What Makes an Angry Song?
What makes a song sound angry is usually a combination of angry lyrics and angry sounding music and/or sound effects. By using low tones, organs, electric guitars, drums, effects, etc. – just about anything you can think of – can make a song sound musically angry. Add some angry lyrics to the mix and you have yourself an angry piece of music. The lyrical content will include angry words, angry phrases, or telling an angry story. Think about what has made you very angry in the past. I bet right now you could fill an entire piece of paper based off of those feelings. It’s one of the keys to writing good material. Sometimes angry lyrics come out easier than happy lyrics – it all depends on when you choose to write about it. For example, if you are really mad, and you wait until the next day or next week to jot down your thoughts, chances are the song lyrics will not be as emotional as they would have been if you would have penned them around the same time you felt that angry energy. The words are put together in such a way where it makes the listener feel the anger coming from the lyrics when they hear the song. As we know, songs can change your mood, see Tuning into Emotions Blog. All types of emotional songs have that power.
Let’s go over a few songs of anger from our Tap into Your Emotions blog.
You Ought to Know by Alanis Morrissette
This hit song is about a relationship that went bad… and how he’s now with another woman. She tells her story in no uncertain terms of how she feels and you can hear that she is angry.
Let’s check out a few lines of a verse:
'Cause the love that you gave that we made
Wasn't able to make it enough for you
to be open wide, no
And every time you speak her name
does she know how you told me
You'd hold me until you died
'Til you died, but you're still alive
Alanis Morissette is saying, with anger, “you said you loved me and I loved you… but it wasn’t enough for you”. “Does she know that you told me you would love me until you die?” “Now you don’t love me, but you’re still alive”. She’s so mad she’s questioning why he’s still even alive. That’s how strong the love was for her that was not reciprocated. She writes all of that, but does so in a short, rhyming pattern, with emotion. A lot of emotion. I cannot stress how important presenting something as emotional is to the writer and listener.
Let’s look at the chorus:
And I'm here, to remind you
Of the mess you left when you went away
It's not fair, to deny me
Of the cross I bear that you gave to me
You, you, you oughta know
She helps the listener feel the emotion she is trying to convey with the sound of the song and her lyrics. She lays out that it’s not fair and what he’s doing to her --she doesn’t appreciate – letting him know through the lyrics that she is angry. He left her a mess and he gave her a cross to bear. She’s saying what she wants to say about it and how she feels about it. That’s what songwriting is about. She’s not saying exactly what happened, but the listener knows enough from the lyrics that she is not happy about how the relationship ended.
Life Without Regrets by H. John Krueger and YourSongmaker
Listen to the full song and read the lyrics here
Let’s go over one of the songs YourSongmaker produced from the lyrics of one of our clients. This client is not an angry man, but that’s the cool thing about writing lyrics and songs. You can be anyone or anything you want to be. You can write from another person’s point of view or the point of view from a character in a book you read at some point in your life. Sometimes when you write, depending on how descriptive you are, it could mean a lot of different things to different people. I believe that’s the secret to good lyric writing.
Let’s take a look at the first verse:
I’m going to wash my hands of you
So that I have no feelings to forget
Erasing all my time with you
I'll have no sorrows and no regrets
I’m going to burn up all of your letters
Their smoke blownin’ away with wind
I’ve already replaced my sweaters
I will never smell your perfume again
He’s so angry that he’s “washing his hands of the relationship”. He wants to forget the feelings he had for her and forget the time he spent with her. He’s going to burn her letters and replace clothes that she purchased for him. He is angry.
Let’s look at the chorus:
Life without regrets is good as it gets
I will have none to carry around
To torture me or tear me down
These are some other angry verses of the song:
Your text message has been erased
Your emails are gone as well
Your pictures all have been replaced
Leaving behind no more stories to tell
Your messages have been deleted
My phone number has been changed
Your messages won't be repeated
And my schedule's been rearranged
Along with the angry lyrics of both of these songs, the music on one of them helps make it sound angry. You don’t always need angry sounding music to make an angry sounding song. If you listen to Life Without Regrets you can hear that the chords of this song don’t really sound “angry” or dissonant – with minor chords and such. They’re more neutral sounding. The producer, composer, and vocalist composed this song using the emotional inflections and tone of voice to let you know what he was angry about in the song. That’s what makes songwriting teams so great (lyricist and musicians). One can provide the emotional chords to create the angry feeling and the other can create the angry story or lyrics. Of course, a musician could do both, but there are a lot of famous songwriting teams through history who have one composer/musician and one lyricist. Bernie Taupin and Elton John probably being one of the most famous teams. So as you can see from this blog, lyric writing isn’t as difficult as you think. Just use your emotions.