Every Artist Has a Song They Regret, From REM to Lennon

Some artists hate their songs because they grew tired of them. Just ask Oasis, who got sick of being referred to as “the Wonderwall brothers,” or James Blunt, who had enough of being called “the beautiful guy.” But other artists cringe at their songs because their lyrics came back to haunt them.

Frank Sinatra having coffee and a doughnut in his trailer / Led Zeppelin posing backstage before a concert / James Blunt performing on stage / The Pretenders posing with Chrissie Hynde front and center

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Homophobic, racist and misogynistic lyrics can be found in some of these artists’ catchy yet questionable hits. Most of them issued an immediate apology, some removed their songs from streaming sites, and others removed the lyrics altogether.

Scroll through to discover the artists who regret they ever stepped into the studio.

Lady Gaga’s Do What You Want Was Terribly Ironic

Lady Gaga couldn’t have found a worse rapper to sing Do What You Want With. She teamed up with R. Kelly, who was accused of several sex-related crimes at the time (and eventually convicted). So, singing “do what you want with my body” was, understandably, pretty off.

Lady Gaga and R Kelly posing at the American Music Awards

Lady Gaga and R Kelly. Photo by Kevin Mazur / AMA2013 / WireImage / Getty Images

Lady Gaga published a heartfelt apology and removed the duet from all streaming services. “I stand behind these women 1000%, believe them, know they are suffering and in pain, and feel strongly that their voices should be heard and taken seriously,” she tweeted in support of R. Kelly’s accusers.

Katy Perry Kissed a Girl and Upset the LGBTQ Community

Katy Perry became a worldwide sensation following the release of her spicy song, I Kissed a Girl. It was the singer’s golden ticket into the music industry, topping the Hot 100 for seven consecutive weeks. But looking back, the singer admits the song contains a couple of lines she’s not too proud of.

Katy Perry posing in front of a pink and purple background

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In a 2018 interview with Glamour, Katy stated, “We’ve really changed, conversationally, in the past ten years. We’ve come a long way. Bisexuality wasn’t as talked about back then or any type of fluidity. If I had to write that song again, I probably would make an edit on it.”

Taylor Swift Wishes She Could Burn Picture to Burn

Taylor Swift hopes she could have burned a certain line in her 2006 hit single, Picture to Burn. It was a hit in 2006, but the lyrics came back to haunt her as the years went by. The song contains a homophobic line that was deemed offensive by many of her fans.

Taylor Swift in a silver dress on the red carpet

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The line in question runs: “So go and tell your friends that I’m obsessive and crazy. That’s fine I’ll tell mine you’re gay.” To Taylor’s defense, she wrote the lyrics when she was 16 and a time when political correctness was practically nonexistent. Taylor Swift issued a sincere apology and no longer performs the song in her concerts.

Radiohead Is Sick of Creeping People Out

Creep became the ultimate anthem for introverts, rejects, and, let’s be honest, for all of us at one point or another. But Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien revealed a startling fact about this self-loathing tune. The band’s guitarist Jonny Greenwood disliked the song so much that he deliberately tried to sabotage it.

The members of Radiohead posing for a group photograph

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But his plan failed. Because those painful noise blasts just before the chorus hits are part of the song’s charm. While the band hates Creep, they still play it here and there. But, hey, they have such good songs that there’s really no reason for them to keep playing Creep if they don’t want to.

People Were Ultra Offended by Lana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence

Lana Del Rey borrowed a line from a ‘60s song and ended up regretting it. In Ultraviolence, she sings, “He hit me, and it felt like a kiss,” a line that many feel downplays the seriousness of domestic violence. In 2017, Lana told Pitchfork she no longer includes that line when singing live.

Lana Del Rey performing in a white lacey dress

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But Lana doesn’t necessarily agree with critics. She posted on Instagram, “I think it’s pathetic that my minor lyrical exploration detailing my sometimes submissive or passive roles in my relationships has often made people say I’ve set women back hundreds of years.”

Oasis Hit a Wonderwall

In 2008, Liam told MTV, “Every time I have to sing it, I want to gag.” But Wonderwall is Oasis’s most successful record, and its lyrics haven’t caused any problems through the years. So why do the Gallagher brothers hate it so much?

