bluesy acoustic guitar riff and funky beat, Beck does his white boy rap thing and describes the worst kind of jerk boss you can imagine. Beck quits his job, ‘cause he ain’t gonna work for no soul suckin’ jerk.
- “We Almost Had a Baby” follows a deceptively sweet melody. This lilting anti-folk track from young British-Chinese singer-songwriter Emmy the Great uses a lovely waltz to tell the tale of a young woman who was seduced and emotionally wrecked by a narcissistic older man. Emmy spins a dark yarn of abusive relationships and growing up.
- “Daddy’s Gone” describes the great scourge of an endless parade of songs: the deadbeat dad. Glasvegas' frontman James Allan’s voice aches as he describes all of the things his jerk of a father did over a driving, powerfully distorted bass and cavernous guitars. You might to peruse the lyrics online before listening to the track – Allan’s Scottish brogue is thick as thieves.
- “Bulletproof” is a deceptively bright dance-pop hit from Franco-British duo La Roux that is actually a very strong gut reaction to jerks. The song’s chorus, “This time baby, I’ll be bulletproof” is the ultimate revenge against all jerks: do your best, you can’t hurt me, sucka!
- “Filler” sees Minor Threat getting down and dirty or, in the world of first wave hardcore bands, doing what they did. This particularly spiteful song is aimed at people with no center, those who lose their sense of self and rational thought in a woman, religion or any other external force – namely, jerks without the spine to stand by anything in adverse winds.
- “Don’t Tell Me,” Avril Lavigne’s somber description of a guy who appeared to be all the right things at first glance – he did, after all, walk her home while holding her hand – who was a barrel of rotten apples on the inside. Turns out he was after nothing more tan punani the whole time. But he gets his when Avril tosses him to the curb. “Did you think I was gonna give it up to you this time?”
- “Obnoxious” is an aggressive, over-the-top paean to how big a jerk its creator is. Leave it up to Immortal Technique, one of the most righteously indignant and generally offensive people in hip-hop to throw off lines like “run through Little Havana yelling Viva Fidel” and “drinking Bacardi at AA meetings.”