by Mason Johnson
A scorned lover can be sad, angry, destructive… or all three. These qualities, as luck would have it, make for great songs.
And while the greatest blues boys and rock ‘n’ roll runts have created some great tunes about love gone wrong, there’s something particularly potent about the female voice deriding the idiot that screwed up. We’ve listened to and enjoyed so many songs about the men who’ve done wrong, who are desperately begging for forgiveness… but sometimes you gotta hear the other side of the story, the vengeful story of those who’ve been hurt.
Throw in a few songs about soaking in the pools of your sadness and you’ve got a pretty decent anti-Valentine’s Day songlist.
Happy f’ing Valentine’s Day.
Note: Since Beyonce’s “Hold Up” is not on Spotify, I added the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Maps”…
Cry Me A River by Ella Fitzgerald
Now you say you love me
Well, just to prove you do
Come on and cry me a river
What do you do when your ex comes crawlin’ back? Make ’em keep crawlin’.
Different Drum by The Stone Poneys
So don’t get me wrong
It’s not that I knock it
It’s just that I am not in the market
For a boy who wants to love only me
The tone of this song is one I particularly dig. Written by Mike Nesmith (of The Monkees fame), it’s nice to hear The Stone Poneys’ version with Linda Ronstadt’s voice at the forefront. Women in rock and folk have rarely gotten a chance to sing “let ’em down easy” songs.
Superstar by Delaney and Bonnie
Don’t you remember, you told me you loved me baby?
You said you’d be coming back this way again baby
Baby, baby, baby, baby, oh baby
I love you, I really do
No revenge here, just sorrow and sadness. Made famous by the Carpenters, but there are many great versions.
Situation by Yaz
Move out, don’t mess around
Move out, you bring me down
Move out, how you get about
Don’t make a sound just move out
Move out! Yaz may be ’80s synth pop to the extreme, but their songs are steeped in the blues.
Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac
All your life you’ve never seen
Woman, taken by the wind
Would you stay if she promised you heaven?
Will you ever win?
There are many Stevie Nicks songs that could fit this list, but only one song is about a powerful Celtic witch deity. Badass.
Hold Up by Beyonce
Can’t you see there’s no other man above you?
What a wicked way to treat the girl that loves you
Sometimes you take revenge on an ex, and the jerks around you decide to throw around the term “crazy” … So why not own it? If I have to choose between taking the side of a suspected cheater or Beyonce with a baseball bat, I’d choose Beyonce every day of the week.
You’re So Vain by Carly Simon
You’re so vain,
I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Who’s it about?! The great mystery of music. It can’t be Mick Jagger, as he sings backup vocals. (Listen carefully…)
You Oughta Know by Alanis Morissette
And every time you speak her name
Does she know how you told me
You’d hold me until you died
‘Til you died, but you’re still alive
Though he’s denied it, it’s long been rumored that You Oughta Know is about Dave Coulier of Full House fame.
Not About Love by Fiona Apple
And it doesn’t make sense
I should fall for the kingcraft of a meritless crown
Fiona Apple puts quite a bit of effort into eloquently disregarding the subject of this song. I just love the writing in the line above — what a creative way to say “You ain’t worth crap” to someone.