There is something about being able to say “I’m Sorry” through song lyrics that can have a dramatic impact on the person who is receiving the apology. Apology songs are one of the most enduring genres within the music industry and these are the 27 best of all time!
1. “If I Could Turn Back Time” by Cher
Cher has enjoyed a music career that has spanned more than 5 decades. The music legend scored one of her greatest hits in 1989 with “If I Could Turn Back Time”. The hit single appeared on her Heart of Stone album and expresses the singer’s wish that she could turn back the clock and make things better. Diane Warren wrote the song for Cher and initially had to convince her to record the tune that became one of her most beloved.
2. “Swallow My Pride” by The Ramones
“Swallow My Pride” by the Ramones landed a spot at number 36 on the singles charts in the UK when it was released in 1977. The title of the track encapsulates what one must sometimes do when it comes to offering up an apology. It turned out to be a huge success for the iconic punk band and an all-time classic when it comes to songs that express a sentiment of being sorry.
3. “Please Forgive Me” by Bryan Adams
Bryan Adams scored one of his biggest hits in 1993 when he released “Please Forgive Me” on his So Far So Good greatest hits compilation album. The song’s title is pretty self-explanatory and gets straight to the point that the artist is asking for forgiveness from a lover who he has done wrong.
4. “Apology Song” by The Decemberists
“Apology Song” was the final track on the 5 Songs EP from The Decemberists. The track dropped in 2001 and is one of the most unique tracks on this list. It is frontman Colin Meloy’s lament that he has been irresponsible and lost his friend’s bicycle. Though this might seem like a silly topic to some, the singer knows that this bicycle was beloved by his friend and he is truly sorry that he lost it while it was in his care.
5. “Hello” by Adele
Adele scored a massive hit when she released the song “Hello” on her 2015 studio album entitled 25. This apology song captivated listeners around the world as it finds the singer trying to reconnect with her ex through song. It finds the pop star wishing to speak with an ex-lover many years after they have broken up. She expresses sincere regret for how things ended up going when all was said and done.
6. “Baby Come Back” by Player
British-American rock band Player enjoyed a breakthrough single in 1977 with the tune “Baby Come Back”. The song is the quintessential tune for anyone who has wronged their beloved and desperately wants them to come back. For this reason, this apology song demands a spot on any serious list about the subject of saying I’m sorry.
7. “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” by Chicago
Chicago’s 1982 track “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” is one of the most iconic sung by bass player Peter Cetera. The song was among the tracks for the band’s Chicago 16 album. It is one of the band’s most beloved tunes and focuses on the fact that it really can be hard to admit that you are sorry for doing a loved one wrong.
8. “Forgive Me” by Evanescence
“Forgive Me” was featured on the Sound Asleep EP from Evanescence in 1999. It has everything that you would look for in a great apology song and focuses on singer Amy Lee asking for forgiveness for a mistake that she has made to one she loves. Her passionate delivery helps to draw the listener in as they connect with the relatable message she is expressing.
9. “I Did It” by Dave Matthews Band
The Dave Matthews Band hit song “I Did It” is one of the most lighthearted I’m sorry songs on this list but nonetheless is a perfect example of the genre. The song finds the band’s singer Dave Matthews admitting that he is guilty of the claims made against him as he seeks to make amends.
10. “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” by Elton John
It is no secret that it can be hard to say the words I’m sorry and Elton John puts this sentiment into the form of a song with his 1976 hit “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word”. In the song, he reflects on a fact that we all probably know all too well. No one likes to admit that they are wrong, but it is important to be able to.
11. “Jealous Guy” by John Lennon
We have probably all been guilty of being jealous at some point. It is a common feeling and can lead us to do things that we might not be proud of. This is the sentiment expressed by Beatles legend John Lennon in his 1971 hit “Jealous Guy”.
12. “Sorry” by Halsey
Halsey released the song “Sorry” on her 2017 album entitled Hopeless Fountain. In the iconic apology song, she laments that she can be guilty of not appreciating those that she cares about. She uses the song to express the fact that she feels bad about letting a past relationship slip away.
13. “All Apologies” by Nirvana
Legendary grunge band Nirvana penned one of the best all-time apology songs when they released the tune “All Apologies” on their 1993 In Utero album. It was the final track on the iconic album. The song finds singer Kurt Cobain giving an apology for the way that he often behaves.
14. “Apologize” by Timbaland
Timbaland had a hit on his hands when he released “Apologize” on the album Dreaming Out Loud and featuring OneRepublic. This apology song became one of the most recognizable tunes in 2007 and a regular entry on any list focusing on songs that say I’m sorry.
