We all live in a polite society where we are rewarded for our good behavior. But sometimes, it’s just fun to be a little bit bad from time to time.
In this article, I’m going to present you with my favorite songs about being bad. From being the toughest guy or girl in the room, to breaking the rules, to being downright bad in relationships, I hope you’re able to find a few new songs on this list to add to your music rotation!
Songs About Being Bad That I Really Love
Let’s begin with a Judas Priest song.
Breaking the Law by Judas Priest
Rob Halford takes us on this classic heavy metal ride through rejection and angst. It’s a song about a man who feels like nobody cares about him so he starts breaking the law. We can relate to wanting people to pay attention to us and feeling alone, confused, hurt, betrayed, and pissed off when they don’t.
This is the song for those moments. It’s the perfect gym song when you want to work out your anger or driving companion when you just need to get the f*** away from the night you’re having. It’s full of rebellion. It’s a heavy metal avalanche of deep emotion delivered in their best, badass Judas Priest way.
For more, check out this Rob Halford Interview on Breaking the Law
Bad by Michael Jackson
Come on—did you really think I’d leave this one off the list?
Probably the most quintessential song with “bad” in the title, Michael Jackson helped solidify into the pop culture lexicon the ironic usage of “bad” meaning “good.” An infectious beat, made only better with a slightly hardened vocal performance by Michael himself, the only thing better that the song “Bad” just might be the music video itself, which featured Wesley Snipes and was no doubt one of the most memorable elements of 1988’s “Moonwalker.”
Bad by U2
Not all forms of being bad are intentional. In this song about a friend’s heroin addiction, Bono takes us through the genuine emotional experience of a loved one’s problem. It’s a slow, dreamy landscape of the Edge’s guitar stringing and Bono’s angst mild to sorrowful rage. It’s painful, emotional, honest, and realistic. We can do our best to help someone through addiction but if they aren’t willing, there is nothing we can do but let go.
And it’s awful. A painful part of the human condition. This song is perfect for those porch-sitting nights of summer when things turn reflective. A song made for screaming out into the night hoping the universe hears your plea in saving a loved one. Quite possibly, the best song from their 1985 Unforgettable Fire album. And maybe, their whole career.
Stealing People’s Mail by the Dead Kennedys
We might find ourselves knocking over a table lamp and even grandma on the way to the living room mosh pit when this punk jig starts. And that’s okay. Grandma’s fine and lamps are replaceable. It’s a fun song about stealing people’s mail on a Friday night. It’s filled with juvenile angst, restlessness, and a very lucrative illegal enterprise.
This is a must for any playlist for songs about being real bad or devious. These guys ruled the 80’s punk air along side Suicidal Tendancies and the Violet Femmes. They remind us of our childhoods, adolescence, and the angst, fun driven, bad behavior that comes with it all. So put this on the hi-fi and play it loud. And hide Grandma’s Hummel collection.
Monster by Kanye West f/Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj and Bon Iver
This song is a lyrical warning to someone about his lack of character and he’s dressed to nines as a charming narcissist. We can feel the arrogance of the music. He’s a monster and unapologetic about it.
In fact, he seems quite pleased and content with himself. But in between the lines we feel his anger and resentment towards the people in his life he has helped but have used him. We can relate. We’ve been used. Betrayed. Taken for granted. Some people might want to have a heart to heart about it. But not West, he spills his emotional beans in a musically rich anthem.
We might remember Adele nailing Nicki Minaj’s part on Car Ride Karaoke. Admittedly, it’s the best part of an already cool song. Minaj comes in and slays all of us. This is just a great song, and we thank West for giving us a song to sing too when we are just sick of people’s foolishness.
Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash
“But I shot a man in Reno just to see him cry,” sings in this classic, highly covered and dearly beloved song about a man jailed for committing a crime. He knows he had it coming. He knows he deserves the punishment and longs for his independence.
“Folsom Prison Blues” makes us feel like we are on a night train riding solo through the farmlands of the country. It makes us think about our lives and the choices we make. It has the slow, tangy guitar picking, deep lyrics and recognizable voice that we know and love about Cash. Being bad has its consequences for sure.
