By James Dinh
It’s no secret that artists like to air their dirty laundry every now and then, particularly to those that have left them betrayed. We’re talking about tunes aimed at scorned lovers, frenemies and sometimes even family members. But we have to admit that it’s (obviously) much more interesting when they cross the blood lines, and aim their pen game at their families, particularly at their fathers.
In honor of those very stars, VH1 has rounded up 9 of the songs from some of the biggest songbirds and hip hop heavyweights around that have left bruised, ruined and just a little bit hurt from their good ol pops. Take a look below!
Ellie Goulding- “Your Biggest Mistake” (2010)
Ellie Goulding’s father left the family when she was just 5-years-old, so it’s needless to say that the future pop star would grow up with that vacant spot in her heart. Thankfully, she was able to channel those emotions and her betrayal in a positive light on “Your Biggest Mistake,” a cut off her debut 2010 debut, Lights.
Christina Aguilera- “I’m OK” (2002)
“I’m OK” is tucked towards the end of Christina Aguilera’s 2002 Stripped, and details the singer’s abusive father. It’s arguably the pop star’s most personal song that she’s ever written, letting listeners into the physical and emotional pain that she and her mother experienced during her childhood. “Growing up I did not feel safe. Feeling powerless is the worst feeling in the world. I turned to singing as an outlet,” she’s previously told E! News. “The pain at home is where my love for music came from.”
Madonna- “Oh Father” (1989)
During the making of Madge’s Like A Prayer, the Queen of Pop went through some ish, and her soured relationship with her father Tony Ciccone became the subject matter for “Oh Father.” You see, after her mother passed away in 1963, Madonna’s need for her father greatened. Unfortunately, Tony remarried just two years later to the family’s housekeeper and taught M the biggest lesson of her early years. “Then he got taken away from me when he married my stepmother. It was then that I said, OK I don’t need anybody,” she recalled. “No one’s going to break my heart again. I’m not going to need anybody.”
Tupac- “Papa’z Song” (1994)
Pac didn’t hold back when he called out his father failures (caused by a prison stint) in his 1994 cut “Papa’z Song.” It’s all understandable anger, but it appears that the MC also wanted to play semi-fair game by rapping from the father’s perspective for the very last verse on the cut.
Kelly Clarkson- “Piece By Piece” (2015)
Kelly Clarkson brought her emotions to the forefront when she used her father (who divorced her mom when she was just a kid) as the inspiration for “Piece By Piece,” the title track to her 2015 LP. After a conversation with her sister about their supportive husbands, the “American Idol” alum decided to write “a positive song” about her trials. “I don’t know what my father went through as a child, and I don’t know why he left and made the decisions he made, but everyone’s human,” she told Glamour. “I don’t understand it for me, but I understand the depth of what that is—having a child—now, and he’s made me want to be that much more present in my family.”
Lindsay Lohan- “Confessions of a Broken Heart (Daughter to Father)” (2005)
We all know this story … sort of. Lindsay Lohan hasn’t had the best relationship with her parents, but she put her addict father, Michael Lohan, on the spot when she dropped “Confessions of a Broken Heart (Daughter to Father)” during the pop/rock era of “TRL.” In fact, the song served as an actually a letter to Michael after he had been sent to jail after surviving a car crash due to drunk driving. Daughter to father, indeed.
Lady Gaga- “Speechless” (2009)
So this laundry basket isn’t as dirty as the others, but still deserves a mention. Before Lady Gaga became Mother Monster, she was dealing with her father, Joseph Germanotta’s resistance to undergo open-heart surgery. The Ron Fair-produced cut was her plea for her father to tend to his heart’s aortic valve and to share her fear for the monster of death.
Everclear- “Father Of Mine” (1998)
As you probably can tell already, fathers who leave their musically inclined children will get songs written about them, and that’s what happened with Everclear guitarist Art Alexakis. His pops left when he was young, so his band Everclear used that emotional hardships to write rock cut “Father of Mine.” Considering, his pops would send him $5 in the mail every year, we’re only assuming that the annual reminder helped fuel the passion behind this one.
Billy Ray Cyrus featuring Miley Cyrus- “Ready, Set, Don’t Go” (Remix)
This ode to a father actually involves the father. So…bonus points! Back when Miley Cyrus was just your average brunette Disney starlet, she hopped on the remix to her dad Billy Ray’s song “Ready, Set, Don’t Go” to sound off on her dreams to break away from the nest and just grow up. It’s not particularly dirty laundry, but it does give some insight into the father daughter parallel that exists between the famous two some. In the end, Billy learns that he just has to let her go. We wonder if he regrets that decision now.