As Little Mix Debut 'Shout Out To My Ex', 22 Songs Inspired By Celebrity Break-Ups

Zayn and Perrie's split isn't the only one to have inspired a song...

18/10/2016 16:13

When you’re an artist using your own experiences to inspire your music, the chances are that relationships are going to crop up in your lyrics from time to time.

Some musicians are able to keep what goes on behind closed doors to themselves, meaning that all we have is guesswork to decipher who is the subject of their scathing lyrics. But others… well... others have slightly more high-profile romances, meaning that the whole world is waiting to hear what they have to say when the relationship comes to an end.

Here are some of the most infamous songs inspired by a high-profile break-up…

  • Rihanna - 'Cold Case Love'
    Noel Vasquez via Getty Images
    Who’s it about?
    Chris Brown

    What Rihanna said:
    She told Vogue: "It's a song that everybody wanted to hear, everything that I didn't say for the past eight months, exactly how I felt about that relationship and how I feel about it now – that song says it all."

    Sample lyrics:
    "What you did to me was a crime, cold case love, and I let you reach me one more time, but that's enough."

    Chris later blasted his ex in the rap 'Deuces', branding her a "vulture... waiting for me to fuck up". Ouch. They did briefly get back together in 2012, though the reunion was short-lived.
  • Katy Perry - 'Part Of Me'
    Jon Furniss via Getty Images
    Who’s it about?
    Katy wrote 'Part Of Me' before she'd even met Russell Brand, but updated the song with new lyrics after they were divorced.

    What Katy said:

    She told Yahoo!: "I feel like I'm in some kind of weird 'Truman Show' where I'm like, 'Why is this single appropriate now and it wouldn't have been appropriate then?' It's just so crazy."

    Sample lyrics:
    "You can keep the diamond ring, it don't mean nothing anyway, in fact you can keep everything, except from me."
  • Katy Perry - 'Circle The Drain'
    Sipa PressStartraks PhotoRexShutterstock
    Who's it about?
    Long before 'Part Of Me', Katy penned 'Circle The Drain' about her ex, Travie McCoy's drug use.

    What Katy said:
    She told Billboard: "It's kind of my 'You Oughta Know' Alanis Morrissette moment."

    Sample lyrics:
    "You fall asleep during foreplay cause the pills you take are more your forte. I'm not sticking around to watch you go down."

    Travie hit back: "I'm just stoked that she finally has a song with some substance on her record. Good job!"
  • Justin Bieber - 'Sorry'
    Steve Granitz via Getty Images
    Who's it about?
    Selena Gomez.

    What he said:
    "People ran with [the idea] that I was like, apologising with that song and stuff. It really had nothing to do with that... It was about a girl."

    Sample lyrics:
    "I'll take every single piece of the blame if you want me to, but you know that there is no innocent one in this game for two."

    She told W magazine in 2016: "I honestly am so done. I care about his health and well-being. But I can't do it anymore."
  • Gwen Stefani - 'Used To Love Me'
    Chris Polk/PMA2014 via Getty Images
    Who’s it about?
    Gavin Rossdale

    What Gwen said:
    She told Ryan Seacrest: “The night that it came out, I think I cried the whole night. I was like, ‘I think I going to have to cry the whole night because I’m so happy, but it came out of something so horrible, so how does that work?'”

    Sample lyrics:
    "I don't know why I cry, but I think it's cause I remembered for the first time since I hated you, that I used to love you."
  • Madonna - 'I Fucked Up'
    Photoshot via Getty Images
    Who’s it about?
    Guy Ritchie

    What Madonna said:
    She told 'Daybreak': "I still make mistakes, and I have to say sorry to people. I still fuck up."

    Sample lyrics:
    "I should have just kept my big mouth closed, I should have just done what I was told, maybe I should have turned silver into gold".
  • Justin Timberlake - 'Cry Me A River'
    Vince Bucci via Getty Images
    Who's it about?
    Britney Spears

    What Justin said:
    He told MTV News: "I'm not going to specifically say if any song is about anybody. I will say writing a couple of songs on the record helped me deal with a couple of things."

    Sample lyrics:
    "You don't have to say, what you did, I already know, I found out from him."

