The most savage breakup songs ever written

In honour of Shakira’s viral collaboration with DJ Bizarrap, here are all the other times exes had to run for cover

Say it with us: don’t break up with people who write songs. When Shakira jumped into the studio with Bizarrap recently, her split from former Barcelona footballer Gerard Piqué provided her with a lot of inspiration. With barbs such as: “Lots of time at the gym, but your brain needs a little work too,” Shakira made it clear that she wasn’t holding back. “I’m worth two of 22,” she sang elsewhere on the Spanish language track. “You traded a Ferrari for a Twingo/You traded a Rolex for a Casio.” Ouch.

SHAKIRA || BZRP Music Sessions #53

In honour of the viral moment (the video currently has 150 million views and counting), we’ve compiled a list of equally scathing songs about exes. Here are the most savage breakup songs ever released to the general public. We can only imagine the ones that were too harsh to put out…

‘thank u, next’ – Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande - thank u, next (Official Video)

Grande may be expressing gratitude for her past relationships here, but that doesn’t stop her from casually dropping the names of all her exes. The music video, in which she writes about notes about each man in the margin of her own Burn Book, is even more revealing.

Most scathing lyric: “Wrote some songs about Ricky/Now I listen and laugh”

‘You’re So Vain’ – Carly Simon

Carly Simon - You're So Vain

Simon has the subject of this track all figured out. She describes his typical entrance into a party in scornful detail, before delivering the song’s mind-bending central lyric: “You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you.” The real genius of ‘You’re So Vain’ is that most of the song sees Simon simply listing things the man in question has done or might do – betting on horses, flying his jet – without even passing judgement, and yet we all know how we feel about him when the track is over.

Most scathing lyric: “You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you”

‘You Should Be Sad’ – Halsey

Halsey - You should be sad

Halsey’s country pop ballad is so casually pitying of her ex it hurts. “You’re not half the man you think that you are,” she tells him over a track so cheerful you could line dance to it. Halsey makes it clear that whilst she’s celebrating her newfound freedom, he should be crying his eyes out over losing her.

Most scathing lyric: “I’m so glad I never ever had a baby with you/Cos you can’t love nothing unless there’s something in it for you”

‘Sorry’ – Beyoncé

Beyoncé - Sorry (Video)

Cheat on Beyoncé at your own risk. 2015’s Lemonade was a complete annihilation of an unfaithful husband, but no track on the album hit the ‘cheaters never win’ beats quite as hard as ‘Sorry’. Beyoncé makes it clear that she’s going to have a good life with or without a man in it, and that if her husband gets lonely while she’s figuring things out he can call “Becky with the good hair”. ‘Becky’ is now something of a mythological figure in pop culture lore.

Most scathing lyric: “Middle fingers up, put them hands high/Wave it in his face, tell him, boy, bye”

‘Picture To Burn’ – Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift - Picture To Burn

Taylor Swift has written a far few break-up songs in her day, but this track by a then teenaged Swift from her self-titled debut remains one of her most brutal. ‘Picture To Burn’ is pure anger – after being cheated on, Swift lashes out, threatens revenge, and calls the boy in question a ‘redneck’. “As far as I’m concerned, you’re just another picture to burn,” she tells him over a twangy guitar riff.

Most scathing lyric: “There’s nothing stopping me from going out with all of your best friends”

‘Cry Me A River’ – Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake - Cry Me A River (Official Video)

Timberlake tells his unfaithful ex-girlfriend to “cry me a river” so many times in this high energy track that it starts to sound like a taunt. Dramatic – and at times random – production backs him up as he details exactly where it all fell apart and lets his ex know that there’s no use calling him up for sympathy. If she thinks that’ll melt his heart, she’s got him “confused with some other guy”.

Most scathing lyric: “The bridges were burned, now it’s your turn to cry/So cry me a river”

‘Shout Out To My Ex’ – Little Mix

Little Mix - Shout Out to My Ex (Official Video)

Little Mix are grateful for the past relationships that have informed the women they are today, but that doesn’t mean that anyone in this 2016 track is getting off lightly. Little Mix’s exes were insensitive, often mean, disloyal and not particularly great in bed, but the group assures us that, in the end, it’s all okay. They were just a stepping stone to better things.

Most scathing lyric: “I hope she gettin’ better sex/Hope she ain’t fakin’ it like I did, babe/Took four long years to call it quits/Forget that boy, I’m over it”

‘Josh’ – Peach PRC

Peach PRC - Josh (Official Video)

“He’s gonna kill me,” giggles Peach in the intro to ‘Josh’. “I said I’d change it to John. F*ck it,” she adds. Her misgivings (and Josh’s) are understandable. There’s hardly a lyric in ‘Josh’ that wouldn’t have the subject on a frantic hunt for ice – according to Peach, he’s a failed entrepreneur wearing clothes purchased by his mum who never paid back the rent he borrowed from her. The picture’s so bad that it almost comes back to bite her – what on earth did she ever see in him?

