Best Breakup Songs – Old and New

By: Diana Shepherd
Last Update: October 29, 2016

Whether you're going through a divorce or the breakdown of a serious relationship, music can help to lift your spirits. It can also help you to work through whatever emotion you're feeling at the time – from sadness to anger, denial to relief. There are angry songs that encourage you to shout out the lyrics, and sad songs that will help you cry out your feelings of pain and loss. "For me, singing sad songs often has a way of healing a situation," says Reba McEntire. "It gets the hurt out in the open into the light, out of the darkness."


Before we get to actual song titles, here's some advice and a word of warning: listen to these songs, sing along to them, let them help to move you through the stages of divorce recovery, but don't act on any of the revenge songs! The thought of spending all your family's money ("Hit 'em Up Style") or taking "a Louisville slugger to both headlights" of your ex's car ("Before He Cheats") to repay a cheating ex may feel justified, but doing so could torpedo your divorce settlement – or even land you in jail. With that out of the way, let's move on to the songs.

Under the "Angry Songs" category, "Unbelievable" by EMF is a good song to get you revved up with righteous indignation. Other songs to listen to when you're angry include “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette, "Gives You Hell" by The All-American Rejects, "So What" by Pink, “Irreplaceable” by Beyoncé, "Breakin’ Dishes" by Rihanna, "Hit 'em Up Style" by Blu Cantrell, "Cry Me A River" by Justin Timberlake, and "Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood.

Elton John knew that "there are times when we all need to share a little pain," and his "Sad Songs (Say So Much)" urged listeners to: "Turn on those sad songs / When all hope is gone / Why don't you tune in and turn them on." Sad breakup songs include pretty much all of Adele's hits, as well as my personal favorites: “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Prince (Sinead O’Connor's version is especially sad), “Against All Odds (Take a Look At Me Now)” by Phil Collins, "I Can't Make You Love Me" by Bonnie Raitt, and “River” by Joni Mitchell. If none of these speak to your heart, try one of these songs:

  • "I Will Always Love You" by Dolly Parton/Whitney Houston
  • “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt
  • “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye
  • “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” by Jimmy Ruffin
  • “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division
  • “Crying” by Roy Orbison
  • “I Fall to Pieces” by Patsy Cline
  • "Everytime You Go Away" by Daryl Hall
  • “It’s Too Late” by Carole King
  • "Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart" by Alicia Keyes
  • "Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac
  • "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" by Tammy Wynette

Breakup songs to dance to (upbeat tempo – not necessarily lyrics) include: “Heartbreak Hotel” by Elvis Presley, “Forget You” by Cee Lo Green, “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” by Taylor Swift, “Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson, and "Reason to Believe" by Rod Stewart.

Did we miss any? Please add your favorite angry, sad, or upbeat breakup song in the comments, below.


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