11 songs about sobriety, from hardcore to hip-hop

With Dry January ensnaring us, we’ve crafted the perfect soundtrack

It’s that time of year. A big bout of December-based boozing has left you feeling like a dried out prune, and you’re eyeing up sobriety like it’s the solution to all your many, many problems. We feel you.

Whether you’re partaking in Dry January, or just looking to cut down, there’s a whole host of musical treats to buoy your spirits. From the vegan straight edge hardcore of Earth Crisis (perfect if you’re also on that Veganuary hype), to big hitters like Pink and Kendrick Lamar, below we delve into the deep pool of sobriety bangers.

Minor Threat – ‘Straight Edge’

Arguably the king of hardcore’s straight edge belief system, Minor Threat frontman Ian MacKaye screamed of his frustrations at an intoxicated nation time and time again. In and out in just 47 seconds, ‘Straight Edge’ perfectly lays out his mantra.


Best lyric to shout at your pub-going mates:I’m a person just like you / But I’ve got better things to do / Than sit around and fuck my head / Hang out with the living dead.

The 1975 – ‘It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)’

A refreshingly honest approach to sobriety, this chirpy pop number finds frontman Matty Healy personifying his past heroin addiction, and treating the drug like a long lost lover. Sobriety might not be easy (and Matty has been quick to point out he’s not completely sober by any means), but sometimes it’s okay to admit you miss your former crutch.

Best lyric to shout at your pub-going mates: “All I do is sit and think about you / If I knew what you’d do / Collapse my veins wearing beautiful shoes / It’s not living if it’s not with you.”

Pink – ‘Sober’

Comparing addiction to an unhealthy romantic relationship, Pink sings of her conflicted views on her nights out, and whether she’ll be able to do it without her alcohol crutch. As the singer is now teetotal, it’s fair to say she found the answer.


Best lyric to shout at your pub-going mates: “I don’t wanna be there calling / 4 o’clock in the morning”

Kendrick Lamar – ‘Swimming Pools (Drank)’

Ironically, ‘Swimming Pools (Drank)’’s “wake up / drank” refrain became something of a frathouse drinking anthem, despite Kendrick himself writing the song about his family’s struggles with alcoholism, and the peer pressure that comes with sobriety.

Best lyric to shout at your pub-going mates: “If I take another one down / I’ma drown in some poison, abusin’ my limit.”

Bring Me The Horizon – ‘Hospital For Souls’

The closing track to Bring Me’s phenomenal ‘Sempiternal’ LP, ‘Hospital For Souls’ finds Oli Sykes addressing his past addictions with a cathartic and chaotic edge, frankly admitting how close he brought himself to complete dissolution.

Best lyric to shout at your pub-going mates: “I can fear death no longer / I’ve died a thousand times.”

Red Hot Chili Peppers – ‘Under The Bridge’

A festival anthem and guitar lesson staple, ‘Under The Bridge’ might get pints held aloft in fields worldwide, but it’s actually about Anthony Kiedis’ long-storied troubles with numerous addictions – ones which are detailed in his disarmingly frank autobiography, ‘Scar Tissue’.

Best lyric to shout at your pub-going mates: “I don’t ever want to feel /Like I did that day”

Earth Crisis – ‘The Discipline’

The masters of vegan-straight-edge hardcore, Earth Crisis make no bones about their vice-free lifestyle. ‘The Discipline’, from their game-changing debut ‘Destroy The Machines’, is no different – a thunderous statement of drink-and-drug-free intent.

Best lyric to shout at your pub-going mates: “The key to self-liberation is abstinence from the destructive escapism of intoxication

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – ‘Starting Over’

Initially coming off as self-flagellating tale of relapse, ‘Starting Over’ soon finds Macklemore instead embracing the opportunity to start again. A reminder that sobriety is a journey, not a destination.

Best lyric to shout at your pub-going mates: “If I can be an example of getting sober / Then I can be an example of starting over”

Lamb Of God – ‘King Me’

A document of frontman Randy Blythe’s alcoholism, ‘King Me’ finds the modern metal icon confronting his destructive relationship with the drug, before flipping the situation on its head, and seizing control of his life once more.

Best lyric to shout at your pub-going mates: “I’d been running away for so long / When I finally caught myself there wasn’t much left / The script’s last page is blank / And the medicine is gone”

Knocked Loose – ‘Manipulator II’

Guttural hardcore mob Knocked Loose have perhaps one of the most terrifying musical tales of intoxication, with ‘Manipulator II” recalling a tale of a friend’s overdose and the immediate aftermath – an event that pushed frontman Bryan Garris back towards sobriety.

Best lyric to shout at your pub-going mates: “I’m not straight edge, I’d just rather be sober / I’m never looking back I’m not looking for closure”

Kelly Clarkson – ‘Sober’

Another track that uses the metaphor of sobriety as a means to dissect a romantic relationship, Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Sober’ compares sobriety to a break-up, referencing the oft-touted three month point (where your sobriety is supposed to really hit home).

Best lyric to shout at your pub-going mates: Three months and I’m still sober / Picked all my weeds but kept the flowers / But I know it’s never really over”


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