Cheerful hostile music!
August 19, 2017 10:28 AM   Subscribe

I've found my perfect work music: songs that are cheerful, melodic, and upbeat but with aggressive, hostile lyrics. Help me make a playlist so I can crush my job.

This works particularly well if the lyrics describe delusional self-confidence, hateful aggression, or revenge - but the song doesn't sound angry, it sounds happy. This combination gets me in just the right mood for working.

They Might Be Giants seem to be particularly good at this:

When Will You Die?

Can't Keep Johnny Down

I'm Impressed

The Cap'm

Some other examples:

All American Rejects - Gives You Hell

Lily Allen - Smile
posted by medusa to Media & Arts (66 answers total) 69 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ah, I love the TMBG and All-American Rejects examples. Here's a list I made that has a lot that might work for you.
posted by limeonaire at 10:37 AM on August 19, 2017


I'm not sure this is exactly it, but a lot of Elliott Smith songs have that "catchy tune but actual about terrible things" quality. Baby Britain and Pictures of Me are good examples.
posted by Woodroar at 10:38 AM on August 19, 2017 [2 favorites]




Speaking of Lily Allen - Fuck You
posted by olinerd at 10:49 AM on August 19, 2017 [4 favorites]


Stone Roses 1st album has some of this.
posted by rhizome at 10:52 AM on August 19, 2017


"Foreign Object," The Mountain Goats (I personally will stab you in the eye with a foreign object)
"Everyone I Know, " Lightning Love (I've gotta say...all your interesting goals are pretty lame)
"No Hay Perdon," Go Betty Go
and, of course, "Fuck You," Cee Lo Green

A little less on point (i.e. less directly hostile), but still great songs:
"One Great City," The Weakerthans
"I Want the World to Stop," Belle and Sebastian
"Think I Wanna Die," Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin
posted by staraling at 10:52 AM on August 19, 2017 [2 favorites]


I immediately thought of Reel Big Fish: Everyone Else Is An Asshole, I Know You Too Well To Like You Anymore, Another F.U. Song...they have so many!
posted by poppunkcat at 10:57 AM on August 19, 2017 [3 favorites]


Scissor Sisters: I Can't Decide (Whether You Should Live or Die)
posted by tzikeh at 10:58 AM on August 19, 2017 [3 favorites]


Die Antwoord
posted by SaltySalticid at 10:59 AM on August 19, 2017


The Mountain Goats: No Children
posted by tzikeh at 11:01 AM on August 19, 2017 [6 favorites]


The Bold Maurauder Ian and Sylvia
These Boots Are Made for Walkin' Nancy Sinatra with an amazing video
Country Life Show of Hands
War on the Workers Anne Feeney
You're So Vain Carly Simon
I should stop now.
posted by Botanizer at 11:02 AM on August 19, 2017




If country is an option: Pray For You. Give it a chance, it's so much fun.

🎶 I pray your birthday comes and nobody calls...🎶
posted by Night_owl at 11:22 AM on August 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


Oh man. Also, I'm a barista, so Julian Moon's A Cup of Coffee is pretty great. It has the sound you're looking for but it might not be quite aggressive enough.
posted by Night_owl at 11:24 AM on August 19, 2017 [2 favorites]


Practically every early Elvis Costello song fits your requirements.
posted by bricoleur at 11:34 AM on August 19, 2017 [6 favorites]


Green Day also does this pretty well: Ha Ha You're Dead
posted by capricorn at 11:35 AM on August 19, 2017


The Beautiful South are good at this, even though the lyrics are generally sarcastic rather than aggressive.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:35 AM on August 19, 2017 [5 favorites]


Yes, this is a Mountain Goats wheelhouse. Also Dance Music and this live version of Old College Try (the album version is more lugubrious).

Jane's Addiction, Been Caught Stealing

Tom Petty's cover of Feel a Whole Lot Better

Living Colour, Glamour Boys

The Clash's cover of I Fought The Law (And the Law Won)
posted by praemunire at 11:38 AM on August 19, 2017 [2 favorites]


Wild Light - California On My Mind
posted by dilaudid at 11:50 AM on August 19, 2017


How about some Housemartins? Similar to the Beautiful South because Paul Heaton, but younger, more upbeat, and often angrier.

