Whether you’re going through a breakup, in a happily committed relationship, or enjoying the single life, sad breakup songs are great company for when you need a good sob sesh. From Taylor Swift’s iconic breakup anthems to Adele’s emotional ballads to Birdy’s hauntingly beautiful vocals, this curated list is guaranteed to tug at your heartstrings.
For the full playlist on Spotify, scroll to the bottom.
“All Too Well” by Taylor Swift
“And you call me up again just to break me like a promise / So casually cruel in the name of being honest / I’m a crumpled up piece of paper lying here / ‘Cause I remember it all, all, all / Too well”
When it comes to breakup songs, nothing beats Taylor Swift’s highly awaited ten-minute version of her hit song “All Too Well.” Between the brilliant short film, the beautiful lyrics, and standout storytelling, Swift’s bitter breakup song is undoubtedly one that you need on your playlist.
“Someone Like You” by Adele
“Never mind, I’ll find someone like you / I wish nothing but the best for you, too / “Don’t forget me, ” I beg / I remember you said / “Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead”
As the queen of breakup songs, it should come as no surprise that “Someone Like You” is on this list. Featuring some of Adele’s most devastating lyrics to date, this is definitely a song to play when you need a good cry.
“drivers license” by Olivia Rodrigo
“And I know we weren’t perfect but I’ve never felt this way for no one / And I just can’t imagine how you could be so okay now that I’m gone / Guess you didn’t mean what you wrote in that song about me / ‘Cause you said forever, now I drive alone past your street”
As 2021s bonafide queen of breakup songs, Olivia Rodrigo’s hit album, Sour, brought fans many beloved breakup anthems, including “good 4 u” and “deja vu.” But before Sour ever hit the billboards, Olivia shattered everyone’s hearts with “drivers license”, a beautiful ballad that will have you sobbing about the one that got away. So the next time you’re out, queue up Olivia’s heartbreaking single for a melancholic drive around town.
“All I Want” by Kodaline
“But if you loved me / Why’d you leave me?”
Overflowing with vulnerability and heartache, “All I Want” is a deeply personal ballad from Kodaline about the ending of a first relationship and all the pain and anguish that comes with that. But rather than be a song simply about heartbreak, Kodaline interlaced it with a thread of hope for the future.
“Don’t Speak” by No Doubt
“You and me / We used to be together, everyday together / Always, I really feel that I’m losin’ my best friend / I can’t believe this could be the end”
Honest and pure, “Don’t Speak” is one of the best breakup anthems of the 90s. And if there is one thing you can be thankful for it’s that you are not in a band with the ex who you wrote this song about. Interestingly, Gwen Stefani originally wrote this as a love song, but after being dumped by the bassist Tony Kanal, it turned into a heartbreaking ode to their relationship.
“Say Something” by A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera
“And I will swallow my pride / You’re the one that I love / And I’m saying goodbye”
When it comes to painfully gut-wrenching breakup songs, “Say Something” comes out on top. Make sure to have some tissues on hand because if there is ever a song that will bring a person to tears, it’s this one.
“Stay With Me” by Sam Smith
“Deep down I know this never works / But you can lay with me so it doesn’t hurt”
Voted the best song of the year at the 2015 Grammys, “Stay With Me” is an unforgettable hit that never grows old. The best time to place this is during that moment after a one-night stand when you’re in bed wishing you weren’t alone.
“It’ll Be Okay” by Shawn Mendes
“Oh, if the future we’ve dreamed of is fading to black / I will love you either way”
When you need to hear that everything will be okay, listen to Shawn Mendes’s vulnerable single “It’ll Be Okay.”
“Skinny Love” by Birdy
“And now, all your love is wasted / Then who the hell was I? / ‘Cause now I’m breaking at the bridges / And at the end of all your lies”
Listen to Birdy’s hauntingly beautiful rendition of Bon Iver’s masterful song “Skinny Love” when you are ready to have a good sob sesh. Bonus tip: queue this song up the next time you’re in the shower because shower acoustics give you an added oomph. And when it comes to those high notes Birdy belts out, you need all the extra oomph you can get.
