Life is hard, especially during a breakup. While some people might end on good terms with an ex-partner, others may feel devastated when the relationship is over. That’s where music comes in. Many singers and songwriters have made beautiful art out of their breakups. For those of us wanting to wallow in the sadness, these artists have delivered. Here are some sad breakup songs that you can cry your heart out to.
- Rihanna – “Stay” “Stay” broke records upon its release in 2013. An emotional R&B and pop ballad, Rihanna’s lyrics are pleading and are thought to reflect her relationship with singer Chris Brown. The simple piano riffs invite the listener to reflect on the sorrowful lyrics. “Round and around and around and around we go/ Now, tell me now, tell me now, tell me now you know/ Not really sure how to feel about it/ Something in the way you move/ Makes me feel like I can’t live without you/ it takes me all the way/ I want you to stay.” Rihanna’s performance is also incredibly powerful and honest. She is sure to have you belting in the shower after a good cry.
- Olivia Rodrigo – “drivers license” If this isn’t a sad breakup song, I don’t know what is. Olivia’s debut single was the song of the year when it dropped in early 2021. Every Gen Z obsessed over the singer’s pop-punk style and relatable lyrics. Thought to be about her ex-boyfriend Joshua Basset, Olivia’s lyrics depict her boyfriend moving on and how hard it is to see your ex with another woman. It’s impossible to listen to this song and not shed a tear when Olivia begins the bridge, “Red lights/stop signs/I still see your face/in the white cars/front yards/can’t drive past the places we used to go to/cause I still love you babe.”
- Adele – “Someone Like You” Adele is the queen of sad music and her heartfelt ballads are perfect for a good cry session. Not only is this song about a breakup, but it speaks to the ending of a relationship with a life partner. The lyrics detail the feelings of a broken heart, and both the fear and freedom of letting go. How do you move on from someone you thought you’d marry? Is it possible to find someone as “perfect” your last partner? The intensity of Adele’s real-life relationships influences her music, much like her songs “Rolling In the Deep,” or “Set Fire to the Rain.” This just might be the best sad breakup song of all time.
- Sam Smith – “Stay With Me” Arguably one of Sam Smith’s best songs, “Stay With Me,” is also his most successful. A soul and gospel-inspired ballad, the song showcases the desperation for a relationship that was doomed to fail. Sam Smith’s lyrics reach an emotional crescendo at the chorus. “Oh won’t you stay with me/’Cause you’re all I need/This ain’t love it’s clear to see/But darling, stay with me.”
- James Arthur – “Naked” James Arthur’s “Naked” is all about vulnerability. The song tells the story of Arthur swallowing his pride in a relationship. He tries his best to win over his partner. Although the song implies that the relationship ultimately fails, the artist’s moving lyrics are sure to get the waterworks flowing.
- Lady Gaga – “Million Reasons” 2016 was blessed by “Million Reasons,” Lady Gaga’s promotional single for her album Joanne. The lyrics display a situation where Gaga desperately wants to stay in a relationship, but her current partner is giving her every reason to leave. While the rest of the song is about emotional walls and resistance to a breakup, “Million Reasons” is ultimately an empowering song. The country-inspired pop song is sure to give the listener those wonderful bittersweet feelings.
- Taylor Swift – “All Too Well” Of course, we can’t talk about breakup songs without mentioning Taylor Swift. As Taylor continues to re-record her albums, we’ve been lucky enough to experience the 10-minute version of “All Too Well.” The lyrics reminisce about a fleeting but passionate relationship. Swift wrote the song about her relationship with actor Jake Gyllenhaal, and Swifties everywhere were bawling over her poignant lyrics. “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.”
Many people believe that listening to sad music after a breakup can actually help you to feel better. Sometimes we rely on singers to put to words the feelings that we can’t express. Cry to Taylor Swift or bop your head to Olivia Rodrigo. Music can heal the soul and clear the mind after the relationship is over.