25 Of The Best Songs About Being Sorry And Admitting You’re Wrong

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

Music has always been a powerful tool for expressing emotions, and there’s no emotion quite as universal as the feeling of remorse. When words fail us, and spoken apologies seem too shallow, it is often through music that we find the language to express our regret.

Songs that express regret and about being sorry are not just melodies. They are heartfelt confessions wrapped in rhythm and harmony. They are capable of touching our hearts and stirring our deepest feelings of regret.

In this post, you’ll discover 25 of the best songs about being sorry and admitting you’re wrong. Each one is a unique expression of regret. Read on for a poignant musical journey.

1. “Sorry” By Halsey

We begin with the perfect song of regret. “Sorry” by Halsey is a track from her album Hopeless Fountain Kingdom, released in 2017.

The piano ballad’s lyrics are the narrator’s heartfelt apology to potential lovers, past and present. She feels sorry that she’s blind to their intentions. She leaves them behind because she “can’t believe / that anybody ever really / starts to fall in love with [her].”

Her words are a testament to the struggle of acknowledging our faults and the courage it takes to apologize. The depth of feeling in Halsey’s voice and the simplicity of the melody create a powerful impact that makes the song captivating.

2. “Always On My Mind” By Elvis Presley

One of the most memorable songs in the history of music is a track by the legendary Elvis Presley. The lyrics to “Always on My Mind” are filled with regret and longing.

Lines like “Maybe I didn’t treat you / quite as good as I should have” paint a picture of someone reflecting on their past actions. The narrator expresses remorse for not showing enough love and care. Nevertheless, this one woman is “always on [his] mind.”

This ballad was recorded on March 29, 1972, just a few weeks after Presley’s separation from his wife, Priscilla. The timing of the recording lends an extra layer of emotion to the song, suggesting that the song may have been reflective of his personal feelings at the time.

3. “I Miss You, I’m Sorry” By Gracie Abrams

A rising star in the music industry, Gracie Abrams has captured the hearts of many with her deeply emotional songs. One track that stands out in her discography is “I Miss You, I’m Sorry” from her Minor EP.

“I Miss You, I’m Sorry” is a poignant ballad that perfectly encapsulates the feelings of longing and regret that often accompany the end of a relationship.

The song begins with the narrator reminiscing about the happier times of their relationship. Now that they’ve gone their separate ways, she can’t help but miss him. She feels sorry for whatever caused their breakup.

4. “Sorry” By Ciara

When it comes to music that hits you right in the feels, Ciara‘s “Sorry” definitely cuts. “Sorry,” which is a part of her album One Woman Army, is an emotional roller coaster ride one feels after a breakup.

Right from the start, the song dives into an apology: “All I wanna say… / that I’m sorry.” Theirs was a relationship where both walked away from each other when they “should’ve stayed.” Only after the separation did the narrator realize all the things she’s sorry for.

However, “Sorry” isn’t just an apology. It’s also a message to let her lover know she’ll still be there if he decides to come back and “will be [there] all the way.”

5. “Hard To Say I’m Sorry” By Chicago

Being sorry is one thing; saying you’re sorry is another, as sung in Chicago‘s “Hard to Say I’m Sorry.” This classic ballad tugs at the heartstrings for its relatable message.

The beauty of this song lies in its simplicity. The lyrics express the difficulty of admitting one’s mistakes, especially in the context of a relationship. The words, “Hold me now / It’s hard for me to say I’m sorry,” capture the entire essence of the song.

In its heyday, “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” took the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and became a global hit. It also received a Grammy nod for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

6. “Tired Of Being Sorry” By Enrique Iglesias

Up next is a song with “being sorry” in the title. “Tired of Being Sorry” by Enrique Iglesias stands out for its theme of remorse and fatigue associated with constant apologizing.

The song is a story about a person who’s tired of their own mistakes and the cycle of hurt they cause. In the lyrics, it is clear the protagonist is weary from repeatedly saying sorry without making any real changes.