“Arcade” by Duncan Lawrence ft. FLETCHER
“All I know, all I know / Loving you is a losing game”
Nothing is more cathartic than belting out Duncan Lawrence’s heartbreaking lyrics while cruising around town.
“Let Her Go” by Passenger
“Staring at the ceiling in the dark / Same old empty feeling in your heart / ‘Cause love comes slow, and it goes so fast”
No matter how much time flies by, “Let Her Go” is a song that we all return to at one point or another. And considering that Passenger wrote this right after a breakup, you better believe it is the perfect breakup song, especially for anyone who regrets breaking up with their significant other.
“The Blackest Day” by Lana Del Rey
“It’s not one of those phases I’m going through / Or just a song, it’s not one of them / I’m on my own / On my own / On my own again / I’m on my own again”
Lana Del Rey is a master at writing hauntingly beautiful ballads and her underrated track “The Blackest Day” is no exception. Deeply emotional and darkly atmospheric, Lana Del Rey’s mesmerizing vocals will stay on your mind long after listening to this poignant work of art.
“Stubborn Love” by The Lumineers
“It’s better to feel pain, than nothing at all / The opposite of love’s indifference”
Written by The Lumineers, “Stubborn Love” will become your best friend the next time you’re going through a painful breakup and need to hear that your feelings are valid.
“Consequences” by Camila Cabello
“Loving you was dumb, dark and cheap / Loving you will still take shots at me / Found loving you was sunshine, but then it poured / And I lost so much more than my senses / ‘Cause loving you had consequences”
Camila Cabello has released many hits during her solo career and “Consequences” happens to be one of her most underrated breakup ballads. If you’re reminiscing about someone you lost and need to just feel, listen to this powerful song.
“Surrender” by Natalie Taylor
“We let the waters rise / We drifted to survive / I needed you to stay / But I let you drift away”
Nothing hits harder than this masterpiece from Natalie Taylor and her husband Jon Howard. Written after experiencing some personal hardships in their relationship, the duo put all their pain, grief, and heartache into this song and gave us something incredibly special in the process.
“Jar of Hearts” by Christina Perri
“It took so long just to feel alright / Remember how to put back the light in my eyes / I wish I had missed the first time that we kissed / Cause you broke all your promises.”
If you have yet to listen to this beautifully powerful masterpiece, now is the perfect time to start. Between Christina Perri’s powerful vocals and the emotional lyrics, this is undoubtedly one of the best breakup songs to add to your playlist.
“Hopeless Romantics” by James TW
“Don’t hold your breath / I don’t think we got much time left”
“Hopeless Romantics” is an emotional knockout that will have you fully submerged in your feelings. For a visceral experience, pay close attention to the lyrics. The first verse will give you chills and, by the end, there is a high chance that you will be covered in goosebumps.
“you broke me first” by Tate McRae
“Took a while, was in denial when I first heard / That you moved on quicker than I could’ve ever, you know that hurt”
For anyone who gave their relationship their all only to be met with indifference, listen to Tate McRae’s hard-hitting ballad. Nothing hits closer to home than McRae’s popular single, especially if they eventually came crawling back.
“Dancing On My Own” by Calum Scott
“So far away, but still so near / The lights come on, the music dies / But you don’t see me standing here”
Calum Scott’s emotional rendition of Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own” on Britain’s Got Talent went on to become one of his most well-known tracks. Whether you’re going through a breakup, in a relationship, or are happily single, you’ll be feeling every heartbreaking emotion listening to Scott’s raw vocals.
“July” by Noah Cyrus
“I’ve done a lot of things wrong / Loving you being one / But I can’t move on”
In her hauntingly beautiful single “July,” Noah Cyrus speaks about heartbreak and toxic relationships. If you have ever had trouble walking away from an unhealthy relationship toxic, I recommend listening to “July.” Cyrus put her all in this ballad and it undoubtedly deserves a place on your breakup playlist.
