It’s no secret that being different is hard. Whether it’s because you stand out from the crowd, or because you feel invisible, feeling different can make life extremely challenging. Sometimes, all we want to know is that we aren’t alone, and that there are other people out there just like us who struggle to fit in.
Music is truly the place for you to find kindred spirits, and because of that, I’m going to present you with my absolute favorite songs about being different. Hopefully you find a song or two on this list that makes you feel seen and heard.
Grace Kelly by MIKA (2007)
Originally released in 2007, MIKA’s Grace Kelly has recently resurfaced in popularity on TikTok. The song was inspired by the singer’s experience in the music industry, where he found that people kept telling him things that they didn’t like about his music, even though he was doing everything that they told him to do.
The instrumentals feature the signature happy, upbeat sound that MIKA is known for, along with piano and drums. MIKA makes great use of falsetto in the chorus. It’s a little bit of a contrast in fact, given the heavier subject of the lyrics themselves, which talk about how he was changing himself to fit in (spoiler alert: people still didn’t seem to like him anyway):
Why don’t you like me, why don’t you like me
Without making me try?
In the pre-chorus, he talks about how he tried to be something he wasn’t, only to decide that it was better to embrace everything that makes him unique:
I tried to be like Grace Kelly, mm
But all her looks were too sad, ah
So I tried a little Freddie, mm
I’ve gone identity mad!
The song is definitely a roast to the music industry, but can also apply to more general things, like trying to change yourself to please others. It’s the perfect song for anyone who has ever tried to change themselves and hide the things that make them different.
Elizabeth Taylor by Clare Maguire (2016)
From one song that features the name of a great Hollywood film actress to another, this track is all about feeling sad and alone. It’s about feeling like you’re meant to stand in your truth and be who you innately feel you really are, but are burdened by the expectations of others to become a different person entirely.
On this track, Clare Maguire compares herself to the actress Elizabeth Taylor. But in Clare’s mind, that’s not necessarily a good thing. Maguire feels like she’s playing a film role in her own life, almost as if she’s stepped outside of her body and is watching a movie starring a slightly unrecognizable version of herself.
Thinking of an old movie and the roles that we’d play
Sometimes I look back and I wish that you stayed
I’ve loved, I’ve lost, and loved again
But here I am, on my own
There’s a ton of ways to interpret these lyrics. But I tend to believe that Clare is talking about herself here. She wishes that her old self stuck around. She loved herself once, and then lost herself to the wants (and exploits) of other people. But she’s learning to love herself again, and though it was a painful journey to go through, she’s learned her lesson in the end.
- Editor’s Note by Michael: Clare has one of the more impressive voices you’ll hear in modern music. I have no idea why she isn’t a bigger sensation in the music industry. Regardless, I recommend you run–don’t walk–to grab her music on vinyl.
Dalla Dalla by Itzy (2019)
This K-Pop song is a really great example of a song about being different because the title itself literally means “different!” Dalla Dalla is from Itzy’s debut album It’z Different, released in 2019. The song is about loving yourself for being different—definitely a song to listen to when you’re feeling down on yourself.
This track is extremely positive and upbeat, and the lyrics are even more encouraging:
I love myself! (Hey!)
Something’s different about me, yeah!
It can be hard to find a song that talks about being confident and loving yourself, in spite of your flaws, but Dalla Dalla does just that:
Just pretty but not attractive at all
I’m different from them, I’m different
A very positive take on being different! It’s definitely a song that will boost your self-esteem. And if you love bright colors and synchronized dance moves, then you’ll love the music video for this song below:
Creep by Radiohead (1992)
This one is real classic that has been covered time and time again, even by K-pop idols like on the show Superband and even in the video game Life Is Strange: True Colors (shoutout to Mxmtoon and “Alex Chen”).
There are many different interpretations of the lyrics, but most people relate to it in the sense of feeling like “creeps” or “weirdos” like the chorus states:
But I’m a creep
I’m a weirdo
What the hell am I doing here?
I don’t belong here
The track sounds sort of nonchalant at first—more like the singer has given up or feels dejected rather than lazy. Once we get to the chorus, the heavy guitar picks up, and it sounds almost full of rage. It’s the type of anger that’s directed inwards, a kind of self-hatred.
Creep is a great song about feeling like an outsider, with a less positive message than the previous two songs included on this list.
Waving Through a Window from Dear Evan Hansen (2017)
Waving Through a Window is from Dear Evan Hansen, a musical about a teenager with anxiety who feels invisible. The stage musical has also been adapted into a movie that was less well-received than the original.
This song has some very heartbreaking lyrics:
Give them no reason to stare
No slippin’ up if you slip away
So I got nothing to share
No, I got nothing to say
The lyrics talk about how Evan Hansen has always felt like an outsider, as if everyone is in on a joke that he’s never even been able to be a part of:
On the outside, always looking in
Will I ever be more than I’ve always been?
‘Cause I’m tap, tap, tapping on the glass
Waving through a window
This song is about being invisible and trying to blend in, while simultaneously feeling like you don’t belong. It’s very beautiful…and very heartbreaking. Ben Platt does a great job portraying the heavy emotions in the musical, and this song is definitely worth a listen for anyone who has ever felt like they’ve been on the outside looking in.
Try by Colbie Caillat (2014)
This song is about the pressure society puts on us to change ourselves so that we can be seen as beautiful and be accepted by the mainstream. It’s a very heartwarming song, with a simple guitar tune accompanied by the soft, melodic voice of Colbie Caillat.