The lines “I’m standing in the street, crying out for you” also capture his desperation and helplessness. It’s a powerful depiction of the struggle involved in breaking free from this cycle and the emotional toll it takes.

7. “Apology Song” By The Decemberists

There’s nothing better to show you are sorry than to make a song about it. This is what The Decemberists did in their “Apology Song.”

Imagine the bustling town of Missoula, Montana, with its local grocery store, “Orange Street Food Farm,” serving as the backdrop to this tale of regret. The lyrics portray the protagonist’s guilt over his friend’s stolen bicycle, which was under his care, and his desperate attempts to make amends.

Despite the song’s specific narrative, it resonates universally. It’s a testament to the fact that apologies, though difficult, are a crucial part of our relationships and our growth as individuals.

8. “Sorry For Now” By Linkin Park

Leaving friends behind with no clear explanation can leave us feeling sorry. Linkin Park‘s “Sorry for Now,” a track from their 2017 album One More Light, expresses this emotion perfectly.

The lyrics portray friends who had to say goodbye on uncertain terms. The narrator “never wanted to say goodbye” and feels bad that he “couldn’t be around.”

However, he feels that “there will be a day that [his friend] will understand” the reason they had to go their separate ways. That’s why he’s “sorry for now” and “can’t wait to come back” and renew their friendship.

9. “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word” By Elton John

Many know the difficulty of having to admit that you’re wrong and say you’re sorry. This is beautifully expressed in Elton John‘s mournful ballad “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word.”

The haunting lyrics are all about asking for forgiveness. The narrator’s romantic relationship is falling apart, and he’s struggling to make amends.

He questions, “What have I gotta do to make you love me?” Yet he also faces the possibility that their relationship will be “all over.” If this happens, nothing will voice his remorse more than to say “sorry.”

The song, released in 1976, was part of John’s 11th studio album, Blue Moves. It managed to capture the hearts of listeners worldwide, reaching #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart.

10. “Hurt” By Christina Aguilera

Up next is an honest and heart-wrenching ballad by Christina Aquilera. From her album Back to Basics, “Hurt” explores themes of remorse, regret, and the often-unspoken apologies we owe to ourselves and our loved ones.

The song tells the story of how the protagonist drove her friend away. She mentions being sorry “for blaming [her friend]” for their breakup. She knows better now and acknowledges that she’s hurt herself by hurting her friend.

This reveals the narrator’s deep sense of guilt and self-reproach. It paints a picture of someone grappling with the pain of their mistakes and the difficult act of seeking forgiveness — not just from others but also from oneself.

11. “Sorry” By Justin Bieber

The pop icon Justin Bieber released “Sorry” in 2015 for his fourth studio album, Purpose. In the song, he pleads for forgiveness from a past lover.

He’s “made… mistakes maybe once or twice” that have caused their relationship to end. Admitting he’s in the wrong, he wholeheartedly asks if it’s “too late to say sorry” and for “one more shot at second chances.”

“Sorry” was a significant hit for Bieber. It reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and became one of his most successful singles. It also garnered international success, topping the charts in 13 other countries.

12. “My Stupid Mouth” By John Mayer

Our words can hurt, and John Mayer‘s song “My Stupid Mouth” stands as a testament to its power. The track from his debut album, Room for Squares, serves as an apology wrapped in a melody.

The lyrics tell a relatable tale of a date gone wrong due to a slip of the tongue. Though the protagonist doesn’t say it outright, you can tell he’s sorry in the lyrics, “My stupid mouth has got me in trouble… / I’m never speakin’ up again.”

The lines “I just wanna be liked, just wanna be funny / Looks like the jokes on me” further emphasize that regret often follows thoughtless remarks. It reminds listeners to always be mindful of what they say.

13. “In Between” By Linkin Park

When one has done wrong, it takes a lot to admit it and apologize for one’s actions. For Linkin Park, they said it well in their song “In Between.”

