We all like to wallow in our own emotions every once in a while. A breakup is especially tough to get through.
Music is a great way to help you temporarily escape whatever difficult situation you’re in. Personally, I love to listen to music after a breakup. Music is extremely accessible and liberating. It’s nice to remember that our favorite artists go through the same things we do, and they have their own ways of expressing their feelings through their work.
These are some of my favorite emotional songs that hit especially different after a breakup.
Somebody Else – The 1975
You hate to admit it, but seeing your ex move on makes you feel a bit odd. It’s a weird sensation. You want to be happy for them and wish them the best, yet you can’t help but think “I’m so alone. You’re the reason why.”
“Somebody Else” has been in my breakup playlist ever since it came out. I remember how validated I felt, listening to it for the first time.
“I don’t want your body, but I hate to think about you with somebody else/Our love has gone cold, you’re intertwining your soul with somebody else.”
Of course, you want to move on, but seeing your ex enjoy their life with somebody else is weird. You pick out similarities, and you find yourself looking into their relationship.
You notice that they look at the other person the same way they used to look at you. You realize that they’re happy.
You can’t help but miss them.
The 1975 puts these feelings into words. Missing your ex is common and valid.
Listening to this song after a breakup is particularly fitting because there are times when you really feel like you’re over somebody, but remember those intimate moments with them. It hurts to think about that person sharing intimate moments with somebody else.
All I Do Is Cry – Kim Petras
Kim Petras manages to create one of the most cathartic breakup songs ever. “All I Do Is Cry” features lyrics that are painfully honest. They express what we’re too embarrassed to admit after a breakup.
She pours her emotions out by saying that she wishes she could forget about her ex. They broke her heart, and she doesn’t understand what she did wrong.
“Wish I could forget you, like I never met you/Said you want a break, then you broke my heart/You left me with nothing/I feel like I’m drowning/You just let me down and I don’t know why”
Kim is putting it all out there. She’s expressing her purest and most vulnerable thoughts through her music. Emotions are not meant to be bottled up. Cry to this song. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. It feels great.
“All I Do Is Cry” reminds us all that we’re human, and we’re allowed to feel sad about losing something we valued. It’s okay to admit that you feel sad about your breakup — it’s natural to think about your past relationships and become emotional over them.
Garden – Dua Lipa
This song serves as a very prominent inclusion in my own breakup playlist. Dua Lipa describes a previous relationship she had, where she could feel when things were going south. “Garden” alludes to the Garden of Eden, the paradise created by God in the Book of Genesis.
“Used to think that this love was heaven sent/How did we get lost? Can’t get back again”
This is also in reference to how Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, were shunned from the Garden of Eden.
“Are we leaving this Garden of Eden?”
In other words, Lipa’s relationship was comparable to a paradise and having it end it felt like she was leaving the Garden of Eden.
This song serves as a good breakup song because people tend to remember the highlights of their past relationships, and it causes them to miss their ex. Lipa manages to remind her listeners that past relationships are meant to be left in the past. Her music and her entire repertoire include so many other great breakup songs.
Watching My Phone – King Princess
On “Watching My Phone”, King Princess expresses her frustration towards wanting someone who doesn’t want her back in an incredibly vulnerable way. They address this person indirectly.
“I apologize for holding you so tight you couldn’t breathe and thinking you’d be fine”
Forming a bond with someone and thinking that you’d actually have a chance to be in a relationship with them, only to find out that they don’t feel the same way is devastating. You think about this person all the time. You expect them to message you back.
“And I’m alone/ Watching my phone/ Thinking ’bout you, baby”
King Princess also explores common themes in today’s society — we tend to watch our phones when waiting for a text back from someone. We become very anxious and just keep checking our phones until that person responds. King Princess wants this person to reciprocate the attention they’re giving them so badly that they’re willing to keep checking their phone until it lights up from the other person’s text. We’ve all been there.
Don’t wait for them to message you back.
