Top Ten Addiction Songs
(page 2)The Co-Dependent (Sia)
Australian singer-songwriter Sia Furler has taken on themes of recovery in her music before—her 2007 song, “The Girl You Lost to Cocaine,” is a memorable example—but “The Co-Dependent” explores fascinating new territory, if only because it’s so aggressively cheerful. When she’s at her best, Sia’s music marries spunky beats—handclaps and stomping feet—with sour lyrics, to often surprising effect. Here, the refrain says it all: “I’m gonna watch you drink it all/I’m gonna watch you fall/You’ll find me by your side/If you find me at all.”
This Place Is a Prison (The Postal Service)
The Postal Service—a collaboration between Death Cab for Cutie vocalist Ben Gibbard and producer Jimmy Tamborello—have taken an undeserved beating for being so twee and so pop, for diluting the traditions of IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) into something mainstream and palatable. But “This Place Is a Prison” is glitchy and gloomy, with some marvelous lyrics, like “I know that it’s not a party/If it happens every night.” It may not have all the critical heft that it could, but it gets the job done.
Everyone Nose (Remix) (N.E.R.D. – featuring Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco & Pusha T)
In terms of sheer lyrical density, rap allows for much greater space to tell a story than a song ever could, and this star-studded remix of N.E.R.D.’s single “Everyone Nose” features some of the best rappers in the game spitting lyrics that are as cutting as they are smart, lyrics about a girl who loves her cocaine a little too much. The chorus, which is simply the sentence “All the girls standing in the line for the bathroom” repeated over and over again, is just weird, but the verses (“Talkin’ that Paris, Lindsay, Britney/Mary-Kate and Whitney/People say that they clean/Don’t bullshit me,” and my favorite, “Your brain is Magic City/Your nose is Atlanta") are gems.
Not If You Were the Last Junkie On Earth (The Dandy Warhols)
The Dandy Warhols have done a fine job of blending well-crafted pop hooks with biting social commentary, as they did in 2000’s ubiquitous “Bohemian Like You,” but their 1997 track “Not If You Were the Last Junkie On Earth” is even more acerbic as it lambastes its subject: Not only is she a heroin addict (this was the ‘90s, remember), but her efforts to be fashionable are painfully transparent: “I never thought you’d be a junkie because heroin is so passé.” Even 14 years later, the message still rings true.
Picking the best songs about addiction is an impossible challenge. The most influential and iconic figures in music, from the Rolling Stones to Bob Dylan to The Velvet Underground, have covered the subject so magnificently that it’s easy to forget that there are many current artists who are tackling the topic as well. But over the last decade (give or take a few years), some highly unlikely acts have written songs about addiction and recovery that are, variously, funny, provocative, and heartbreaking. These excellent recent songs aren't classics, but might just deserve to be.