Breakups are always hard. Whether it’s mutual, or one-sided, a breakup can always be devastating for both individuals involved.
That’s why music is always so wonderful—it can help us get through the absolute toughest of breakups. That’s why, in this article, I’ve collected some of my absolute favorite songs about breakups that will help soothe your soul and help you overcome your heartbreak.
“Someone Like You” by Adele
I’ll be honest, I used to hate this song. It released when I was in high school and every girl in choir wanted to sing it every second of the day. I was a self-sufficient loner in school and didn’t understand the power behind Adele’s lyrics because I hadn’t gone through a breakup yet.
But oh man, who knew this would be my anthem a couple of years later?
For three years, I was in a fulfilling relationship with a person I deeply trusted; we communicated with one another very clearly and built a foundation based on mutual respect. The devastation of Covid formed a rift between us, and we couldn’t quite bridge that gap; in the end, I chose to walk away from the relationship.
Although we respectfully ended things on good terms, there was still a giant crack in my heart that took a long time to heal. Adele’s loving words, “don’t forget me, I beg; I remember you said, ‘sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead,’” still resonate with my beating heart, as it reminds me of all the good memories and moments of growth that I shared with my ex.
That love will never ever go away, and I am content with myself enough to wish them a happy life. We will live a life full of love and joy, even if we aren’t present to witness those beautiful moments.
“Change” by Great Good Fine OK
Here’s an interesting song, in that the men of Great Good Fine OK sing of a relationship that’s potentially on the brink of a breakup.
This song wonders aloud the question many people think in their mind when their relationship has hit a rough patch and the looming crossroads sign is becoming visible:
Are we going to make it through this pain? Will your mindset change, allowing our relationship to push forward?
What I really like about this song is the air of mystery that remains throughout it. The song begins with the following question:
“Are you gonna change your mind?”
Clearly, something bad has occurred in this relationship—but as the audience, we don’t really know what it is.
Did someone cheat? Did someone mismanage the their finances? Did someone refuse to take the relationship to the next level? Was someone scared to give their full heart in the relationship?
We don’t know. But with lyrics like, “Moving on but scars ain’t healing,” it’s clear that this relationship’s future is very much in doubt.
“I Don’t Wanna” by Haim
We’ve all heard so many songs about heartbreak that a lot of new music can kind of fall through the cracks. It all can sound a bit too alike.
But what I like about this song is that the ladies of Haim are pushing back against a potential breakup. They acknowledge the massive rift within the relationship, but they’re not okay with it.
In fact, “I Don’t Wanna” wades in the waters of forgiveness. The song opens up with lyrics like, “you did me so wrong/left me low with my high heels in the parking lot.”
It’s at this moment where you might think this is a record that will go on to absolutely obliterate the ex featured in this song. This is where, on a song performed by the likes of Taylor Swift or Destiny’s Child, the raucous chorus would kick in, and the song would morph into a pro independent woman-style anthem.
But that’s not really the case here. On this Haim track, the ladies sing of wanting to reconcile with their lover. Sure, they acknowledge mistakes have been made on both sides—but they’re not willing to throw in the towel. They don’t think they’re better off alone.
I’d argue that “I Don’t Wanna” is one of the more mature songs about a breakup you’ll hear in modern music.
“Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” by P!nk
I LOVE this song because not only does P!nk normalize the feeling of being angry after a breakup, but she also lists a myriad of red flags from the get-go in this fiery pop hit! She begins by listing how awful she felt in this relationship.
From “white knuckles and sweaty palms from hangin’ on too tight” to incessant crying and headache after headache, P!nk is simply tired of all the bull dung. She’s tired of always fighting and feeling dizzy from angst, and realizes that, quite frankly, life is too short for fighting for love. So, with intense resolve, she decides that “I will do what I please, anything that I want; I will breathe, I won’t worry at all.”
She knows her ex will be sorry and in a puddle of his own despair when she leaves, but she doesn’t care. He had his chance, and now she can finally be free. So, she encourages us to ask our exes…blow me (one last kiss)?
“Last Kiss” by Mariah Carey
Similar, in many ways, to the tone of Haim’s “I Don’t Wanna,” Mariah Cary’s song called “Last Kiss” is all about being unwilling to accept a breakup. In fact, this song centers around a woman trying to convince herself (and her ex) that they are better off together rather than apart.
That their connection is just too strong to abandon.
And that, despite appearances, their “last kiss” won’t really be their final intimate moment together.
In my heart, I know this
Ain’t gon’ be our last kiss
It’s too big, we just can’t quit
What you think this is?
Our love will always exist
Aww, listen to me
Boy, you know we trill
So stop frontin’
What we got is still somethin’ somethin’
Oh, this feelin’ is too good to miss
And ain’t no kiss gon’ ever be our last kiss
“Boys Ain’t S**t” by SAYGRACE (feat. Flo Milli)
Sometimes our exes don’t realize the amazing people they have in their lives until we’re gone. Moreover, so many of them are too immature to even show interest in their significant other.
