13 Of The Best Songs About Revenge And Getting Even

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

“Revenge is sweet.” Are you familiar with this saying? But it depends on who you ask. Some people will not just sit back and let things go, while others will allow karma to do the rest.

Revenge has many faces. Quick or slow. Aggressive or subtle. Poisonous or satisfying. No matter what walk of life we come from, we have been crossed at some point and felt the desire for vengeance.

Revenge is an encompassing emotional state, and some musicians have penned songs on this subject. As you can see, we have a list of 13 of the best songs about revenge. Laugh, cry, or celebrate with the characters in the songs as they tell us how they got even.

1. “Better Than Revenge” By Taylor Swift

Having written many a song about her exes, is there any doubt that Taylor Swift can pen a revenge song? In a song with “revenge” in the lyrics, Swift sings about a rival and how she’s an expert when it comes to plotting revenge.

While stories abound about who the girl and the guy are, Swift sings about how he is stolen from right under her nose. She doesn’t expect it to happen, seeing as how passionate she is about her man.

But Swift is not going to back down. Verse after verse of the song, she disses the other girl, telling her, “There is nothing I do better than revenge.”

2. “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'” By Nancy Sinatra

If the title caught your attention, just wait until you heard the rest of the lyrics. Lee Hazlewood wrote this song to be sung by a man, but Nancy Sinatra talked him out of it. She said it sounded more powerful from a “little girl.”

“These Boots are Made for Walkin’,” tells the story of a man who hasn’t learned from his mistakes. The narrator tells her boyfriend she’s done with his cheating and walks out on him. As she’s going out the door, she tells him she’s biding her time, waiting for the day when “these boots are gonna walk all over you.”

By saying that line, you know that she’s had enough. She’s done putting up with him. This 1966 song and its timeless message pushed a whole generation of women to confront abusive boyfriends.

3. “You’re So Vain” By Carly Simon

After getting hurt by Warren Beatty for the last time, Carly Simon took to the piano to cope with her pain and sprang the iconic song, “You’re So Vain.”

The lyrics do not call out anyone specifically. Instead, the words capture the universal feeling of being disregarded. The singer says, “You gave away the things you loved, and one of them was me.” She goes on to say how vain he is, being self-absorbed and all.

The song’s relatable expression of anger and the desire for revenge shot this tune to the top of the charts upon its debut in 1971. It became popular, winning a Grammy and spawning covers from several artists, even Marilyn Manson.

4. “Bad Blood” By Taylor Swift

Making another appearance on our list is our BFF, Taylor Swift. You definitely don’t want to be on the receiving end of her ire, or she’s gonna tell the world about it. Check out her single “Bad Blood,” and you’ll know.

This song stands out for its catchy beat and because everyone has experienced a friendship like that mentioned in the lyrics. She talks about falling out with a friend, implicating the individual in brutally simple lyrics. It’s so bad that even “Band-aids don’t fix bullet holes.”

The wounds run deep in this revenge song. Even then, this chart-topping single won a Grammy for Best Music Video in 2016.

5. “Cry Me A River” By Justin Timberlake

Our next track on the list is an excellent revenge song from a man’s perspective. Justin Timberlake‘s “Cry Me a River” is his revenge against his ex, who cheated on him. The song takes Timberlake’s perspective in the wake of this revelation.

From the lyrics, Timberlake discovers what his ex did. We can see that cheating has no place in the relationship for him. He tells her there’s no chance for them to continue, saying, “the bridges were burned, now it’s your turn to cry.”

His ex wants to get back to him, but he’s done with her. He ends the song telling her to “cry me a river.”

6. “I Hope You’re Happy Now” By Elvis Costello

Sometimes wanting to get even drives us to act petty. Lyrics such as “I knew then what I know now I never loved you anyhow” demonstrate that side of vengeance.

Elvis Costello addresses an old flame and her new boyfriend in “I Hope You’re Happy Now.” It’s funny how he uses spiteful lyrics to condemn his old lover. He thinks that she deserves what she’s about to get in her new relationship.

While the song does have its petty side, the upbeat pop instrumentation contrasts entirely with the bitter lyrics. This suggests perhaps a slight bit of hope and that our angry protagonist may be able to move on in the future.

