If there is one thing I have learned from my many late, drunken nights in karaoke bars, it is this: no karaoke bar in this country will EVER have a night in which Alanis Morissette's You Oughtta Know will not be sung (Carrie Underwood's Before He Cheats seems to be reaching this status as well, sadly). Now don't get me wrong, I can certainly see why. While the song irritates me to no end, I have to begrudgingly admit that it is not just a 90s staple, but an admirably enduring breakup anthem. However, every time I hear someone butcher this song, I can't help but wonder why there aren't several other angry songs from the female view that are so cherished. Obviously I'm hardly an expert on the matter, but I thought it as good as anything to dedicate this week's list to. As I'm sure there is much I am leaving out, please feel free to add your own suggestions. And with that, let's get started. Tori Amos - The Waitress
If there's a more gloriously catty line than "I believe in peace, bitch," I am yet to hear it. The verses detail an unreasonable hatred for a coworker, which I'm sure we've all had in some shape or form. Why do I hate this person so much? It's just some douchebag, they don't matter... but FUCK, they piss me off! The matter-of-fact "So I want to kill this waitress" starts things out perfectly, and that whip sounding noise in the background certainly doesn't hurt things either.
Poe - Angry Johnny
This sadly forgotten 90s gem feels like a detailed revenge fantasy gone awry, but delivered with a cleverly sexual guise (the pause after "I want to blow you" and before "away" being a prime example). By the time the bridge hits though, and Anne Danielewski is taunting "where's your pleasure now, Johnny," the song starts to feel downright unsettling, and quite a bit more becomes open for interpretation than you might have cared for.
L7 - Shitlist
On a list like this, there's no way a band with a tampon story this infamous could be neglected. Probably the perfect choice for the moment in Natural Born Killers where it pops up, Shitlist is classic L7; sleazy, pissed off, and able to express all of it with a simple snarl. Still, the best part is when Donita Sparks loses her cool around the minute and a half mark and screams out the second verse, only to slip back into that (somewhat) calm demeanor for the rest of the song.
Elastica - Stutter
Taken literally, Stutter is about irritation over a boyfriend's impotence. With the passion that Justine Frischmann delivers in this incredibly catchy slice of britpop though, it feels like more of a metaphor for a failing relationship. It's remarkable too, how clearly frustrated she sounds, and yet how bright and poppy she is as she gets her point across. Yet another example of a great band undeservedly damned to one hit wonder status.
Ladytron - Ghosts
No, not really angry in the traditional sense, but there's something to be said for a band that can sound so dreamy and so snarky at the same time. With as pretty and soothing as Helen Marnie's vocals are, you can still picture her sneering as she sings "clock strikes and I know you will be drinking alone" or the rather harsh conclusion to the chorus, "doesn't mean I'm sorry."
PJ Harvey - Rub 'til It Bleeds
I've heard this song called "Handjob of Death" more than a few times, and it's a difficult alternate title to dispute. There is such wonderfully brutal teasing in this song's lyrics, as she goes from sweetly crooning "Baby, I'm your sweet thing" to viciously shouting "I'm calling you weak." The music has that sexy, rough-around-the-edges blues sound to it, and when it builds up and explodes at the end, it's almost as if it's simulating.. well, you see where I'm going with this.
Snake River Conspiracy - Vulcan
Vocalist Tobey Torres is startlingly intimidating on this song. She starts the song with a resounding "FUCK!!", and her seething roars are only delivered with more authority as the song continues. The way she screams "you fucking faggot" actually puts me into this odd state where I honestly can't tell if I'm frightened or turned on. It's not even the commanding vocals really, but the charisma behind them. As she asserts herself all throughout, you'd believe her even if it was just expressed with mere whispers. Plus the music is just so crushing; it's hard to believe that a key role in the band is held by none other than Third Eye Blind's Jason Slater.
Tracy Bonham - Mother Mother
Delving yet again into 1990s alternative. What really clinches this song for me, even more than those intense choruses that are frankly impossible to not get behind, is how personal yet relatable it is. It really captures lashing out against a strained relationship with a parent almost as well as the disillusionment that can sometimes follow striking out on one's own.
Nikka Costa - Hope It Felt Good
Nikka Costa's biggest song is easily Everybody Got Their Something, which isn't so much a hit as it is one of those songs that most people know but don't realize it. Why she never achieved widespread fame has always baffled me; her voice is incredible, her lyrical subject matter is diverse, and the neo-soul sound backing her is fantastic. In an alternate universe somewhere, Hope It Felt Good became the smash hit it truly deserved to be. She absolutely rages over a sharp 70s funk beat, singing with a fire reminiscent of Janis Joplin. As far as jilted ex songs go, this isn't an easy one to beat.
Bjork - Declare Independence
God, what a great song. The synth alone sounds pissed off; it's so heavily distorted and dirty sounding, and while Volta certainly isn't her best album, this could well be the most sinister and brooding song she's ever done. The pounding beat and crashing cymbals get so intense as the song progresses, but this is nothing compared to Bjork herself - you can practically hear her gnashing her teeth before she breaks into that blood curdling scream at the end. The best thing though, has to be the lyrics; written for (and dedicated in concert many times over to) various oppressed nations, they're also just vague enough to be applicable to anything from an overly advantageous workplace to an abusive spouse. An easy track to leave on repeat.