There's a old Chinese saying: "Never f-ck with a musician's heart (especially if they're damn talented)." Okay, so obviously we wrote that little gem of wisdom, but we bet we'd have Confucius on our side if he'd heard some of the ways modern musicians have catapulted to fame, glory, and Top 40 charts by ripping apart their former flames, unsupportive parents, and frenemies. All's fair in love and war (we didn't write that), and, certainly, all's fair when it comes to repackaging your poor broken heart into a raging musical phenomenon. So let's get a list going of five amazing musical revenge stories, ranging from the cringe-inducing, to restraining order worthy.
1. Carly Simon, "You're So Vain"
So in a sea of spurned lovers, what is it that makes Simon's 1972 hit particularly biting? Perhaps it's her militant commitment to anonymity, particularly in a song. So, put yourself in the shoes of one of Simon's former flames. First, you cringe at your bad behavior, or smack yourself cause, hey baby, she's rich, famous, and definitely not yours anymore. On top of all that, you feel like an arrogant fool for being so presumptuous -- the song might not even be about you! Basically, instead of singling out the worst offender in her court of love, Simon killed an approximate baker's dozen of birds with this stony, snarky hit. You can bet every guy who ever slightly wronged Simon begged his doc for some Ambien* the year that this tune came out. And that, kids, is the best revenge.
2. L7, "Shitlist"
For those who thought the hard-rocking, tough chicks of the grunge band L7 are ones to forgive and forget, let this track dissuade you. Lead singer Donita Sparks howls the song in dedication to anyone and everyone who ever stood in their way. While it doesn't go into the gritty consequences of being on the girls' bad side, we'll just let you use your imagination. Enrage L7 at your own risk, dudes.
3. Patsy Cline, "Your Cheating Heart"
This song saves the threats, punches, and roundhouse kicks for the professional wrestlers. Instead, Patsy Cline takes her former flame's cheating heart to the mat. While clocking in at just under two-and-a-half minutes, Patsy sweetly warns her former lover that he's going to be afflicted with an endless streak of misery and insomnia, and will likely never find somebody to grow old with. How's that for word economy, amirite?
4. Bob Dylan, "Positively 4th Street"
When Dylan gave up the back-home folksy crooning he was known for in favor of rock 'n' roll, die-hard fans, as they are want to do, resisted the change. One ornery folk-lover went so far as to yell "Judas!" when, mid-concert, Dylan pulled out an electric guitar (to which he famously gave the cool reply "That's not true, you're a liar. Play it f*cking LOUD!"). But if you're going to play word games with this hemisphere's best poet, you've got to expect him to launch a vernacular missile right back. And that's exactly what Dylan did with this tune, an homage to the purportedly betrayed fans of a guy who ultimately couldn't really care less. (Or so he'd like us to think.)
5. Tupac Shakur, "Hit 'Em Up"
If you really want to talk revenge, look no further than the most bitter rap feud pretty much ever. But don't, actually, if you've got sensitive ears. Tupac verbally kicks Biggie to the floor and then stomps around on top of him for a while. Dude doesn't hold back, particularly about an alleged affair with Biggie's wife. Damn. Bob Marley clearly didn't see Tupac comin' when he said of music "when it hits, you feel no pain."
So, there you have it. Five textbook cases of the consequences of crossing a musician. And, unlike the jerks who wronged these artists, you can enjoy these tracks sans acid reflux.
*[Ed. Note: Laugh, and then be aware Zolpidem was first released in the 90s, according to the ever-reliable Wikipedia.]