Awareness of mental health is at an all-time high, and it’s now understood by a lot more people than ever. That said, even when it was a taboo subject, musicians were singing about it and sharing their experiences with challenges of the mind. Here are the top songs about insanity, both old and new.
Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne
Song Year: 1980
This incredibly famous song by Osbourne was released in 1980 as the first single from his debut solo album “Blizzard of Ozz.” The song features lyrics that have become iconic in rock music and are often cited as an anthem of rebellion and individualism.
They call on listeners to embrace their individuality and reject conformity. This is a powerful message that has resonated through multiple generations of rock fans.
“Crazy Train” is widely regarded as one of Osbourne's greatest songs and has been covered by numerous other artists over the years. The song's opening guitar riff is instantly recognisable, and the track's soaring chorus and powerful instrumentation make it a true rock anthem.
Insane in the Brain by Cypress Hill
Song Year: 1993
This song appeared on “Black Sunday” in 1993 and features a catchy, repetitive hook that has become one of the most recognisable in hip-hop, as well as lyrics that describe the experience of feeling “insane” or “crazy.”
“Insane in the Brain”, written by Cyprus Hill, one of the most famous singers of the nineties, was a commercial success upon its release, reaching the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States. It is considered one of Cypress Hill's signature songs and featured in numerous films, TV shows, and video games.
Paranoid Android by Radiohead
Song Year: 1997
“Paranoid Android” is a song by Radiohead, an English rock band. It was released in 1997 as the lead single from their third studio album, “OK Computer.” The song is considered one of Radiohead's most iconic and influential tracks.
The song is known for its complex structure and multiple sections, which range from quiet, melancholic passages to heavy, distorted rock sections. The song's lyrics are fragmented and surreal, exploring the themes of alienation, anxiety, and disillusionment with modern life and social norms.
Basket Case by Green Day
Song Year: 1994
“Basket Case”, a song from the album called “Dookie”, came out in 1994 and is firmly situated in the punk rock genre for which Green Day is so well-known. The song is known for lyrics that explore the experience of anxiety and mental health struggles.
The song's title, “Basket Case,” is a term used to describe someone who is experiencing extreme emotional distress or psychological instability. The song's lyrics describe feeling overwhelmed by anxiety and like you're going crazy.
Lunatic Fringe by Red Rider
Song Year: 1997
This rock folk song came out in 1997 on the album “Songs of a Circling Spirit.” The song is a commentary on the notable dangers of extremism and the need for people to unite with one another and work to find common ground. The song's title refers to the term “lunatic fringe,” which describes people with extreme or radical beliefs.
The lyrics describe the sense of isolation and desperation that can come with being on the fringes of society and urge listeners to reject hate and division in favour of unity and understanding.
Insane by Korn
Song Year: 2016
The song features intense vocals from lead singer Jonathan Davis. Lyrically, “Insane” explores anger, frustration, and mental turmoil themes. The song's lyrics describe being consumed by madness and trapped in a self-destructive behaviour cycle.
This powerful and intense song showcases Korn's signature metal sound. The song’s dark, brooding atmosphere creates a sense of tension and unease, mirroring the feelings of anxiety and mental turmoil described in the lyrics. This is something that listeners are likely to sense from the song’s first few bars.
Down with the Sickness by Disturbed
Song Year: 2000
From the album “The Sickness,” “Down with the Sickness” is a well-known nu-metal song. The lyrics allude to a problematic relationship between a mother and a son in which the son pleads with his mother not to hit him.
The song is very explicit, especially in the final lines, so listener discretion is strongly advised. The song's final lines are bothersome, with the singer screaming in agony and despair as he describes the physical and emotional pain of the abuse.
The song's heavy guitars, drums, and aggressive vocals create a sense of frustration and desperation that perfectly capture the song's disturbing themes.
Schizophrenia by Sonic Youth
Song Year: 1987
“Schizophrenia” is a song by the American alternative rock band Sonic Youth. It was originally released on their 1987 album “Sister.”
The song features a driving, hypnotic guitar riff and poetic, stream-of-consciousness lyrics that touch on mental illness and disorientation themes. “Schizophrenia” is considered one of Sonic Youth's signature songs and has been frequently performed live throughout the band's career.
Welcome to My Nightmare by Alice Cooper
Song Year: 1975
“Welcome to My Nightmare” was released in 1975 as the title track of his album “Welcome to My Nightmare.” The song features a theatrical, horror-themed sound with spooky sound effects and lyrics that depict a frightening dream sequence.
It was a commercial and critical success, reaching the Top 40 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and receiving praise for its inventive blend of rock and theatre music.
Bang Your Head (Mental Health) by Quiet Riot
Song Year: 1983
“Metal Health (Bang Your Head)” is a song by Quiet Riot and was released in 1983. It is the opening track from their album of the same name, which was their breakthrough release and is considered one of the defining albums of the 1980s heavy metal scene.
Other musicians have covered the song over the years, and it remains a classic of the heavy metal genre, particularly among those interested in songs about insanity or struggles with mental health.
The Thin Ice by Pink Floyd
Song Year: 1979
“The Thin Ice” is the opening track from Pink Floyd's 1979 concept album “The Wall.” Bassist Roger Waters wrote the song, a short and haunting instrumental piece with gentle piano and acoustic guitar melodies.
