The 20 best songs about heartbreak – Time Out

🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!
Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!
We know this city. Do you?
We uncover the best of the city and put it all in an email for you
Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?
By entering your email address you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and consent to receive emails from Time Out about news, events, offers and partner promotions.
🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!
Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!
Love the mag?
Our newsletter hand-delivers the best bits to your inbox. Sign up to unlock our digital magazines and also receive the latest news, events, offers and partner promotions.
Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?
By entering your email address you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and consent to receive emails from Time Out about news, events, offers and partner promotions.
Get us in your inbox
Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?
By entering your email address you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and consent to receive emails from Time Out about news, events, offers and partner promotions.
🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!
Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!
Going through a break-up? Soothe your soul with our list of the 20 best heartbreak songs of all time
Heartbreak is hell, but it’s inspired a helluva lot of great pop music – just ask Fleetwood Mac. Our list of the greatest heartbreak songs has been chosen by the DJs from U Suck, an ace Dalston club night devoted to break-up bangers and empowering, screw-you-anyway-mate anthems.  From Robyn to Solange, and Taylor Swift to Gloria Gaynor, these tunes will remind you that however bad you’re feeling right now, somebody else has probably had it worse. Oh, and if you still need some feels, check out our list of the 50 best sad songs, too.
An email you’ll actually love
By entering your email address you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and consent to receive emails from Time Out about news, events, offers and partner promotions.
🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!
Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!
For shouty, over-it, see ya anthems (hiya Little Mix), 2016 is hard to beat. But The 1975’s occasionally pretentious ode to post-break-up jealousy took a different tack. Over glistening synths (so synthy it’s like the ’80s sneezed on them), Matt Healy’s breathy delivery drives the feeling home; the green-eyed monster can rear its ugly head even when you’re the one who’s been doing the heartbreaking.
Abba were the absolute grand masters of quietly devastating bubblegum pop. They’ll tell you ‘The Winner Takes It All’ is not about Bjorn and Agnetha’s divorce actually, but the story of having to meet and talk (and work and sing) with the person who recently smashed your heart into a thousand pieces. The festive arpeggios underpinning the whole thing are like a reminder of your wedding day – that happy memory tarnished now by your painful divorce. Love is dead. RIP.
One of the first songs Taylor wrote with international hit maestro Max Martin, Swifto’s unabashedly teenage insistence that we are never ever ever getting back together doesn’t feel quite believable – they probably are getting back together, aren’t they? But with its diary-like delivery and massive rant of a chorus it doesn’t really matter if you believe it or not – belting it out while thinking of your own personal flip-flopping, commitment-phobic ratbag feels, like, really good.
A mournful church organ plays as Buckley contemplates the end of a relationship, the end of youth, the end of love… okay, maybe not the end of love. But it’s hard not to fall into a pit of despair as he realises every little mistake he made that led to him losing the love of his life. Writhing at its climax like a heart-sick insomniac, he insists it’s not too late. But it is.
If Solange and Dev Hynes outfit Blood Orange are a match made in louche pop’n’B heaven – and they are – ‘Losing You’ is the track that would be playing as you roll up to the pearly gates. The retro vibe of the irresistibly swaggering beat is tempered by the gentle, almost girlish vocals woven through it. The dying embers of a relationship never made us want to dance more.
With ‘I want you to know that I’m happy for you’ sung with such bile, you’re quite sure that no one has ever been less happy for anyone in the history of the world – and that’s before the song has even kicked off. The jangling ’90s guitar swoops in while Alanis whoops, hollers and growls her way through a comprehensive list of the ways she’s been wronged, the quiet bits only adding to the menace. The absolute bottom line in angry break-up music.
Elvis gave it a good go, the Pet Shop Boys an arguably a better one, but neither top Willie Nelson for pure regret as he insists that although he was an atrocious boyfriend, you were always his number one thought. Too little too late, as another bastion of break-up pop hits might say.
The song that could soundtrack ‘Yer Da’s Taking The Divorce Well: The Movie’, we defy any of you to get through Phil Collins’s punt on getting his first wife back without punching the air once or twice. So perfectly over the top, so completely ridiculous you can’t help but love it. Try it at karaoke: you might not get your ex back, but by god you’ll have a nice time trying.
The Motown crew certainly knew their way around heartbreak and this is the pinnacle of the crying on the inside oeuvre. An economical hit laden with The Miracles’ dreamy harmonies, it’s said that there wasn’t a dry eye in the house any time Smokey and the Miracles performed it.
The wrong hotel room with the wrong woman. Cohen paints the goodbye scene as poetically as was his way, and it’s not so much sad as resigned, rolling gently through the lovers’ final morning together. With just a handful of consecutive notes making up the melody, it’s a soothingly monotonous affair – no fireworks, no explosive fuck-yous, just the natural end of something that probably wasn’t really right to begin with.
One of the most empowering songs ever written, there’ll come a point during every break-up when you’ll finally feel ready to put it on and let Gloria tell you you’re going to be absolutely fine through the medium of disco so glitzy you can’t close your eyes without seeing glitter balls. It’s the only song ever to have won a Grammy for Best Disco Recording. Possibly because it’s the only disco song worthy of it (and certainly not just because they discontinued the award after only one year).
This throwback ballad represents the late, great Amy Winehouse at the peak of her powers. Flanked by Mark Ronson’s sumptuous Motown-influenced production, her vocals are loaded with heartbroken emotion as she mourns the end of a messy relationship. ‘Life is like a pipe, and I’m a tiny penny rollin’ up the walls inside,’ she sings despondently, offering one of many stunning couplets. What a singer – but also, what a songwriter.
Since it peaked at a respectable number eight in 2010, this superb electro-disco banger has acquired near-mythical status. It’s the tears-on-the-dancefloor anthem of our generation because Robyn totally captures the stinging agony of unrequited love, but makes it kinda defiant at the same time. She may not be the guy he’s taking home, but hey, she’s still dancing on her own.
It’s impossible to listen to this song without feeling better about everything. With strings so ’90s it’s almost painful, the song was originally written to tell the bands they’d been kicked out of where to stick it (Suede for Butler, Thieves for McAlmont) but it works just as well as a screw-you to the ex that comes creeping with that 3am ‘wuu2’ text.
Plug in your headphones, grab a box of tissues and get ready to let it all out. Sniff. 
An email you’ll actually love
By entering your email address you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and consent to receive emails from Time Out about news, events, offers and partner promotions.
🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!
Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!
Popular on Time Out
[title]
More on Time In
[title]
[title]
Get us in your inbox
By entering your email address you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and consent to receive emails from Time Out about news, events, offers and partner promotions.
🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!
Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!
About us
Contact us
Time Out Worldwide

source

spot_imgspot_img

Subscribe

Related articles

Cardi B Says Rappers Are Making ‘Depressing’ Music – Rap-Up.com

While going on Instagram Live on Halloween, the “Up”...

BTS’ ‘Butter’ Is Top Summer Song of 2021

BTS‘ “Butter” wraps as the top title on Billboard‘s...

Best Covers of Bob Dylan Songs – Rolling Stone

For Bob Dylan’s 80th birthday we’ve compiled our list...

How AC/DC's Back In Black changed rock music forever — Kerrang! – Kerrang!

In a previously unpublished interview, Angus and Malcolm Young...
spot_imgspot_img

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here