The song’s protagonist has let pride and lies get in between a friendship. He feels sorry and guilty and seeks forgiveness from his friend, even at the start of the song: “Let me apologize for what I’m about to say.”

“In Between,” from the band’s album Minutes to Midnight, captures the protagonist’s journey of self-reflection. It reminds us about the consequences of our actions and the difficulty of apologizing when we’ve done wrong.

14. “So Sorry” By Feist

Up next is a song that captures being sorry perfectly. “So Sorry” by Feist is a track from her album The Reminder. It speaks of regret and is a heartfelt acknowledgment of mistakes made and a plea for forgiveness.

The lyrics are simple, yet they manage to convey a very relatable emotion. “I’m sorry / two words I always think / after you’re gone / when I realize / I was acting all wrong” reveal a realization that hits after the damage has been done.

Yet there is hope in the song as the protagonist pleads, “We don’t need to say goodbye.” This suggests that a relationship doesn’t have to end after a fight. All you have to say is “sorry” and, of course, mean it.

15. “I Apologize” By Hüsker Dü

The songs we’ve discussed so far are soft ballads of remorse. Up next is “I Apologize” by Hüsker Dü, which deviates from gentle melodies to fast-paced punk rock.

The lyrics of the song delve into the turmoil that accompanies misunderstandings and assumptions in relationships. Lines like “All these crazy mixed up lies… / floating all around… / brings me down” express the protagonist’s struggle with the fallout of miscommunication.

He desires to make things right, so in the chorus, he readily apologizes, stating, “I’m sorry… / I’m sorry now.” And since it takes two in an argument, he asks his friend to look him in the eye and apologize, too.

16. “If I Could Turn Back Time” By Cher

Sometimes, when we hurt someone we love, we feel sorry and wish to take back our words or actions. Cher knows this best in her song “If I Could Turn Back Time.”

This track is an emotional plea for a second chance. The narrator has hurt somebody with her words, leading to the end of a friendship. She wishes she could go back in time and “take back those words” that hurt her friend so they “would stay.”

“If I Could Turn Back Time” was a great success for Cher. The song took the third spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and topped the charts in Canada and Australia.

17. “Back To December” By Taylor Swift

Country-pop icon Taylor Swift is no stranger to creating songs that are captivating. “Back to December” is one of them, as it explores feelings of regret and the longing to reverse time.

The song’s lyrics are suffused with remorse. The protagonist is swallowing her pride to say sorry to an old flame. She painfully remembers “back to December” how she left him and wished she’d realized then what she had when he was still hers.

“Back to December” has received widespread acclaim since its release in 2010. It peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified triple Platinum by the RIAA, demonstrating its commercial success.

18. “Sorry” By Madonna

From Madonna‘s Confessions on a Dance Floor album, we have the dance hit “Sorry.” This uptempo track explores the intricacies of saying sorry and the desire to rewrite history.

At its core, however, “Sorry” is about a woman who has reached her breaking point. Tired of empty apologies and false promises, she asserts her independence and refuses to continue being mistreated.

The song also conveys a sense of regret, albeit not from the protagonist’s perspective. Instead, the one who wronged her is the one who is sorry, though their apology arrives too late.

19. “Apologize” By Timbaland Ft. OneRepublic

In 2007, OneRepublic and Timbaland collaborated to create a song filled with remorse and a desire to turn back time. This song is “Apologize,” but unlike the other songs on this list, the one who is sorry is not the protagonist.

The man has been betrayed, and the lyrics speak volumes about the depth of his anger: “You tell me that you need me / then you go and cut me down.”

The protagonist tells the one who wronged him, “It’s too late to apologize.” It’s a harsh reality that some mistakes cannot be undone, no matter how deep the regret or sincere the apology. This line reverberates throughout the song, serving as a reminder of the irreversible nature of time.

