They say revenge is a dish best served cold. If you are a musician with a grudge against somebody, revenge is served in a song. Stories of revenge and getting even fill popular culture and are among the best-loved of all time. From members of The Beatles to Johnny Cash and Taylor Swift, revenge makes for a successful song. Read in our article about the best songs about revenge.
“How Do you Sleep” by John Lennon
By 1970, The Beatles had imploded into infighting and unhappiness. The death of manager, Brian Epstein had led to s2quabbles over the business direction of the band. John Lenon released his first solo album in 1971 and included “How Do You Sleep” as a thinly veiled attack on Paul McCartney.
The close friendship of John and Paul had descended into High Court battled and mockery on the pages of music industry magazines. Lennon would eventually discard the song and apologize to McCartney.
“Blank Space” by Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift decided to write the ultimate revenge song to play on her reputation for failed relationships. The self-parody of Swift’s songs did not harm the sales in 2014, with its global release in 2015 making it the eighth best-selling track of the year. The song has Swift declaring her previous relationships little more than flings, instead of the great love affairs she had previously stated.
“A Boy Named Sue” by Johnny Cash
The man in black takes an alternative approach to the revenge track. Instead of singling out a former love, Cash aims at the song’s narrator’s father. Written by Shel Silverstein, the poem tells the story of a boy looking for a father who abandoned him aged three. Silverstein’s narrator explains his father left him with nothing but a guitar and the name, Sue. Johnny Cash made the song famous as part of his live album recorded at San Quentin prison.
“Smile” by Lily Allen
Before the release of “Smile”, Lily Allen was best known as the daughter of one of the U.K.’s most famous actors. Allen shot to fame with this profanity-laced song about her boyfriend’s betrayal. The song focuses on the futile attempts of Allen’s boyfriend to win her back following his betrayal. “Smile” entered the charts at number one in the U.K. during its first week of release.
“I’ll Get Even” by Megadeth
The thrash metal band, Megadeth has several dongs about revenge. “I’ll Get Even” has a stalkerish feel and lyrics that will make you concerned for your safety. Megadeth’s members have explained they wanted to look at the psychological state of a person seeking revenge for some reason. The song is creepy and unsettling when you explore the lyrics.
“Goodbye Earl” by The Dixie Chicks
Now known as The Chicks, is a country song about revenge. The song focuses on the contrasting fortunes of two childhood friends after leaving high school. While one friend finds happiness and success in Atlanta, the other is left at home in an abusive relationship with Earl. After reuniting the women decide Earl must die and poison hi black-eyed peas.
“Irreplaceable” by Beyonce
“Irreplaceable” began life as a country song before being rearranged for Beyonce. The song focuses on a woman who has discovered her boyfriend is cheating on her. Beyonce sings about the betrayal and how her partner should not feel he is irreplaceable in her life.
“You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon
The ultimate revenge song that has been discussed for decades. Carly Simon initially refused to name the subject of her ire, with every famous male of the early-1970s mentioned in passing. The song began life as “Bless you, Ben” before changing to “You’re so Vain.” Carly Simon has revealed several letters of the name of the unnamed famous person in the song. Warren Beatty and Mick Jagger have remained the most popular options for fans desperate to crack the song’s code.
“Idiot Wind” by Bob Dylan
In the wake of the breakup of his marriage to Sara Lowndes, Dyland released the “Blood on the Tracks” album. Dylan’s song is seen by critics as a veiled attack on his ex-wife during their divorce. Dylan sings, “It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe.” Despite evidence to the contrary, the former folk singer remains adamant the song is not autobiographical.
“Elegantly Wasted” by Inxs
Revenge songs do not always need to be about lost love. Instead, Michael Hutchence of Inxs proved beef between artists can be fertile ground for revenge songs. In 1996, Oasis’ Noel and Liam Gallagher appeared upset Hutchence had been given the task of presenting them with a Brit Award. A fight followed between Hutchence and Liam Gallagher. After a night on the town with U2’s Bono, Hutchence penned “Elegantly Wasted” as revenge against the Gallagher brothers.
Born and raised in Austin, David is a dedicated writer and avid fragrance lover. When he's not trying out perfumes, he enjoys traveling and exploring new restaurants.