    Britney told Rolling Stone: "Guys have egos, and when their egos get hurt and their pride's messed up, they deal in weird ways."
  • Britney Spears - 'Everytime'
    Who's it about?
    Justin Timberlake

    What Britney said:
    Annet Artani co-wrote the song, and told MuuMuse: "He was talking shit about her at that time on the radio. He was getting personal. Here, she had a different type of image, and he was really exposing some stuff that she probably didn’t want out there."

    Sample lyrics:
    "I may have made it rain, please forgive me, my weakness caused you pain, and this song's my sorry."
  • Coldplay - 'Magic'
    Kevin Mazur via Getty Images
    Who's it about?
    Gwyneth Paltrow

    What Chris Martin said:
    He told Radio 1: "It's not a question of you either really love someone or you really hate someone, it's more nuanced than that - especially with the modern world's complications."

    Sample lyrics:
    "I just got broken, broken into two, still I call it magic, when I'm next to you."
  • Mariah Carey - 'Infinity'
    Isaac Brekken/AP
    Who's it about?
    Nick Cannon

    What Mariah said:
    She told Access Hollywood: "I don't feel like it's my personal life. It's written for all the women, or men, or whoever's gone through any type of relationship. I'm looking at it as the mantra of 'Infinity' is love yourself… loving yourself first to infinity."

    Sample lyrics:
    "Why you mad? Talkin' 'bout you're mad, could it be that you just lost the best you've ever had?"
  • Peter Andre - 'Behind Closed Doors'
    Ian West/PA Archive
    Who's it about?
    True, including Pete in a list that also includes Madonna, Mariah Carey and Katy Perry feels a bit wrong, but this song is about his divorce from Katie Price.

    What Peter said:
    "You're always going to be in a bit of a no-win situation because this single was written a long time ago..."

    Sample lyrics:
    "Pay no mind to the lies, keep your eyes on the prize, in the end all you have is you."
  • Kanye West - 'Blame Game'
    Stephane Cardinale - Corbis via Getty Images
    Who's it about?
    Amber Rose

    Sample lyrics:
    "I'll call you bitch for sure... you call me motherfucker for long. At the end of it you know we both were wrong."

    When he intended to release 'Blame Game' as a single, Kanye invited Amber to appear in the song's music video. She declined, calling Chris Rock's part of the song 'disrespectful'.
  • Robin Thicke - 'Get Her Back'
    Lester Cohen via Getty Images
    Who's it about?
    His estranged wife, Paula Patton.

    What Robin said:
    He told Ryan Seacrest: "A lot of songwriters have done this kind of thing before. They won't tell you in the title or they'll be suggestive ... I was just like, 'There's no reason to hide who this is about.' It's all about her."

    Sample lyrics:
    "I should have kissed you longer, I should have held you stronger, and I'll wait for forever for you to love me again"

    Well... they didn't get back together, did they?
  • Ed Sheeran - 'Don't'
    Who's it about?
    The legend goes that the song was inspired by a night Ed spent with Ellie in a hotel, during which she left him to sleep with Niall Horan. She has vehemently denied this.

    What Ed said:
    "I just won't say who it's about because... I mean everyone, everyone fucking knows anyway. But like I just won't say who it's about cause it's quite a negative song."

    Sample lyrics:
    "You didn't need to take him to bed that's all, and I never saw him as a threat, until you disappeared with him to have sex."

    Ellie has repeatedly denied ever dating Ed, though it was later suggested that her song 'On My Mind' was her way of responding to 'Don't'.
  • Fleetwood Mac - 'Go Your Own Way'
    James FortuneREXShutterstock
    Who's it about?:
    Stevie Nicks, the Fleetwood Mac bandmate of Lindsey Buckingham, who wrote the song. Awks.

    What they said:
    Mick Fleetwood recalled: "It was hardly a vacation. Aside from the obvious unstated tension, I remember the house having a distinctly bad vibe to it."

    Sample lyrics:
    "Tell me why everything turned around, packing up, shacking up's all you wanna do."

    Stevie Nicks admitted that playing the song live was tough for her, telling Rolling Stone: "He knew it wasn't true. It was just an angry thing that he said.

