The music an artist releases becomes part of the legacy they leave behind. In a digital streaming world, music is more easily accessible than ever, and once a song is out into the world, it’s out there forever. This is beneficial for fans who want to re-live their favorite albums over and over, but for musicians who would prefer to forget their earliest (and sometimes embarrassing or even
offensive) early catalog, this proves to be a problem. There are so many old songs artists want fans to forget about, and they aren’t afraid to say it.
As artists change and evolve, it’s natural their sound does too. So, their earliest singles might not exactly be a good representation of their artistry as a whole. Just look at Lorde, who now detests
the very song that put her on the map, “Royals.” Other times, an artist might have been proud of the song, but wound up realizing their lyrics were problematic. In 2021, fans have a much higher expectation for artists’ lyrics to be thoughtful, inclusive, and not offensive, so many singers and rappers are distancing themselves from their early singles that contained problematic lyrics.
It’s nearly impossible to entirely scrub a song or music video from the internet, but these artists at least admit they wish they could.
Ariana Grande - “Hearts Up”
To say Grande dislikes her December 2011 song “Hearts Up” would be an understatement. As she said in an interview on
Zach Sang & the Gang, she loathes her first single, which was more in line with her character from Disney’s Sam and Cat than her own personal brand. “I feel like it would have been Cat’s single,” she explained. "I really wanted to do music, but I couldn't wait. So I was stuck in this weird world where it was like, 'I'm Cat, but I'm ... me."
Grande didn’t feel any better about the accompanying music video. “I still have nightmares about it,” she said. The video is now hidden from her official YouTube account.
Miley Cyrus - “Party in the USA”
Cyrus has little to no love left for her chart-topping 2009 track “Party in the USA.” “I hate it, but for some reason, the people love it,”
she once said in an Instagram video.
She elaborated on why
she detests the song so much. “That’s not who I am, that’s not where I want to sing, that’s not what I want to sing, and that’s not what I want my voice to sound like,” she told V magazine in April 2013. 03
Miley Cyrus - “Wrecking Ball”
“Wrecking Ball” was a monstrous hit for Cyrus in 2013, but she’d rather soon forget the legacy the song and video left behind.
“I’m never living that down,”
she said in a March 2017 interview with the Zach Sang show. “I will always be the naked girl on a wrecking ball. No matter how much I just frolic with Emu, I’m always the naked girl on the wrecking ball … I should have thought how long that was going to have to follow me around.” 04
Taylor Swift - “Picture To Burn”
Taylor Swift has admitted some
lyrics from her throwback 2006 hit “Picture To Burn” are cringe. She spoke out about the regrettable lyrics in an interview with MTV News.
“I had this song called ‘Picture to Burn,’ that’s talking about how ‘I hate your truck,’ and ‘I hate that you ignored me,’ ‘I hate you,’” Swift said. “Now, the way that I would say that and the way that I would feel that kind of pain is a lot different.” Likely, Swift was referring to the lyric, “
Go and tell all your friends that I'm obsessive and crazy/ That's fine, I'll tell mine/ You're gay. 05
Katy Perry - “I Kissed A Girl”
wishes she’d done things differently on her April 2008 song “I Kissed A Girl.”
“If I had to write that song again, I probably would make an edit on it,” she told
Glamour in February 2018. “Lyrically, it has a couple of stereotypes in it. Your mind changes so much in 10 years, and you grow so much. What's true for you can evolve.” 06
Paramore - “Misery Business”
Paramore frontwoman Hayley Williams would love to strike one verse of her 2007 emo rock hit “Misery Business” from the record. Not only does she
not play the song live anymore, but she has been vocal about not standing behind the lyrics she wrote as a teen.
“Misery Business is not a set of lyrics that I relate to as a 26-year-old woman,” she wrote in a blog post. “I haven’t related to it in a very long time. Those words were written when I was 17… admittedly, from a very narrow-minded perspective.”
Mandy Moore is less than thrilled with her earliest singles. Her bubble gum 1999 pop hit “Candy” is amongst the songs she’d rather forget.
“Ugh, those were awful–just awful!”
she told the in January 2006. “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 Chicago Tribune Coverage. Burn the rest!’” 08
Lady Gaga - “Telephone”
Lady Gaga had no problem saying “Telephone”
is her “worst” single during a May 2011 interview with Pop Justice. “I hate ‘Telephone’. Is that terrible to say?” she told the outlet. “It’s the song I have the most difficult time listening to.”
Lorde sent some major shade her own way when
reflecting on the release of her June 2013 song “Royals.” In an interview with The Daily Record, the singer said hearing other covers of her song made her realize she dislikes it. "It sounds like a ringtone from a 2006 Nokia. None of the melodies are cool or good. It's disastrous.... awful,” she said. 10
Pharrell Williams - “Blurred Lines”
With the release of Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams’ 2013 song “Blurred Lines” came a lot of controversy, and the singer eventually opened up about
why the song was perpetuating a “chauvinist” culture.
“My mind opened up to what was actually being said in the song and how it could make someone feel,” he told
GQ. “Even though it wasn't the majority, it didn't matter. I cared what they were feeling too. I realized that we live in a chauvinist culture in our country. Hadn't realized that. Didn't realize that some of my songs catered to that.”
Jay-Z is well-aware of the problematic lyrics featured in his song “Big Pimpin,” which was released in 2000. He’s admitted they’re regrettable. “I can't believe I said that. And kept saying it. What kind of animal would say this sort of thing? Reading it is really harsh,”
he told the Wall Street Journal in an October 2010 interview. 12
Iggy Azalea - “D.R.U.G.S.”
Azalea wrote a letter to fans in March 2012 admitting she had been ignorant in penning her 2011 song “D.R.U.G.S,” in which she referred to herself as a runaway slave master.
“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,” she said in one part of the letter. “In this situation, I am guilty of doing that and I regret not thinking things through more.”
Madonna “Like A Virgin”
“Like A Virgin” is one of Madonna’s best-known songs, but she wishes it wasn’t. She apparently
wishes she could scrub the song from her discography. “Like a Virgin... that is the one I don't want to hear,” she once said, according to the BBC.
It wasn’t the only time she mentioned disliking the song. In 2008 she told New York radio station
Z100: "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." 14
The Killers - “Glamorous Indie Rock & Roll”
The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers
would love to forget his 2004 song “Glamorous Indie Rock & Roll.” As he told Rolling Stone in 2009, it’s his least favorite song the band has put out. "When I hear 'Glamorous Indie Rock & Roll,' I want to crawl under a rock,” he said.