Music’s unique power is that it can capture the unspeakable essence of human beings’ profound moods—melancholy, elation, love. But when push comes to shove, there is something uniquely satisfying in a song about being angry, the kind of song that evokes all the feelings of being angry, from indignation to red-hot fury.
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With that in mind, here are the ten best songs about being angry to fire up the blood.
The first song on this list is an angry song that made a splash on social media both times it was released—the first in 2012 and the second in 2022.
One of the most moving pop songs about anger, “All Too Well” charts the evolution of a brief and fiery relationship. At first, the lyrics seem sentimental and sad. However, as the chorus crescendos, it becomes clear that the titular lyric refers to the bitter and angry feelings for the speaker’s former flame.
The song’s re-release as “All Too Well (Taylor’s Version),” a nine-minute extension of the original track, cemented it as one of the most heartbreaking songs about being angry of all time.
Alanis Morissette is rightly recognized as the face of anger in the 1990s. Her grungy style and loud, powerful rock voice lent themselves well to a wide variety of raging tunes, but perhaps the most famous is 1995’s “You Oughta Know.”
Purportedly based on Morisette’s ex-boyfriend Dave Coulier (of Full House fame), “You Oughta Know” is the fantasy monologue of anyone who’s ever been angry. It consists of highly specific, sexually charged, embarrassing insults that utterly degrade the speaker’s ex-lover.
If Alanis Morissette is the angry icon of the 1990s, then the Sex Pistols are the patron saints of punk rage in the 1970s. Besides being trailblazing figures in punk, the Pistols also articulated a pointed political rage at state authoritarianism.
No rock songs about being angry captures this spirit better than 1977’s “God Save the Queen.” Running against the patriotic tune whose name it shares, the Sex Pistols’ song is a loud, bold declaration of dissent—a refusal to engage in a world run by authoritarians and monarchs.
Returning to the world of angry heartbreak songs, Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats” is one of country’s most iconic songs about anger and revenge.
Its narrative comprises a monologue by the speaker, who postulates about her two-timing partner and his ditsy lover—in-between descriptions of vandalizing his shiny car.
With Underwood’s thunderous vocals and the booming drums, “Before He Cheats” is a thrill to listen to.
Another political anger song is Childish Gambino’s smash-hit “This Is America.” It, and its highly influential music video, is an incendiary exploration of the hypocrisy that undergirds contemporary American life, especially the vacillation between carefree consumerism and wanton violence.
Released amidst political controversy and violence, “This Is America” is not so much a rallying cry for radical change as a venomous revelation, the unmasking of a society fraught with injustice.
Striking a similar tone of politically inflected rage is the next song on this list, Kendrick Lamar’s “The Blacker the Berry.”
Released on Lamar’s critically acclaimed 2015 album To Pimp a Butterfly, “The Blacker the Berry” serves as a counterpoint and companion piece to the more energizing “i.”
While “i” strives to affirm and cherish Black identity and experience, this song is a seething portrait of rage—outward-facing and inward-facing alike—against anti-Black racism.
If there is a list written in the stars of the most iconic songs of the early 2010s, this is surely on it.
Sometimes known by its radio-friendly line “Forget You,” this is one of those songs about anger with a clean version that’s still energetic. Indeed, it is an explosive, foul-mouthed invective against a shallow ex-lover and her new beau.
But don’t be mistaken: while “FU” is angry, it isn’t down in the dumps. On the contrary, Green’s vocals are almost joyous, an angry and indignant but still proud declaration of humor in the face of defeat.
Even though this is about a relationship, it’s one of the most relevant songs for when you’re mad at a friend.
Another luminous example of defiance in the face of defeat is Gloria Gaynor’s pop culture landmark song “I Will Survive.”
The disco hit has it all. Besides being an incredibly fun song to dance to, it has a spirit of resilience that lies in wait within an angry person. Of all the songs about frustration, “I Will Survive” captures the tale of a post-breakup narrator who, despite initial fears that she cannot be without her manipulative lover, spurns them when they return.
She dismisses them with powerful, self-assured confidence and the knowledge that as long as she can love, she is still alive.
Ranked as one of the best songs of all time, Whitney Houston’s “It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay” is relatively low-intensity when it comes to composition, but the lyrics bring a wave of subdued, resolved anger.
Following in a proud tradition of female empowerment tunes, the song centers on a narrator who decides she’s had enough of her deadbeat lover. After a night of spurning her, she ignores his pleas for forgiveness and moves on. That creates the kind of sonic narrative to make any listener feel righteously angry and proud.
The final song takes the torch from the Sex Pistol’s punk rage and updates it for the modern era. A keystone figure in the pop-punk movement of the early 2000s, Simple Plan brought to their music the kind of all-encompassing righteous anger that clicked with their teenage listeners.
“Shut Up!” is no exception, offering a dramatic dismissal of anyone and everyone who tries to keep the speaker—and the listener—down.
There might be few songs with angry in the title, but this list is an impressive collection to listen to whether you’re mad at someone or just want to channel your frustration through music. So give these songs about being angry a listen. You’ll soon have the perfect angry music playlist.