Me and the Farmer

The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death

Five Get Overexcited

Anxious

And lots more.

I don't know if this is sufficiently upbeat, and don't overuse it because it is MY theme song, but Seerauber Jenny is pretty bitter and angry. Nina Simone's version is slower, more ominous, and in English.
posted by ernielundquist at 12:02 PM on August 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


The Dandy Warhols are all you need.

Queens of the Stone Age can also be pretty cheerful and disparaging, if their style is up you alley.
posted by benadryl at 12:07 PM on August 19, 2017


I'll be Watching You by The Police
posted by flourpot at 12:09 PM on August 19, 2017


Hasa Diga Eebowai from The Book of Mormon. (100% not safe for the office without headphones.)
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 12:10 PM on August 19, 2017 [3 favorites]


The Plank by Devil Makes Three.
posted by BrashTech at 12:17 PM on August 19, 2017


I think that Don't Think Twice, It's All Right is one of the meanest songs ever written. The melody is sweet, gentle, and upbeat, which makes the song all the nastier.
posted by Stonkle at 12:18 PM on August 19, 2017 [8 favorites]




Glorious Pop Song by Skunk Anansie.
posted by Paragon at 12:39 PM on August 19, 2017


The Beatles, Maxwell's Silver Hammer

Sara Bareilles, King of Anything
posted by Flannery Culp at 12:48 PM on August 19, 2017 [3 favorites]


Wow, so many suggestions - thanks. This will be fun to go through.
posted by medusa at 1:40 PM on August 19, 2017


This pretty much describes every song written by The Stone Roses.I Am The Resurrection in particular might fit the bill.
posted by arha at 1:54 PM on August 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


Super Furry Animals' "The Man Don't Give a Fuck."
posted by vickyverky at 1:55 PM on August 19, 2017 [2 favorites]




I find Harry Nilsson's You're Breaking My Heart both cheerful and hostile. ("You're breaking my heart, you're tearing it apart, so fuck you.")
posted by theatro at 2:16 PM on August 19, 2017 [2 favorites]


The Decemberists, The Mariner's Revenge Song

Find him, find him
Tie him to a pole and break
His fingers to splinters
Drag him to a hole until he
Wakes up naked
Clawing at the ceiling
Of his grave

posted by tybstar at 2:39 PM on August 19, 2017


Get Set Go: I Hate Everyone

The YouTube link is to the lyric video so you can appreciate the misanthropy embedded in the cheerful pop tune.

Always makes me smile
posted by Faintdreams at 3:28 PM on August 19, 2017


Icona Pop--(I Don't Care) I Love It

I got this feeling on the summer day when you were gone
I crashed my car into the bridge, I watched, I let it burn
I threw your shit into a bag and pushed it down the stairs
I crashed my car into the bridge

I don't care, I love it, I don't care

posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:42 PM on August 19, 2017 [2 favorites]


Andrew Jackson Jihad is great and upbeat sounding, with very clear and dark lyrical content. Worth a listen!
posted by Mr.Krotpong at 4:08 PM on August 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


I Hate Everyone - by Get Set Go
No Children - Mountain Goats
posted by carlypennylane at 4:27 PM on August 19, 2017


Semi Charmed Life by Third Eye Blind. Upbeat song about meth.

And a bit darker, but this always makes me oddly cheerful: I Miss the Misery by Halestorm.
posted by Sweet Dee Kat at 4:38 PM on August 19, 2017


"Everything About You" -- Ugly Kid Joe
"Good Luck" -- Basement Jaxx
"You Jerk" -- Kim Stockwood
"You Oughta Know" -- Alanis Morrisette
"God Will" -- Holly Cole Trio
"Ev'rything I've Got" -- Holly Cole Trio (that specific cover doesn't seem to be available on YouTube, but here's Ella Fitzgerald's recording of it)
posted by orange swan at 4:43 PM on August 19, 2017


I think most of the Decemberists' songs fit this bill.

