We all want to be the hero of our own story. But let’s face it, sometimes it’s fun to get in a villainous mood. These top songs will make you feel just a little bit bad … even if it is all just a fantasy.
1. Killer Queen – Queen
Queen’s 1974 hit is rife with references to the legendary French queen, Marie-Antoinette, who wasn’t a good guy (or girl) by any means. But she’s become a bit of a fabulous figure in legend. It’s hard not to feel those powerful vibes when you’re singing along with Freddie Mercury.
2. Before He Cheats – Carrie Underwood
If you’ve ever been cheated on, you can probably relate to the desire to trash your ex’s car completely. It’s not advisable for a bunch of reasons, but at least you can indulge in the fantasy through Carrie Underwood’s powerhouse ballad of revenge.
3. I See Red – Everybody Loves An Outlaw
I See Red is a journey through the eyes of someone who has been cheated on. It is natural for humans to entertain angry or violent thoughts when they have been deeply hurt by another person. But this song is about someone actually following through with their violent fantasy, depicting it as the natural consequences of their ex’s infidelity.
4. Monster – EXO
The depiction of a lover sneaking up on you like a monster is as old as romance stories. Just look at the popularity of the Twilight saga. The K-pop band EXO also leaned into the vibe with their 2016 song Monster, which describes the singer as a monster breaking into someone’s heart.
5. Radioactive – Imagine Dragons
Imagine Dragons’ song, Radioactive, was one of the biggest songs of the early 2010s, and is certainly one of the biggest and best songs of their discography. This was likely due in part to its extremely catchy tune, but credit is also due to the lyrics. The song is all about a new being waking up in the aftermath of the apocalypse and embracing their new monstrous self.
6. I Will Prevail – Kate Shindle
I Will Prevail is a song from the musical, Wonderland. The show itself had mixed reviews and isn’t widely known, but there is something to be said for the villain’s song, I Will Prevail, performed by the (female) Mad Hatter. As the song goes on, she eventually reveals her entire plan: to destroy the heroes of Wonderland.
7. Without Me – Eminem
Few musicians have perfected their reputation as a villain than Eminem. Or, to be clearer, the rapper has constructed a villainous alter ego, Slim Shady, into whom he pours all his most violent and aggressive tendencies. Without Me is him embracing the alter ego, in fantasy as a violent person, and in reality as a musician who exists to stir controversy and outrage.
8. INFERNO – Sub urban feat. Bella Poarch
2022 saw mainstream pop get swept by Sub Urban and Bella Poarch. Their collaboration on INFERNO has Poarch depicting herself as an actual demon, saying that she’s “the reason why hell’s so hot.” The song describes a being who seems appealing at first, only for people to realize, too late, that she is actually deadly.
9. Manta – Lexie Liu
A song that makes you feel like a villainous manta ray? It sounds strange, but Chinese singer Lexie Liu managed to make it catchy. Her song, Manta, is about a powerful monster lurking under the water, following those who live above the surface. The lyrics suggest that it’s something deadlier than a stingray.
10. Sorry Not Sorry – Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato knows how to deal with haters. Her 2017 song, Sorry Not Sorry, is a sarcastic non-apology to everyone who criticizes her. Sometimes, the more that people say you’re a bad person, the more you just want to throw your hands up and accept it.
11. bad guy – Billie Eilish
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard Billie Eilish’s ultimate villain anthem. Bad Guy is all about embracing the reputation when people are determined to trash you as the villain of the story. There’s freedom in accepting that sometimes, you can’t fight the rumors.
12. Bust Your Knee Caps – Pomplamoose
Pomplamoose’s 2012 song, Bust Your Knee Caps, starts strong right out the gate. It depicts a wife talking to her husband, who wants to leave her. The song immediately gets intense as it becomes clear that the wife is part of some kind of crime family who will come after her husband if he hurts her.
13. Bad To The Bone – George Thorogood & the destroyers
This 1982 hit might be the most iconic villain song of modern music. The singer describes himself as someone who was evil from the moment he was born, and he will never change his ways. But combined with that famous guitar riff and the stuttering chorus, George Thorogood manages to make being bad sound pretty good.
14. Can’t Be Tamed – Miley Cyrus
So often for women, being a villain means acting crazy. It’s no wonder that so many female pop stars lean into the persona and accept that the world sees them as a wild woman who flies off the hook at the slightest inconvenience. And let’s be honest—there are plenty of non-famous women who can relate to the experience of being depicted as irrational and crazy.
15. Bad – Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson was The King of Pop, and he knew how to make being a villain into a dance routine. Bad was released in 1987, several years after Jackson’s solo career first took off with songs like Thriller. Like many of his other hits, it is a high-energy dance tune; in this case, it is all about embracing that image as a villain. He clearly has no remorse about it, and it’s hard to resist that attitude.
