It’s inevitable in life that, at some point, you’re just going to run into a jerk. This person will frustrate you with their rudeness, and perhaps even shake your confidence. Luckily, when that happens, you just need to fire up your playlist on songs about mean people in order to better cope with their attitude.
So in this article, I’m going to provide you with my favorite songs about people who are mean spirited. And hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll have discovered one or two new tracks to add to your playlist!
So Ambitious by Jay-Z and Pharrell Williams
It’s easy to come up with a song that’s a straight up diss record. No, it’s not easy to create the song from a lyrical or musical arrangement perspective. But trashing someone on a diss track, by and large, is not necessarily difficult to do.
But it’s a lot harder, I think, to turn your lyrics into a positive message. It’s more of a challenge to craft a song about jerks and haters that, by the end of it, serves as inspiration to the people that listen intently to the lyrics.
That’s what I really love about Jay-Z and Pharrell Williams’ “So Ambitious.” Ironically enough, this album comes from Jigga’s Blueprint 3, and on that album, he actually has another song that would be quite perfect for this list too (entitled “Hate,” featuring Kanye West).
And while that song works extremely well for this article, I went with “So Ambitious” because of its ability to show that the horrible, mean-spirited people you encounter in life can do one of two things for you:
1) They can tear you down, causing you to abandon all of your dreams.
2) They can motivate you to overachieve, serving as rocket fuel that shoots you far beyond the moon and the stars.
On “So Ambitious,” this song dives deep into the well of the personal slights and disparagements Jay-Z suffered, as he opens the song talking about how both his teacher and his uncle disrespected him as a child:
I felt so inspired by what my teacher said
Said I’d either be dead or be a reefer head
Not sure if that’s how adults should speak to kids
Especially when the only thing I did was speak in class
I’ll teach his a**, even better’s what my uncle did
I pop my demo tape in, start to beat my head
Peeked out my eye, see if he was beating his
He might as well say beat it, kid, he’s on the list
Just like Arya Stark from Game of Thrones kept a list of everyone that wronged her, so has Jay-Z. But instead of killing them physically, Jay-Z serves the best revenge possible: Career success on a grand scale and the lyrical decimation of his detractors. Even the ones from childhood.
[Chorus: Pharrell Williams]
The motivation for me
Is them telling me what I could not be, oh well
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Mean by Taylor Swift
Sometimes people are inadvertently mean when they’re trying to be helpful. Other times, they just aim to hurt you with words and actions because they can. And on the track “Mean,” that’s what Taylor Swift sings about.
On Mean, Taylor sings about how hurt she is by her critics’ words, but uses it as a powerful anthem to proclaim that “someday, [she’ll] be living in a big old city and all [they’re] ever gonna be is mean.” Because at the end of the day, mean people are just that…mean. And just because their words may hurt, they don’t have to bring you down to their level.
Taylor wrote this song about Bob Lefsetz, a blog critic of hers who had negative things to say about her 2010 Grammy performance with the legendary Stevie Nicks. Not gonna lie, I’ve dedicated this song to one too many people in my life who felt like cutting me down when I was already at my lowest.
And, while I guess it would be easier, but much more low hanging fruit, to have selected Taylor’s “Shake It Off” for this list—as that essentially falls under the umbrella of songs about haters—I figured Swift’s “Mean” was a little more appropriate.
She’s So Mean by Matchbox Twenty
Who doesn’t love Matchbox Twenty? Well, if you listen to this song, perhaps the answer is the girl that they’re singing about.
On this track, the band describes a girl that’s “so mean,” because she basically does what she wants with little regard for how it makes anyone feel. Lyrics like “she’ll make you take her to the club, but then she leaves with her friends” illustrate this point.
She’s So Mean is one of those songs that I think many of us can relate to, in the sense that we’ve all had a friend or romantic partner who used us. But, despite their emotional abuse, we were so crazy about them that we made excuses for it. If you’re in a relationship, whether romantic or platonic, with someone who acts like this, you’ll get a lot of mileage out of this song.
Hate on Me by Jill Scott
In Hate on Me, Jill Scott sings about those people that never seem to be satisfied with what you do. You can give them the world, and they’ll still be miserable, claiming that you should have given them the stars instead.