Oasis posing in front of a tour bus

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Liam hated feeling like a one-hit-wonder and was fed up with everyone mentioning that song. “You go to America, and they’re like: ‘Are you, Mr. Wonderwall?’ You want to chin someone,” he told MTV. Noel Gallagher added to the hate and told SiriusXM that, “I used to play it on electric guitar, and I f**king hated it. It was always too fast.”

Paramore’s Misery Business Made Them Miserable

Paramore stormed into the punk scene in 2007 when they released their hit single “Misery Business.” The song was the lead single of their second studio album, Riot!, and it peaked at number three on the Hot Modern Rock Chart. Listeners loved the edginess of Misery Business and its fun and fierce music video.

Paramore posing in front of a body of water

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But 2007 was a long time ago. And lyrics that were acceptable back then don’t sit so well in today’s atmosphere. So, in 2018, after fans complained that the song contained anti-feminist lyrics, the band’s lead singer, Hayley Williams, announced that Misery Business would no longer be part of their concerts.

Justin Bieber Isn’t a Fan of Beauty and a Beat

Beauty and a Beat’s music video features Bieber having the time of his life at a pool party, along with Nicki Minaj and other lucky participants. They jump in the water, splash around, goof around and throw smiles all over the place. But looks can be deceiving. Because Bieber never liked the song.

Justin Bieber posing while holding onto his sunglasses on the red carpet

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In a 2016 interview with The Bert Show, he admitted that he agreed to do the song because he knew it would be an instant hit. But he was never really a fan and found it a bit loud and obnoxious. We wonder whether Nicki shares his view.

Drake and J. Cole Apologized for Jodeci (Freestyle)

Rapper Drake found himself in a similar predicament as Paramore after his song Jodeci (Freestyle), featuring J. Cole, was deemed hurtful and inappropriate. The song had offensive lines that perpetuate negative stereotypes against people with autism, and the Canadian rapper received a ton of backlash for it.

Drake and J Cole posing together backstage

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Both Cole and Drake issued an apology and promised to remove the lyrics. Cole posted on his social media, “I was instantly embarrassed that I would be ignorant enough say something so hurtful. What makes the crime worse is that I should have known better …”

Lady Gaga Regrets Picking Up the Telephone

Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s epic collaboration resulted in Telephone, a song that gained huge success for its fun dance beat and bold lyrics. But if there was one thing fans enjoyed more than the song, was its music video. Surprisingly, Lady Gaga doesn’t feel the same way.

Lady Gaga performing with her red dress in a large circle around the top of her body

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In a 2011 interview with Time Out, she revealed that she hates how it all came out and can no longer bring herself to watch it, “All I see in that video is my brain throbbing with ideas – and I wish I had edited myself a little bit more.”

Kanye West Was Digging for a Golden Hit

Gold Digger is one of Kanye’s biggest hits, but the rapper never liked the song. He just recorded it because he knew he would make money off it. And he was right. Gold Digger broke the record for the most downloads in a week and became the fastest-selling digital download of all time.

Kanye West holding his bottom lip posing for the camera

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The song wasn’t initially meant for Kanye. It was written with a female vocalist in mind and initially offered to rapper Shawna, who, as a woman, felt that the lyrics were too much for her. Kanye ended up singing it himself and added lyrics that expressed a man’s perspective.

Selena Gomez Didn’t Want to Come and Get It

Selena Gomez described her first big hit as “sounding like a Rihanna reject,” which is a pretty harsh thing to say about your own music. But Selena isn’t ashamed of admitting that Come and Get It kind of sucked. She told Entertainment Weekly, “I was so young. I was wanting a hit.”

Selena Gomez performing in 2016

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Despite it all, Selena acknowledges that the song boosted her career, and she remains grateful for the opportunities that came after she released it. But she doesn’t refer to it as her song. More like a song she had to sing to get to a certain place in her career.

Madonna Can’t Stand Hearing Like a Virgin

Madonna has released several top hits in her prolific career, but Like a Virgin is arguably her most memorable one. Surprisingly, the queen of pop doesn’t like it all too much. And she especially hates it when people play that song whenever she enters a shop or a restaurant.

