31 Of The Best Songs About Failing Or Failure

Written by Dan Farrant

Everyone stumbles and falls at some point in life. Failure is a universal experience, one that can be painful but also incredibly enlightening.

It’s no surprise that many songwriters have turned to this theme. They’ve crafted melodies and lyrics that resonate with anyone who’s ever faced a setback. These songs remind us that we’re not alone in our struggles and often provide comfort or inspiration during tough times.

In this article, we’ve compiled 31 of the best songs about failing or failure. These tunes cover a wide array of genres and eras, so if you’re in the mood for some musical therapy, keep reading!

1. “Bad Day” By Daniel Powter

First on our list is a track by Daniel Powter that many of us can relate to. Titled “Bad Day,” this song captures feelings during times when nothing just seems to go right.

In the song, Powter sings about someone whose blue skies are fading to grey. Obviously, this dude’s day is failing as he’s “falling to pieces” yet “faking a smile.”

Despite the hardships, the song also offers a glimmer of hope. It suggests that even if you have a bad day once in a while, things will get better: “You sing a sad song just to turn it around.”

2. “Wake Me Up” By Fickle Friends

Everyone has faced failure at some point in their life. It’s no surprise that Fickle Friends talks about the experiences of failure and the feelings that come with it in their song “Wake Me Up.

This song, with “failing” in the lyrics, revolves around someone who is experiencing a tough time. They’re feeling lost and unsure about themselves, failing to meet their own expectations and those of others.

The protagonist pleads to her friends to wake her up and “pull [her] away” when she’s experiencing these emotions. This suggests she knows her shortcomings and wishes she could escape from the situation.

3. “In The End” By Linkin Park

One of the most iconic tracks about failure is “In the End” by Linkin Park. It’s a song that many listeners find relatable as it explores the struggle of trying your best yet still not succeeding.

In the song, the narrator has put a lot of effort and dedication into something or someone, only to see everything crumble. This feeling of defeat is obvious in the lines “I tried so hard / and got so far / but in the end / it doesn’t even matter.”

“End the End” was released in 2001 from the band’s Hybrid Theory album. Reaching #2 on the Hot 100 Chart, Billboard has named it one of their best songs.

4. “Fought The Law” By The Clash

When we talk about songs that center on the theme of failure, “I Fought the Law” by The Clash is a standout example. This track tells a tale of rebellion and the consequences that come with it.

The song’s story involves a young man who turns to crime, believing he can outsmart the law. However, as the narrative unfolds, he realizes he’s mistaken.

The repeated line, “I fought the law and the law won,” sums up this realization. It’s a powerful admission of failure, acknowledging that his actions were wrong and had consequences he couldn’t escape.

5. “Dammit” By Blink-182

An aspect that one can fail at is in relationships, whether romantic or not. Blink-182 expresses this well in their song “Dammit,” released in 1997.

The song tells the story of a young man grappling with a breakup, feeling like he’s failed in his relationship. He laments, “Well, I guess this is growing up.” It captures his realization that failure, heartbreak, and disappointment are often part of the journey into adulthood.

Through its lyrics, “Dammit” reminds us that failure is a normal part of life, especially when it comes to relationships. Not everything will go as planned, and that’s okay.

6. “Lose Yourself” By Eminem

Up next is the award-winning song “Lose Yourself” by Eminem. It was released in 2002 from the soundtrack of the film 8 Mile, in which the singer also stars.

The lyrics describe how the narrator has a single opportunity to change his life. However, he’s paralyzed by doubt and fear of failure, which is palpable in the lines “He’s choking … everybody’s joking now / The clocks run out, times up, over.”

Through its intense lyrics and rhythm, “Lose Yourself” reminds listeners how fear can lead us to fail even before we’ve begun. However, it also encourages listeners to overcome this and seize the opportunities that come their way.

7. “Criminal” By Britney Spears

In Britney Spears‘ track “Criminal,” we hear a tale of falling in love with someone who is evidently the wrong choice. The song explores the theme of failure through the protagonist’s inability to make sound decisions when it comes to love.

“Criminal” presents a unique take on failure. Here, failure isn’t about not achieving a goal or falling short of expectations. Rather, it’s about making the wrong choices, particularly in matters of the heart.

It narrates the story of a woman who is “in love with a criminal,” fully aware that he’s bad news. She fails to heed the advice of the people because she “doesn’t care.” She simply loves the guy too much.

8. “Failure” By Breaking Benjamin

A track that offers a unique perspective on failing is Breaking Benjamin‘s “Failure.” The song was released in 2015 as the lead single from their album Dark Before Dawn.

