Have you ever heard a song and instantly fell in love with... but realized that you had no idea what it was even about? That definitely happens to the best of us. Some songs are so addictive, whether because of their catchy beat or lyrics, that you don't even really process its message at first. You're so totally and completely entranced by the beat or melody that you zone out every time you hear it. The only things that you hear are the catchy lyrics and the track. It isn't until you really dissect them that you say, "Oh, this is what they meant? Yuck!" It can be a bit of a disappointing experience, but hey, it happens. The songs on this list are songs that we once loved but realized were actually jerk anthems in disguise. Underneath the catchy beats, they reek of faux feminism, sexism, and misogyny, to name a few. Here are 15 songs that are actually jerk anthems.
15 Better Than Revenge: Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift may be a proud feminist now, after a bit of a rocky start with the concept. But her music hasn't always reflected those values. There was a time, early in her career, when some of her lyrics actually had some shaming in them. Taylor's song, "Better Than Revenge," takes a major jab at a girl, rumored to be actress Camille Belle, who she believes stole her boyfriend. Taylor sings, “She’s an actress/But she’s better known for the things that she does on the mattress." Really?! These lyrics are gross for a few different reasons, but mostly because they reduce women to desirable objects and say that women should be ashamed of their private life when men get totally applauded for that. It's a pretty awful double standard to promote, especially coming from a woman herself. To be fair, however, Taylor Swift was only 17 when she put out this song, so we'll chalk it up to immaturity. But still... pretty cringeworthy.
14 Whatever You Like: T.I
On the surface, T.I's 2009 hit, "Whatever You Like" is a cute little song about spoiling the woman in his life with whatever she likes. No strings attached, right? Totally wrong. In the chorus, the Atlanta rapper raps, "You can have whatever you like," But come on, gifts never come without strings attached, so this woman that he's referring to basically has to satisfy his every need in bed... or whatever else he requires of her. It's super destructive thinking. Relationships should never feel like a business transaction, so, you know, no thanks. And another great reason why we should never rely on a man for all of your financial needs. Those gifts, vacations, and everything nice thing that he does will always come with the hefty price tag of compliance, silence, and anything else that the man deems fit. When you have your own, you get to call the shots, not anyone else.
13 No Mediocre: T.I
There is nothing wrong with having standards for a partner... and there is nothing wrong with singing about those standards in a song, either. Shallow, maybe, but not wrong. But there is a difference between stating your desires and packaging them in a super misogynist song with lyrics that could have been written by an eighth grader. The latter is a perfect description of T.I's No Mediocre. The entire song is about how T.I only deals with "Bad B's," which by his definition are women with pretty faces, large behinds and other traits that can't exactly be mentioned here. He raps so fast in the chorus that, if you do not listen closely, you will completely miss the key points of the song, which sucks because it is such a great dance song. The song features female rapper Iggy Azalea, but if you thought her verse was any better, you'd be sadly mistaken.
12 What Do You Mean: Justin Bieber
No means no. In all contexts, under every circumstance. If a girl (or anyone else for that matter) turns down your advances, then you should accept it and move on. But an argument can be made for Justin Bieber's song, "What Do You Mean?" perpetuating the flawed thinking that girls aren’t capable of getting across what they actually mean. It also sends the message that men know our minds better than we do. Some people have argued that the song is about a girl who gives Justin mixed signals, which is a legitimate takeaway from “What do you mean? / When you nod your head yes. But you wanna say no / What do you mean?” But, as Refinery 29 pointed out, the line "Wanna argue all day, making love all night" adds sensual undertones to the song. With that knowledge, it’s dangerous to propose that a girl needs to be coerced into making a decision under those circumstances.