Madonna performing on her Like a Virgin tour

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We can’t blame her. No matter how good a song is, there’s only so much you can take of it. She told New York’s Z100 FM, “I’m not sure I can sing Holiday or Like A Virgin ever again. I just can’t – unless somebody paid me like $30 million or something.”

Rick Ross’s U.O.E.N.O Is Just… No

Rick Ross wished he never released U.O.E.N.O in 2013. And for a good reason. The singer pretty much-glorified rape with his lyrics, “Put Molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it. I took her home, and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.”

Rick Ross on the red carpet wearing sunglasses

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Rapping about putting an illegal drug in a woman’s drink is probably the last thing you want to gloat about, Rick Ross. After many complaints, the rapper eventually issued a statement acknowledging that his lyrics were out of line, and he promised to remove them.

Mandy Moore’s Candy Was Too Sweet for Her Taste

Mandy Moore’s sweet single, Candy, is the song that kickstarted her career. The song was incredibly successful when it came out and turned her into one of the most loved teenage pop stars out there. But years later, Moore broke the silence about her early records and admitted to Glamour that she thinks they’re awful.

Mandy Moore on the red carpet smiling

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“Ugh, those (first two albums) were awful. If I had the money, I would give a refund to everyone who bought my first two albums. Whenever people ask, ‘Which of your albums should I listen to?’ I say, ‘NOTHING BUT COVERAGE. Burn the rest.”

Ariana Grande Hates Putting Her Heart Up

Three years after releasing her hit, Put Your Hearts Up, pop star Ariana Grande disclosed to Rolling Stone that she feels like the song is terribly fake. And she also hates its video. “For the video, they gave me a bad spray tan and put me in a princess dress and had me frolic around the street. The whole thing was straight out of hell,” she revealed.

Ariana Grande posing in her large puffy grey dress at the Grammys

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Ariana feels that looking back at early records is kind of like scrolling too far back on Facebook. It’s uncomfortable and unnecessary. Despite the cringy video, Put Your Hearts Up was a huge hit and helped Ariana grow as an artist.

Led Zeppelin Can’t Relate to Stairway to Heaven Anymore

Stairway to Heaven is a classic, and it’s hard to imagine the world without it. But Led Zeppelin’s lead singer, Robert Plant, can’t hear it anymore. He confessed to the L.A. Times that years of performing the hit have taken a toll on him, and he’s sick of it.

Led Zeppelin posing backstage before a concert

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He admits that it’s a beautiful piece. But one that he can’t relate to anymore. He confessed on Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show, “[Today] I would have no intention ever to write along those abstract lines anymore.”

Miley Cyrus Doesn’t Get Why Fans Love Party in the U.S.A.

Another Disney star who hates her early hits, Miley Cyrus, dislikes her single Party in the U.S.A. and perceives it as having little to do with the artist she is today. The singer is actually surprised that fans still like it and want to hear it live.

Miley Cyrus on the red carpet in a red dress

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Miley’s former husband, Liam Hemsworth, posted a video on Instagram of him screaming the song’s lyrics at Miley. In response, Miley posted a video of herself admitting, “I hate it, but for some reason, the people love it.”

Iggy Azalea Was on Something When She Wrote D.R.U.G.S.

Iggy Azalea’s song D.R.U.G.S. contains some questionable lyrics that offended several fans. People viewed the line “When the relay starts, I’m a runaway slave/master” as racist and demanded an apology from the Australian rapper.

Iggy Azalea posing outside of a studio

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Iggy instantly issued an apology for her tasteless lyrics and promised to think things through in the future. She posted: “Sometimes we get so caught up in our art and creating or trying to push boundaries, we don’t stop to think how others may be hurt by it.”

The Beastie Boys Grew Sick of Partying

Beastie Boys released (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (to Party) as a parody, but their plan backfired. It became the ultimate ‘80s party anthem. The band was trying to mock hard partygoers, but ironically, those same party animals ended up being the reason the song hit the top of the charts.

The Beastie Boys looking tired sitting in the back of a car

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The song’s real message vanished into thin air, and party people all over the world danced to the Beastie Boys hit that they believed was released in honor of their lively spirit. The Beastie Boys were so mad at how things turned out that they refused to play it live for a while.