Cash performed twelve shows a year for the inmates at Folsom and San Quentin prisons. He played for free. He recorded this song at Folsom. The audience we hear is the inmates. Everyone should know this song. And if they don’t, help a brother or sister out.
Down in Mississippi (Up to No Good) by Sugarland
Sometimes being bad is all about blowing off steam. Sugarland gives us a perfect two-stepping song that makes us want to dance on the bar top and hang from the rafters.
It’s about a woman who ditches her mundane life and daily chores for a wild time in Mississippi with her friends.
“Friday, payday, Lordy, gotta get away. Had it with my wife thang, livin’ on a shoestring. What’s a poor girl gotta do?”
Jennifer Nettles sings in her delightful southern drawl. We get feeling bored, restless, or unappreciated. We appreciate being wild and bad with our friends. Sometimes, it’s just what we need. A night out with few rules. This song is just a fun country song.
And It’s a blast on a dive bar jukebox. We can almost hear the beer bottles break.
Tyrone by Erykah Badu
This is probably one of the best “I’m sick of your crap” songs ever recorded. It’s a classy, smooth, laid back R&B jam about a woman calling out her man’s bad behavior.
Now every time I ask you for a little cash
You say no but turn right around and ask me for some ***
It’s full of exhaustion, indifference and confidence. And straight up honesty. She sings,
“Every time we go somewhere, I gotta reach down in my purse. To pay your way and your homeboy’s way. And sometimes, it’s your cousin’s way!” she sings. We all know Tyrone and let’s face it, we can’t get through this song without smirking because of it. Also, the last line. Boom. Badu mic drop.
I Told You I Was Mean by Elle King
Wouldn’t it be great if people came with disclaimers? Elle King does. She gives us one in this bluesy afternoon walking and thinking song. It’s about a woman who is honest about being mean in relationships. Sometimes being bad looks a little different. It looks like being unapologetically mean. It’s breaking hearts, then walking away. It’s using people for gain and not caring.
And in her defense, she told us what would happen. We shouldn’t be surprised.
But we are, because we wished for something more from them. This song is perfect for those long, meandering rides home on a hot summer night. Sometimes all we need is the wind in our hair and a good song for wondering if their disclaimer for being mean just gave them an excuse to be a crappy person.
Jolene by Dolly Parton
Being a home wrecker is a classic form of being bad. In this song, Parton pleads with Jolene to leave her man alone because he is falling under her spell. We can relate to this musical plea. We’ve been there. We get it. We want to keep what we have. It’s a perfect song for the open road. It’s full of frustration and despair.
And we get the impression Jolene will never listen. And interestingly enough, the words are directed at Jolene when perhaps it should have been a song for her man. It’s easy for us to blame an outsider, but when our partner can fall into another woman’s trap, well, we’re pretty sure there are some other problems at home.
Just saying, Dolly. Maybe Jolene should take him.
Bad to the Bone by George Thorogood and the Destroyers
This might be the reigning champ in songs about being bad. We can almost see George walk into a bar, order three shots and make himself known. When this song plays on the radio, we must turn that s*** up!
It’s like coming home to not giving a rip about anything. And it feels so good not to care about anything. It’s full of rebellion, narcissism, and dirty blues. He makes no excuse for being bad. And we love him for it. This is a classic dive bar jukebox hit.
Good at Being Bad by TLC
This is such a great track, but it’s also such a unique departure from what we had come to expect from TLC.
Sure, TLC gave us racier songs like “Red Light Special” and “Creep” in the past, but those tracks leaned far more into the sultry side of R&B.
On “Good at Being Bad,” which appeared on their 1999 album “Fan Mail,” TLC leans heavily into the braggadocios side of R&B. With lyrics like “I epitomize the word sexy” and T-Boz proudly declaring how she’ll make her man happy all night long, “Good at Being Bad” exudes the confidence of a Lil’ Kim or Megan Thee Stallion record, without having to sacrifice that memorable sound and vibe and that we’ve come to love from TLC.