“When I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars
“Now my baby’s dancing / But she’s dancing with another man”
Whether or not you have ever been in a relationship, “When I Was Your Man” will speak to you in one way or another and have you reminiscing about someone who you failed to appreciate until it was too late.
“Let It Go” by James Bay
“I used to recognize myself / It’s funny how reflections change / When we’re becoming something else / I think it’s time to walk away”
If your relationship is on the rocks and you’re feeling weighed down, “Let It Go” may be one of the best breakup songs to help you gain some clarity and let go of some of those negative feelings.
“Be Alright” by Dean Lewis
“But it’s not the fact that you kissed him yesterday / It’s the feeling of betrayal, that I just can’t seem to shake / And everything I know tells me that I should walk away / But I just wanna stay”
Although Dean Lewis may have written the lyrics with his past breakups in mind, the song itself is applicable to anyone struggling with a breakup. Though the future may seem bleak at first, it is important to surround yourself with friends and family and to remember that things will work out in the end.
“Somebody Else” by The 1975
“Our love has gone cold / You’re intertwining your soul with somebody else”
Post-breakup, there comes a time when your ex moves on with somebody else, and having a front-row seat to that development can be confusing, especially when you miss having that person in your life. That’s where The 1975’s unique hit “Somebody Else” comes into play. When you no longer want to be with someone romantically, but don’t want to see them with somebody else, this song will become your BFF.
“The Heart Wants What It Wants” by Selena Gomez
“There’s a million reasons why I should give you up / But the heart wants what it wants”
When Selena Gomez released “The Heart Wants What It Wants,” she gave us an intimate peek into her side of the breakup and shattered everyone’s hearts with her moving lyrics and heartfelt music video.
“Stay” by Rihanna ft Mikky Ekko
“Cause when you never see the light / It’s hard to know which one of us is caving”
When you’re looking to feel all the feels, put on Rihanna and Mikky Ekko’s heart-wrenching single “Stay.” Prepare to ugly cry your way into the following morning.
“when the party’s over” by Billie Eilish
“Once we’ve both said our goodbyes / Let’s just let it go / Let me let you go”
Although “when the party’s over” may seem like a somber track filled with anguish and heartbreak, Billie Eilish doesn’t see it as a sad song, but more of a story about someone who is fed up with their partner’s toxic behavior and is ready to end things. With that said, Eilish’s masterpiece undoubtedly deserves a place on your breakup list, especially for anyone who is ready to say goodbye to their relationship. And be sure to watch the visually stunning music video. Drenched in creativity and open to limitless interpretations, it is a work of art.
“Fingers Crossed” by Lauren Spencer-Smith
“All you did was prove me wrong / When you said you loved me / Well, you must’ve had your fingers crossed”
If all your friends are pointing out red flags, it’s safe to say that you might be better off without the walking red flag. Kick ‘em to the curb and find someone who treats your right… or live it up as a single gal.
“Easy On Me” by Adele
“I know there is hope in these waters / But I can’t bring myself to swim / When I am drowning in this silence”
In Adele’s latest album 30, the British songwriter penned one of her most vulnerable tracks to date, “Easy On Me.” Written after the breakdown of her marriage, Adele is brutally honest in her delivery, especially when it comes to pinpointing her own flaws and pitfalls. However, it is the undercurrent of hope and self-acceptance that makes this truly remarkable piece and further shows how much she has grown since the release of 19.
“Champagne Problems” by Taylor Swift
“One for the money, two for the show / I never was ready, so I watch you go”
Taylor Swift is a master of her craft, especially when it comes to constructing unforgettable bridges. Based on a fictional couple, “Champagne Problems” tells the story of longtime college sweethearts and the night their relationship dissolves seconds after a proposal.
