- Barbara Mandrell's "Angels Love Bad Men," a top 20 country single from 1986 about a girl falling for a career robber; guest backing vocals were provided by Waylon Jennings.
- Pretty much everything from Lana Del Rey falls into this trope. Her debut album Born to Die has "Blue Jeans" (which even namedrops James Dean), "Off to the Races" (which is more of an ode to an Outlaw Couple), "Born to Die" (which is about an abusive relationship with a macho man while living on "the wild side")... it goes on and on. It's hard to tell whether she really believes it or whether she just plays up that persona to sell records.
- The narrator in Halsey's "Ghost" admits to this."I like the sad eyes, bad guys, mouth full of white lies
Kiss me in the corridor, but quick to tell me goodbye."
- Liz Phair tends to parody this. Her debut album Exile in Guyville features the song "Soup Star Joe", about the idealization of such men in Hollywood.
- Falling in Reverse: "So why do good girls like bad guys? I've had this question for a really long time! I've been a bad boy and it's plain to see! So why do good girls fall in love with me?"
- Garbage has a song titled 'Bad Boyfriend', featuring lyrics such as "And if you can't love me honey, come on, just pretend", and "It may not last but we'll have fun till it ends". The lyrics seem to be from the perspective of a bad girl, too.
- Pet Shop Boys song "West End Girls".
- Backstreet Boys had a song with the title, "If You Want It To Be Good Girl (Get Yourself A Bad Boy)".
- Angel and the Reruns performed a song called "Why Do Good Girls Like Bad Boys?" in Bachelor Party.
- The (hilarious) DMX song "Good Girls, Bad Guys."
- "Leader of the Pack", sung by girl group The Shangri-Las, was a Billboard #1 hit in 1964. To be fair, this was something of a subversion she claims she knew "he was sad" rather than bad, and he does seem like a reasonably nice guy from her description. Twisted Sister did a gender-flipped cover of it in 1985, sung from Jimmy's POV. In this one, it's the girl who drives off and dies in an auto accident. It is also played PAINFULLY straight in this version.
- It's part of the reason why the groupie goes off with the hot mega-rock star Pink in The Wall. And then, of course, Hilarity Ensues as she finds out just how bad he really is, as he proceeds to trash his hotel room and nearly kill her in the process.
- "Irresistible" by Stephanie:"I know he's wrong
But his arms feel so right
He's a magical potion
Tearing up my emotions
What if I see what this boy does to me?
Can't I simply forget him?
Cause I know I'll regret him
I can't fight anymore."
- "Bathwater" by No Doubt:"Wanted and adored by attractive women
Bountiful selection at your discretion
I know I'm diving into my own destruction
So why do we choose the boys that are naughty?
I don't fit in, so why do you want me?
I know I can't tame you, but I just keep trying."
- "Ruffneck" by MC Lyte:"I need a ruffneck
I need a dude with a attitude
Only needs his fingers with his food
Karl Kani saggin', timbos draggin'
Frontin' in his ride with his home boys braggin'
Lying 'bout the Lyte how he knocked boots last night
But he's a ruffneck, so that's alright."
- Taylor Swift:
- "The Way I Loved You" is about a girl who dates a nice guy but misses the way she and her ex would "scream, fight and kiss in the rain."
- "I Knew You Were Trouble":Cause I knew you were trouble when you walked in
So, shame on me now
Flew me to places I'd never been
'Til you put me down, oh
- The 1989 album:
- "Blank Space" is this Gender Flipped, inverted, and subverted. "But you'll come back/each time you leave/'Coz darling I'm a nightmare dressed like a daydream." Even features the line "I can make the bad boys good for a weekend."
- "Style":You got that James Dean, daydream, look in your eyes.
- "Wildest Dreams":He's so tall and handsome as hell
He's so bad, but he does it so well.
- Lover has "Cruel Summer":Bad, bad boy, shiny toy with a price
You know that I bought it
- Cobra Starship:
- "Nice Guys Finish Last":Listen kid you hear them sirens coming for me
But when I get downtown she will already be
Posting bail in her favorite dress
Smiling at me because I'm no good.
- Cobra Starship also has "Good girls go bad"
- "Nice Guys Finish Last":
- The Cheer Up, Charlie Daniels song "Too Damn Rock and Roll" plays with the trope. The girl wants him, but she won't follow through.
- Ludo's Roxy has a theme like this, although it's more like "All Girls Want Jerkasses":"Oh Roxy, why won't you love me?
Is it because I'm American?
Or maybe it's because I don't grope you and your friends
Like the fool behind you now dancing halfway down your pants."
- Alexandra Burke likes Bad Boys.
- Lady Gaga:
- The song "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga could be interpreted this way.