This is why “Boys Ain’t S**t” is so pivotal; the target in question is not men in general, but specifically boys. Both SAYGRACE and Flo Milli in this comely collaboration speak on how a lack of communication is one of the biggest turn-offs in a relationship.
SAYGRACE asks “why do you waste all my time? Keep on telling me lies ‘cause you know I’ll come right back; when you don’t even write back,” while Flo Milli asks “[you] say I don’t communicate, I need to talk; how I’ma spit it when you don’t answer my calls?”
Communication is a two-way street, and it’s easy for immature people to blame you for not doing what they’re too afraid to do. The main point is simply put by SAYGRACE: “If you want me, act like it.”
“Where Are You Now” by Janet Jackson
When it comes to breakup songs, many artists will traverse in the waters of anger.
For others, they’ll immerse themselves in the sting of sorrow.
And then there’s tracks like “Where Are You Now,” where an artist directs her focus on the theme of regret.
And while many breakup songs tend to focus moreso on the errors or misdeeds of a man in the relationship, this Janet track targets its attention to the poor choices of the woman.
Because on this song, Janet has actually caused her own heartbreak.
Love, my love
I regret the day you went away
I was too young
To understand my love
But now I realize my mistakes
Where, where are you now?
Now that I’m ready to
Ready to love you
The way you loved me then
Where are you now?
Do you still think of me?
Or does your heart belong to someone else’s?
“My Future Ex Wife” by Andrés (feat. Happy Hour)
This light-hearted indie punk rock song is so beautifully orchestrated, and quite amusing to listen to while going through a breakup. The first verse describes an unlikely pair who are obviously not meant for one another, but the singer, Andrés, is determined to make his love interest his future ex-wife.
He even says, “it’s quite apparent that we value different things, but I’ve been blinded…If I keep scrolling to the bottom, could I possibly reveal why I kept coming over?”
These lyrics hold a mirror up to the devastatingly delightful art of the intersection between hookup culture and online dating. Throughout the song, the artists dance through the events of the couple building “a future that won’t last” and touch on topics like divorce, child support, infidelity, yet still they are in love with their significant other who is now their ex.
Despite the heartbreak, they still revel in the good, bad, and ugly memories; anyone who has gone through any type of breakup can tip their hat to this track.
“Sorry (Original Demo)” by Beyoncé
The first release of Beyoncé’s “Sorry” was well received by the public because many people could relate to her indignant feeling towards her husband’s unfaithful behavior.
Though she perfectly expressed her pain, channeled through her agonizing anger, I admire her original demo because it shows the cooler side of her emotions once her anger has simmered down, leaving her with silent resolve.
I imagine her singing this song after making her plans to live a life without her husband, and she’s standing beside herself, wondering where everything went wrong.
The chorus, a winding melody carried by the wind in her lungs sings wistfully “we really could be living young, wild, and free.” Despite knowing she’d be just fine without him, and she rightfully tells him to “get in line” with his excuses and feeble attempts to win her back, she’s still brought back to the chorus.
In the end, she knows she’ll swallow the unpleasant pill of truth and accept that it simply is what it is, and she’s willing to work through her hurt for love.
“Shining on My Ex” by bbno$ (feat. Young Gravy)
“Shining on My Ex” is literally about what the title says. Yeah, we’ve endured heartbreak, now it’s time to shine! Whether it be wearing bling or having glowing skin from a lack of unnecessary stress or anxiety, bbno$ and Young Gravy are living it up and shining brightly, knowing that their ex isn’t going to be too pleased to see them so happy.
But the exes’ opinions don’t even matter anymore. This delightful duo encourages us to live our best lives, even if we’ve suffered from heartbreak. Even though showing off in front of your ex isn’t the end all be all of your healing process, it sure does feel good in the heat of the moment!
“Dancing With Myself” by Billy Idol
Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself” doesn’t entirely describe a breakup, but it rather details a notable experience he had in a nightclub in Tokyo that many of us can learn from.
He witnessed lots of patrons dancing facing a mirror, seemingly in a sort of transfixed fascination with their own image. Although his song has an upbeat rhythm with a twinge of melancholy that acknowledges the dystopic practice of dating culture, I find this song to be a celebration.
In the famous words of RuPaul, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love anybody else?” This hit track of the 1980s seems to be an ode to the future of internet dating, where most people are learning that self-love precedes romantic love with one another.
You’re probably wondering where I’m going with all this; well, my main point is that even if you’ve experienced a tragic breakup…it’s not the end! Quite the contrary is a beautiful new beginning on the horizon with your love written all over it.
“Bulletproof” by La Roux
This quirky techno funk hit was released during a time I had no idea what heartbreak was. I remember being perplexed by its unique sound and equally unique music video, but it was so fun to sing and dance to that I taught it to everyone, even my toddler niece.