In the lyrics, we find a protagonist grappling with life. He’s tired of everything — “of feeling lost / of letting go … / of nothing left.” He feels that he has failed.

However, despite the bleak lyrics, there’s a spark of hope. The protagonist seeks “the light that leads [him] home,” implying he’s not giving up.

9. “The System’s Failing” By Nevermore

Up next is a song with “failing” in the title. Released by Nevermore, “The System’s Failing” paints a vivid picture of societal and systemic failure.

The song presents a grim narrative about the downfall of a society due to its flawed systems. The lyrics depict a world that is falling apart because of injustices, crimes, and a paranoid government.

“The System’s Failing” by Nevermore serves as a stark commentary on the failures of society. It’s a reminder of the power and impact of systemic failure and how it can shape societies and lives.

10. “Sorry, Blame It On Me” By Akon

In a world where many shirk responsibility, “Sorry, Blame It On Me” by Akon stands out for its poignant admission of guilt and remorse. It is a heartfelt apology, acknowledging failure, and asking for forgiveness.

The lyrics revolve around the singer taking the blame for everything that’s gone wrong in his relationships. The line “You can put the blame on me” is repeated throughout the song, emphasizing his acceptance of his failures.

The message of “Sorry, Blame It On Me” is one we should keep in mind. It shows that accepting one’s mistakes and apologizing for them can be a powerful step toward healing and improving oneself.

11. “The Winner Takes It All” By ABBA

Sometimes, life feels like a game where there are winners and losers. This sentiment is beautifully captured in the song “The Winner Takes It All” by ABBA. It’s a touching ballad about the pain of failing in love and feeling like a loser.

In this song, the singer has “played all [her] cards” to keep her relationship intact. The lines “The winner takes it all / the loser standing small” describe her feeling of loss and failure when her beloved chooses someone else.

“The Winner Takes It All,” however, is not just about the sadness of a lost love. It reminds us that failure, even in matters of the heart, is a part of life. It encourages us to accept our losses, learn from them, and keep moving forward.

12. “Loser” By 3 Doors Down

Have you ever felt like an outsider, unable to fit in no matter how hard you try? This feeling is at the core of a song by 3 Doors Down called “Loser.” It’s a raw and emotional track about struggling with failure and feeling like a loser because of it.

The protagonist in the song feels disconnected from society. Lines like “You’re getting closer / to pushing me off of life’s little edge” and “I can’t break these chains” describe his internal struggles. His failures are making him feel like a loser.

“Loser” was released by the band in 2000 from the album The Better Life. It soon climbed to the top of the Mainstream Rock chart.

13. “Failing In Love” By Mary J. Blige

Sometimes, love can feel like a battlefield where we’re constantly struggling and often failing. This is the central theme of “Failing in Love” by Mary J. Blige. It is about the challenges and heartbreak that come with love.

Blige’s powerful voice conveys the raw emotion of someone who feels like they’re failing in their relationship. The lines “So close to giving up … / When your prayers aren’t enough and the tears don’t work” express the frustration and despair of feeling trapped in a cycle of failure.

The song serves as a reminder that it’s okay to feel like you’re failing sometimes, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. After all, it’s through these failures that we learn and grow.

14. “Lonesome Loser” By Little River Band

Imagine a character who seems to have a streak of bad luck, constantly failing and ending up alone. This is the central figure in “Lonesome Loser,” a catchy tune by the Little River Band.

The song tells the story of a perpetual underdog, always falling short of success. He’s described as “the lonesome loser” who is “beaten by the queen of hearts every time,” suggesting he always fails when it comes to love.

“Lonesome Loser” was released in 1979 from the band’s First Under the Wire album. Well-received, the soft-rock track climbed to #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

15. “Creep” By Radiohead

Sometimes, feelings of inadequacy and failure can stem from not fitting in or feeling out of place. This is perfectly depicted in the song “Creep” by Radiohead.

The lyrics express a sense of alienation and self-doubt. The protagonist expresses, “I’m a creep, / I’m a weirdo / What the hell am I doing here? / I don’t belong here,” conveying his deep-seated feeling of failure and not being good enough.

“Creep” was released in 1992 and was featured in Radiohead’s debut album, Pablo Honey. It remains one of the band’s most popular and well-loved songs, featured in films like The Book of Life and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

16. “Perfect” By Simple Plan

Dealing with the pressure to be perfect and the feeling of failing to meet those expectations is a universal struggle. This sentiment is powerfully expressed in Simple Plan‘s “Perfect.” This track was released in 2002 from the album No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls.

