The impact a friend can have on our lives is immeasurable but sometimes they can let us down. Whether to let out a good cry or to feel understood – we constantly search out mediums to express our angst about fake friendships. For decades, artists have poured their hearts out to their audiences – depicting the moments of heartbreak, betrayal, and untrustworthiness associated with false friendships.
While listening, have you ever found yourself wondering the true meaning behind the words written by these artists? What experience are they referring to in their songs?
This article will take a deep look into the minds of some of our favorite artists, and what life experiences lead them to write these interesting and expressive works of art.
1. “False Prophets” by J Cole
Anyone who’s listened to False Prophets by J Cole would probably jump to assume that this is clearly written as a “diss-track”. The general concept of this track by Cole was to call out rappers who were at the peak of their game but, according to Cole, had slowly ‘fallen from grace.
It’s been speculated that this song was written about Kanye West, and possibly even Drake. Regardless, it is clear that Cole is referring to them as a “false prophet”.
The phrase has been adapted from the Bible, and is a conversation between Jesus and Matthew where he warns, “Beware of the false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are wolves”. Cole is using this analogy to describe rappers he once idolized, as being false because they only crave attention and adulation.
2. “Fake Friends” by Kidd Kidd
Another rap diss-track, Fake Friends by Kidd Kidd hits all the right feels. In this rap, Kidd Kidd is taking a shot at all those fake friends and women who entered his life because he was famous.
The entirety of the rap speaks of the pain and untrustworthiness that comes with fame. Kidd Kidd depicts how difficult it is to find real people when you are a celebrity.
3. “Fake Love” by Drake
Fake Love by Drake takes a step back from his usual rap feel and you can notice R&B similarities between this song and his other music like “One Dance”. Drake uses the song to depict the difficulties he faces when it comes to letting people into his inner circle because of his celebrity status.
People come into his life as a way to better themselves, or surpass him. “I’ve been down so long it looks up to me. They look up to me. I got fake people to show in’ fake love to me” clearly portray the anguish that Drake must have felt in order to write this awfully sad song.
4. “Backstabber” by Eminem
In this rap song, Eminem is talking about a backstabber who looks a lot like the Joker (coming from a psychiatric ward, green hair, etc). Throughout the track, Eminem uses his words to convey that this backstabber is perhaps a girlfriend stealer.
Lines like, “Ring the alarm, look for the man with the green hair. Check at your girl’s house, he was last seen there” or “I heard a yell, the voice sounded familiar.
Give me your girlfriend, or I’m gonna kill ya” give you the impression that Eminem wrote this after personally dealing with a friend stealing his woman. The entire theme of the song is very angry, as if Eminem is hunting this man for what he’s done.
5. “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift
There was absolutely no shock when Taylor Swift released this song, and everyone immediately jumped to the conclusion that it was written about Katy Perry. In her 2014 Rolling Stone cover story, Taylor revealed that the song was about a fellow female pop star.
She said, “For years, I was never sure if we were friends or not. She would come up to me at awards shows and say something and walk away, and I would think are we friends, or did she just give me the harshest insult of my life?”
Taylor even went on to note that the unnamed adversary did something that made them “straight-up enemies”. This particular female tried to sabotage an entire arena tour by hiring a bunch of her staff behind her back.
6. “Deep Fried Frenz” by MF Doom
Another rap track, Deep Fried Frenz by MF Doom combines the indictment of fake friends and sycophants. He uses this to produce an amazingly cautionary message to any and all others out there trying to achieve personal fame.
He explains how to recognize who your true friends are, while also warning of what can happen if you allow fake friends into your life. He concludes the rap by explaining that he’s essentially above all of this, and he’s now fully aware of who the real people in his life are.
7. “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” by Taylor Swift
Another Taylor Swift song, this one is also littered with sub-text, and fans have been speculating the meaning behind every last word. In the lead song from her album, Reputation, she has quite obviously pinpointed one person, or in this case, a couple.
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have a very checkered past with Taylor Swift. From the infamous phone call to Kayne stopping Taylor’s 2009 Best Female Video Award speech, these three most certainly have their history.
So, it’s no shock that Taylor took this as an opportunity to release her own subtle diss track. Lines like, “And therein lies the issues, friends don’t try to trick you, get you on the phone and mind twist you”, clearly point the figure directly at the West’s, and made it easy for fans to figure it all out.
8. “You’re No Different” by Ozzy
In the 1980s, Ozzy Osbourne was consistently under fire from the media. He was regarded as a Satan worshipper and the cause of the corruption of the youth in America.
There were many hateful and outlandish things written about him throughout magazines, newspapers, etc. Ozzy wrote this song about facing all that judgment and overcoming it. He points out that those critiquing him weren’t any different.
The critics, educators, and politicians that constantly referred to his music as the “devil’s music”, were doing horrible things themselves. This song was meant as an equalizer, to show that even those judging, aren’t any better.
9. “Low” by Kelly Clarkson
Low by Kelly Clarkson is a song filled with heartbreak. Not the heartbreak caused by a lost lover, but the heartbreak that can only be caused by a best friend.
Kelly sings of someone that she thought was incredibly close to her and loved her the same way she loved them. It seems as though this friendship ended with betrayal or backstabbing. Kelly was clearly not prepared for it.
This song bleeds the emotions of moving on from something that meant a lot to you, and you have to let it go even though it hurts. It’s a very relatable song for anyone who’s experienced this kind of friendship loss.
10. “FAB” by Jojo
The song FAB by Jojo is an anthem for anyone who’s ever been on the receiving end of a fake friendship. The title is literally an abbreviation for “Fake-Ass B*tches.”