Lorde Feels Like Royals Isn’t Her Best Work

Royals won Lorde two Grammy Awards. One for Song of the Year and one for Best Pop Solo Performance. So how in the world can she look back at this song and cringe? According to the New Zealand singer, she views Royals as a relic.

Lorde performing in 2017

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“I understand why it worked and why it was kind of a hit, I can see those qualities in it, but at the same time, there’s part of me that’s like… these melodies are just not as good as something I could have written now,” she dished in her interview with an Australian magazine, The Music.

Simple Minds Doubted Don’t You (Forget About Me)

If you like The Breakfast Club, you undoubtedly like Simple Mind’s Don’t You (Forget About Me). The film’s iconic anthem won over fans, but the band wasn’t too thrilled at first. They were used to writing their own material and weren’t too keen on recording someone else’s work.

Simple Minds posing around a park with leaves all over the ground

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They even rejected the offer at first. They felt like Don’t You (Forget About Me) sounded like someone trying to sound like them. It took them six months to eventually give in and get it done. The song became their one, and only number one U.S. hit.

One TLC Member Hated Creep’s Degrading Lyrics

TLC’s hit, Creep, topped the charts for four consecutive weeks and won the girls a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group. But one band member, Lisa “Left Eye,” absolutely despised it. The song told the story of women who cheat on their husbands for attention. And that drove Lisa mad.

The girls of TLC posing together

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She told VHI’s Behind the Music, “If a girl is going to catch her man cheating… this was my thing, instead of telling her to cheat back, why don’t we tell her to just leave?!”. She hated the song so much that she wore tape on her mouth on the music video set.

Kurt Cobain Thought Smells Like Teen Spirit Was a Cliché

Kurt Cobain threw his guitar around on stage for more than just show. He was genuinely mad and disliked Nirvana’s hit, Smells Like Teen Spirit. He was convinced that people liked the song because it grew on them after being played repeatedly on TV.

Kurt Cobain performing on stage circa 1993

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Kurt called it an embarrassing cliché and told Rolling Stone, “Everyone has focused on that song so much. The reason it gets a big reaction is people have seen it on MTV a million times. It’s been pounded into their brains.”

James Blunt Apologized for Shoving You’re Beautiful Down Our Throats

James Blunt has come a long way since his 2004 hit, You’re Beautiful. Yet it looks like people are still clinging on to his haunting ballad and still call him “the guy that sang You’re Beautiful.” Blunt has grown tired of being associated with the song and stresses that it can get discouraging to be appreciated for just one piece.

James Blunt performing on stage

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Like Kurt Cobain, Blunt also feels like people grew to love his song only because radio stations played it over and over again. “It was force-fed down people’s throats,” Blunt told Hello! Magazine, “and it became annoying, and then people start to associate the artist with the same word.”

R.E.M. Thinks Shiny Happy People Is a Fruity Pop Song

R.E.M.’s incredibly catchy Shiny Happy People became a global sensation when it first came out in 1991. But despite all the noise and excitement over it, Michael Stipe considers it one of the band’s least successful works.

R.E.M. posing backstage sitting together on a couch

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“It’s a fruity pop song written for children … If there was one song that was sent into outer space to represent R.E.M. for the rest of time, I would not want it to be Shiny Happy People,” Stipe confessed on the Andrew Marr Show.

Miley Cyrus Hates Being Referred to as the Naked Girl on a Wrecking Ball

Wrecking Ball is an okay song. But its video is what made it such a massive hit. And, apparently, the bold video of Miley swinging naked on a wrecking ball is a video that haunts her to this day. Looking back, Miley confessed that she should have thought more closely about the video’s lasting effects.

Miley Cyrus posing with a rose making a face on the red carpet

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She believes her reputation as the naked girl on a wrecking ball is a stigma that will follow her around for many more years. Even though she’s released several hits since her bare-bodied swinging days, it’s still hard to forget it.

Jani Line Disliked His Cherry Pie

Warrant is best known for their hit single, Cherry Pie. With ridiculous lyrics and a questionable music video, Cherry Pie became a fan favorite, but not a band favorite. In 2006, Jani Lane told VHI that he hated the song and had no intention of writing it.

Warrant posing together circa 1989

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He told interviewers, “I could shoot myself in the fucking head for writing that song.” Years later, he took that comment back. He said that VHI had interviewed him on a bad day and that he was actually at peace with the band’s hit.