“If the World Was Ending” by JP Saxe ft. Julia Michaels
“If the world was ending / You’d come over, right?”
Whether your relationship ended because your paths were taking you both in opposite directions or you simply fell out of love, Julia Michaels and JP Saxe’s emotionally charged single will blanket your mind in nostalgia and have you wondering whether your ex would come over if the world was ending.
“I miss you, I’m sorry” by Gracie Abrams
“Do you remember happy together? / I do, don’t you?”
In this emotional ballad from breakout artist Gracie Abrams, we watch as Abrams attempts to wade through the medley of emotions residing within her mind following a bad breakup.
“Falling” by Harry Styles
“What am I now? What am I now? / What if I’m someone I don’t want around?”
Following a difficult breakup, you are bound to experience a rollercoaster of highs and lows. When you feel like you’re free-falling back into the low stage of grief, I recommend listening to “Falling,” a deeply vulnerable track from Harry Styles.
“Happier” by Olivia Rodrigo
“So find someone great, but don’t find no one better / I hope you’re happy, but don’t be happier”
When you’re in that stage where you wish your ex all the best, but still hope that they aren’t happier than when they had been with you, queue up Olivia Rodrigo’s impassioned ballad “Happier.”
“The Night We Met” by Lord Huron
“I had all and then most of you / Some and now none of you / Take me back to the night we met”
Lord Huron’s hauntingly beautiful track “The Night We Met” packs an immense emotional punch that leaves you feeling both melancholic and nostalgic, even if you do not have a specific person in mind.
“Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia
“You’re a little late / I’m already torn”
Natalie Imbruglia’s rendition of “Torn” is the song to blast with the windows down when you need to release all the pent-up emotions that have been building up.
“Ex-Factor” by Lauryn Hill
“Loving you is like a battle (it’s like a battle) / And we both end up with scars”
For an introspective track about a toxic relationship, I recommend listening to Lauryn Hill’s emotional hit “Ex-Factor.”
“traitor” by Olivia Rodrigo
“Guess you didn’t cheat, but you’re still a traitor.”
Olivia Rodrigo’s lyrics are so painfully beautiful that it is impossible to not wallow away while listening to her heartbreakingly tragic album. And if you’re happily single, prepare to grieve your metaphorical breakup.
“Lose You To Love Me” by Selena Gomez
“We’d always go into it blindly / I needed to lose you to find me / This dancing was killing me softly / I needed to hate you to love me”
When you need to say goodbye to an emotional chapter of your life, listen to Selena Gomez’s introspective single “Lose You To Love Me.” Between “The Heart Wants What It Wants” and this masterpiece, prepare to shed a couple tears.
“Apologize” by OneRepublic
“You tell me that you’re sorry / Didn’t think I’d turn around / And say / That it’s too late to apologize”
Searching for a timeless breakup song packed with nostalgia? Look no further than OneRepublic’s legendary hit “Apologize.”
“Supercut” by Lorde
“Cause in my head in my head, I do everything right / When you call when you call, I’ll forgive and not fight / Because ours are the moments I play in the dark / We were wild and fluorescent, come home to my heart”
Someone Great introduced me to this mesmerizing track from Lorde and I have been a fan of the song ever since. Written about a past breakup, Lorde opens up and acknowledges how there are times when she wishes she could go back but knows that breaking up was for the best even though there are times when it seems like the happy moments outweigh the bad.
“Un-Break My Heart” by Toni Braxton
“Don’t leave me in all this pain / Don’t leave me out in the rain / Bring back the nights when I held you beside me”
If you have ever been blindsided by a breakup, Toni Braxton’s unforgettable track “Un-Break My Heart” may be one of the most relatable breakup songs for you.
“Over My Head (Cable Car)” by The Fray
“And suddenly I become a part of your past / I’m becoming the part that don’t last / I’m losing you and it’s effortless / Without a sound we lose sight of the ground / In the throw around”
Although this song is actually about a fight between the lead singer Isaac Slade and his brother Caleb, the bassist for The Fray, “Over My Head (Cable Car)” has a large array of interpretations, making it a great song to listen to when going through a breakup.
