Top Ten R&B Revenge Songs
Who's saying what
Jodi Arias, a softly-spoken woman from Arizona, made headlines around the world last week. Allegedly, she stabbed her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander 27 times, slit his throat from ear to ear and shot him in the head during a jealous rage after learning of his plans to holiday in Mexico with another woman.
Their emotionally fraught communion was complex to say the least, and now, the domestic that killed Alexander could also cost Arias her life – the court has not ruled out the possibility of putting Arias on death row, despite her self-defense pleas.
Of course, Jodi Arias is not the first (or the last) woman (or man) to fly into a (purported) anger blackout whilst dealing with an ostensible Scrub. In fact, you don’t have to look further than Taylor Swift to realise that some musicians have not only skyrocketed to Billboard supremacy thanks to a callous succession of pain and rejection, but have built entire careers on lovelorn lyrics.
In the name of imminent Valentine's Day, let’s celebrate the angriest, most rampant R'n'B revenge tracks to hit the airwaves together. Even if you find yourself in a happy, sane, non-toxic relationship (lucky you) the ire from long-gone rejection undoubtedly still lurks somewhere inside you. Be proud that you executed Gen Y warfare (Facebook deletions, calling late at night from a blocked number and throwing out someone’s Instagram ratio with a fleeting ‘Unfollow’) on that a-hole who periodically ruined your life, instead of carrying out actual acts of violence on past paramours. Sure, break-ups are hard, but so is serving jail time.
We hope you enjoy these 10 revenge songs, but on a metaphorical level only. By no means do we endorse stealing, fraud, aggravated burglary, malicious destruction of property, cheating or grand theft auto in the name of vengeance - no matter how hurt your heart is.
10. Jumpin’ Jumpin’ – Destiny’s Child
More of a pre-emptive strike than full-blown revenge, the 1999 single was about barring your partner and hitting the clubs because, well, they did it first. The ever-empowering DC didn’t by any stretch of the imagination condone physical aggression, but they did encourages ladies and fellas alike to put their own needs and the potential for fun ahead of an obviously failing relationship. Think of this as the sequel to the hyper-paranoid Say My Name and a more resolute Independent Women.
9. Don’t Think I’m Not – Kandi
In a similar vein, Kandi’s early naughties debut track Don’t Think I’m Not (not actually sure if she’s done anything since? Maybe a Kameo on the Kardashians?) didn’t discuss the process of unadulterated vengeance, but rather the potential for adultery on both sides. She sings, “when you’re out in the club, don’t think I’m not/ Even when you’re out making love, don’t think I’m not/ When you’re feeling good in somebody’s spot getting hot, don’t stop/ Just don’t think I’m not.” The message, of course, is deeply flawed, but this is retribution we’re talking about here, not reconciliation.
8. Betcha Never – Vanessa Williams
Sonically and lyrically comparable, Vanessa Williams channels a Toni Braxton-eqsue vocal, but instead of ‘Un-break My Heart’ caterwauling, Williams ‘surprises’ her cheating buster. Don’t Get Mad, Get Even is her purveying memo, even referencing reprisal in a most biblical form, “I'm giving you an eye for an eye/ Baby I've found another/ And he is my lover/ And I'm going out for the rest of your life.” That’s right Ness, don’t hate – participate.
7. No Scrubs – TLC
Never was there a more iconic track to dealing with an A-grade screw-up that TLC’s seminal Scrubs. Instead of giving said douchelord a chance, Left-Eye and the other two retaliated via accroach. The three aptly shamed and defamed the fool before he even had a chance to do anything wrong. Clearly, TLC had no time for silly things like benefit of the doubt: “If you don't have a car and you're walking/ Oh yea son I'm talking to you/ If you live at home wit' your momma/ Oh yes son I'm talking to you/ If you have a shorty but you don't show love/ Oh yes son I'm talking to you/ Wanna get with me with no money/ Oh no I don't want no [scrubs.]” Ain’t that the truth.
6. Man Down – Rihanna
Not exactly one to hang her head and avoid a scene, Barbados-born beauty and perpetual tabloid fodder Rihanna released Man Down in July 2011 as the sixth single off her Lost album. Off the back of being brutally attacked by her then (and still now) boyfriend/ World’s Worst Human Chris Brown, the song chronicles Rihanna shooting a man dead in a train station after viewers learn that the title man sexually assaulted her. Hits a little close to home to be tongue-in-cheek, really.
5. Two Black Cadillacs – Carrie Underwood
From the woman who has a penchant for keying, should her man cheat (we’ll get to that in a moment) country singer Carrie Underwood released another spite-embellished gem just two weeks ago. Entitled ‘Two Black Cadillacs’, the Underwood sings of a man's wife and mistress who, after learning of each other, killed that cheating bastard together. The sisterhood, amirite?! The Two Black Cadillacs are non-allegoric objects in the song, FYI, as they were, among other things, means of transport for both parties to attend said man’s funeral. Um...
4. Bust Your Windows – Jazmine Sullivan
“I bust the windows out your car/ and no it didn’t mend my broken heart” sings a saccharine Jazmine Sullivan on her Fearless album track. Aside from her brazen confession – “You know I did it cause I left my mark/ Wrote my initials with a crow bar” – Sullivan elucidates that though it is “juvenile” to destroy someone’s property after they’ve “wasted five years” of your time, it really does aid the healing process. Packed with “I ain’t sorry, you deserved it”s and “I’m glad I did it cause you had to learn”s, Sullivan, former frenzies aside, speaks a hell of a lot of sense: “You can’t just play with people’s feelings like that.” Word, sister.
3. You’re So Vain – Carly Simon
While the majority of this list is comprised of fairly contempory angry R&B girl hits (a listicle about stupid lyin’ cheatin’ bitches and hoes is far too large a body of work to be condensed into just ten songs) what kind of revenge tracks list would this be without Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain? The subject is still contested, with Mick Jagger, David Bowie, David Cassidy and Cat Stevens cited as potential exes so painfully narcissistic they make Charlie Sheen look like Gandhi.
2. Before He Cheats – Carrie Underwood
“I dug my key into the side/ Of his pretty little souped-up four-wheel drive/ Carved my name into his leather seats/ I took a Louisville slugger to both headlights/ Slashed a hole in all four tires” and two time platinum digital sales say it all, really. Underwood won that round.1. Blu Cantrell – Hit ‘Em Up Style
It’s hard to pinpoint, exactly, which is the best line of this song. Cantrell “caught [her] man cheating” so “found another way to make him pay for it all”. She means that literally, of course. While Hit ‘Em Up Style sounds like a fair, apt way to deal with a lying, two-timing sociopath, “put[ing] your hands on his cash and spend[ing] it to the last dime for all the hard times” is probably not the best approach. While violence and damages can probably be defended by some legal loophole, stealing, sadly, will not correlate to a self-defense plea, and you (and your friends, if the song is anything to go by) will be left indebted to the ex that impelled you to act out so irrationally in the first place. Oops, indeed.