Whoever coined the expression 'Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me' clearly wasn't the subject of any of these songs...
Hooker With A Penis
When Tool released their debut EP, Opiate, in 1992 there were one or two purists who considered the fact that they had signed a deal with a label to release music, rather than continue to simply gig around Los Angeles, made them sell outs. One of those fans had the bravery to approach singer Maynard James Keenan – a man not renowned for taking things lying down – and voicing his concerns. Keenan then spends four minutes and 33 seconds on Hooker With A Penis, the seventh song from second album Aenima, telling him exactly why he can go fuck himself. ‘All you know about me is what I’ve sold you, dumb fuck’ sings Keenan, viciously. ‘You can point that fucking finger up your ass,’ he continues, warming to his theme, before wrapping things up with a last swipe: ‘Buy my new record, send more money. Fuck you, buddy.’
I Hope You’re Happy Now
Elvis Costello was hardly a stranger to the angry kiss-off song, but on 1986’s I Hope You’re Happy Now, he sends an ex-lover on her way with the most scabrous of put-downs. The most delightedly brutal attack comes in the third verse as Costello informs his ex that all their friends are laughing about the new man’s “pork sword”. It is the most withering put down, but it comes in a song full of them: elsewhere Costello informs his ex that never loved her anyway. Amidst this searing attack, Costello does take a minute to consider his former partner’s feelings – then gleefully realises that all this ‘will hurt you more than it hurts me’. Ouch.
Bob Dylan has never quite got his head around the fact that Blood On The Tracks, his landmark 1975 record about unbearable tension in his marriage to Sara Dylan, gives so many people such enjoyment. A sometimes bitter, sometimes angry, often heartbreaking piece of work, it is a beautiful depiction of a terrible thing – the end of an affair. One of its angriest moments comes four songs in. ‘Idiot wind,’ sings Dylan, ‘blowing every time you move your mouth … You’re an idiot babe, it’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe.’ He has never confirmed that the song was about Sara, but the couple’s son Jakob says it was about his parents talking and, if so, represents one of the most brutal lyrical ‘Fuck You’s of all time. When you’re saying your wife is so stupid she doesn’t know how to draw breath, the relationship doesn’t seem destined to last.
A funny kind of fuck you: this is the angry howling of a bullied kid telling his tormentors that, when he grows up, he is going to be a big star. Ostensibly about a piece of US legislation that forbade schoolchildren from bringing food into school in a metal lunchbox, lest the lunchbox be used as a weapon, it is actually a more personal piece of writing from Marilyn Manson. In it, he sings of being bullied and not caring because he’s both armed with his lunchbox and will soon go on to become ‘a big rock ‘n’ roll star’ who no-one will be able to fuck with. It was a song written on Manson’s debut album, Portrait Of An American Family – released almost exactly 20 years ago – and, unlike most of the empty fuck yous delivered by bullied kids, has the deeply satisfying hallmark of having turned out to be completely true. Within two years he was the Antichrist Superstar, and a household name across the world.
I Didn’t Like You Anyway
The Donnas have always been somewhat underrated, but their joyously adolescent rock ‘n’ roll deserved more of an audience, not least because they can deliver an unbeatable put down to an ex-boyfriend. On third album, Get Skintight, they list every single thing that is wrong with an old flame: mostly that he is boring and stupid. But it’s the way they do it: ‘I ask your name, you don’t even know,’ they sing. ‘You thought I would be broken-hearted, maybe I would if you weren’t so retarded’. And then there’s the most brutal of all: ‘I’m not sad, I don’t even care.’ Oof.
You’re Breaking My Heart
Sometimes it’s worth just laying your cards on the table and having done with it. Which is precisely what Harry Nilsson, John Lennon’s former drinking buddy, did on his 1972 Nilsson Schmilsson album. Expected to write a record that would cement the success of his 1971 debut, Nilsson went off in his own more unconventional direction – one result of which was the bouncy You’re Breaking My Heart. Its jaunty piano and skipping beat give little clue as to the lyrics the chirpy melody delivers: ‘You’re breaking my heart, you’re tearing it apart,’ he sings reasonably enough, before adding: ‘So fuck you’. Brutal.