The protagonist feels like they’ve failed to live up to the high expectations set by their parents. His acceptance of this perceived failure is heartbreaking, as shown in the lines “I’m sorry I can’t be perfect.”

“Perfect” is just one example of how the pressure to be perfect can affect our mental health, self-esteem, and relationships. As the protagonist says, “Now it’s just too late / and we can’t go back,” describing the rift trying to be “perfect” has created between him and his parents.

17. “I Don’t Belong Here” By Prevail

Feeling out of place and struggling to fit in is a common experience many people face. This theme is beautifully explored by Prevail in their 2019 song “I Don’t Belong Here.”

It tells the story of someone who feels like they don’t fit in. He expresses his sense of alienation and being lost and out of place as a form of failure: “I don’t belong here … / I feel so far away.”

“I Don’t Belong Here” paints a vivid picture of the internal battle one faces when one feels like they’ve failed to find their place in the world. Yet, it reminds us that we are not alone in our struggles.

18. “Failure’s Not Flattering” By New Found Glory

Struggling with failure is a part of life that everyone experiences at some point. This universal struggle is vividly portrayed in the song “Failure’s Not Flattering” by New Found Glory.

The singer speaks of someone who’s wrestling with their shortcomings and how they often repeat mistakes, much to their frustration. The lines “What’s your problem? / Can’t you see it? … I do hope you learn a lesson” underline this person’s repeated failure.

Despite its upbeat rhythm, “Failure’s Not Flattering” offers a candid exploration of failure. It reminds us that everyone stumbles, and it’s through these missteps we learn and grow.

19. “All Apologies” By Nirvana

Everyone has experienced moments of regret and self-reproach at some point. Nirvana brings these feelings to life with their Grammy-nominated track “All Apologies.”

The lyrics are a heartfelt confession of someone who feels they’ve let others down. With lines like “What else should I be? / All apologies … / Everything’s my fault / I’ll take all the blame,” it captures the essence of feeling like a failure and seeking forgiveness.

“All Apologies” was released in 1993 as the last track of the band’s final album, In Utero. Though not chart-topping, it has numerous accolades, including Grammy nods for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

20. “The Gambler” By Kenny Rogers

Life is full of risks, and sometimes, we don’t always win. To help us, we can receive great tips in the song “The Gambler.” Originally by Don Schlitz, Kenny Rogers made it popular in 1978.

The story revolves around a conversation between the singer and an old gambler. The old man shares life advice through a game of cards.

He suggests that failing isn’t about the loss itself. It’s about not knowing when to walk away or run: “You got to know when to hold ’em / know when to fold ’em.” This highlights the crucial lesson about failure.

21. “Surrender To Failure” By Korn

Sometimes, life’s darkest moments come from feelings of guilt and despair over the things we cannot change. Korn expresses this in their song “Surrender to Failure” from the 2019 album The Nothing.

In it, the narrator confesses to feeling lost and alone. He’s searching for answers, yet he fears he will never find it.

At its core, the song is about the pain of not being able to alter the past and the heavy burden that comes with realizing that you’ve failed. It harshly reminds us that sometimes, despite our best efforts, we cannot control everything in life.

22. “My Own Worst Enemy” By Lit

Sometimes, our biggest adversary can be ourselves, and through our actions come our downfall. This sentiment is echoed in the song “My Own Worst Enemy” by Lit.

In the song, the protagonist laments about self-sabotage. He continually makes mistakes and ends up hurting himself. He acknowledges his failings, saying, “It’s no surprise to me / I am my own worst enemy.”

Through the song, Lit brings to light the idea that failure often stems from our own actions and decisions. It’s a powerful reminder to be mindful of our choices and to learn from our mistakes instead of repeating them.

23. “I’m A Mess” By Bebe Rexha

In life, we all have moments when everything seems to be falling apart. In her 2018 song, “I’m a Mess,” singer-songwriter Bebe Rexha describes this experience well.

This song is a candid confession of feeling lost and disoriented, not just in life but also in love. The protagonist describes herself as “a mess” and “a loser,” among other things.

Nevertheless, she doesn’t give up. She encourages herself through these words: “Everything’s gonna be alright / everything’s gonna be okay.” It reminds listeners that even when they feel like their world is crumbling, there is always hope.

24. “Success Has Made A Failure Of Our Home” By Sinéad O’Connor

Originally penned by Johnny Mullins, the song “Success Has Made a Failure of Our Home” found international acclaim when covered by the talented Irish singer-songwriter Sinéad O’Connor in 1992.

The essence of the song is captured in its title itself. It’s a paradoxical statement that highlights the irony of achieving success at the expense of personal happiness and relationships.