11 It Wasn’t Me: Shaggy
The only thing worse than a cheater is a lying cheater. Worse than that? A lying cheater who brags about being a dirty cheater in a hit song. If you were a teen in the early 2000’s, you probably danced to “It Wasn’t Me.” It was super popular and trendy, so it would have been pretty impossible not to have heard this song or even liked it. The reggae track is addictive and catchy but its downfall is that it promotes the cheater lifestyle. As Shaggy so eloquently put it, his girlfriend caught him red handed, with some chick from next door, yet, instead of admitting his wrongdoing, he vehemently denies it. Like, at that point, the relationship was probably over already, but he could at least respect her enough to tell her the truth. The worst part is that the song is so addicting, that you don’t even really care about his bad deeds, even though they’re totally awful.
10 How About Now: Drake
Drake is known for wearing his feelings on his sleeve. He’s open and honest about his emotions and it's actually kind of refreshing. Most rappers have tough images to maintain, so they usually come across as pretty disconnected from their feelings. We love Drake so we overlook some of his really iffy lyrics. Like it or not, though, under that winning smile and emotional baggage is a certified jerk. You know that whole “don’t kick a person when they’re down?” rule. Yeah, Drake didn't get the memo. "How Bout Now "is all about the fact that he’s a successful celebrity and a girl that didn't treat him right is down in the dumps: "Yeah, you ain't really (expletive) with me way back then, girl, how 'bout now/ 'Cause I'm up right now ('cause I'm up right now /And you suck right now (and you suck right now.)" He’s totally gloating and it's not pretty, to say the least.
9 Hotline Bling: Drake
Yeah, we know that this is the song that had everyone dancing and inspired more memes than we ever could have hoped for. But again, Drake’s persona had everyone fooled. "Hotline Bling" is actually a shaming anthem. It highlights Drakes obsession with good girls (as in girls who only do certain things for him) and his need to control their every move. He complains that she has the audacity to have a life that doesn’t involve him. He raps, “Ever since I left the city you/Started wearing less and going out more." Um, no, that's not any of your business. You don’t get to police where she goes or what she wears (or doesn’t wear) for that matter. She’s her own person and doesn’t have to subscribe to your ideal version of a woman. But the craziest part is that he expected her to sit around and wait for him while he was gone. Like, really? She can’t have you around, but she also can’t have anyone else? We can see why she didn’t wait around.
8 Golddigger: Kanye West
Is anyone really surprised that Kanye West made the list? Probably not, right? Kanye West is a known for being a jerk, so it’s no surprise that this is pretty evident in his music as well. The fact that he made an incredibly popular song about gold diggers is about as Kanye West as you can get. Look, gold diggers totally exist, and totally suck, too. People who marry for money instead of love definitely have questionable morals. It’s never right to use peoples in any way shape or form. What isn’t right is the fact that women get all of the blame. Men can be gold diggers, but in society, gold diggers are usually thought to be women, so it’s not really fair if you think about it. It would be okay if Kanye West was referencing ALL gold diggers but he’s only singling out women. In the chorus, he literally says "I ain’t saying SHE’s a golddigger. " Why, though?
7 Blurred Lines: Robin Thicke
You remember "Blurred Lines", right? How could you not? It was the biggest song of 2013 and chances are you probably couldn't help but dance every time it came on the radio or your streaming service. It was so popular, it even revived Robin Thicke’s dying singing career. Unfortunately, because we can't have nice things it seems, the dissected lyrics reveal that it is a major hub for misogyny. That isn't all, though. It also promotes rape culture. Those "Blurred Lines" that Mr. Thick sings about are cleverly worded ways of saying that even when a woman says no, he might be able to coerce her into getting in bed. This is reinforced during the chorus when he sings "I know you want it." Seriously, did she tell you? Because you seem to be doing a lot of assuming, Robin. Even worse than the song? The video. It shows women as nothing but objects for men, who are parading around in suits while the women wear little to nothing.
6 Daughters: John Mayer
When you first hear the song "Daughters," you usually think it’s a sweet and sentimental song. It’s one of those songs that totally catches you off guard at first. John is telling men and women to be good to their daughters because that’s what you're supposed to do, but he quickly takes the tune to a totally gender roles level. He sings, “Girls become lovers who turn into mothers" and that totally reduces women to incubators for his future children. Yeah, women need to keep having children to ensure the future of mankind. But only those who want to. Also, we have agency beyond motherhood and it’s not right to reduce us to the just that. Not only that, but he advocates for fathers to be good to their daughters, not because he cares. No, but for the men in the future who will have to deal with her. Selfish much? This all coming from a guy who has no kids, which is either good or bad depending on how you look at things.
