Top 10 Songs Written About Celebrities

Here is a list of 10 songs that you may or may not have realized were written about other celebrities, some fondly, others as revenge songs or some as insults.

#10 Bagpipes from Baghdad – Eminem

Bagpipes from Baghdad is about Eminem’s then over relationship with Mariah Carey. Eminem throws a slew of insults at her and even brings her now husband Nick Cannon into the mix, to which Nick responded with a blog post that he later deleted. Mariah then responds by dropping a single entitled Obsessed, and even though she won’t admit it, the song is perceived as a shot to Eminem. The song begins with him saying that he’s locked in Mariah’s wine cellar, which seems to actually mean that he can’t stop thinking about her because he goes on to rap lines such as, “Mariah, whatever happened to us?” and “Why did we have to break up?” This is the first time that Eminem has shown his real colors about Mariah in a song. Then he tells Nick Cannon to back up and that he’s had his fun, but he, Eminem, wants her back.

#9 Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond

It was one of the emblematic songs of the 60s, a catchy love song to a girl known simply as Sweet Caroline. Now 40 years after its release, the singer and songwriter Neil Diamond has revealed the inspiration behind the song: the Caroline in question was Caroline Kennedy, now the only surviving child of President John F Kennedy. “I’ve never discussed it with anybody before – intentionally,” Diamond, 66, told Associated Press. “I thought maybe I would tell it to Caroline when I met her someday.” The inspiration for the song came from a photograph of the then nine-year-old Kennedy the singer saw in a magazine while staying at a hotel in Memphis. Diamond finally met the now Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, and performed the song for her 50th birthday.

#8 Paper Doll – John Mayer

“Dear John” is an open letter in a song written and performed by Taylor Swift to former boyfriend John Mayer. The song is about being manipulated and betrayed by someone you loved. Mayer was less than enthused with “Dear John,” telling Rolling Stone in 2012 that the song “humiliated” him, adding “I will say as a songwriter that I think it’s kind of cheap songwriting.” He got his revenge by writing “Paper Doll” about Swift. The first single off his 2013 album “Paradise Valley,” features the chorus “You’re like 22 girls in one/ And none of them know what they’re running from/ Was it just too far to fall for a little paper doll?”

#7 Hollaback Girl – Gwen Stefani

Gwen Stefani apparently took offense to some comments Courtney Love had made about the music business being like a high school, calling Stefani “the cheerleader.” Mad as hell that Love would dare to imply she was cute and popular, Stefani wrote “Hollaback Girl” in a mocking call-and-response style. Its challenges didn’t exactly shatter her stereotype, though: “I heard that you were talking shit, and you didn’t think that I would hear it … So I’m ready to attack, gonna lead the pack, gonna get a touchdown, gonna take you out.” This was definitely not the worst Courtney Love had heard.

#6 Dude (Looks Like a Lady) – Aerosmith

Like a Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan The story goes that Steven Tyler and Joe Perry were hitting the bars in their pre-sobriety days, so let the meaning of that “Cruising to a bar on the shore” line be a mystery no longer. During their night out, Tyler spotted a beautiful woman and, even though she was facing away from him, fell instantly in love. He was getting all set to lay his swollen-rodent charm on her when she turned around and … she wasn’t a she at all, but famously pretty Motley Crue lead singer Vince Neil. Now I’m not sure that Steven Tyler has much room to talk as that dude sure looks like an old lady.

#5 Butterfly in Reverse – Counting Crows

This was written for the actress Mary-Louise Parker, whom Duritz dated back in the late 90s/early 2000s. This song expresses regret at losing a girl: Mary-Ann. It describes how Mary-Ann wasn’t treated and appreciated as she should have been. The butterfly is used as a metaphor: their feelings are paralleled to a butterfly because butterflies appear so peaceful and at ease. It’s explained how feelings are “locked up inside you.” But, the author says that he is a “Butterfly in reverse,” so this implies that he doesn’t feel at ease, doesn’t feel beautiful, and doesn’t feel peaceful – like the butterfly. He’s in indecision over this girl. In addition, the butterfly is compared to Mary-Ann and comes to represent her. She is labeled as perfect, as is the butterfly.

#4 Like a Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan

Dylan had taken up with famous Warhol “it girl” Edie Sedgwick and took exception to the way she was being treated by the white-haired oddball Andy Warhol. Dylans song “Like a Rolling Stone” is a narrative of an upper-class girl falling from society into destitution. This was Dylan’s warning to Sedgwick of may become of her if she did not get away from Warhol. Well Dylan was right, Sedgwick lost her trust fund, developed a bad drug habit and resorted to stealing and selling family heirlooms to buy drugs, perhaps having taken Dylan’s lyrical advice to “take your diamond ring, you’d better pawn it, babe,” a bit too far. She then died broke and alone five years later.

#3 I’ll Stick Around – Foo Fighters

This was one of the first songs Dave Grohl wrote after the death of Kurt Cobain. With the rousing chorus, “I don’t owe you anything,” some listeners thought this song was targeted at Kurt Cobain, which Dave Grohl was quick to deny. The real target of this song’s vitriol is Courtney Love, something Grohl didn’t admit until 2009 when he told his biographer Paul Brannigan: “I don’t think it’s any secret that ‘I’ll Stick Around’ is about Courtney. I’ve denied it for 15 years, but I’m finally coming out and saying it. Just read the f–king words!” Some of those words Grohl speaks of include “I had no hand in your ever desperate plan,” a reference to Love’s possible role in Cobain’s death. “I should have known, you were better off alone” is Grohl regretting getting them together. One of the most scathing lines, “How could it be I’m the only one who sees your rehearsed insanity?” indicates that Love’s histrionics in the wake of her husband’s death were somewhat contrived and possibly meant to advance her career.

#2 Chelsea Hotel #2 – Leonard Cohen

The Chelsea Hotel in New York City is where Cohen lived when he wasn’t at his home. He chose the Chelsea because he heard he would meet people with a similar artistic bent, which he did. When introducing this song in concert, he would often tell a story about meeting a famous singer in an elevator of the Chelsea, which led to the sexual encounter he describes in this song. Leonard Cohen has admitted that he wrote this song about an affair he had with Janis Joplin, although since her death, he has come to regret actually linking her name with the song. In a 1994 BBC radio interview, Cohen referred to it as “the sole indiscretion in my professional life.” He added regarding his kiss and tell: “Looking back I’m sorry I did because there are some lines in it that are extremely intimate.”

#1 How Do You Sleep? – John Lennon

Lennon wrote this at the height of his feud with Paul McCartney after The Beatles broke up. Each line of the song is an attack on some aspect of McCartney’s life or music at the time. The song was an unbridled response to the slights Lennon perceived on Paul and Linda McCartney’s Ram album. In the song Lennon accused McCartney of being surrounded by sycophantic ‘straights’, having achieved nothing more than writing Yesterday, and trashing his recent works as “muzak to my ears”. To ram the point home, he suggested those believers of the ‘Paul is dead’ myth were actually right.

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