Angry Music: Makes Us Feel Better?

Angry Music: Makes Us Feel Better?


There are certain films and TV shows whose characters so closely resemble me at times, that sometimes friends and family ask me, “Do the writers of these shows know you?”

The names of those films and TV shows shall remain nameless for now, there’s no need to incriminate myself anymore than I already have, but I will admit that at times, I do say and do things that are a bit out there.  It’s not always bad (maybe not always good either), but out there.

I will admit that when watching the film, Bridesmaids, there was a scene where Kristin Wig’s character is really frustrated and she blasts the song, “Violet,” by Hole (remember Courtney Love when she used to front a band?  Hole was it).  Anyway, I had recently been playing that song at full volume, all of the time, which made my sister chuckle as she watched the film alongside me and saw the obvious similarities, and left me wondering why listening to angry music makes us feel better, especially when we’re feeling angry.

Aside from it being a very healthy way to let out our emotions, thereby making us feel better, it helps build up our chutzpah because song lyrics speak to us.  It’s the reason that so many people listen to love songs after they’ve had their hearts broken.  Why else would someone listen to songs about love and forever and misery when this only serves to reflect and thereby increase their heartache? Because this level of misery is a purging of sorts, and it serves to help some people dig deep with the purpose of eventually casting out this pain and all memory of its source.

Acknowledging our emotions makes it easier to feel better when we feel badly, and that’s what certain songs do.  By acknowledging our emotions, especially those that often seem to have the force of a hurricane, music becomes are friend and confidant, and we can let it all out.  Just like a good friend knows what to say in difficult times, a good song knows what to say and how to say it.   For times when we feel angry and sad, it sometimes seems like a particular song says what we need to hear to eventually feel better in a way that we respond to.  Sometimes, a song says it best.

It turns out that I’m not alone in this.  When I was living in my sorority’s chapter house,  there wasn’t a day that I didn’t walk into that house without hearing Alanis Morrissette screaming, “You Oughta Know.”  None of those girls were pushovers, and perhaps having Alanis’ heartfelt, gut-wrenching, love story gone bad, anthem helped.  It’s the perfect angry-girl, angst-girl song when it comes to young love gone terribly wrong.  It’s still pretty powerful after all these years:

It turns out that angry music doesn’t just make us feel better at our lowest points, but also at challenging ones as well.

And so, I continue playing, “Violet,” and sing (or scream) along with Courtney, and make no apologies.

Recently, as I was driving somewhere I didn’t want to go to but had to, Courtney Love sang, “And the sky was made of amethyst…” And before I knew it, I was joining in.  For a few moments, it was me and badass Courtney, singing duo:  “You should learn when to go/You should learn how to say no…”  As I reached my destination and parked my car, I rolled up the windows, unable to resist the closing: “Go on take everything, I dare you to…”

I turned off the ignition.   I felt a million times better.  The rebel in me was alive and well.  Thank you, Courtney.  Thank you, music.

What are some of your favourite angry songs?  How do they make you feel better?


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