Relationships between friends and families can sometimes be toxic as some people in our lives have ill intentions despite showing that they care. If you have ever experienced such a relationship and felt that you are being used or taken advantage of, listening to songs about manipulators can help you feel less alone and be your first step to healing.
Though you might be blinded by love or care towards someone, some people are part of your life just to take advantage of you. This is not a unique experience, as even famous musicians have experienced the same manipulation.
From such experiences, the composers have used music as a medium to narrate their struggles with manipulators. This list features some of the best songs telling stories of how people were manipulated for someone’s selfish gain.
21 Songs About Manipulators
We shall explore popular songs in this category and see why they resonate with so many.
1. How Do You Sleep – Sam Smith
Love can be a great recipe for disaster, especially when you realize your better half is using you. This popular pop ballad discusses finding the strength to move on from a cheating manipulator after a breakup.
The song’s instrumental is characterized by a hypnotic rhythm perfect enough to dance our troubles and pain away if we underwent a similar fate.
2. Judas – Lady Gaga
With nearly 450 million views on YouTube, this song by Lady Gaga was not shy of controversy. The piece became an instant hit and club banger after it leaked on the internet before the artist released her second album.
The lyrics describe the composer falling in love with a backstabbing man who lies and uses her. In a way, the composer wants us to embrace and forgive ourselves for past relationships still haunting and hurting us.
3. I have Questions – Camila Cabello
This mournful ballad by Camila Cabello represents the emotions experienced after being used, played the fool, or ultimately abandoned.
Though the composer did not use any pronouns on the track, it is anticipated it is about a nasty breakup with her ex-lover or her former group Fifth Harmony.
4. Cry Me a River – Justine Timberlake
Cry Me a River is a broken-hearted ode from Justine Timberlake that was released in 2002 for his debut album, Justified. The track was inspired by Justin Timberlake’s former relationship with Britney Spears.
It shows that he moved on from her cheating in their relationship but is trying to manipulate him into staying together.
5. You Ruin Me – The Veronicas
You Ruin Me is a famous song by the Australian pop duo The Veronicas, released in 2014. The duo takes on the role of an emotionally stripped woman manipulated by her lover.
This mournful, slow-tempo ballad expresses the pain and psychological destruction experienced due to manipulation from a relationship.
6. I’m Your Puppet – James & Bobby Purify
While most James and Bobby Purify fans view this soulful ballad as a declaration of how one can be powerless when in love, a critical analysis of the song’s lyrics will show manipulation is in play.
The lovesick man in this track is so in love and willing to be used like a puppet, opening the possibility of him being manipulated. Though others might argue it is pure love, I believe a fine line exists between being used and loving attentiveness.
7. Your Power – Billie Eilish
Your power is a powerful track by Billie Eilish about taking back power from your manipulator. It is an open letter to those who take advantage of others, mostly in romantic relationships, to cherish who they have and be more humane.
Billie said she wrote the song from a personal experience of being used.
8. Papa Don’t Preach – Madonna
Papa Don’t Preach is one of Madonna’s earlier hits that was released in 1986 for her studio album True Blue. It features a combination of classical styling and pop. The song talks about teenage pregnancy and the choices that come with it.
The composer highlights how her father tries to manipulate her into ending her pregnancy, but she stands up for her rights.
9. Sympathy For The Devil – The Rolling Stones
Sympathy for the Devil is one of the most unique songs about manipulations as it is sung from the perspective of a devil. The subtext in the song’s lyrics introduces us to multiple world events where the devil manipulated men to commit negative ills in the world.
This track is an absolute masterpiece from the 1960s, which remained relevant to this era because of the rhythm and sensation it gives.
10. The Hands That Feeds – Nine Inch Nails
This song highlights what we have become as a society. The composers show how we act as if we are controlled and manipulated by others by being told what to do and think. Some of the song’s fans have interpreted it to be a political song.
11. Stay – Sugarland
Inspired by “Whoever’s in New England”, this song talks about a woman begging her married lover to stay with her. He had promised her that he would divorce his wife, but it turned out he was lying.
Growing weary of empty promises and sneaking around, she realizes the man manipulates her and gives her false hopes. The realization that she was being used is quite heartbreaking.
12. Damage – H.E.R.
Damage is about a woman who is warning a man not to take advantage of her. She allows herself to be vulnerable emotionally but says he shouldn’t take her for granted.
Her lyrics show that one can have the courage to stand up to manipulators and express your heart’s desires.
13. Hustle – P!nk
Hustle is one of the boldest songs about manipulation on this compilation. The song’s lyrics tell a story of the protagonist being in a manipulative relationship.
She reaches a point where she can no longer endure being taken advantage of by her lover and boldly addresses him. The 2019 pop piece shoots fire across as a warning showing the main character is not weak.
14. Layla – Derek and the Dominos
This 1970s classic tells a true story of the manipulation experienced by the composer. Eric Clapton was inspired to write this song due to the unrequited love he experienced from model Pattie Boyd, the wife of his friend George Harrison.
The artist later learns that the woman was playing him for a fool. Eric decided to write this piece after reading a classic Persian poem, Layla and Majnun.
15. You Oughta Know – Alanis Morissette
You Oughta Know talks about a woman who is angry with her ex-boyfriend because he left her for another woman. She says he should know how she feels and how he has hurt her.
Recommended: 21 Songs About Bad Mother-Daughter Relationships.
16. Grenade – Bruno Mars
There are a few artists with the ability to take romantic ballads, but there are only a few artists that can match the prowess of Bruno Mars.
Unfortunately, sometimes in romance, there can be a giver and a taker. In this piece, the artist tells a sad love story.
The song became a smash hit and propelled Bruno into global stardom as his story was relatable to many who experienced manipulation from their other halves.
17. FourFiveSeconds – Rihanna & Kanye West & Paul McCartney
With over half a billion views on the YouTube streaming platform, this song about manipulation is the most star-studded piece on this playlist. The song’s lyrics are about an ended relationship that was one-sided, and the other partner was not faithful.
It features Paul’s amazing guitar melody, Rihanna’s vocals, and Kanye’s verses, making it a perfect combination that we didn’t expect.
18. Sorry – Justin Bieber
In this song, Justin is singing to Selena and asking her to forgive him for his many, many, many mistakes. He didn’t have to mention it, but he probably manipulated her.
However, now he wants a second chance since he’s realized he wants Selena not only physically, but also spiritually.
19. Dear John – Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift wrote Dear John about her relationship with John Meyer. Taylor started dating him at 19 while he was 32 years old. The relationship was short-lived. She realized that he was manipulative and taking advantage of her.
20. I Hate Myself For Loving You – Joan & The Blackhearts
Realizing that you were a victim of manipulation can be devastating. I Hate Myself For Loving You tells a narrative of the singer projecting self-hate towards herself for letting her lover treat her poorly.
Joan came up with the guitar riff of the piece by herself, and it is one of the best I have ever listened to.
21. The Heart Wants What It Wants – Selena Gomez
You can’t help who you love. The intro of the song portrays the pain that Selena Gomez was going through. Despite her lover taking advantage of her, she admits she still feels desperate for him.
The song’s inspiration came from the on-and-off relationship with Justin Bieber. Ultimately, she got hurt as he moved forward.
Judging from the songs about manipulators, it seems that being used for selfish gains is common. I hope you find the strength to heal and move forward if you undergo a similar situation.
I also hope the songs comforted you and taught you to judge people better and get rid of the toxic people in your life.