6 Juicy, Gossipy Breakup Songs and How Close They Come to Truth
Songwriters yearn to write about heartbreak, and when a well-known star (especially one who's gone through a highly-publicized breakup) sings about lost love, people speculate. But many times, it's just that ... speculation.
Blake Shelton, Jake Owen, Reba McEntire, Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift are five singers who've released eyebrow-raising breakup songs in recent years. In almost every case they've been mum about how truthful and autobiographical the story is, instead letting the music do the talking. Call it a cop-out if you want; it's their prerogative. Below are six recent instances, with a truth score attached.
We stuck to celebrity relationships, or the end of relationships that started and flamed out in the public eye.
Blake Shelton's "She's Got a Way With Words"
Truth Score: 3 (out of 10)
Shelton didn't write this song from his If I'm Honest album, but he knew what he was doing when he recorded it. Owen turned the would-be hit down because he knew people would think he was blasting his ex-wife with lyrics like, "She put the ex in sex / She put the low in blow / She put a big F.U. om my future / Yeah she’s got a way / She’s got a way with words." More on that in a bit.
Songwriter Andy Albert tells Taste of Country that Shelton put the song on hold months before the split was announced, however, so it wasn't a blatant dig at his ex wife. The extent to which he had Lambert in mind when he heard it is unknown.
Jake Owen's "When You Love Someone"
Truth Score: 5
There is some truth to be found in Owen's lonesome ballad from American Love, but not where you were looking. He sings of a woman's infidelity, and that was not what broke he and wife Lacey up after three years of marriage. "That line there, ‘It sounds like a lie when you say it / it sounds like a lie because it is'," he'd tell Taste of Country, "We both got to a point where … we were in opposite places of our life. We weren’t being honest with each other."
The song was a jarring first listen so soon after his divorce, but he has made every effort to treat his ex-wife and their relationship with respect. For this reason, he turned down "She's Got a Way With Words" as he knew it'd be taken literally. Which it was.
Anderson East's "Girlfriend"
Truth Score: ?
Let's be honest, we know nothing about how Anderson East's relationship with Lambert started, nor do we truly know what caused her breakup with Shelton. The rowdy Americana track is pure fun, with lyrics that tell of a guy crushing hard on another guy's girl. It really seems unlikely that if this is how it all went down, (East co-wrote the song) that he'd flaunt it.
Reba McEntire's "From the Inside Out"
Truth Score: 8
Amy Fletcher wrote and first recorded this song from McEntire's Sing It Now: Songs of Faith and Hope album, but McEntire says the message suits her well. "I'm just like everybody else," McEntire tells Taste of Country. "I cry, I scream, I shout ... but not often. Not often. I'm more like a volcano. I hold it in and try to stay steady, I can do this, do this — and then it just explodes and then I'm OK."
Lyrically this ballad doesn't provide the dirty details of a breakup as much as it does provide a window into McEntire's very vulnerable heart in the days, weeks and months after she and husband Narvel Blackstock split.
Miranda Lambert's "Vice"
Truth Score: 5
Lambert's co-writers on "Vice" praised her honesty, but nobody went into detail about which parts were honest and which parts were fiction. Written just weeks after her marriage ended, she sings, “Another vice, another call / Another bed I shouldn’t crawl out of at 7AM with shoes in my hand / Said I wouldn’t do it, but I did it again / And I know I’ll be back tomorrow night."
Gulp. Even if the hook is pure fantasy, this song definitely falls into the eyebrow-raising category. And she's owning her imperfections.
Taylor Swift's "Dear John"
Truth Score: 9
Which Taylor Swift song to choose? "Dear John," a song from Speak Now that is about John Mayer, makes most sense because even he admits it's about him and it was humiliating. The pair dated when she was young.
"Dear John, I see it all, now it was wrong / Don't you think 19 is too young to be played by your dark twisted games, when I loved you so," Swift sings.
Mayer says he learned Swift was upset through this song, but that it was cheap songwriting. "I think it's abusing your talent to rub your hands together and go, 'Wait till he gets a load of this!' That's bulls--t," Mayer tells Rolling Stone.
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