Most scathing lyric: “I thought you were blocked/F*ck off, stop calling me Josh”

‘So What?’ – P!nk

P!nk - So What (Official Video)

P!nk is ready to start a fight in this explosive track from 2008’s Funhouse. Fresh off a break-up, she’s out looking for trouble, ready to remind herself that she has more fun on her own. “What if this song’s on the radio? Then somebody’s gonna die,” she giggles. No one does an ‘I don’t give a f*ck’ song quite like P!nk. She truly doesn’t.

Most scathing lyric: “I guess I just lost my husband/I don’t know where he went/So I’m gonna drink my money/I’m not gonna pay his rent”

‘I Bet You Think About Me’ – Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift ft. Chris Stapleton - I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor's Version) (Officia...

This ‘From The Vault’ track off of Swift’s re-recorded Red album goes out to all superior men, but the details are too specific for her not to have one particular muse in mind. The man in question is older than her, born into privilege and used to having control of the room. But Swift knows that despite everything he says, he still thinks about her – “in your house with your organic shoes and your million dollar couch” – and wishes she’d stuck around.

Most scathing lyric: “I don’t have to be your shrink to know that you’ll never be happy”

‘Before He Cheats’ – Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood - Before He Cheats (Official Video)

Underwood entertains herself thinking about all the things her cheating ex-boyfriend might be doing at that present moment. “Right now, he’s probably up behind her with a pool-stick/Showin’ her how to shoot a combo,” she smirks. What’s Underwood doing? She’s wrecking his car, naturally.

Most scathing lyric: “The next time that he cheats, oh, you know it won’t be on me”

‘Take A Bow’ – Rihanna

Rihanna - Take A Bow

This R&B read from Rihanna guts her ex-boyfriend with serene calm. He stands on her lawn begging for her forgiveness, whilst she watches from the front door, entertained, and tells him he looks ugly when he cries. The scene is only funny for so long however, and she tells him he better get going. She’s about ready to switch the sprinklers on.

Most scathing lyric: “Talkin’ ‘bout, “Girl, I love you, you’re the one”/This just looks like a re-run, please/What else is on?”

‘Truth Hurts’ – Lizzo

Lizzo - Truth Hurts (Official Video)

Lizzo’s ‘Truth Hurts’ became a sleeper hit in 2019, two years after its original release. Her sharp lyrics and sharper delivery made her an instant hit with scorned women seeking the moved-on mindset – when it comes to cheerful independence, Lizzo is a shining example. “Truth hurts, needed something more exciting,” she trills on this track, named by Rolling Stone as the 24th best song of the decade.

Most scathing lyric: “So you can tell your friends: Shoot your shot/When you see ‘em/It’s okay, he already in my DMs”

‘Gives You Hell’ – The All-American Rejects

The All-American Rejects - Gives You Hell (Official Music Video)

One of the most brutal break-up songs of all time, The All-American Rejects’ ‘Gives You Hell’ wishes suffering and dissatisfaction on their ex forever. They take aim at her 9-5 job, the dreams she hasn’t yet achieved, and any and all future relationships. “And truth be told I miss you, and truth be told I’m lying,” grins lead singer Tyson Ritter. There’s no indication of what the woman in question did to inspire ‘Gives You Hell’, but let’s hope it was bad enough to deserve this kind of takedown.

Most scathing lyric: “If you find a man that’s worth a damn, and treats you well/Then he’s a fool”

‘Irreplaceable’ – Beyoncé

Beyoncé - Irreplaceable

“You must not know about me,” Beyoncé tells her ex as she kicks him out of the house. “I could have another you in a minute.” She adds: “Matter fact he’ll be here in a minute.” Bey couldn’t be less bothered when she realises her boyfriend is cheating on her, because she can always find another one. In the meantime, it’s time for this guy to put his stuff in a box and walk away.

Most scathing lyric: “I won’t lose a wink of sleep/’Cause the truth of the matter is replacing you is so easy”

‘You Oughta Know’ – Alanis Morrissette

Alanis Morissette - You Oughta Know (Official 4K Music Video)

Only Alanis can make “I’m sure she’d make a really excellent mother” sound like an insult. Angry and betrayed, she reminds her ex that she isn’t going to disappear quietly from his life just because he’s decided that their relationship was a “joke”. She wants to make sure he remembers what he made her feel.

Most scathing lyric: “And every time I scratch my nails down someone else’s back I hope you feel it”

‘Happier Than Ever’ – Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish - Happier Than Ever (Official Music Video)

What starts as a gentle, wistful ukulele track builds up to a big rock finish, as Eilish screams at her ex: “Just f*cking leave me alone!” She gets the best of both worlds in this track, which is both an impossibly cool, indifferent examination of their failed relationship and a cathartic yelling match. In neither half does her ex come off well.

Most scathing lyric: “When I’m away from you/I’m happier than ever”

‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’ – Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift - We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together

Swift’s most joyful breakup song also happens to be one of her most scathing, complete with one of her much-loved spoken bridges. “So he calls me up and he’s like, ‘I still love you’”, she complains, as if down the phone. “And I’m like, I just, I mean this is exhausting, you know? Like, we are never getting back together. Like ever.”

Most scathing lyrics: “I’m really gonna miss you picking fights/And me falling for it, screaming that I’m right/And you would hide away and find your peace of mind/With some indie record that’s much cooler than mine”