Breakups are never easy. Everyone copes with heartache in their own way. Some people scream and throw once beloved trinkets, and others cry it out into a pint of ice cream. While these methods are cathartic, the universal cure for a broken heart is, of course, music. Music speaks to our souls and helps us to articulate exactly how we’re feeling. Whether the heartache is recent or the memory of a love lost years ago, music helps us experience and move on from our pain. Hopefully, this playlist helps you through this season of roses and chocolate, even if it is just to drown out the sobs.
The line “I’m losing my best friend” perfectly sums up the loss in this ballad written by Gwen and Eric Stefani. “Don’t Speak” started as a love song, but it morphed into a breakup song about bandmate Tony Kanal after he ended his seven-year relationship with Gwen.
Rihanna (feat. Mikky Ekko)
Rihanna’s “Stay,” which features vocals from Mikky Ekko, is raw and emotional. The song has an all too relatable vulnerability, ideal for a good cry.
“Just A Dream”
Kurt Hugo Schneider, Christina Grimmie and Sam Tsui
The collaborative cover of Nelly’s “Just a Dream” by YouTube musicians Schneider, Grimmie and Tsui takes an otherwise flat song and fills the words with the emotional depth that they deserve.
Shock and denial are often one’s first feelings after a breakup, especially when you aren’t the one doing the breaking. “Empty Space” perfectly captures the denial and the desire to hide one’s pain after losing love.
“Remind Me to Forget”
Kygo (featuring Miguel)
“Remind Me to Forget” is a light and somber number from Norwegian DJ and songwriter Kygo, featuring vocals from American singer Miguel.
When all you want is to “go back to the start,” this Coldplay number is there to help you through.
A Great Big World
Full of regret and sorrow, “Say Something” was written by the songwriting duo Ian Axel and Chad King, who were both going through separate breakups at the time. The song gained attention from Christina Aguilera, and the track was later re-recorded with Aguilera adding vocals.
There is almost no singer-songwriter with a better repertoire of heartbroken ballads than Adele. Both “25,” the album that “Hello” appears on, and her previous album, “21,” tell stories of heartbreak and moving on.
“When I Was Your Man”
It’s hard not to brood over the things you did or didn’t do in a relationship. You’ll always wonder if you had done something different, maybe the outcome would be different too. Bruno Mars works through these questions in his 2012 song, “When I Was Your Man.”
“My Happy Ending”
Music has a way of holding on to memories. The songs you listened to after a middle school break up often remain cathartic decades later. Anyone who was in the midst of puberty in 2007 will appreciate this bitter number from Avril Lavigne.
“All Over You”
The Spill Canvas
The visual details are what make this pleading song from The Spill Canvas so powerful. The need to feel someone in your bones is the type of anguish that makes your chest tight and leaves you breathless.
Cee Lo Green
Before you can think rationally about a breakup, sometimes you just need to get angry at the other person. If CeeLo’s “Forget You” isn’t working, swap it out for the explicit version.
“Gives You Hell”
The All-American Rejects
Here is another middle school throwback for 90’s babies. “Give You Hell” spent 14 consecutive weeks in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 list after its release in 2008.
The songwriters originally began writing “Wrecking Ball” for Beyoncé, but the song quickly evolved into a pop ballad better suited for Miley Cyrus, who performed the song at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards.
“Bulletproof,” written and performed by the electro-pop duo La Roux, draws from the musical styles of Erasure and Depeche Mode.
This track comes from Daughter’s first album, “If You Leave.” “Smother” is another song where the visual details help express the misery of heartbreak exceptionally well.
This song is actually a cover of a song by Swedish electronic group The Knife. The acoustic version, performed by José González, is slow and sorrowful compared to the upbeat nature of the original. González’s version appears in several shows and films including “Scrubs,” “Bones” and “Everything, Everything.”
“Teenage Dream (Glee Cast Version) – Acoustic”
Darren Criss’ version of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” from “Glee” is beautiful and somber. The tone and tempo bring a mournful note to this traditionally happy song.
“The Only Exception”
“The Only Exception” is a love song disguised as a breakup song. Aside from the chorus, the song describes doubt over the existence of love. Paramore’s “That’s What You Get” is also an appropriate addition to this playlist.
This song is from The Notwist’s 2002 album “Neon Golden.” The German group formed in 1989 and is still touring after 30 years performing together.
Every good breakup playlist needs songs to help pull you out of your grief and move on once you’re ready. Upbeat and hopeful, Cher’s “Believe” is the song which solidified her status as a pop culture icon.
“Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”
Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” is an empowering number about moving on, stronger than before, and being comfortable alone. “Stronger” has a similar message as Clarkson’s 2004 hit “Since U Been Gone.”
Part of the promotion for Lily Allen’s song “Smile” included translating the song into Simlish — the fictional language for EA Games’ series “The Sims.”
“thank u, next”
The recent single from Ariana Grande is the perfect conclusion for a breakup playlist. “thank u, next” is a lesson in taking something positive from every relationship. More importantly, it’s about self-empowerment and learning to love yourself first.
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