- "Judas". Lady Gaga even admitted this was about her then-ex-boyfriend, a notorious bad boy. The video is also clearly about the bad boy—the betrayer—in the group.
- Monster" also counts."Look at him
Look at me
That boy is bad
And honestly, hes a wolf in disguise.
But I cant stop staring in those evil eyes."
- Britney Spears:
- "Toxic" practically defines this trope. "You're toxic, I'm slipping under, a taste of your poison paradise"—clearly from the perspective of a bad-boy-wanter!
- Followed by "Criminal", although its refrain sounds more like Dating What Daddy Hates.
- Professor Green's song "Just be Good to Green" invokes this."I'm a bad boy, something every good girl needs."
- Kylie Minogue has a song called "Better the Devil You Know"."I'll forgive, and forget. If you say you'll never go. Cause its true. What they say, it's better the devil you know."
- Jewel's song "Foolish Games" is a deconstruction that analyzes this from the perspective of a girl who's been deeply hurt by her Jerkass of a boyfriend, who's described as having many of the aspects of this trope.
- "Good Girls Like Bad Boys" by Jadyn Maria.
- Bowling for Soup has "Girl All the Bad Guys Want", which is about an uncool guy who likes a bad girl who dates bad boys. So...played straight and two or three kinds of inverted?
- Can't Leave 'Em Alone by Ciara."I can't leave 'em alone
Tried that good boy game
But the dope boy's turning me on
So bad, I love that, I can't leave 'em alone."
- "Bad Boys" by Wham!."Boys like you, are bad through and through/Still, girls like me, always seem to be with you!"
- "Be Hit" by Smog."It seems that my sensitive touch
Could be given by any old schmuck."
- "Becoming More Like Alfie" by The Divine Comedy is about a former Nice Guy who's decided to become a Bad Boy after striking out once too often with girls who like the latter over the former.
- "Biker Like An Icon" by Paul McCartney is about a girl who's infatuated with a rough-and-tumble biker and follows him around, hoping to meet him. It's deconstructed, however, since "the biker doesn't like her", and when they finally meet up, it's implied he rapes and murders her.
- "Rule Breaker" by Ashlee Simpson is this.
- "Mr. Wrong" by Mary J. Blige. In the song, she gets along with her "bad boy" boyfriend, but he hurts her a lot. She tries to leave but can't get herself to do it because she loves him. It can be interpreted either as a love song or sad song.
- Speaking of Mary J. Blige, her duet song with rapper Method Man called "You All That I need", a remake of a classic R&B song, became the bad boy anthem of the mid 90s.
- Gender Flipped in Apache's "Gangsta Bitch".
- Cascada's "Bad Boy" is sung from the POV of girl who's had her heart broken by a bad boy and doesn't want to be involved with him again but still wants to have sex with him.
- Theory Of A Dead Man's "Gentleman" is this trope with a dash of Take That!."Girls don't want a gentleman
They say they do but in the end
Girls don't want a gentleman
They want a loser like me."
- The Doubleclicks:
- "Oh, Mr. Darcy" is about someone trying to overcome this tendency, inspired by early exposure to the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice.
- "Lasers and Feelings" advances the "bad boy" concept to the level of super-villain.
- Internet Troll updates the idea to the computer age. The troll is a stupid bully with no self-control, but he has passion, probably knows how to fix a computer, and does wonders for the singers self-esteem by comparison.
- Celtic Thunder's Ryan Kelly, especially in the songs "That's a Woman" and "Heartbreaker". The latter even provided his nickname: "The Dark Destroyer".
- Richard Thompson seems to enjoy playing with this trope. For example, his "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" is about a passionate romance between Fiery Redhead Red Molly and Badass Biker James, which ends when the latter is gunned down during an armed robbery (leaving the former his bike). Or there's his "I Feel So Good", about a newly-released ex-con hitting the town with "a half-naked woman with her tongue down my throat". For that matter, Thompson's tongue-in-cheek but straight-faced cover version of Britney Spears's "Oops, I Did It Again" turns that song into a faintly sinister evocation of this trope.
- "Bad Boy" by the Miami Sound Machine"Bad, bad, bad, bad boy! You make me feel so good!"
- Billy Joel:
- "You May Be Right" explores this trope from the perspective of the bad boy.
- Subverted in "Only The Good Die Young". The singer is a "bad boy" who's trying to seduce a religious girl, however she isn't interested in his type.
- "Poison" by Alice Cooper is a Gender-Inverted version about a man in love with a bad girl:"I wanna love you but I better not touch.
I wanna hold you but my senses tell me to stop.
I wanna kiss you but I want it too much.
I wanna taste you but your lips are venomous poison.
You're poison running through my veins, you're poison.
I don't wanna break these chains."
