Going through a breakup is one of the worst feelings in the world. Having your heart broken by the person you love the most, or even doing the heartbreaking, can be hard to cope with. One of the best ways to heal from a broken heart is to listen to music. Music can put our feelings into words that we can’t muster. Consider adding these breakup albums to your playlist to help you get through the pain.
1. Rumours by Fleetwood Mac
Ahh, yes. The quintessential breakup album that everyone needs in their lives – Rumours by Fleetwood Mac. If you don’t already know, Fleetwood Mac is notorious for their in-band whirlwind of romance and drama. Lead singers Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham maintained an on-again off-again relationship status that ultimately resulted in heartbreak for both parties. This heartbreak occurred during the making of Rumours, giving it that raw, emotional energy that will perfectly capture the heartbreak you may be experiencing right now. Some standout songs on the album include Dreams, with lyrics like “Thunder only happens when it’s rainin’ / Players only love you when they’re playin'” and The Chain, donning lyrics such as “And if you don’t love me now / You will never love me again.” You’ll need this album to help you move on.
2. For Emma, Forever Ago – Bon Iver
For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver is an album that encapsulates what it means to feel broken and alone. Justin Vernon, lead singer of Bon Iver, wrote and recorded this album in a faraway cabin in Wisconsin. He escaped to this cabin to get a fresh start after breaking up with both his band and his girlfriend at the time. The album is an indie-folk encapsulation of pain and grief, captured beautifully by acoustic guitars and heart-wrenching lyrics. Some particularly heartbreaking tracks include For Emma, with lyrics like “Go find another lover… to string along / With all your lies / You’re still very lovable,” and the iconic Skinny Love, with lyrics like “Come on skinny love, just last the year / Pour a little salt, we were never here.” Check this one out if you want to cry a river of tears.
3. Stranger in the Alps – Phoebe Bridgers
It’s no secret that Phoebe Bridgers is an incredible singer/songwriter, filling our ears with terribly beautiful songs that invoke feelings of melancholy and heartbreak. Stranger in the Alps is Bridgers’ debut album, and, no doubt, an essential to add to your breakup playlist. Throughout the album, we are faced with themes of loneliness, vacancy, intimacy, and brokenness. The album starts off with Smoke Signals, with lyrics such as, “You must’ve been looking for me / Sending smoke signals, pelicans circling.” Many of Bridgers’ songs are accompanied by a gorgeous, haunting backtrack, such as the track Scott Street, giving us lyrics like “Do you feel ashamed? / When you hear my name?”. However, we also have the upbeat Motion Sickness, but don’t be fooled by the happy music – you’ll be immediately hit with the opening lyrics, “I hate you for what you did / And I miss you like a little kid.” You can’t go wrong with any of the tracks on this album.
4. IGOR – Tyler, The Creator
If you’re looking for something a little more upbeat, yet still retaining those themes of heartbreak, try IGOR by Tyler, The Creator. IGOR perfectly captures that feeling of unrequited love. The album is thought to follow the story of a man who is in love with another man, yet that other man is dating a woman. While the narrator is willing to fully commit to this person, the other man doesn’t want anything serious. The album introduces us to those strong feelings of love with EARFQUAKE, giving us lyrics like “You make my earth quake / Riding around you’re telling me something is bad / And it’s making my heart break.” The album continues to tell the story of how this love affair quickly goes downhill, with tracks like PUPPET, capturing what it feels like to be under someone else’s spell with the lyrics, “I do not have self-control / I am startin’ to wonder / Is this my free will or yours?”. Listening to this album in order will help you get over your ex in no time.
5. Trouble Will Find Me – The National
Trouble Will Find Me by The National has everything you need in a heartbreak album – longing, grief, and the desire to move on. Lead singer Matt Berninger has a deep, baritone voice that will leave you feeling both depressed and intrigued. The National’s sound typically ranges from downright sad indie tunes to upbeat songs that you’ll want to scream at the top of your lungs. Trouble Will Find Me is a great album to move through your heartbreak, but any of The National’s discography will help you move on. The album opens up with I Should Live In Salt, capturing the guilt of doing someone wrong. You can feel this in the chorus, with Berninger crooning, “I should live in salt for leaving you behind.” As you move through the album, you’ll get to This Is The Last Time, with lyrics such as “But your love is such a swamp / You’re the only thing I want / And I said I wouldn’t cry about it, ah-ah-ah-ah.” Perhaps one of the most depressing and melancholy songs on the album is I Need My Girl, with the lyrics, “But I can’t get my head around it / I keep feeling smaller and smaller / I need my girl.” When it comes to The National, you’ll need them to help you through your sadness.
6. Blonde – Frank Ocean
Widely considered one of the greatest R&B albums of all time, Blonde by Frank Ocean has more than enough material to get you in your feels. Ocean’s voice is smoother than the ocean itself, capturing themes of love and loss, depression, self-doubt, and family. One of the earlier tracks on the album is Ivy, which reflects on a failed relationship with lyrics like, “Ooh, I could hate you now / It’s quite alright to hate me now / When we both know that deep down / The feeling still deep down is good.” Self Control is one of the most renowned and depressing tracks on the album, with a low-key production and Ocean’s voice singing lyrics like, “Keep a place for me, for me / I’ll sleep between y’all it’s nothing” and, “Now and then you miss it, sounds make you cry / Some nights, you dance with tears in your eyes.” This song captures the feeling of a relationship slowly falling apart and not being able to do anything about it. I won’t spoil the rest of the album for you, because if you somehow haven’t listened to it already, it’s a gem.