20. “Sorry, Blame It On Me” By Akon

If anyone knows how to be sorry and wrap his apologies in a beautiful melody, it’s the singer-songwriter Akon in his song “Sorry, Blame It on Me.”

The lyrics tell a tale of a man haunted by his past mistakes and yearning for a chance to make amends. This song with “sorry” in the lyrics shows that he’s sorry for a lot of things. He’s hurt his loved one because of his mistakes and acknowledges that he is to blame for this.

The powerful narrative of “Sorry, Blame It on Me” has resonated with listeners around the world. It climbed to #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remains a classic in Akon’s discography.

21. “All Apologies” By Nirvana

One of the songs that transcend time and genre is Nirvana‘s “All Apologies.” The track has touched many with its raw emotion and hauntingly beautiful melody. Though not directly a song about being sorry, it subtly captures the essence of remorse.

Its beginning line, “What else should I be? All apologies,” can be interpreted as the protagonist’s inner turmoil. It’s a confession of sorts, an admission that they have done wrong and yearn for forgiveness.

“All Apologies” is not just significant for its emotional depth. Since its release in 1993, it has enjoyed considerable success and recognition.

22. “I Want To Say I’m Sorry” By Andrew Peterson

The contemporary Christian musician Andrew Peterson beautifully captures the essence of regret and longing to correct past mistakes in his gentle song “I Want to Say I’m Sorry.”

The narrator has “said some words” he wished he didn’t say to a loved one. He’s deeply remorseful, wanting to “say [he’s] sorry, but it’s not enough.” Throughout the song, he expresses thoughts and emotions that many of us feel after we make mistakes and wish to undo the moment.

Released as part of his album The Burning Edge of Dawn, the song has earned a special place among Peterson’s body of works. It offers listeners a chance to reflect on their actions and the power of forgiveness.

23. “I’m Sorry” By Blake Shelton

Up next is a poignant track by Blake Shelton. “I’m Sorry,” a country ballad, is sure to capture the hearts of many.

In the song, the protagonist has had a falling out with his partner. She told him she loved him, but it was all a lie. Now, she’s expressed remorse and has said she’s sorry, wishing they could get back together again.

The protagonist, however, has been very hurt by her actions and words. For him, it’s over because “sometimes sorry / just ain’t good enough.”

24. “We Should Be Sorry” By Axel Johansson

The penultimate song on our list is an electronic dance song by Danish songwriter Axel Johansson. “We Should Be Sorry” is the title track of his album and speaks of broken friendships and regrets.

The song begins with the narrator reminiscing the happy times of his friendship with another. However, somewhere along the way, they “ended [their] story.” He later questions, “We had a shelter, we were safe / Why didn’t we stay?”

This implies a sense of regret for past actions. But as with many things where too much time has elapsed, “it’s too late” for them to renew their friendship. For that, the narrator feels they “should be sorry.”

25. “Please Forgive Me” By Bryan Adams

Ending this list is Bryan Adams‘ “Please Forgive Me.” This timeless classic, released in 1993, explores themes of love and, as the title suggests, the desire for forgiveness.

The song’s narrative revolves around a man who loves his partner deeply. His feelings for her are very deep, strong, and true, yet he is unsure how to show it. For this, he asks his beloved for forgiveness.

“Please Forgive Me” is one of Adams’ most successful songs. Not only did it reach #2 and #7 on the UK and US charts, respectively. It also topped several charts across the globe, including Australia, Canada, and Ireland.

Summing Up Our List Of Being Sorry Songs

In exploring these songs, it’s clear that music provides a unique platform for expressing different perspectives on being sorry and the desire to make amends.

These tracks, among countless others, remind us that it’s human to err and to feel remorse. They also remind us that forgiveness, redemption, and second chances are possible.

We’ve explored some of the best songs of apology, but there are undoubtedly many more out there. What have we missed? Let us know so we can add them!

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Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.