There’s something cathartic about an artist’s rage put into song. The music, lyrics and passion in their voices harness a feeling we’ve all experienced. During an angry moment or bad day, turning on a song that fits your mood can be therapeutic in so many ways. You can feel the music throughout your body and the lyrics say all the things you can’t put into words.
There’s a reason “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” has its secure place in culture. You do not mess with a woman on a mission. We put up with enough BS on a daily basis that when we break, the whole world will know about it. Artists are especially adept at harnessing this fury into massive success, all while inspiring millions of listeners around the world. While there have been plenty songs penned by scored women, these ones are our absolute favorites.
17. Beyoncé – “Don’t Hurt Yourself”
Bey doesn’t mess around. Especially on a cheating Jay. The intro starts innocently enough, with some ‘oh-na-na-nas‘ and bass-heavy instrumentals. But just you wait. A few seconds in and you will be faced with a fury so hard you start to think you personally did something to offend Beyoncé. But then she spits out, “You ain’t married to no average bitch, boy / You can watch my fat ass twist boy / As I bounce to the next dick boy.” That’s when you’re faced with the realization, “Oh damn! What did Jay-Z DO!?” right along with the rest of the world.
16. Fiona Apple – “Limp”
Nobody does vengeful like Fiona Apple. It was actually difficult to pick just *one* Fiona song to put on this list, but “Limp” has the rage, the tempo, and the clever wordplay to beat out the rest. The song starts out slow, with the haunting piano we’ve come to associate with Fiona’s lengthy discography. Her voice bounces between growls and purrs while you realize, as the lyrics unravel, that this is a song about an abusive relationship. The whole song is a god damn masterpiece, but “you fondle my trigger then you blame my gun” is a line that really makes the song stand out from the rest.
15. Carrie Underwood – “Before He Cheats”
Even if you’ve ever caught yourself saying “I don’t like country,” there’s a 90 percent chance you have sung along to this cheaters-get-no-mercy tune. It’s cool. If there’s one thing that can unite our nation it’s our collective hatred for cheaters. In “Before He Cheats,” Carrie Underwood lives out every scorned woman’s dream: destroying their unfaithful partner’s pride and joy. (His car, duh.)
14. ALANIS MORISSETTE- “You Oughta Know”
“You Oughta Know” secured its place in the breakup song hall of fame as soon as Alanis Morissette released Jagged Little Pill in 1995. Only 21 years old at the time of its release, Alanis sang of love gone wrong like a woman with years of experience. The song starts out innocently enough with Alanis singing “I want you to know / that I’m happy for you,” but it quickly takes a turn. By the time the chorus comes, she gives her promise that she is here to remind this man (maybe Dave Coulier, maybe not) of the mess he left when he went away.
13. Meredith Brooks – “Bitch”
You know the feeling when you just don’t want to deal with whatever crap the day brings? So does Meredith Brooks. She doesn’t mince words when she opens her 1997 hit single with “I hate the world today.” We all know those days. The ones when the bitch inside you comes out and there is nothing you can do to harness her. Meredith Brooks masterfully captures a woman’s complexities in four minutes, singing about the dichotomy of being sweet and sensitive the previous day, but a completely different person the next.
12. Dixie Chicks – “Goodbye Earl”
The Dixie Chicks have made plenty of headlines throughout their career, but “Goodbye Earl” just might be a personal favorite. It still pops up on “most controversial” lists even seventeen years after its release. The song starts out like a typical, upbeat country song… almost to the point where you wouldn’t expect that it is actually about murdering an abusive husband. Even the video is campy and colorful, starring Jane Krakowski and Lauren Holly as the songs two protagonists. (Or, the killers, if you want to get technical.)
11. Lesley Gore – “You Don’t Own Me”
Lesley Gore gets straight to the point in her 1967 hit, “You Don’t Own Me.” The singer was only 17 when she recorded the song, but sang it with the conviction of a woman twice her age. The lyrics “Don’t tell me what to do / Don’t tell me what to say / And when we go out with you / Don’t put me on display” are just as relevant and powerful today as they were fifty years ago. It recently saw a reemergence when singer Grace covered it in 2015 and the song was featured in 2016’s Suicide Squad movie.
10. Pink – “Revenge”
If there’s a pop singer with more raw attitude than Pink, we’ve yet to come across them. Pink has built her career on her tough-gal persona, but it’s a single from her most recent album that cuts deep. I mean, the song is called “Revenge,” what do you expect? Well, not the bouncy tune that’s accompanied by the sharp, devious lyrics that make the song so enjoyable. A bonus is a guest spot by an artist that is no stranger to anger: Eminem.