Pink Floyd is no slave to recognition; his tracks are the most iconic music pieces from the seventies and are still enjoyed by a fanbase worldwide.
Lyrically, “The Thin Ice” sets the stage for the narrative of “The Wall,” a semi-autobiographical exploration of Waters' struggles with fame and isolation. Listeners can interpret the complexity of the singer’s struggles and the contradictory feelings of his love for but also hate for fame and what it brings with it.
Psychotic Reaction by The Count Five
Song Year: 1966
“Psychotic Reaction” is a song by The Count Five, an American garage rock band. It was released in 1966. The lyrics describe a sense of alienation and isolation, with the singer feeling trapped and alone in the face of societal pressures and expectations.
Listeners are likely to interpret frustrations and disillusionment of youth, with the protagonist describing his state of mind as a “psychotic reaction” to the pressures and constraints of society. The song specifically describes depression, loneliness, and the speaker’s desire to get someone’s love but his inability to do so.
Madhouse by Anthrax
Song Year: 1985
“Madhouse” is a song by the American metal band Anthrax, released in 1985 as the opening track on their album Spreading the Disease. The song features heavy guitar riffs, a pounding rhythm, and vocals alternating between shouting and singing.
The lyrics of Madhouse describe the experience of being confined in a mental institution and the sense of isolation and despair that can come with it. They ask listeners to consider how trapped, desperate, and lonely one would feel in this terrible situation.
Am I Going Insane (Radio) by Black Sabbath
Song Year: 1975
“Am I Going Insane (Radio)” is a song by Black Sabbath, a British heavy metal band. It was released in 1975 as a single from their sixth studio album, “Sabotage.”
The song's lyrics express feelings of confusion, anxiety, and fear as the narrator questions his sanity and wonders whether he is losing his grip on reality.
Fell In Love With A Girl by The White Stripes
Song Year: 2001
This song by the American garage rock band The White Stripes was released in 2001 as a part of their album “White Blood Cells.” The song is characterised by its driving, uptempo rhythm and its catchy, singalong chorus.
The speaker describes their left brain thinking one thing and their right thinking another, symbolising how a relationship pulls them in two different directions, making it hard to understand what’s going on.
Manic Depression by Jimi Hendrix
Song Year: 1967
The song's lyrics describe the experience of living with bipolar disorder, a mental illness characterised by extreme mood swings between manic episodes and periods of depression.
Musically, “Manic Depression” showcases Hendrix's incredible guitar playing and innovative approach to rock music. The song features a rhythm section and a series of explosive guitar riffs and solos.
Break on Through (to the Other Side) by The Doors
Song Year: 1967
“Break On Through (To the Other Side)” is a song by the American rock band The Doors, released as the first single from their debut album, “The Doors,” in 1967. The song was written by Jim Morrison, the band's lead vocalist. Those who struggle with drugs and mental health are well-known in the rock world.
The lyrics are open to interpretation, but many believe it is about breaking free from societal norms and conventions and exploring new experiences, including psychedelic drugs. These are themes that are quite common to this generation of rock music.
Lithium by Nirvana
Song Year: 1991
The lyrics of “Lithium” are about Cobain's experiences with bipolar disorder and his conflicting emotions. The song's title references lithium, a common medication for bipolar disorder.
Throughout the song, Cobain's vocals alternate between soft, melodic singing and powerful, anguished screams, reflecting the intense emotions that he is trying to convey.
She's Lost Control by Joy Division
Song Year: 1979
“She’s Lost Control” is a song by the English post-punk band Joy Division. It is featured in the film “24 Hour Party People” and describes someone losing control of her life. The lyrics describe this struggle to understand what’s going on in her life and asking for help.
It is a powerful and haunting song that deals with themes of mental illness and the struggle for control over one's own body and mind.
Fitter Happier by Radiohead
Song Year: 1997
“Fitter Happier” is a song by Radiohead, released in 1997 on their album “OK Computer.” Lyrically, “Fitter Happier” is a commentary on the shallow and empty promises of consumer culture. The song's lyrics describe a life of conformity, with the narrator urged to break out of this mould before it consumes their entire life.
“Fitter Happier” is loved for its bold experimentation and incisive commentary on modern society. It is regarded as one of Radiohead's most provocative and thought-provoking songs.
Psychotic Break by Jerry Cantrell
Song Year: 2002
“Psychotic Break” is a song by American rock musician Jerry Cantrell, released in 2018 as a single from his album “Brighten.”
Cantrell's lyrics describe the feeling of losing control and descending into madness, and the song's heavy, driving rhythm section emphasises the sense of chaos and confusion.
Musically, “Psychotic Break” is a heavy and powerful song that showcases Cantrell's unique guitar style and signature sound. The song's intricate guitar work creates a sense of tension and intensity that goes well with the song’s dark lyrics.
Top Songs About Insanity, Final Thoughts
Songs exploring the themes of madness, anxiety, and mental turmoil are essential to the music landscape. This article has covered some of the best songs about insanity, ranging from classic rock to heavy metal and hip-hop.
Each song has something different to offer, expressing feelings as varied as elation and desperation. From Anthrax's “Madhouse” to Quiet Riot's “Bang Your Head (Mental Health),” these songs offer a glimpse into the human experience of mental health struggles.
We hope our selection of the top 21 songs about insanity will help you diversify your music collection and explore different music genres and songs that remain forever classics in the industry.