Depression is a very serious mental condition that’s more common than one would like to think.
This is especially true when we talk about musicians and music stars that have to deal with the emotional rollercoaster of overexposure and confinement.
Yes, one day they’re playing for a whole arena of screaming fans and the next day sipping coffee and watching TV.
But they don’t just give in to the feeling; they do what they do best with feelings: turn them into art.
Thus, here are the 53 attempts musicians have made to fight their own demons back, these are 53 hits inspired by depression.
1. Down in a Hole – Alice in Chains
“Down in a Hole” was the fifth single from the band’s debut album, Dirt, released in 1992. It’s one of the band’s very few power ballads.
- The main inspiration for this song, written by guitar player Jerry Cantrell was his then-girlfriend.
- The song is not like most other songs by Alice in Chains, therefore, Jerry Cantrell was reluctant at first to present this song to the rest of the band. He felt it was too soft and that his bandmates wouldn’t want to play it. Yet, the result was the exact opposite, he felt a positive response and decided to finish and record it.
- The band performed an acoustic version of this song for the famous MTV Unplugged series in 1996. After that version, the song became an anthem around the world for those suffering from depression.
2. Stan – Eminem
“Stan” was chosen to be the third single from Eminem’s hit album, The Marshall Mathers LP. It was released on November 20th, 2000.
- The sampled vocals that open the song are by British singer Dido. They belong to her song “Thank You”.
- The main theme of the song revolts around the story of Stanley Mitchell (hence, the name of the song, “Stang”). He claims to be Eminem’s biggest. The story ends with depression-related murder and suicide.
- According to certain experts, the name “Stan” was not chosen randomly, but it is a word formed by the words “stalker” and “fan”. Nevertheless, this was never confirmed by the artist.
3. No rain – Blind Melon
“No Rain” is a hit song by Blind Melon. It was the second single from their debut album, Blind Melon, released in 1992.
- The song was written by Brad Smith, the band’s bass player. He had the song long before joining Blind Melon and it was about moving from Mississippi to Los Angeles and having a reason to get out of bed every day having nothing.
- Although it became a worldwide hit that has been played by radio stations in every corner of the planet, the band didn’t always enjoy playing it live. For example, Blind Melon opened up for the Rolling Stones in 1994 and left it out of the setlist.
- The music video for the song received heavy rotation at the time. In it, the theme of finding your own group of friends who don’t judge you and love you for who you are is central. It became an anthem for those who feel out of place or depressed.
4. Creep – Radiohead
“Creep” was the first hit Radiohead ever released. It was released on September 21st, 1992. It belonged to the band’s debut album, Pablo Honey.
- According to Yorke, the lyrics were inspired by his experience of falling in love with a girl, following her around, and unexpectedly finding her at a Radiohead concert.
- Yorke told in various interviews that he had problems being a man in the ‘90s because he had a strong conscience and sensitivity for the opposite sex. He added that it was hard to put masculinity forward without representing a hard rock band. That feeling can be heard in the song’s lyrics.
- Radiohead filmed “Creep” at The Venue in Oxford. The band played a short concert including several repetitions of “Creep”. All proceeds were donated to Curfew, an Oxford magazine that covered their early work, before getting famous.
5. Paint it black – The Rolling Stones
“Paint It Black” is one of the first songs that emerged from the Richards-Jagger combination. It was released in 1966.
- The song’s oriental flavor comes from its inception. Yes, the song originated from improvisational melodies Brian Jones played on sitar. Although all members contributed their part to the final version, the songwriting credits go to Jaggers and Richards.
- The inclusion of the sitar in the song made a comparison with The Beatles almost impossible. Indeed, many critics at the time said it was too similar to what the Fab Four were doing.
- In 2018, “Paint it Black” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Moreover, it ranked 213 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
6. Numb – Linkin Park
“Numb” was the third single from Linkin Park’s second studio album, Meteora, released in 2003.
- The feeling of numbness in the song’s lyrics comes from a girl who tries her hardest to fit the expectations of her controlling mother. On the way to becoming who she was not to please her mother, she abandons her passion and talents which makes her numb.