5 Talk Dirty : Jason Derulo
"Talk Dirty" by Jason Derulo was one of the biggest songs of 2014, but also the most problematic when you stop and think about it. The entire song is about Jason fetishizing foreign women who don’t speak English. Um, yes. Really. We can't believe we're saying those words, either. He doesn’t have time to get to know them and he doesn’t care at all about the fact that he can’t understand them. All he wants is their body. He sings, “Been around the world, don't speak their language, But your booty doesn't need explaining, All I really need to understand is when you will talk dirty to me." Which, is ironic since the song is titled Talk Dirty to Me. A more accurate title would be “Do Dirty,” as in do dirty things to him, but be quiet. It’s not even one of those songs where you can get lost in the beat, it’s just flat out gross.
4 I Hit It First: Ray J
The title of the song literally says it all. A great source of Ray J's pride is the fact that he was with Kim Kardashian before Kanye West. We're not sure what’s more pathetic: the fact that he released this song shortly after Kim and Kanye got married, or the fact that it had been almost a decade since they were together. Like, come on, can you move on like an adult? Either way, it’s totally disgusting to treat her like she’s some prize that the had first dibs to, whether you like her or not. Lots of guys, ordinary guys, share that same feeling that because they were with women, they somehow are connected to her for life. But considering that Ray K hadn’t had a successful hit in years, it makes sense that he would milk their alliance for attention. It just reeks of desperation. And, you know, disgust. That too.
3 Biggest Fan: Chris Brown
Aside from being just overly vulgar for no reason other than shock value, Chris Brown’s song “Biggest Fan” is some next level creep status because Chris dismisses a woman’s desires and only focuses on his own. Not to mention that this song has the lyrics "Girl, you better not change your mind. 'Cause girl, we got one night only." Sometimes, people do change their minds regardless of time constraints and it’s perfectly fine and should be respected. No means no, even after the act has been initiated so that line is borderline predatory if you think about it. His lyrics “I'm watchin', no is not an option, Girl, I'll be the captain, of the ship,” are completely predatory, no mistake about it. The worst part is that he equates this behavior, fawning over him, giving him complete to control to being a “fan.” Which means that he sees himself as superior.
2 Loyal: Chris Brown
Yup, a second Chris Brown tune made the list. I mean it is not the biggest surprise considering his reputation. In this song he is referring to women as h-words, promoting drug use, and bragging about taking “broke” men’s women, there isn’t much about Loyal from Chris Brown that isn’t problematic, which isn’t at all surprising considering whose song it is. "Loyal once again, praises men for being promiscuous but slams women for doing the exact same things. Talk about a double standard! It's also the fact that even though he’s spent a ton of money on her, she owes him to not cheat. Nothing about how no one deserves to be cheated on. Only that he doesn’t because he’s bankrolling her lifestyle. Nothing scarier than a controlling man with money. To be clear, cheaters suck, but it’s because they’re cheaters, not because they’re a woman who doesn't make as much money as you.
1 Rude: Magic
"Rude" by Magic seems like a super cute song where the man wants to marry the girl, but the father won’t allow it. So he says that he’s going to marry her anyway. It’s kind of sweet to think that no matter what, he’s going to pursue his one true love. But not really. We all thought that the process of our boyfriends asking for our hand in marriage... until we realize the origin of the practice comes from the antiquated notion that women are property. Until we’re married, we belong to our fathers. And once we are, our father’s possession is transferred to our husband. Doesn’t sound so sweet, now does it? Of course, it doesn’t. That’s why Rude, by Magic! Just doesn’t sound the same once we know what the song is actually about. We are nobody’s property, especially not any man’s. Though it’s nice to have family approval, in the end, the only thing that matters is our own opinions.