Slash Wasn’t Too Fond of Sweet Child O’ Mine

Another epic classic, Sweet Child O’ Mine, is a song that seems impossible to hate. But Slash thinks otherwise. In an interview, he disclosed that he wasn’t the biggest fan at the time of its release. Sweet Child O’ Mine sounded like too much of a ballad to him instead of their regular hard-driving material.

Slash playing his guitar surrounded by other guitars at his home

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But over the years, the song has grown on him. And despite not being his favorite Guns N’ Roses song, it’s one he has learned to appreciate. Sweet Child O’ Mine remains a fan favorite and is arguably their most famous song.

Pete Townshend Thinks Pinball Wizard Is a Clumsy Song

Pinball Wizard is one of The Who’s greatest songs. It tells the story of a deaf, mute, and blind little boy who was a wizard at pinball. It was written by Pete Townshend, who came up with it to impress Nik Cohn, a music critic who was a big fan of the game.

The Who posing for a portrait

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But looking back, Pete confessed he believes it was the clumsiest piece he ever wrote. The song went on to become a massive hit, but Pete cringed at whoever admired it. “I’m embarrassed. This sounds like a Music Hall song,” he wrote in the album liner notes.

Chrissie Hynde Thought Brass in Pocket Was Too Obvious

The Pretender’s Brass in Pocket was huge when it first came out in 1979. Chrissie Hynde and James Honeyman-Scott wrote it, but Hynde didn’t feel like the song was good enough. She felt like the lyrics were “so obvious.”

The Pretenders posing with Chrissie Hynde front and center

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She told Cream magazine in 1981, “It was a phenomenon that evades me completely. I was honestly very disappointed it was such a big hit – I was embarrassed by it.” Despite her feelings, Brass in Pocket blew up and peaked at Number One in the U.K.

Frank Sinatra Felt Estranged From Strangers in the Night

Incredibly, Sinatra hated his 1966 hit, Strangers in the Night. Performing it live felt like a chore, and he described it as “the worst song he ever heard.” Ouch. So, what’s the reason Sinatra decided to take it? Easy. The guy needed a number one hit.

Frank Sinatra having coffee and a doughnut in his trailer

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The song peaked at Number One on both the U.S. and U.K. charts and won him several Grammy Awards. Looks like Sinatra’s move paid off. After a few relatively dry years, Strangers in the Night managed to revive his career.

John Lennon Refused to Let It Be

Written by Paul McCartney, Let It Be is a soulful anthem, inspired by McCartney’s own mother, who died of cancer. It’s such a hopeful and heartwarming song that it’s hard to imagine anyone hate it. But lo and behold! John Lennon wasn’t a huge fan.

John Lennon at a rally in London

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At the time of its recording, the two were already on rocky ground. Lennon referred to McCartney’s songs as “granny music” that had nothing to do with the band. We, personally, have no problem with granny music. If all grannies came up with songs like Let It Be, the world would be a better place.

Vanilla Ice Tried to Burn Ice Ice Baby (1989)

Despite how ridiculous the song is, it’s hard to make fun of Ice Ice Baby. And if you grew up in the ‘80s, chances are, you loved the song. But rapper Vanilla Ice hated it so much that he even tried to break into MTV’s headquarters once to destroy the song’s master copy.

Vanilla Ice posing on the rooftop

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He disliked his single because of all the trouble it got him into. He almost ended up in court after Queen and Bowie’s representatives threatened to sue him for sampling their 1981 hit, Under Pressure. Ultimately, they settled things out of court, and Bowie and Queen were given songwriting credits.

John Lennon Preferred to Say Goodbye Rather Than Hello

Hello, Goodbye, is another case of Paul McCartney’s “granny music” that John Lennon seriously disliked. He viewed it as “three minutes of contradictions and meaningless juxtapositions.” But it’s hard to know whether Lennon seriously hated it or was simply bitter over the fact that his song, I Am the Walrus, was chosen as the B-side of the tape.

John Lennon in a top hat with feathers

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Everyone felt Hello Goodbye would do better on the radio, which it did. It peaked at Number One on several charts worldwide. Looks like audiences loved McCartney’s meaningless juxtapositions and endless contradictions.