“Happier” by Ed Sheeran
“’Cause baby, you look happier, you do / I knew one day you’d fall for someone new / But if he breaks your heart like lovers do / Just know that I’ll be waitin’ here for you”
Watching the love of your life fall in love with someone else is hard. But seeing that they’re happier than they were with you is downright painful. Ed Sheeran captures those feelings and emotions perfectly in his heartbreaking ballad “Happier.”
“You Were Meant For Me” by Jewel
“Dreams last so long / Even after you’re gone / I know that you love me / And soon you will see / You were meant for me / And I was meant for you”
If you have yet to watch that scene from The Office where Pam and Roy dance to “You Were Meant For Me,” it will definitely tug at your heartstrings.
“Ghost Town” by Benson Boone
“The streets are empty / Where love once was but it’s faded away”
When you need some assistance in saying goodbye to a toxic relationship, “GHOST TOWN” may be the perfect song to help you heal and move forward. Between Boone’s chilling vocals and accurate lyrics, you’ll have this playing on repeat.
“Another Love” by Tom Odell
“I wanna sing a song, that’d be just ours / But I sang ’em all to another heart / And I wanna cry, I wanna fall in love / But all my tears have been used up”
When you’re with someone new, but can’t stop thinking about “another love,” look no further than Tom Odell’s emotional ballad “Another Love.” Not only will this song resonate with you, but it might also help to relieve the pain and heartache.
“The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” by The Script
“Some try to hand me money, they don’t understand / I’m not broke – I’m just a broken-hearted man / I know it makes no sense but what else can I do? / How can I move on when I’m still in love with you?”
Whether you’re brokenhearted or high on serotonin, “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” will always be one of the best heartbreak songs to jam out to.
“Jealous” by Labrinth
“It’s hard for me to say, I’m jealous of the way / You’re happy without me”
Laden with raw emotion and pain, Labrinth’s low and sorrowful vocals and soulful lyrics will grab your attention and speak to you on an entirely different level than other breakup songs.
“Bruises” by Lewis Capaldi
“I’ve been told, I’ve been told to get you off my mind / But I hope I never lose the bruises that you left behind”
Nothing hurts worse than when the person you loved becomes nothing more than a memory. In “Bruises,” Capaldi laments how he hopes to never forget his ex or the memories, “the bruises,” that she left behind.
“The Scientist” by Coldplay
“Nobody said it was easy / No one ever said it would be this hard / Oh, take me back to the start”
Coldplay’s tearful hit “The Scientist” rings with vulnerability and unimaginable heartache. If you need a good cry sesh, let Chris Martin’s melancholic vocals enshroud your mind.
“Careless Whisper” by George Michael
“We could have been so good together / We could have lived this dance forever / But now, who’s gonna dance with me? / Please stay”
Iconic, melodious, and unforgettable, “Careless Whisper” is the type of song to play at full blast with the windows down while belting out that masterful bridge. And if you ever made a terrible mistake that cost you the love of your life, George Michael’s lyrics will undoubtedly hit deep.
“Moral of the Story” by Ashe
“Some mistakes get made / That’s alright, that’s okay”
If there is one message to take away from Ashe’s brilliant breakup song “Moral of the Story” it’s that mistakes will be made and “that’s alright, that’s okay.” What matters is that you learn from those mistakes and make better decisions going forward.
“Back To December” by Taylor Swift
“And then the cold came, the dark days / When fear crept into my mind / You gave me all your love and all I gave you was goodbye.”
When it comes to foolproof breakup songs, Taylor Swift knows what she’s doing, but rarely does she release one where she apologizes to a past flame. Emotional and heartfelt, “Back To December” is a mesmerizing hit overflowing with poignant lyrics and moving vocals.