15. “Ms. Jackson” by Outkast
Hip-hop legends Outkast released one of the truly unique songs about being sorry with their hit “Ms. Jackson”. The song is written to the mother of singer/songwriter Erykah Badu. Erykah was previously in a romantic relationship with Outkast’s André 3000. Though many apology songs involving love find the artist singing to their ex, this one finds André 3000 apologizing to Badu’s mother Ms. Jackson as he lets her know that he feels bad about emotionally hurting her daughter.
16. “So Sorry” by Feist
Feist took the opportunity to admit that she had done wrong with the song “So Sorry” off of her 2007 album The Reminder. In doing so, she ended up writing one of the best I’m sorry songs. She also scored another hit of her efforts!
17. “Back to December” by Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift has released one hit song after another during her legendary music career. She has also written one of the top songs about being sorry with her tune “Back to December” which featured on her 3rd album Speak Now. The hit song dropped in 2010 and finds Swift apologizing to an ex who was later revealed to be Taylor Lautner.
18. “A Song for You” by Amy Winehouse
Amy Winehouse became one of the most legendary vocalists in music history by way of her bluesy and captivated singing ability. She is also notable for singing one of the best songs about being sorry with her cover of the Leon Russell tune “A Song for You”. The song was released on her first posthumous release Lioness: Hidden Treasures which came out in 2011 shortly after the artist’s untimely death.
19. “In Between” by Linkin Park
“In Between” featured on Linkin Park’s 3rd studio release Minutes to Midnight. This iconic song about being sorry finds singer Mike Shinoda expressing the fact that he is sorry about being who he is instead of being the person that he knows he really should be.
20. “For What It’s Worth” by Liam Gallagher
In “For What It’s Worth”, singer/songwriter Liam Gallagher does his best to express the fact that he meant well even though things did not turn out well. This I’m sorry song appeared as the 5th track on Gallagher’s 2017 As You Were album.
21. “Sorry” by Justin Bieber
Canada’s Justin Bieber made another big impact on the pop charts with his 2015 I’m sorry song simply titled “Sorry”. The iconic tune finds Bieber pleading for the opportunity to let his lover know that he is sorry. Since its initial release, it has been revealed that the lover in question was none other than Selena Gomez.
22. “Sorry” by Ciara
Ciara added her own entry to the list of all-time greatest I’m sorry songs with her 2012 hit “Sorry”. The song expresses the artist’s feelings about a former lover as she makes it clear that she loved him and is sorry that things went wrong in their relationship.
23. “I’m Sorry” by Blake Shelton
Blake Shelton points out the fact that apologies often come too late in his 2011 song “I’m Sorry”. The hit song features a guest performance by Martina McBride. It is one of those songs that emphasize the fact that we often decide to say I’m sorry after things have gotten to the point of no return in a relationship. This relatable fact helped to make it one of Shelton’s biggest hits.
24. “Sorry” by Madonna
Legendary pop singer Madonna lands a spot on this top 27 list with her song “Sorry”. In true Madonna form, she turns around the listener’s expectations in this 2005 song where she makes it clear that she is not that interested in hearing an apology from the individual in question. Perhaps her experience has told her that this apology is not a sincere one. What is clear is the fact that she is having none of it.
25. “I Apologize” by Anita Baker
Anita Baker expresses a sense of regret in her 1994 song “I Apologize”. This I’m sorry song is one about regretting hurtful statements that were made in the heat of an argument with a lover. It also focuses on how those remarks made in moments like that can end up eating away at you after some time has passed. This makes the Anita Baker hit another perfect fit for this list that is all about expressing regret and saying the simple word sorry.
26. “Always on My Mind” by Willie Nelson
“Always on My Mind” by Willie Nelson is an I’m sorry song that has truly stood the test of time. Indeed, you are not always as thoughtful or attentive to your lover as you should be. Nonetheless, Nelson wanted to express the fact that his beloved remained in his thoughts at all times regardless of whether or not he did the best of jobs in showing this fact.
27. “Don’t Love You No More (I’m Sorry)” by Craig David
Not all I’m sorry songs are meant to convince a lover to return to the singer’s arms. This is the case with Craig David’s iconic “Don’t Love You No More (I’m Sorry)”. The song finds the singer telling the honest truth to a lover. This is a case where a romantic relationship has run its course and the singer is saying that they are sorry that things simply did not work out. At the same time, this soon to be ex-lover is finding out the truth that the spark of love is simply not there at this point.
As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
Liam’s lifelong love for music makes his role at Music Grotto such a rewarding one. He loves researching, writing and editing music content for Music Grotto.