The lyrics revolve around a couple who used to be very happy. However, when success hit, everything changed. They stopped spending time together, their love started to fade, and their relationship ended up failing.

25. “Failing” By Staind

In 2005, the rock band Staind gave us a powerful song called “Failing.” It narrates the struggle we all go through when we feel like a relationship is going downhill.

The lyrics mention failing in the form of the protagonist’s romantic relationship. It seems like no matter how hard he tries “to get through to [her],” he feels like he’s failing. She continues to lie and break his heart.

The message in “Failing” is something many people can relate to. Whether it’s a romantic relationship or another type of connection, we all experience failure in one form or another.

26. “Messed Up” By Chris Brown

In the world of R&B, Chris Brown‘s song “Messed Up” stands out. It dives deep into the emotional turmoil of regret and self-reflection.

The singer expresses his remorse over past mistakes in a relationship that caused it to fail. He openly acknowledges how he “fucked up” and the pain he has caused, showcasing a vulnerable side that resonates with many listeners.

Released in 2023, “Messed Up” quickly gained popularity among fans and music lovers. Its honest and relatable lyrics, combined with its catchy melody, have garnered positive feedback.

27. “I’m A Loser” By The Beatles

From their album Beatles for Sale, The Beatles released “I’m a Loser.” Similar to some of the songs we’ve already discussed, this one is about failing in love.

The protagonist has “lost someone who’s near to” him, and he realizes it’s because of what he has done. Despite trying to act nonchalant about the lost love, “beneath this mask [he is] wearing a frown.”

“I’m a Loser” isn’t purely about failing. It is also a reflection of personal missteps and the emotional distress they can cause.

28. “Falling For The First Time” By Barenaked Ladies

Every one of us has experienced the sting of failure at some point. You could be cool, smart, and brave. Yet one wrong move could make you fall, as what Barenaked Ladies say in their 2000 song “Falling for the First Time.”

The lyrics take us through the protagonist’s series of first-time failures. It brings to light the harsh reality that failure is often an inevitable part of trying something new: “I’m so smart, too bad I can’t get anything figured out.”

“Falling For The First Time” serves as a reminder that failure is not the end but rather a stepping stone to learning and growth. It encourages listeners to embrace their mistakes and view them as opportunities for improvement.

29. “Loser” By Limp Bizkit

Based on the songs we have already talked about, it would seem that a loser equates to failure, or vice versa. It’s a feeling we might have experienced, and Limp Bizkit knows it well in their song “Loser.”

The song represents a person’s inner battle with feelings of inadequacy and failure. The protagonist feels like a “loser,” constantly falling short of expectations. The line, “Just one more failure, just one more loser,” highlights this struggle, suggesting that he has repeatedly failed in life.

Limp Bizkit’s “Loser” was released in 2011 as part of their album Gold Cobra. Though not released as a single, the song received attention for its relatable lyrics.

30. “The Sound Of Failure” By The Flaming Lips

Our next song, “The Sound of Failure” by The Flaming Lips, takes listeners on an emotional journey. It tells the story of a girl who’s trying to navigate her life from the inside out.

She hears the sound of failure calling her name. Instead of avoiding it, she decides to confront it head-on. The narrative suggests that it’s not always about maintaining a cheerful facade. Sometimes, it’s about acknowledging and accepting the reality of failure and sadness.

So while “The Sound of Failure” does revolve around the concept of failure, it’s not necessarily about failing in the traditional sense. It’s more about learning to cope with failure and embracing it as a part of life.

31. “Beauty School Dropout” By Frankie Avalon

Closing this list is “Beauty School Dropout.” This catchy tune is from the iconic musical Grease, performed by Frankie Avalon. This song is a gentle and humorous reprimand to Frenchy, one of the characters, who drops out of beauty school despite her dreams and aspirations.

Lines like “Beauty school dropout / missed your midterms and flunked shampoo” and “Baby, don’t blow it / Don’t put my good advice to shame” express sympathy for her situation. At the same time, they encourage her to reconsider her choices and “go back to high school.”

While the song does involve a form of failure, it’s not about failing in a broader sense. Instead, it’s about recognizing when something isn’t working out and having the courage to make a change.

Summing Up Our List Of Failing Or Failure Songs

These songs serve as powerful reminders that it’s okay to falter and stumble. They echo our own experiences, lending us comfort and strength in knowing we’re not alone in our struggles.

Wrapping up, we hope these songs have not only entertained you but also provided some new tunes to listen to.

Do you have a similar song that resonates with you? We’d appreciate your recommendations. Your favorite track might just end up being someone else’s beacon of hope in times of struggle.

Photo of author

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.