Jojo once told Entertainment Weekly that she had encountered many FABs while living in Los Angeles. She went on to say that she got her inspiration for the song when she was running on the treadmill at the gym.
She had been growing increasingly frustrated with some so-called fake friends of hers and decided to work out to cool down. She wasn’t expecting that to be the exact place that the ideas for FAB would strike, but thank goodness it did because now we all have this killer song to listen to!
11. “You’re No Good” by Linda Ronstadt
This song had been around for decades prior to the moment Linda Rondstadt re-recorded it and made it famous. The song also made Linda one of the biggest female artists of the ’70s.
This song begins with Linda depicting a low-down guy who’s really done her wrong, but throughout the song, she also places blame on herself. The entirety of the song explains what both parties had done wrong in the relationship, and afterwards as well.
12. “Fake Friends” by Martinez Twins
A diss-track steeped in drama! For those who don’t know, the Martinez Twins originally shot to fame through platforms like Instagram and Vine. The twins were also a well-known part of Jake Paul’s notorious “Team 10”.
This track came out with a direct aim at former Team 10 member, Max Beaumont. Max departed or was kicked from Team 10 after refusing to go along with a lie that was circulating from Erika Costell and Jake Paul.
The lie alleged that “Clout Gang” member Faze Banks, assaulted Costell’s assistant. Max went public about the falsehood and inevitably proved that members of Team 10 were lying. Although he was in the right, the Martinez Twins still jumped to protect their friends and wrote this diss-track about him.
13. “Cry Me A River” by Ella Fitzgerald
Another beautiful song depicting heartbreak, Ella Fitzgerald leaves us to feel the pain of a woman who “cried a river”, over a lost love. This song tells the story of one person who’s fallen out of love with the other, leaving the dumped person to cry a river of tears.
After finally feeling like moving on is a possibility, the ex just walks back into her life. However, there is a lot of bitterness and they doubt they will ever want that relationship back again. This song is relatable and touching to anyone who’s ever been in a similar situation.
14. “Super Rich Kids” by Frank Ocean featuring Earl Sweatshirt
This song by Frank Ocean highlights absentee parents who are too focused on earning their riches instead of raising their children. He speaks of children raised by maids, without any proper form of love. This song is a heartbreaking depiction of how children who grow up without proper role models in life struggle with maintaining relationships in their adulthood.
15. “Walk” by Pantera
When Pantera first found success, they found that their old friends were treating them differently, as they thought the fame had automatically gone to their heads. The band’s lead singer, Phil Anselmo, once explained in an interview that he wrote the song when Pantera was getting a lot of attention.
“I came back from touring and my friends had taken it upon themselves to think that I’d changed as a person into this big rockstar. ‘Walk’ was me telling them to shove that attitude up their ass.” Even Phil Anselmo doesn’t have time for fake friends!
16. “Positively 4th Street” by Bob Dylan
From his Greatest Hits album in 1965, comes Bob Dylan’s ‘Positively 4th Street’. As reported by Rolling Stone Magazine, this song is about personal experiences in Bob Dylan’s life.
He’s talking about fake friends and critics, particularly during his time in Greenwich Village (where he did in fact reside on 4th Street West). It also has to do with the time he spent at the University of Minnesota on fraternity row (again, strangely enough, located on 4th Street).
Apparently, Bob Dylan used this song as a way to deal with the jealousy he encountered from friends within the artistic community, who ended up resenting him for all of his success.
17. “Real Friends” by Kanye West
Real Friends, is one of Kanye West’s more emotional tracks. Kanye gives us an insight into the pain that he has experienced in the past and present, at the hands of both family and friends, since coming into fame.
Whilst Kanye does have infamous feuds and has had no issues dropping names on other tracks – he doesn’t call anyone out in Real Friends. It’s almost as though this particular track is too emotionally-fuelled and painful and he uses it as a generic diss-track. Regardless, Kanye hits us all right in the feels with this passionate rap.
18. “F**k you” by Lily Allen
Lily Allen is an extremely talented British singer, songwriter, actress, and political activist. She’s never been afraid to voice her opinions against intolerance, and F*ck You is an excellent example of that.
According to NNE in Los Angeles, this is how Lily Allen introduced this song whilst performing it back in 2009; “This song is about George Bush, who by the way I’m quite happy isn’t president anymore!”
19. “F**k Fake Friends” by Bebe Rexha (feat. G-Eazy)
Another great song about the disadvantages of fame and success, Bebe Rexha and G-Eazy team up to deliver this amazing track to diss all the fake and toxic people they’ve both encountered since becoming famous; in particular, since living in Los Angeles.
These two repeatedly sing, “and I ain’t got the time, money on my mind. I’ll say it to your face, f*ck fake friends”, showing they’re moving on and above these sort of people.
20. “Fairweather Friends” by Vanessa Carlton
The central theme in Fairweather Friends by Vanessa Carlton is betrayal. In an interview with PopMatters, Vanessa speaks on the personal experience that led her to write this song. “The guy says he’s in one city, but he’s actually in another city.
It all started with my reading this letter that was not intended for me- and never read a letter that’s not meant for you unless you want to write a really sad song.” So, this emotional and song is one based purely on experience – making it even more touching.
The artists and the songs that have been discussed in this article allow us, as the audience, to feel so many different emotions. They have opened their hearts, told us their stories, and given us hope for the future, all at the same time. Fake friends may come and go, but we will always have music to help us through any hard times we may face.