7. “Sweet Revenge” By Motorhead

It doesn’t get more straightforward than this Motorhead song with revenge in the title. It talks about one’s dedication to getting even with the person who wronged him. As you listen to the words, you get the picture that the narrator has planned his revenge down to the last detail.

Apparently, the other person doesn’t see it coming. Lead vocalist Lemmy sings, “So sweet to see you writhe and crawl and scream for life.” That’s a message that he isn’t someone to be messed with.

The singer further speaks to his victim and tells them to prepare for the end, as he’s coming for them. We can only imagine what the victim has done against him.

8. “Before He Cheats” By Carrie Underwood

Cheating… that old-as-time blunder that will certainly make the victim think of revenge. Carrie Underwood certainly does in “Before He Cheats.”

In the song, Underwood destroys her unfaithful man’s car. She takes a “key into the side of his souped-up pretty little four-wheel drive” and a “Louisville Slugger to both headlights.” She kills two birds with one stone by taking revenge on his most prized possession and “saving trouble for the next girl.”

“Before He Cheats” did not just become a revenge anthem for women. It must have resonated with millions of people. It won a Grammy for Country Song of the Year in 2008 and became the first country song to sell over two million copies.

9. “Gives You Hell” By The All-American Rejects

In this earworm, the All-American Rejects wake up with a “big smile” on their face, knowing their life is better than the person they want to get even with.

Tyson Ritter, the lead vocalist, stated that the lyrics do not apply to any specific situation. This is probably why the song had such a broad appeal when it came out in 2008. So you can see it as a song against an ex, neighbor, or co-worker you hate.

In the lyrics, the narrator wishes that the other person suffers every time they see him. It makes him feel good, and he even gloats at what happened to the other person.

10. “Rolling In The Deep” By Adele

English singer-songwriter Adele will not reveal the ex that inspired this song. But whoever it was, she did not pull any punches in addressing him. She lets him know with confidence that his act of betrayal will not bring her down anymore.

In the chorus, she states, “We could have had it all,” letting her ex know just what he’s missing. She also knows her worth, feeling insulted when told that her life would be lonely without him.

The message here resonated with people who have felt similar pain to send this song to the top of the charts. Adele won a Grammy for Song of the Year and Best Music Video for this revenge song in 2012.

11. “Your Time Is Gonna Come” By Led Zeppelin

Some people want to take matters into their hands. You can’t blame them after their heart has been crushed. But others leave it to karma to do the job. Led Zeppelin only played “Your Time is Gonna Come” one time in 1968. That failed to stop it from becoming an iconic revenge song in its own right.

The lyrics have some strong words for an unfaithful woman. Instead of discussing the singer’s plan for revenge, he expresses faith that her actions will come back to get her. In short, her “time is gonna come.”

This song has served as an anchor and musical crutch for over 50 years for people needing patience and to move on from toxic relationships.

12. “So What?” By Pink

We just can’t have too many “good riddance” songs. Here’s another one from Pink, who’s not shy about sharing her opinion about her estranged husband and his erring ways.

“So What?” details Pink’s plans after her husband’s disappearance. No, she’s not about to cry for him to come back. In fact, she’s going to enjoy life and “drink my money.” That’s the best revenge she can do. She’s a rock star, after all.

The message of “So What?” still resonates because it encourages people to cut toxic, unsupportive people out of their lives. And instead of being depressed, one should focus on enjoying life.

13. “Coward Of The County” By Kenny Rogers

One of the songs that mention “revenge” through a story is Kenny Rogers‘ “Coward of the County.” This is a heartbreaking song that shows that sometimes, you need to act out your revenge.

The story is about Tommy, who puts his convict father’s dying request into his heart: “Promise me, son, not to do the things I’ve done.” The old man adds, “You don’t have to fight to be a man.” Tommy honors this request, even ignoring when people call him the “coward of the county.”

But when the love of his life, Becky, is assaulted by the Gatlin boys, Tommy is forced to break his promise. He confronts them and exacts his revenge, saying, “Sometimes you gotta fight when you’re a man.”

Summing Up Our List Of Revenge Songs

Sometimes a song can capture and help us release feelings and desires that might otherwise be poisonous. That’s precisely what these songs about revenge do.

These timeless tunes about getting even stemmed from places of heartbreak, anger, and pain. They remain relatable today and will remain the same in the future.

But at the end of the day, it’s what we do that matters. Do we act out on our revenge? Or do we put it in the most capable hands of karma?

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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.