“Hate to Say I Told You So” by The Hives

Trying to ascertain a comprehensive meaning from “Hate to Say I Told You So” is a more difficult task than even some of the most-confusing tracks that we’ve thus far come across. And that’s not because what’s being put forth by the vocalist is difficult to understand per se. Rather, this is a case where who exactly he’s addressing and furthermore, what type of relationship they have is more or less up the listener to decide. 

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for The Hives's Hate to Say I Told You So at Lyrics.org.

Moreover, the lyrics are highly-metaphorical. So put another way, we’re going to make a lot of presumptions in analyzing “Hate to Say I Told You So”.

The Lyrics

We would begin by presuming that the addressee is a romantic interest of the singer. Coming to that conclusion is based on two pieces of evidence. First is that the vocalist mentions a “mystery man” in the lyrics. What exactly Howlin’ Pelle is saying in that regard, again, is not clear. But it may be that said “mystery man” is someone like the addressee’s illicit lover.

And along those same lines, second would be the title itself. “Hate to say I told you so” is the kind of thing a person would say to someone who they are, most basically put, mocking. 

For instance, as may be this case, if a guy tells his girlfriend not to do something – like see another guy for instance – and then later catches her in the act of doing so, maybe he’d say something like “hate to say I told you so”. 

Or perhaps we can more specifically speculate that the addressee dumped the vocalist for another guy, someone whom he warned would eventually do her dirty. And now that said guy has shown his true color, Howlin’ Pelle is like “hate to say I told you so”. This is a phrase that would more accurately, emotions considered, translate into something like ‘ha ha ha, I told you that would happen, dumba-s’.

And that may be why the vocalist also feels, as illustrated by the verses, ultra-cocky at the moment.

When we warn a loved one against doing something, and they proceed to do it anyway and end up regretting it, sometimes in the aftermath, we’ll feel like we’re super wise or something. And that may be what’s going down here.

Or in any event, there are really only two sentiments being forthrightly expressed in this piece. One is that yes, the vocalist does obviously think highly of himself and his freedom. And secondly, he is boldly relaying the titular expression – for whatever reason – towards the addressee.

The Hives, “Hate to Say I Told You So” Lyrics

Release of “Hate to Say I Told You So”

The Hives is a band from Sweden that has been around since the 1990s. Between 1997 and 2012 they came out with five studio albums. “Hate to Say I Told You So” is derived from the second of those efforts, “Veni Vidi Vicious”. 

The track was issued as the project’s lead single on 4 December 2000, with the album being backed by four record labels:

  • Epitaph
  • Burning Heart
  • Sire
  • Gearhead

A Critically Successful Song

In the grand scheme of things this single wasn’t a smash hit. It peaked at number 6 on the US Alternative Airplay Chart. It was number 4 on the UK Indie Chart. Furthermore it was also certified gold across the pond. 

But it was critically heralded as one of the greatest tracks of its era by the likes of Kerrang!, Pitchfork and NME. And it also appeared on a few movie soundtracks, including that of the original Spider-Man (2002) film.


This song was written by Randy Fitzsimmons, who is not a member of The Hives. At the time the band, being fronted by Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, also consisted of these musicians:

  • Nicholaus Arson
  • Vigilante Carlstroem
  • Dr. Matt Destruction
  • Chris Dangerous

And to note as of this writing all of them, with the exception of Dangerous, are still down with the cause.

Hate to Say I Told You So

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