9. Hole – “Violet”
Courtney Love has always mastered frontwoman glam with rock-queen edge. In Hole‘s video for “Violet,” Courtney wistfully twirls in a princess dress. But then she howls, “Go on take everything / Take everything I want you to” and you know she’s not messing around. Courtney has admitted the song is about a breakup, and rumor has it the song was written about her relationship with The Smashing Pumpkins‘ Billy Corgan. In 1995, she introduced the song as “a song about a jerk,” saying, “I hexed him and now he’s losing his hair.” We don’t want to jump to conclusions, but all signs point to you-know-who…
8. Rihanna – “Man Down”
When it was released, “Man Down” was so casual in its depiction of violence and murder that critics jumped to conclusions that it was about Rihanna‘s ex, Chris Brown. The Parents Television Council spoke out against the song’s content and Rihanna responded in the most Rihanna way: “I’m a 23-year-old rockstar with NO KIDS! What’s up with everybody wantin’ me to be a parent?” The point is, she’s right. The way an artist processes pain and trauma shouldn’t be up to our scrutiny. And “Man Down” is a damn good song.
7. No Doubt – “Just a Girl”
There aren’t many songs that sum up the frustrations of being female the way “Just a Girl” does. Confined to pink stereotypes and relying on a man for assistance, Gwen Stefani gets to the root of the patriarchy’s firm hold. “I’m just a girl / I’d rather not be” cuts to the core of anyone who has felt gender discrimination and the defeat that it’s so much bigger than themselves.
While Gwen has never been an outspoken feminist in her personal life, this song says everything for her. “I’m just a girl, all pretty and petite. So don’t let me have any rights” sounds less like a song and more like a protest chant.
6. Brody Dalle – “Don’t Mess with Me”
You may not recognize the name, but you know the voice. For years, Brody Dalle fronted punk band The Distillers and was part of punk-rock’s elite. The Distillers disbanded in the early 2000s, with Brody moving on to other music ventures. In 2014, she released her first solo album with the track “Don’t Mess with Me,” reminding everyone of her punk-rock roots and brash attitude. The song is a perfect warning for anyone who needs a reminder not to push her buttons.
5. Sleigh Bells – “Demons”
Since 2009, Sleigh Bells has taken noise-pop to a new level, creating a balance between thrashing guitars and Alexis Krauss‘s crystal-clear vocals. Alexis softens the blows, making hard rock Billboard top 40-friendly. “Demons” comes from the band’s arguably grittiest album, Reign of Terror. The song is pure power, starting out hard and not letting up until its full three minutes is over. Turn this one on for those times where you need to some good workout fuel.
4. Lily Allen – “Hard Out Here”
OK, OK. Maybe Lily Allen‘s video for “Hard Out Here” wasn’t completely thought through, but deep down, there’s a message to this song. So for a hot second, let’s pretend the terribly racist music video doesn’t exist and focus on the double standard Lily points out in her 2013 single. I mean, yeah, it is hard out here, and “Forget your balls and grow a pair of tits” is a pretty decent rally cry.
3. Dua Lipa – “IDGAF”
Dua Lipa is done with a shitty partner who is begging for her back. She’s done crying, she’s moved on and she doesn’t want to deal with the same ol’ toxicity. “IDGAF” is sung with the cool, collected charm that made Dua Lipa one of 2017’s breakout artists. Plus, it’s catchy as hell. Dua has already been through the pain from a less-than partner and she’s not letting it bring her down any longer. She doesn’t want to see you, she doesn’t want to hear from you. She doesn’t give a f**k.
2. Nancy Sinatra – “These Boots Are Made for Walkin”
This list cannot be completed without Nancy Sinatra‘s classic. The song has been a pop-culture staple for the past fifty years, showing up in television, movies, karaoke bars, mixtapes and covered by countless artists who can’t do the tune justice the way Nancy can. Jessica Simpson and Geri Halliwell both tried in the early 2000s, but only Nancy can harness the song’s emotion. She sings with confidence, attitude and stoicism. This woman is fed up and she’s making sure her partner is well aware of it.
1. Adele – “Rolling in the Deep”
This is the song that shot Adele into superstardom and with good reason. It is perfectly crafted, with an infectious beat, melody, and lyrics that capture the intense hurt that results from a broken heart. I mean, her opening line is “There’s a fire starting in my heart” and she only spirals deeper with every verse. Her fury is evened out with doo-wop sensibilities and brought back with beating drums. This song should be on every single breakup list from now until we perish from this planet.