- Trisha Yearwood's "Walkaway Joe" shows the dark side of this trope: bad boys are usually bad for a reason, and have no qualms toying with the hearts of young girls and leaving them behind (after robbing a gas station).
- "Rasputin" by Boney M:"'This man has got to go' declared his enemies
But the ladies begged, 'Don't you try to do it, please'
No doubt this Rasputin had lots of hidden charms
Though he was a brute, they just fell into his arms."
- "Rich Fantasy Lives", a Filk Song by Tom Smith and Rob Balder:"That waitress at Pete's, who took so long to seat you
And left you to stand in the doorway
With her stringy red hair, and her thousand yard stare
In her mind, she's the princess of Norway
As she takes down your order, she's crossing the fjord
Her white stallion spits foam like a madman
Many vikings have died trying to take her as bride
But her heart is reserved for a bad man."
- Deconstructed by Laura Branigan's "Bad Attitude", where the singer says she only has herself to blame for getting into a relationship with a boy like this, and dumps him. Australian Girl Group Girlfriend's cover includes the backup singers as her friends warning her that things would turn out this way, and alters one of the lines to "But Cupid's a real good liar".
- The Offspring provide a rare gender inversion in their song "Want You Bad"."I know your arms are open wide, but you're a little on the straight side, I can't lie
Your one vice is you're too nice
Come around now, can't you see?
I want you, all tattooed, I want you bad
Complete me, mistreat me, want you to be bad, bad, bad, bad, bad."
- Imelda May has "Big Bad Handsome Man" (on the album Love Tattoo) — see the title — and "Psycho" (on Mayhem), which is about a boyfriend who's some way beyond just bad.
- "To Catch A Thief" by Lovage is about a girl falling in love with a notorious and wanted thief.
- Henry Rollins' song "Liar" is sung from the perspective of a guy who knows this trope well, and knows that no matter how much he hurts you, you'll come back.
- "Gangsta" by Kehlani."I need a gangsta
To love me better
Than all the others do
To always forgive me
Ride or die with me
That's just what gangsters do."
- Inverted in the second verse of "Youth of the Nation" by P.O.D. when talking about a girl named Suzy, who is implied to hang out and find love with boys who don't respect her, which only feeds a problem she has of showing little self respect for herself."Little Suzy, she was only twelve
She was given the world with every chance to excel
Hang with the boys and hear the stories they tell
She might act kind of proud, but no respect for herself
She finds love in all the wrong places
The same situations just different faces
Changed up her pace since her daddy left her
Too bad he never told her, she deserved much better."
- Julia Michaels' "Heaven" is about a girl who falls for a "bad boy" for ends up leaving her."They say all good boys go to heaven, but bad boys bring heaven to you."
- As Lil Wayne puts it in "Lollipop," "Shorty wants a thug."
- "bad guy" by Billie Eilish, also is a case of Birds of a Feather."White shirt now red, my bloody nose
Sleepin', you're on your tippy toes
Creepin' around like no one knows
Think you're so criminal
Bruises on both my knees for you
Don't say thank you or please
I do what I want when I'm wanting to
My soul? So cynical."
- Zig-Zagged Trope in "Terry" by Kirsty MacColl: Terry is "as tough as Marlon Brando" and "If he gets mad there's no telling what he'll do", and in the video is shown as a biker. But she also says he's "not the kind to mess around and change his mind", contrasting with the ex she's singing to (represented in the video by a nerdy Adrian Edmondson) who apparently takes her for granted. And then blown up completely in the video when on the line "Terry knows about karate" it's Edmondson who takes out the biker guy with a single blow, at which point MacColl starts dancing with him again. So maybe he was Terry all along?
- "Bad Girl" by Daya is an interesting variation AND a subversion. It's about a girl who wants a bad girl "because the bad boys just don't cut it". Strangely enough, she also has a Single Woman Seeks Good Man song "Hide Away", with the chorus "where do the good boys go to hide away?"
- Deconstructed in the music video for "Zaraza" ("Infection") by Elvira T. She falls in love with an emotionally abusive drug dealer/addict who ends up planting his drugs in her bag at a police checkpoint, framing her for drug possession.
- Gender inverted in "Bad" by Wale and Tiara Thomas, where they sing about the bad girls being more desirable depite their emotional stability purely due to being Sex Goddesses in comparison to "good girls".Wale: Bad girls ain't no good, and the good girls ain't no fun.
- Good Charlotte's "Break Apart Her Heart" advises a lovelorn Nice Guy to exploit this trope.There's something I don't wanna understandThe only way a woman's gonna want a manThe only way you'll ever keep her in your hands is breaking apart her heartDon't tell her she's the reason that you liveDon't give her everything that you've got to giveIf you wanna keep the girl for as long as you live just break it apart, her heart
All Girls Want Bad Boys / Music