When it comes to mending a broken heart, in my opinion, there are only two things that can help: a whole lot of time, and a song by your favourite artist dissing their ex. From Billie Eilish’s ‘Happier Than Ever’ and SZA’s ‘I Hate U’ to Whitney Houston’s iconic ‘It’s Not Right but It’s Okay’, these anthems are what got so many of us through our heartaches. More recently, we were gifted with two new additions to our revengeful/pity party playlist.
Both Miley Cyrus and Shakira came out with their own brutal diss tracks aimed at their respective ex. First,the ex-Disney star sent gen Zers into a frenzy on Friday 13 January 2023 with ‘Flowers’, the first single off her highly anticipated album Endless Summer Vacation due to be released in March.
It didn’t take much for netizens to read between the lines and list the many Easter eggs hidden in the song’s lyrics as well as its music video. Though Cyrus herself hasn’t yet confirmed whether the track details her relationship with ex-husband, Hunger Games actor Liam Hemsworth, fans have picked up on a few details—including the fact that it was released on Hemsworth’s 33rd birthday.
Having met in 2009 while filming for the movie adaptation of the popular Nicholas Sparks novel, The Last Song, the two celebrities had had a bumpy ride of a relationship before eventually filing for divorce in August 2019.
Furthermore, it was theorised online that, since the Australian actor had once dedicated Bruno Mars’ ‘When I Was Your Man’ to Cyrus following their first engagement in 2013, it made sense that so many of the ‘Flowers’ lyrics echoed the former hit.
Mars, who originally wrote the song in 2011 about a pre-fame heartbreak as he regrets a girl that he let get away, sings: “I should have bought you flowers, and held your hand / Should have gave you all my hours, when I had the chance / Take you to every party ‘cause all you wanted to do was dance / Now my baby’s dancing, but she’s dancing with another man.”
In ‘Flowers’, Cyrus seems to rework the fellow singer’s words into her own self-love journey: “I can buy myself flowers, write my name in the sand / Talk to myself for hours, say things you don’t understand / I can take myself dancing, and I can hold my own hand / Yeah, I can love me better than you can.”
Even the track’s opening verse was somehow linked to Hemsworth, with celebrity and entertainment magazine Us Weekly stating that the lyrics “We were good, we were gold / Kind of dream that can’t be sold / We were right till we weren’t / Built a home and watched it burn” refer to the home the couple shared, which burned down during the 2018 Woolsey Fire.
TikTokers also noticed that Cyrus’ words weren’t the only shade made towards her ex. It looks like she went one step further as it’s been alleged that the beautiful modern mansion featured in ‘Flowers’ is in fact the house in which Hemsworth once cheated on her while they were still married.
Last but certainly not least, fans went as far as to draw comparisons between the singer’s dance moves in her new music video and a past red carpet moment. In 2019, while attending the Vanity Fair Oscars party, an Access Hollywood reporter asked Cyrus and Hemsworth what a dance number would look like between the couple.
When the Hannah Montana star began dancing on her husband, Hemsworth shut her down, saying: “We’re not doing this. Not on the carpet.” One Twitter user put that video side-by-side with a promotional clip Cyrus posted on the social platform, where she appears to do a similar dance move.
Other netizens have also said that the suit Cyrus wears in some shots of the ‘Flowers’ music video looks exactly like the one Hemsworth wore to the Avengers: Endgame premiere when a clip of the actor supposedly telling his ex-wife to “behave” went viral.
Moving on to Colombian singer-songwriter Shakira, who broke the internet with her own diss track aimed at her ex, the infamous football player Gerard Piqué, ‘Out Of Your League’, making it the most-watched new Latin song on YouTube within a 24-hour period.
Unlike Cyrus, it seems Shakira decided to let the words speak for themselves, with the ‘Out Of Your League’ music video set in a recording booth. Throughout the song’s lyrics however, it’s obvious the Latina superstar is talking about the former Barcelona defender, who she was with for over 11 years before the couple called it quits in June 2022.
Going for the jugular, Shakira also makes several digs at Piqué’s new 23-year-old girlfriend, Clara Chia Marti. One savage lyric states: “I’m worth two of 22 / You traded a Ferrari for a Twingo / You traded a Rolex for a Casio.” Ouch.
Being a bad bitch through and through, Shakira also goes on to mention her recent run-in with Spanish authorities, when she was accused of tax fraud amounting to €14.5 million (£12.8 million). In ‘Out Of Your League’, she can be heard singing about how Piqué abandoned her in her time of need: “You left me my mother in law as my neighbour / Media outlets at my door and in debt with the government.”
“Lots of time at the gym, but your brain needs a little work too,” reads another burn, insinuating that the footballer should focus on mental stimulation rather than physical.
Regardless of the personal reasons behind why both pop stars needed to get those savage tracks out, it’s important to note just how helpful they are for the rest of the world. Speaking to HuffPost UK, Alice Gray, neuroscientist and science presenter explained that “music, including sad music or breakup songs, activate the empathy and compassion pathways in our brain, driving a desire to connect with other people.”
She added: “Connecting with people, seeking out our friends or establishing new friendships is an important part of getting over a breakup. So, music can help us give us a jump-start into becoming more social again when getting over an ex.”
Diss tracks may not be new—having existed within the realm of YouTube for almost a decade—however, female celebrities have tended to dodge this particular pastime. While male strength has always been celebrated, women are often deemed overly emotional or vindictive if they publically call out bad behaviour or stand up for themselves. This no longer appears to be the case, so fingers crossed we’ll get to witness more female empowerment as 2023 rolls along.