Simply put, this song is about all those people who would rather spend their time complaining and being full of rage at someone, instead of looking inward at why they’re so mean in the first place.
Jill Scott wrote this song in response to haters in her life–some of which were actually her own friends and family. However, as Jill so poignantly tells the haters, “No matter where I live, despite the things I give, you’ll always be this way, so go ahead and hate on me.”
I know we all want to be liked, but the lesson here is that there are just some people you’re never going to be good enough for. They’ll move the goal post. They’ll gaslight you. They’ll manipulate your friends and family and say bad things behind your back. But, at the end of the day, you just have to focus on yourself and realize that what someone says or thinks about you is more of a reflection on them and their miserable lives. It’s none of your concern.
Mean Girls by Rachel Crow
Have you ever gone to lunch by yourself? Were you called a “loser?” Or maybe you were made fun of for wearing something none of the other kids in your school did? If so, then you can probably relate to Mean Girls by Rachel Crow. This song is about what it’s like to get bullied in school and how cruel kids can really be towards one another.
The reality is that dealing with mean girls in grade school or high school stays with you long past the point you graduate. Words hurt, and they can leave scars and feelings of inferiority that carries over into adulthood. I relate to the part of the song when Crow sings about “…treating someone you know like a perfect stranger ‘cause it’s easier than standing by my side,” because peer pressure makes your friends act in some really mean, hurtful ways sometimes.
When I was in the 6th grade, my best friend stopped talking to me because our other friend convinced her to. At recess, I just sat by myself watching all my friends hang out together without me. It was so bad that my parents showed up with a boombox (yes, I’m that old), and hula hoops to entice the other kids to play with me. All it did was make me feel like the most unliked kid in school.
That memory stuck with me as I got older and influenced a lot of my decisions, especially through my twenties when I was trying to figure out who I was. It’s a lot easier now as I’ve grown older, but those bullying days were torture. But, like Crow says, “Imma just comb you outta my curls.”
Sometimes, that’s all you can do.
Real Friends by Kanye West
This song is all about those friends who take more than they give. Lyrics like, “What’s up, fam? Hope you good. You say, ‘I’m good, I’m great,’ the next text they ask you for somethin,’’ confirms this, along with Kanye West’s real-life disdain for fake friends who care more about his status and what he can offer monetarily, rather than what he can offer as a human being.
But this song goes both ways, highlighting the fact that Kanye isn’t always a good friend either: “Couldn’t tell you how old your son is, I got my own junior on the way…”
And that’s kind of the point of this song, and it’s a point I think many of us can relate to. Life gets busy, and sometimes we get so angry at other people for not being there for us when we’re just as wrapped up in our own lives.
Sometimes when we think someone is acting mean toward us, we have to reflect inward to see if our actions are being perceived the same way. Just because someone acts mean doesn’t mean they’re a rude person. And, it certainly doesn’t mean that they’re intentionally trying to snub you, either.
Fake Friends by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
There are real friends, and then there are Fake Friends by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts. But, according to legendary Joan Jett, “You don’t lose when you lose fake friends.”
This song talks about how good it feels to let go of friends who are never there for you, despite what they may claim: “You see ‘em laugh while you’re on your knees and it breaks your heart ‘cause you gave so much.”
Like so many other songs on this list, it’s one many of us can relate to. While we hate to have them, it’s not uncommon to encounter friends who don’t want to help you when you’re down. This song perfectly captures what dealing with these kind of people is truly like.
Piece by Piece by Kelly Clarkson
It hurts when the person that’s cruelest to you is your own parent, which is exactly what Kelly Clarkson sings about in Piece by Piece. This song is about how Kelly Clarkson’s dad hurt her, and how a new romantic love helped pick up the pieces from that broken relationship.
Per Clarkson, her father hurt her, asked her for money, and walked away when she needed him most. This song is about reflecting on how someone you loved hurt you and the repercussions of those painful actions.
The crux of this song is the fact that it inspired Clarkson to not make the same mistakes with her daughter, and that’s what I love most about it. When we’re dealing with toxic or absent parents, we focus so much on what they did wrong that it teaches us a valuable lesson in regards to the patterns and cycles we want to break.
I’ve Had It by Black Flag
Alright, the lyrics to this song are pretty deep, and kinda scary, but they’re a real testament to what this song is about. I’ve Had It talks about all the emotions one feels when they’re stuck dealing with mean people and have reached the end of their metaphorical rope.