    "Every time those words would come onstage, I wanted to go over and kill him. He knew it, so he really pushed my buttons through that. It was like, 'I'll make you suffer for leaving me.' And I did."
  • Zayn Malik - 'iT's YoU'
    Who's it about?
    Perrie Edwards

    What Zayn said:
    He told Beats 1: "I just felt like I needed to put myself out there, just because it was a form of therapy for me and it did help me get through some shit."

    Sample lyrics:
    "She got her own reasons for talking to me. She don't give a fuck about what I need."

    You've heard 'Shout Out To My Ex' by now, right?
  • Little Mix - 'Shout Out To My Ex'
    Who's it about?:
    Zayn Malik (among other exes, of course).

    What they said:
    When Perrie (photographed here on what we're sure was a spontaneous and not-sponsored trip to Disneyland Paris) admitted she hadn't pre-warned Zayn about the song, Jesy Nelson added that he "didn't deserve" a heads up, in an interview with The Sun.

    Sample lyrics:
    "Hope she's gettin' better sex, hope she ain't fakin' it like I used to..."
  • Taylor Swift - 'Dear John'
    Greg AllenREXShutterstock
    Who's it about?
    Now we get into it - Taylor Swift has repeatedly written songs which take not-so-subtle digs at her ex-boyfriends, the first in our list being John Mayer.

    Sample lyrics:
    "Don't you think I was too young to be messed with? The girl in the dress, cried the whole way home."

    He fumed to Rolling Stone: "I didn't deserve it. I'm pretty good at taking accountability now, and I never did anything to deserve that. It was a really lousy thing for her to do."
  • Taylor Swift - 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together'
    Jim SmealBEIAmanda SchwabStarPixRexShutterstock
    Who's it about?
    Taylor's brief relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal is thought to have inspired the song.

    What Taylor said:
    She told El Homiguero: "I think you have to have somebody that's dependable, that isn't going to change their mind every five seconds."

    Sample lyrics:
    "He calls me up and he's like 'I still love you' and I'm like, 'this is exhausting', you know, like, 'we are never getting back together. Like ever'."

    There are clearly no hard feelings towards Taylor from Jake, who called her a "sweet girl" during an interview with Howard Stern.
  • Taylor Swift - 'Style'
    MediaPunchJim SmealBEIRexShutterstock
    Who's it about?
    All clues indicate Harry Styles inspired 'Style'. What with it being his name and everything.

    What she said:
    Taylor told Ryan Seacrest: "My previous albums have also been sort of like... a righteous sense of right and wrong in a relationship. What happens when you grow up is you realise the rules in a relationship are very blurred and that it gets very complicated very quickly, and there's not a case of who was right or who was wrong."

    Sample lyrics:
    "I heard that you've been out and about with some other girl. You said 'what you've heard is true, but I can't stop thinking bout you' and I said 'I've been there too a few times'."

    Although Harry never directly commented on the track, it was suggested he got his own back when the melody of One Direction's 'Perfect' was very reminiscent of 'Style'.
  • Eamon - 'Fuck It (I Don't Want You Back)' and Frankee - 'Fuck You Right Back'
    Who's it about?
    Each other.

    What they said:
    Long before Adele and Taylor Swift were pouring their heart into their song lyrics, Frankee got her own back on her ex when she released an 'answer song', something people just aren't doing enough of in 2016.

    Sample lyrics:
    "Guess what yo, your sex was wack."

    Well... the whole thing turned out to be a publicity stunt. *sigh*
  • Carly Simon - 'You're So Vain'
    Jeffrey Mayer via Getty Images
    Who's it about?
    We still don't know 40 years later. Over the years, David Bowie, Mick Jagger and David Geffen have been thought to be the famous subject, while all signs would indicate it's about Warren Beatty.

    What Carly said:
    "Warren certainly thought it was about him — he called me and said thanks for the song..."

    Sample lyrics:
    "I had one eye in the mirror as you watched yourself gavotte, and all the girls dreamed that they'd be your partner, you're so vain, you probably think this song is about you."

    In 2007, Warren Beatty told the Express: 'Let's be honest. That song was about me.'
Celebs Who Handled Their Splits Like A Boss
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