Maybe also "Song for the Dumped" by Ben Folds Five?
posted by Illuminated Clocks at 4:50 PM on August 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


Apartheid-era South African protest songs with lyrics in the indigenous languages.
posted by brujita at 5:12 PM on August 19, 2017


Magnetic Fields is another band that has several in this genre. Off the top of my head:

Life Ain't All Bad
The Desperate Things You Made Me Do
California Girls
posted by grapesaresour at 5:13 PM on August 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


Kings of Leon Joe's Head
Ryan Adams Halloween Head
Barenaked Ladies Straw Hat and Old Dirty Hank
Foster the People Pumped Up Kicks
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:24 PM on August 19, 2017


Joan Jett Dirty Deeds
The Sweet Ballroom Blitz
Sublime Santeria
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:55 PM on August 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


Carrie Underwood Before He Cheats
Cell Block Tango from the movie Chicago
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 6:19 PM on August 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


Pink's Fuckin' Perfect is pretty good for this sort of thing.
posted by lollusc at 6:31 PM on August 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


Jonathan Coulton is good for this. Nemeses, Someone is Crazy, Madelaine, Not About You are a few that have that particular combo of energy.

Dixie Chicks' Goodbye Earl is another biggie.
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:38 PM on August 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


First thing that comes to my mind when you mention TMBG is Oingo Boingo. *Many* of their songs are bright and happy sounding until you actually listen closely.
posted by zengargoyle at 6:53 PM on August 19, 2017


I used to like listening to Take This Job And Shove It on headphones at my old job.
posted by cardinalandcrow at 7:26 PM on August 19, 2017


I think I'm going to kill myself, Elton John
posted by she's not there at 11:32 PM on August 19, 2017


Radical Face - Wrapped in Piano Strings
posted by cnc at 12:03 PM on August 20, 2017


I have several on these on a playlist of '90s women-fronted bands

No Doubt - Just a Girl
Republica - Drop Dead Gorgeous
Hole - Celebrity Skin
posted by radioamy at 12:14 PM on August 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


The Wedding Present - Why Are You Being So Reasonable Now?
posted by Perodicticus potto at 1:50 PM on August 20, 2017


Possibly the apogee of this is Andy Rehfeldt's Radio Disney covers of metal songs. They are very fun, melodic with truly horrific lyrics. E.g. Slayer - Angel of Death. Here is a playlist of them.
posted by Erberus at 3:32 PM on August 20, 2017


Another one by Barenaked Ladies - "Hello City"
posted by BeBoth at 4:17 PM on August 20, 2017


"Here's to Us" by Halestorm!
posted by Ostara at 5:10 PM on August 20, 2017


Ween does this sometimes. Here are a few (warning: misogyny and/or homophobia):
Baby Bitch
Piss Up a Rope
Mister Richard Smoker
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:02 AM on August 21, 2017


Here is a semi-related question I asked recently with some great answers.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 5:48 AM on August 21, 2017


Ashley Tisdale - Delete You
Cee Lo Green - F*ck You
ZZ Ward - 365 Days
Christina Perri - Bang Bang Bang
VV Brown - game over
posted by Blue Genie at 8:05 PM on August 21, 2017


How Long - Ace
Starry Eyes - The Records
Womanizer - Britney Spears
posted by SisterHavana at 10:36 PM on August 21, 2017


Goodby Earl by the Dixie Chicks.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 2:33 PM on August 22, 2017


Oh, also Don't Come Around Here No More by Tom Petty.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 2:35 PM on August 22, 2017


Do check out the Buzzcocks' Singles Going Steady.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 11:20 AM on August 25, 2017


If I understand your requested tone, have you ever heard "You are Boring the Shit Out of Me"?
posted by WCityMike at 1:44 PM on August 25, 2017


Lis Harvey, "Okaay"

And I think you could probably find plenty of options by mining the work of Garfunkel and Oates, but you might start with "Pregnant Women Are Smug".
posted by Stacey at 2:35 PM on August 25, 2017


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