7. Melodrama – Lorde
If you’re into that euphoric pop sound, check out Lorde’s Melodrama album. The album itself is said to take place at a house party, encompassing feelings of loneliness, insecurity, and heartbreak. Lorde created and released this album after her first breakup, indirectly making it an incredible album to play when you’re trying to heal your heart. Lorde graces our ears with both upbeat songs and ballads as we move through the album. The album starts off with tracks like Sober, giving us the lyrics, “We’re king and queen of the weekend / Ain’t a pill that could touch our rush / But what will we do when we’re sober?”. Moving through the album, you’ll eventually get to the devastating Liability, with the lyrics, “They say, ‘You’re a little much for me / You’re a liability / You’re a little much for me.'” You’ll be drowning in your tears by the time you get to Supercut, which replays the memories of a relationship that has since fallen apart. You’ll definitely want to listen to this one.
8. A Moon Shaped Pool – Radiohead
Radiohead is known for their profound ability to capture what it means to be a human being in a world full of consumerism and war. A Moon Shaped Pool is no exception to these concepts, yet it also introduces us to feelings of heartbreak and how we can find the beauty in that. Thom Yorke captures each theme beautifully with a voice that drones on in a depressing fashion – perfect for those who are sad and heartbroken. You can feel those heartbroken vibes on tracks like Ful Stop, with lyrics like, “You really messed up everything / You really messed up everything / …Why should I be good if you’re not?”. Many of Radiohead’s songs come with a certain ambiguity, meaning that you can interpret them in a way that suits your current situation. Perhaps the most depressing song on the album, it closes with True Love Waits, giving us the lyrics, “I’ll drown my beliefs / To have your babies / …Just don’t leave / Don’t leave.” The pleading nature of the song along with Yorke’s voice will have you in shambles.
9. Currents – Tame Impala
While Tame Impala’s Currents may include some of the grooviest, upbeat songs you’ve ever heard, the lyrics stand alone as an ode to growing and becoming a better person. Throughout the album, lead singer Kevin Parker takes us on a journey through overcoming a broken heart and coming out stronger on the other side. The best part about this album is that you’ll genuinely have fun when you’re listening to it! Its jazzy guitars will help you dance through the pain, all while capturing what it means to feel that pain. Parker starts us off on an optimistic note with Let It Happen, starting off with the lyrics, “It’s always around me, all this noise / But not nearly as loud as a voice saying / ‘Let it happen, let it happen.'” Later, we get to the track Eventually, with lyrics like, “But I know that I’ll be happier / And I know you will too / …Eventually, ah.” The crux of the album is the song The Less I Know The Better, with the jazziest guitars you’ve ever heard over a song about your lover being unfaithful. All in all, you’re going to have an amazing, out-of-body experience with this album.
10. XO – Elliott Smith
Elliott Smith is an artist whose songs are always deeply personal, making the album XO perfect to help you through your breakup. Smith perfectly captures the vibe of riding through the country with a broken heart. His smooth voice saunters on about a past lover in the opening song Adeline, giving us the lyrics, “Cut this picture into you and me / Burn it backwards, kill this history / Make it over, make it stay away / Or hate’ll sing the ending that love started to say.” Most of the album contains a light acoustic backtrack with devastating lyrics and, of course, Smith’s smooth voice singing those lyrics. Smith’s song Waltz #2 (XO) on the album is said to be about his mother who endured an abusive relationship. Smith sings, “I’m never gonna know you now / But I’m gonna love you anyhow,” setting the tone for the remainder of this moody album. In Smith’s Oh Well, Okay, he sings about a lost lover whose memory is still strong in his mind. The imagery Elliott Smith provokes is enough to move you to tears.
11. Grace – Jeff Buckley
You may have heard Jeff Buckley’s gorgeous rendition of Hallelujah, but if that wasn’t enough to break your heart, his full-length album Grace is sure to get the job done. Buckley’s voice is strong and pleading, with unique and complex songs that cover just about every topic. The opening song on the album, Mojo Pin, starts us off with lyrics like, “Don’t wanna weep for you, don’t wanna know / I’m blind and tortured, the white horses flow / Memories fire, the rhythms fall slow / Black beauty, I love you so.” Here, we see Buckley yearning for a previous lover who is no longer in his life. Last Goodbye is another incredible song that evokes that breakup imagery, giving us the lyrics, “This is our last goodbye / I hate to feel the love between us die.” We later get to the song Lover, You Should’ve Come Over, where Buckley captures his life of failed relationships with lyrics, “Maybe I’m too young / To keep good love from going wrong / But tonight you’re on my mind / So you never know.” Of course, this album also includes Hallelujah, so you’ll be getting that beautiful song alongside the other tracks.
12. Be The Cowboy – Mitski
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of Mitski and her ability to turn heartbreak ballads into powerful, catchy songs. Be The Cowboy is no exception to that. This album is filled with songs that emphasize the loneliness that occurs when you fall in love and how to cope with that. A song that captures this theme well is Lonesome Love, with lyrics like, “Walk up in my high heels / All high and mighty / And you say ‘Hello’ / And I lose.” Mitski outlines the idea of trying to convince yourself that you are over a past lover, but ultimately failing to prove that. Later on in the album is the iconic track Nobody, where Mistki belts out lyrics about feeling isolated, such as “My God, I’m so lonely, so I open the window / To hear sounds of people, to hear sounds of people.” Mitski ends the album on a wistful note with Two Slow Dancers, singing about the nostalgia of having one last dance with a past lover. If you’ve got a broken heart, you’re sure to relate to most of the songs on this album.
Which of these albums will you be screaming at the top of your lungs to get through your heartbreak? Don’t let a broken heart stop you from healing with incredible music!
Featured Image Source: https://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/article/frank-ocean-albums
Sarah is a recent Virginia Tech graduate with a Bachelors in Creative Writing and Psychology.