Colbie talks about how we are sometimes hurting ourselves just to be beautiful, but the lyrics make us question if that’s what we really want.
This is what you want, to belong, so they like you
Do you like you?
Later on, she comforts us by saying that we don’t actually have to do any of these things just to make other people happy:
You don’t have to try so hard
This is such a comforting song that basically tells us that it’s okay to be different and to not change yourself for other people. It’s a little repetitive with the refrain of ‘you don’t have to try, try, try, try,’ but it almost feels like a mantra that she’s trying to borrow into our minds.
And you know what? I ain’t mad at that.
Hair by Lady Gaga (2011)
Sort of jazzy at the beginning, and relatively subdued for a Lady Gaga song, this one is about responding to your detractors and deciding to just be yourself no matter the cost. Once the chorus hits, it becomes a more classic Lady Gaga song with its intense beat and EDM vibes.
In the lyrics, Lady Gaga tells us that she wants to be herself and that everyone else will just have to accept her for who she is:
I just wanna be myself, and I want you to love me for who I am
Really uplifting, and a great song to listen to when you feel like you’re having a bad day. Especially a bad hair day.
HEAVEN by Troye Sivan ft. Betty Who (2015)
Troye Sivan’s HEAVEN is about accepting himself for being gay, and worrying about how others will react to him being different. The track is slow and looped, with a simple beat and is mostly lyric based.
Troye questions if he will be going to Heaven—either literally or metaphorically. He also talks about worrying about the reactions of society:
Without losing a piece of me
How do I get to Heaven?
Without changing a part of me
How do I get to Heaven?
But he realizes that if he tries to hide his sexuality, he would be losing a piece of himself, and he doesn’t want that either.
So if I’m losing a piece of me
Maybe I don’t want Heaven
It’s sort of a bittersweet song that ultimately ends with the singer deciding that it’s better to just be himself, even if that comes with the consequences and judgments of mainstream society.
Full Course Meal by Jessie Paege (2021)
Full Course Meal truly highlights the signature alto voice of Jessie Paege. This song is about how she used to try to blend in because she was so insecure growing up, and later finding the confidence to stop letting people walk all over her.
Just Right by GOT7 (2015)
This is just such a catchy song, as the chorus will definitely get stuck in your head! It’s pretty repetitive, but it’s also very cute and enjoyable, too. It also has a playful music video. The whole song provides a sweet message to love yourself, regardless of your flaws or differences.
Don’t worry about anything
Because I like everything about you
Don’t change anything
It also mentions ignoring the weight on the scale, which is interesting to note because weight is something not often addressed in K-pop songs.
Outside Looking In by Jordan Pruitt (2006)
Outside Looking In, like Waving Through a Window, is another song about feeling like you’re outside of the crowd, looking in at other people. It’s about feeling misunderstood.
This is a song that feels distinctly early 2000s with its simple track and soft melody.
Alien by HAN (2021)
Only currently available on the YouTube channel SKZ RECORD, Alien is a wonderfully sad song about feeling like an alien on Earth. It’s heavy on the autotune, but I think that this fits with the idea of sounding robotic and almost inhuman.
The song features incredibly sad lyrics that are relatable to anyone who feels like they can’t fit in no matter how hard they try. Like many of his songs, it’s almost immediately in-your-face with the chorus:
Falling down, I’m an alien on this earth
I don’t seem to belong anywhere by myself
No matter how much I smile, I feel so lonely
Like aliens trying to blend in with Earthlings
No one can hear me when I try and say something
The rest of the lyrics keep up with the theme of being excluded from society:
My tears build up when the night turns black, yeah
Because my confidence can also be hated
I’ve lived like I was dead, and suddenly, I’m all alone and far away
Even though we were in the same position, I was an alien, yeah
I flew and crash-landed from space, a loner full of scars
Han truly expresses the feeling in a way that hits close home for anyone who has ever been made to feel like an outsider. This one is definitely one of Han’s hardest hitting songs.
I Feel Pretty/Unpretty by Dianna Agron and Lea Michele (2011)
Now normally, I would always opt to single out the original version of a song. But, for this particular topic (songs dealing with the idea of feeling different), I felt it actually made the most sense to highlight a song that found a way to mash up two completely different songs—with two completely different lyrical intentions—and make it sound so, so good.
On the television show “Glee,” the characters of Quinn and Rachel ended up singing a duet entitled “I Feel Pretty/Unpretty,” which was essentially two mashed up covers of “I Feel Pretty” from “West Side Story” and “Unpretty” by TLC.
You wouldn’t expect this kind of thing to work, but somehow it does. With Agron and Michele’s voices occasionally overlapping, and the lyrics of both songs intentionally clashing, this song hits just hits you in a different kind of way compared to anything else on this list.
Whenever you feel different or are made to feel like an outcast, you internalize the false belief that there’s no rightful place for you. You don’t belong—you don’t fit in. I think what really works for “I Feel Pretty/Unpretty” is that the contrasting lyrics in this mashup don’t fit together either—at least on the surface. A woman singing about feeling “pretty” and witty” doesn’t much jibe with a woman bemoaning her internalized unattractiveness. But somehow, through this song’s arrangement and the vocal performances by Agron and Michele, they make it work.
And just like that, the song that’s the most different on this list arguably becomes the one that’s the most beautiful.
There are a lot of songs about being different out there. It’s a horrible feeling—the idea that you don’t belong to a tribe or group (or, at worst, are actively being ostracized from a group you covet). Hopefully the songs on this list have inspired you to be yourself and embrace all of your idiosyncrasies.
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