- This song was re-recorded as a collaboration between Linkin Park and Jay-Z called “Numb/Encore”. It was released in Jay-Z’s The Black Album (2003).
- The video for “Numb” received heavy rotation at its time of release in 2003 but is one of the few exceptions that had consistent views on YouTube as well. Indeed, by late 2018, when it surpassed a billion views, it became the third-oldest video on YouTube to reach the billion-views mark.
7. Adam’s song – Blink 182
“Adam’s Song” belongs to Blink-182’s third studio album, Enema of the State (1999). It was the third and final single, released on March 14th, 2000.
- The appearance of this track changed people’s opinion of Blink-182. It marks a departure from the band’s jokey attitude. Mark Hoppus, the bass player, wrote it while depressed and on tour having nowhere and no one to go back home to.
- When Greg Barnes, a 17-year-old teenager from Columbine High, who had lost one of his best friends at the shootings hanged himself, this song was playing on replay on his stereo. This caused controversy around the band and the song in the year 2000.
- Even though the content of the lyrics could be interpreted as a suicide note, the song builds into a new plateau giving a message of hope; that everything will be better. In the case of Mark Hoppus, it did since he met his future wife while filming the utterly-famous “All the Small Things” music video.
8. Hurt – Johnny Cash – (Originally by Nine Inch Nails)
“Hurt” was written by Trent Reznor, the leader of the industrial rock band, Nine Inch Nails, and appeared in the band’s 1994 record The Downward Spiral. This cover version was recorded by Johnny Cash with Rick Rubin’s production.
- After Johnny Cash’s 2002 version received critical acclaim worldwide and its video was considered among the greatest of all time by publications the size of NME, Reznor praised his interpretation and said that the song was no longer his.
- “Hurt” talks about self-harm and heroin addiction. The meaning of the song has been interpreted as a suicide note written by the protagonist due to depression. Others have interpreted it as the difficult process involved in finding a reason to live regardless of depression and pain.
- Trent Reznor has said on many occasions that this song is his favorite and is always the closing tune at every Nine Inch Nails show. The singer also refers to it as the most personal song he’s ever written.
9. Everybody hurts – R.E.M
10. Fix you – Coldplay
11. Believer – Imagine Dragons
12. Fade to Black – Metallica
13. Under the Bridge – Red Hot Chili Peppers
14. Behind Blue Eyes – The Who
15. Summertime Sadness – Lana del Rey –
16. Loser – Beck
17. Lithium – Evanescence
18. Mad World -Tears for Fears
19. Unwell – Matchbox twenty
20. Welcome to the Black Parade – My Chemical Romance
21. Here Comes the Rain Again – Eurythmics
22. I Feel Like Dying – Lil Wayne
23. Runaway Train – Soul Asylum
24. Only Happy When it Rains – Garbage
25. Whataya Want From Me – P!nk
26. Fell on Black Days – Soundgarden
27. Suicide is Painless – Manic Street Preachers
28. Lovely – Billie Eilish
29. I Am So Lonesome I Could Cry – Hank Williams
30. Telescope – Cage the Elephant
31. This Depression – Bruce Springsteen
32. Gravity – John Mayer
33. Both Sides Now – Joni Mitchell
34. A Day Without Me – U2
35. Diary of a Madman – Ozzy Osbourne
36. The Dark Side – Muse
37. Million Years Ago – Adele
38. Rainy days and Mondays – The Carpenters
39. Lithium – Nirvana
40. Heavy – Linkin Park
41. Breaking Down – Florence and the Machine
42. New Dawn Fades – Joy Division
43. Rainbow in the Dark – Dio
44. I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times – Beach Boys
45. I Go to Extremes – Billy Joel
46. Pretty Hurts – Beyoncé
47. How Soon is Now – The Smiths
48. Nobody Knows – P!nk
49. Lucky – Britney Spears
50. Boulevard of Broken Dreams – Green Day
51. People are Strange -The Doors
52. Torn – Natalie Imbruglia
53. Last Hope – Paramore
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