In fact, lyrics like, “I can’t go to work, the boss is a jerk,” and “It’s no use I can’t take no more abuse” echo this sentiment quite well. Simply put, the members of Black Flag are just tired of dealing with the same mess day in and day out.
I know they say that when it rains it pours, but sometimes, you just get tired of having to pull out your umbrella to stay dry in the storm. So if you’ve got some anger built up, blast this song on maximum volume and just scream. Trust me, it helps.
Gives You Hell by the All American Rejects
This cheeky little number is basically giving the metaphorical middle finger to someone you hate (the band’s words, not mine). Gives You Hell is a smug little song that talks about how good it feels to throw “it” all back to someone who, quite honestly, made your life hell (whether through their bad judgment, unkind words, or terrible actions).
This is a breakup song; someone left you for “greener pastures,” when in actuality, they didn’t get what they wanted, nor ended up happy anyway.
“Tomorrow, you’ll be thinkin’ to yourself, yeah, where’d it all go wrong?”
There’s just something so satisfying about seeing someone who mistreated you suffer through the same kind of treatment at the hands of someone else. As they say, what goes around comes around, right?
Cold as Ice by Foreigner
“You’re as cold as ice.”
Yikes—tell ‘em how you really feel, Lou Gramm (lead singer of Foreigner at the time). This opening line tells you exactly what to expect from this song. The woman’s selfish behavior makes her “cold as ice,” and one day, all the mean, selfish things she does will come back around to haunt her one day:
“Someday you’ll pay the price, I know.”
If you’re looking for a song that will really help you unleash that anger you have building up toward someone who treated you poorly, this is the one for you. The message is clear. And boy, oh boy, is it so good to sing along to!
Rude by Magic!
When it comes to getting married, there are certain traditions that people still like to strictly follow to this day. For example, the bride wears all white. Or the bride tosses a bouquet of flowers over her head, allowing her bridesmaids to fight for the right to catch it. Or the bride’s family pays for the entire wedding.
And then, of course, there’s the tradition of going to the father of the potential bride-to-be and asking for his blessing to marry his daughter. We’re all familiar with it—perhaps some of us have even done it.
But, what happens when her father doesn’t give you his blessing? What happens when her father doesn’t want you to become his son-in-law? And, what happens when he not only makes his disapproval known, but he’s downright rude about it?
Well, that’s what we have here on this song. It’s a track the explores the idea of being extremely hurt that your potential father-in-law doesn’t approve of you, while also having the defiant spirit to “marry her anyway.”
It’s a great track that ultimately shows us that, while we all like the idea of following tradition and being respectful, the reality is that if we have dogged determination (and, let’s be honest, we simply don’t appreciate the answer we’ve received), that we’ll just go ahead and do whatever the heck we want anyway.
Fake Nice by The Aces
The worst thing a mean person can do is pretend to be nice. It’s that false exterior that’s truly infuriating, as if the person is determined to make you seem crazy.
That’s very much the premise of this song, as the ladies of The Aces sing about a girl who pretends to be a good person—but really is an outright jerk. While these ladies sing of a girl that’s “so fake nice,” they thankfully know the real truth.
And the truth is that this person is a taker, just like a river that will “swallow up who’s in your the way.” And this is also a person that will talk behind your back, spreading rumors and lies—and perhaps even divulging a few secrets.
Yes, this is a mean person we’re dealing with here. But the problem is that nobody knows it. So I guess you’ll just have to go ahead and expose it.
Oh you know how to win them over but not this time
And if they ask, I’ll be honest, say what’s on my mind
Oh she’s so fake nice
Oh she’s so fake nice
Had me sympathizing
Oh you’re so fake nice
It seems that we come across mean people more and more every day, but the key thing you have to remember is that the battle someone is dealing with doesn’t have to become yours. Hurt people hurt people. Insecurity results in bullying. It doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t even truly justify their behavior, but the sooner you realize that mean actions have nothing to do with you, the better off you’ll be.
However, until that happens, crank these songs about mean people all the way up, rip up some photos, and swear you’ll never fall for a friend or romance that treats you this way again.
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This article was written by Courtney, with a select additions by Michael (“So Ambitious,” “Rude” and “Fake Nice”).