Ten Songs That Express Alienation

Alternative music has provided a platform and source of inspiration to those that inevitably have to face alienation at a point in their lives. Music usually is one of the support systems that allows a person to relate their internalized emotions and feelings of alienation with that of the musician’s or the protagonist mentioned in the song.

In fact, when one feels alienated, the thought of other people sailing in the same boat and liking the same song provides a healing touch that is otherwise not found in an unfeeling and cold environment. Thus, certain songs become support systems for a person when he or she is alienated from those they love, from the society, and from what they previously believed in. Below are 10 songs that express feelings of alienation in varying degrees, and in no particular order.

Creep – Radiohead


When Radiohead released their debut single “Creep” they were not prepared for either the success or fame they would receive in the later stages of their career. The song wasn’t a success initially but was responsible for helping them achieve stardom. The chorus “I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo, What the hell am I doing here, I don’t belong here” expresses a person’s, a loser’s or every person’s anguish at the thought of not being accepted by someone they love. Unrequited love can make a person feel more alienated than anything else. It usually is a humbling experience even for a successful person.

Is That All There Is – Peggy Lee Cover by PJ Harvey

Sometimes life can be so disappointing and depressing that one may question at the end of it all, “Is that all there is” and one would eventually realize that the answer to that question could be maddeningly empty and void. When a person tries to end his life to seek a way out of loneliness and meaningless, he or she would realize that death could be the final disappointment, worse than all the disappointments a person has faced. PJ Harvey covered the song with John Parish in their album “Dancehall at Louse Point”.

Happy Home – Garbage

Home is a place where one is expected to be happy and comforted, loved and cared for. Unfortunately, home could be a place which exposes to loneliness and desperation which ultimately leads to alienation. Garbage’s “Happy Home” is an anthem to those who live lives filled with misery and burning solitude while the lover lies in bed, in each other’s arms. The song explicitly describes the situation of an alienated being lying in the arms of a lover, and waiting for the oppressive and lonely night to end, while the sun begins to shine bright outside the window.

One of Us – Joan Osborne

Religion and belief have been quoted as a panacea for all the ailments, physical, mental and spiritual. Unfortunately, if god truly existed, and if he were another person like us, he probably would have been “just a slob like one of us” waiting for someone to call on the phone that never rings. If God could be so lonely and unwanted, what about the billions of his followers? Joan Osborne finds out in “One of Us“. God and Religion are ego defense mechanisms created by early humans to rationalize their insignificance and helplessness.

I have Seen It All – Bjork


I have Seen It All” is a soundtrack from the movie “Dancer in the Dark” and is also featured on Bjork‘s “Selma Songs”. The song seems to suggest that there is no more to see in this world, though the vastness and diversity of human life is compelling. A person could see and experience all the tragedies unfold before their eyes, only to realize that they have seen it all, and that there wouldn’t be anymore to see which could make them feel lonelier than they already are.

Crucify – Tori Amos

Tori AmosCrucify” could be written with other intentions. However, regardless of a person’s gender, they could visit bars at night and do kerb crawling and bring strangers home and find a saviour in them, while there is none. The one that is deemed to be the only saviour is always conspicuously missing through these phases of angst. One can neither find a saviour in promiscuous sex, nor can they find in the all enveloping and foreboding nature of the book.

Hey You – Pink Floyd

Negating society and rebelling against its strangulating mechanisms unfortunately does not provide a balming effect either. A person would thus be stuck behind a wall beyond which he may not be able to scale and escape. After giving up society, the person goes through an immense sense of alienation or perhaps faces the nothingness that was hidden by society’s facades. Pink Floyd‘s “Hey You” is a song that has helped generations of alienated fans to connect.

Jesus of Suburbia – Greenday

Living in the suburbs in a claustrophobic middle class environment can be scarily self defeating. Greenday‘s “Jesus of Suburbia” is an ode to millions of youngsters who live “just another safe and sound life” while they try to come to terms with drug problems, sexual promiscuity and the feeling of being abandoned when “everything is right there in place”. What results is extreme anger and disillusionment with everyone around the person.

Losing My Religion – REM

Losing My Religion” by R.E.M has been described as a song about unrequited love. However, this love could also be for oneself and when that love is unrequited, a person is left caught between hating and loving oneself. This dichotomy in a person pushes them deeper in to an abyss than society could never do.

Walking in My Shoes – Depeche Mode

Depeche Mode‘s “Walking in My Shoes” is the classic song which describes a person’s anger and agony of having wronged morally and ethically. While he or she may not have done so with full awareness, in the end is left alienated and lonely, left to pick up pieces of their broken lives. Guilt can be a lonely feeling that is often underestimated. When guilt is peppered with the anger of not being understood, the mental agony could be unbearable.

Thank you for the images KirstieCat, Vetlife2005, DaveMitchell, Maverick, ChannelMe, Tinypic

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  • http://www.tonystreet.com tony

    why isn’t nine inch nails’ “hurt” on here?

    • Jaiyant Cavale

      I love that song too! Perhaps, in the next list!

    • Nyx

      Hurt is definitely a great song that expresses alienation and should be in the listing, perhaps even near the top. Although, i think Johnny Cash’s version seems to convey the feeling very effectively.

  • Dan W

    The whole Wall album by Pink Floyd is about alienation

  • http://www.louisagiffard.com louisa

    What about every Portishead song there is?
    They express a lot of alienation in my opinion..alienation and denial.

    If I had to name a particular one I’d say Roads

  • me`

    i’ll nominate ‘alien’ by pennywise

  • Brad

    Aqualung by Jethro Tull and I Talk To The Wind by King Crimson would also be good picks.

  • Nick

    There are 3 good songs on here (losing my religion, hey you, and creep)

    I agree that I Talk To The Wind would be a good addition though, but, and here’s an obvious one, what about Bob Dylan’s “Queen Jane Approximately” I mean, c’mon, that’s purely about alienation

  • splurt

    “Whole wide world” – Wreckless Eric

  • http://www.thebaldchemist.com The Baldchemist

    I think Peggy Lee’s “Is that all there is” is more of a nothing to worry about song.

    ” I know what you’re all thinking, if that’s all there is why doesn’t she just end it all?” The final disapointment. Its nothing to fear. You’ll get through everything. Everything will disapoint if you let it.

    I heard Tony bennet sing this and it depends on your mind set and how you listen.

    But let’s be clear all songs are of any meaning you have to have lived through. Susan Boyle is a classic example.

  • ilovemusic924

    my body is a cage by arcade fire?

  • lonely_girl

    Mad World- Gary Jules

  • Mike

    Subdivisions- Rush

  • BlueFlame

    Something in the Way – Nirvana