Since I memorized the lyrics, the song taught me lessons that I would eventually utilize in my late teens. La Roux’s lyrics is an impenetrable and obstinate anthem she created after a nasty breakup when she was 17.
She claims to have “been there” and “done that” and refuses to let this person sweep her off her feet. She won’t let him in again and will be bulletproof this time around.
Although this pop hit is great for people going through their first breakup, I really love La Roux’s attitude towards it over a decade later. In an interview, she stated that while she’s grateful for “Bulletproof” being a gateway to her fame, she’s a bit miffed at how most people still associate her with that song’s message.
She states that her hit track was one tiny occurrence in her life that happened when she was 17, and it doesn’t define her, as it’s not her whole picture. Now, at 28, she’s moved on to bigger and better things because “I have other stuff to do.”
Her message is so powerful to me because she’s living proof that breakups are often like thunderstorms: they come and go. 10 years from now, the pain you felt from your first breakup won’t be nearly as traumatizing, so keep going. You’re doing great!
“Someone to Save You” by OneRepublic
I was utterly in love with this song in my teens, but it was for the cringiest of reasons. I had a crush on someone who couldn’t possibly have felt the same way about me, yet this song kept me hopeful that someone out there would be willing to give me everything Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic sang about, such as “honesty” and “patience.”
My embarrassing past aside, I’m grateful I kept this song next to my heart because the message carried a powerful meaning from which anyone could grow. No matter if your breakup happened after a few months, or a few years, or if it was a brief romantic encounter or a devoted decade of marriage, “Someone to Save You” is like chicken soup for your soul.
“Patience,” Tedder begins as if looking over the shoulder of someone suffering from heartbreak; he seems to be in the role of a guardian, soothing a hurting soul from afar.
He observes how the person is still wearing their diamond ring and can’t fathom how they managed to wear it “so much longer that made sense.” He refuses to see them in so much distress, so he asks them to freely express their hurt. He can tell they’re exhausted and patiently waits for them to accept that while the past can’t be changed, the future can be planned.
With passionate fervor, Tedder exclaims “honesty is what you need; it sets you free like someone to save you. Let it go, but hurry though; there’s undertow and I don’t wanna lose you now.” Though we don’t know the relationship Tedder has with the person he’s singing about in this song, his message is clear: we are worthy of honesty, patience, love, and freedom.
“If There is No Question” by Khruangbin
Khruangbin’s soulful indie song offers a gentle perspective of love that didn’t last between lovers. Underneath the potential anger, confusion, and disappointment that commonly follow our breakups, “If There is No Question” reminds us that there is a profound bittersweet sadness hidden in us all, even if we’re too prideful to admit it at first.
Among the repeating hooks that have become the running theme of this song, is a wealthy heap of fragmented pearls of wisdom imparted on them by a loved mentor. A few key phrases I enjoy are “we cried from laughing,” “hearts will get broken,” “we’re all in this world; promises won’t last,” “Broken, and perfect,” “the glass will shatter,” “broken and laughing….”
These delicate phrases highlight the beauty of the imperfections we as humans embody, and it makes us so worthy of love and forgiveness if we keep trying to better ourselves. In our lifetimes, so many of us will be lied to, cheated on, have our hearts shattered, and so on; likewise, we will also be the ones doing the lying, cheating and heart breaking.
Each day, we learn hard lessons and provide hard lessons, which leaves us with Khruangbin’s hauntingly reassuring melody that repeats until its very end: “you’re wild, but you’re not crazy.”
“So What” by Louis the Child (feat. A R I Z O N A)
This sweet, upbeat collaboration provided a ton of healing for everyone fortunate to cross its path. I would quote every lyric and line if I could because there’s a wise gem in each, but I’ll spare you the novella and jump straight to the point.
The artists claim that this song commemorates all of us who have undergone the psychologically confusing feelings of a toxic relationship. Throughout each verse and hook, the artists debunk the power of every single violation of our self-respect our exes attempted to reign over us. Now that we’re free of their insecurities, we can ask with conviction, “so what if he don’t care?
So what if when you’re mad he says you’re crazy? So what if when you cry, he don’t hold you? You don’t need him to be there.” Because in the end, it happens to the best of us, and no, we didn’t lose the person we once were, as the artists simply state, “you just let yourself get a little hurt…so what?”
This song in no way promotes apathy towards the suffering we’ve endured; instead, this song celebrates our strength and encourages to thrive in healthy, loving relationships, especially with ourselves.
Heartbreaking breakups are painful, and it’s helpful to remember that the pain is both necessary to feel and temporary.
Like most things, this too shall pass. If you’ve broken up with someone, or have been broken up with, use these songs about breakups to take some time to feel your feelings, then take the lesson you’ve learned from that relationship.
If you grow from the lesson the breakup taught you, you’re bound to find love again. Keep your chin up, you’ve got this!
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
This article is a guest post by Randa, with select entries added by Michael.