16. Look What You Made Me Do – Taylor Swift
After years of criticism from the media, pop star Taylor Swift leaned into the (often sexist) mischaracterization of her actions and crafted a tongue-in-cheek bad girl persona. Look What You Made Me Do is Swift telling everyone that if they really want her to be a villain, she might as well be one.
17. Heat – DMX
The DMX song, Heat, imagines what it would be like to rob a bank. The singer is shockingly cold-blooded, as two of his compatriots don’t make it out of the bank alive. He doesn’t seem all that sad about it—in fact, he points out that now, each of them will get more money.
18. Charmer – Stray Kids
Have you ever met someone who was great at manipulating everyone around them? Charmer is a K-pop song that’s all about knowing how to turn on the charm and make anybody do exactly what you want them to. The singer knows their power and seems to enjoy it, too.
19. Sucker For Pain – Lil Wayne feat. Logic, Ty Dolla $ign & X Ambassadors
The phrase “I’m a sucker for pain” usually implies that you enjoy feeling pain. But this hip hop song—featuring some of the biggest names in the industry—slowly makes it clear that the singers aren’t the ones feeling the pain. Instead, they’re the ones inflicting it.
20. Walk – Pantera
Pantera released their 1992 track, Walk, as part of their album, Vulgar Display of Power, which indicates what the song is about. The singer clearly has some anger issues and dares another person to cross the line so that they can punish them. It’s exceedingly realistic, which makes it even spookier.
21. Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked – Cage The Elephant
Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked follows a man as he talks to a sex worker, a thief, and a dishonest preacher. He learns that each of them has the same motivation for why they do what they do: they are simply trying to stay alive.
22. My Prerogative – Bobby Brown
Most of us try to live a good life, but not the singer of this song. Their point of view is that they have the right to live however they please, even if people call them crazy, unpleasant, or manipulative. It’s not the best life philosophy, but they’re technically right.
23. Misery Business – Paramore
In some ways, emo music is all about being a villain—and no one does emo pop like Paramore. Misery Business was one of their most famous songs, all about a woman who waited for her chance to nab a man the moment he got out of a relationship, no matter what the consequences.
24. We R Who We R – Ke$ha
Ke$ha burst onto the scene as an unapologetic partier who loved to turn everything upside down. It may have been a public persona, but her 2010 hit, We R Who We R, is intoxicating in its confidence.
25. Wuthering Heights – Kate Bush
In her 1978 song, Wuthering Heights, British songstress Kate Bush took on the delightfully unhinged persona of Catherine Earnshaw from Emily Brontë’s novel. The song is extra spooky, as it presents Catherine as a ghost haunting the grounds of Wuthering Heights, calling for her lover to come find her on the English moor.
26. Boyfriend – Dove Cameron
2022 saw Dove Cameron release Boyfriend in a self-depiction as a homewrecker. We would never tell anyone to steal someone else’s significant other, but Cameron comes across as a powerful seductress who can get anyone she sets her mind to.
27. VILLAIN DIES – (G)I-DLE
If you’re a big fan of K-pop, you might be familiar with the song, VILLAIN DIES, by (G)I-DLE. But you probably don’t know what the lyrics mean (unless you speak Korean, of course). The song depicts the final face-off between the heroine and the villain in a story, with the villain deciding to take everyone out with them.
28. Everybody Wants To Rule The World – Tears For Fears
Everybody Wants To Rule The World is one of the most famous songs from British band Tears For Fears. The song speaks from the perspective of an authoritarian government that monitors and controls everyone who is born under its regime. It is a little bit scary, particularly in the age of modern surveillance.
29. Centuries – Fall Out Boy
What do you want to be remembered for? That’s the question that Fall Out Boy answers in their song, Centuries. In this case, however, the answer is clearly not that the singer wants to be remembered for something good. They are openly power-hungry and not afraid to admit it.
30. You Should See Me In a Crown – Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish has established herself as the queen of the pop villain songs. She was inspired to write the song after hearing the line “Honey, you should see me in a crown” spoken by Andrew Scott as Moriarty on BBC’s Sherlock—arguably one of the best villains on contemporary television.
31. no body, no crime – Taylor Swift feat. haim
Taylor Swift’s song, No Body, No Crime, is a fantasy that follows a fictionalized version of herself taking revenge on the abusive husband of a friend. It’s a surprisingly horrorcore direction for the pop singer, but it is hard not to get into it. Most of us can relate to having similar angry fantasies about the people who hurt our friends.
32. Dangerous Woman – Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande has come a long way since her days on Sam & Cat. She made certain the world knew it, too, when she released Dangerous Woman. The song established Grande as a confident adult woman who knew exactly what she was doing. It makes you feel the same way when you sing along.
33. Dark Horse – Katy Perry
Katy Perry’s song, Dark Horse, makes you feel like a vengeful goddess—literally, in some cases, since the early verses explicitly mention Aphrodite, the Greek goddess with a famously bad temper. The song promises someone a great love that might also be destructive. It’s a good thing, but it also sounds a little bit scary.
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.