All I Wanted – Paramore
“All I Wanted” by Paramore delves into an individual who is looking back at a fling they had — one that dissolved before it became serious.
“I could follow you to the beginning, just to relive the start/And maybe then we’ll remember to slow down at all of our favorite parts”
We can’t help but think, “Maybe if things happened this way…”
We’ve definitely all had a crush who didn’t like us back. We tend to imagine scenarios where we become closer to someone, when in reality they aren’t in the same headspace as you. Sometimes we get feelings for someone who just doesn’t want the same thing you do — and that’s okay. We just need to express our frustrations with situations we’re put in, and occasionally put ourselves in.
The majority of the song consists solely of the lyrics “All I wanted was you”. Every time the lyric is repeated, the guitar in the background becomes intense and moody. It mirrors the feelings we have when something we were hoping to happen doesn’t end up happening.
The buildup to the end of the song leaves the listener choked up and wanting to return to a relationship that sadly never began.
Winter – PVRIS
Pvris’ second studio album, All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell explores lead singer Lynn Gunn’s breakup with her girlfriend of two years. On “Winter”, we hear Gunn sing about not actually feeling loved. She reflects on this relationship and realizes that the love and affection she received during this relationship was “ice cold” and comparable to winter.
“Can you burn a fire in my flesh?/ ‘Cause your love’s so cold I see my breath”
“That sh*t was pathetic, I need love/I’m warm flesh and blood”
It’s important to understand why your relationship ended, and acknowledge that you deserve better. You deserve to be loved.
“Winter” is especially great to listen to after a breakup because it allows listeners to genuinely reflect on the relationship that just ended. It puts the listener in a vulnerable headspace — one that recognizes that there are other people out there for them who will treat them better. The world isn’t over, and you’re bound to have other great relationships.
Starring Role – Marina and the Diamonds
In the early 2010s, Marina Diamandis was famous for releasing music that described issues we have with love in a melodramatic and somewhat extravagant way.
“Starring Role” depicts a woman who doesn’t feel loved by the man she’s seeing. She acknowledges that he is seeing someone else, and she doesn’t like it because she loves him and wants him all for herself. Despite this, she acts like everything is okay.
“You don’t love me/Big f*cking deal/I’ll never tell you how I feel”
She wants to have the starring role in his life, to be the only person that he’s seeing. She feels as though she’s playing a supporting role because this man has multiple women in his life. She’s only one of those women.
“It almost feels like a joke to play out the part when you are not the starring role in someone else’s heart”
She hides behind a facade — one where she is okay with the fact that he doesn’t love her, even as far as to claim that she doesn’t care about the situation she’s in.
Sometimes, we pretend like the relationship we’re in is okay. We agree with whatever the other person wants just to be around them. I’ve been there. It’s important to express your feelings, and if the other person doesn’t share those feelings, it’s best to let them go. Don’t allow yourself to play a supporting role unless you genuinely want to.
Eyes Closed – Halsey
Halsey is one of the most popular female pop artists today. Her repertoire consists of a lot of music to get you through a breakup.
In “Eyes Closed”, Halsey outlines the struggle people go through to find somebody new, and how those rebounds never really work out the way we hope them to. We continue to think about our ex, even when we’re with another person. We tend to use our rebounds to attempt to fill the void that our previous relationship left.
“If I keep my eyes closed, he looks just like you/But he’ll never stay, they never do”
We even struggle to recreate the spark we felt in our previous relationship. We think too much about what we’re doing, especially after a breakup. We aren’t ready to admit it, but we think too much about our exes when trying to begin a new relationship. It’s like we can’t get them out of our heads. We only begin a new relationship after a recent breakup in order to fill an emotional void.
“Woulda gave it all for you, cared for you/ So tell me where I went wrong”
The Weeknd helped write this song, so you can guess how moody it really is, based on that alone.
Supermodel – SZA
We tend to believe that our previous relationships ended because we’re not attractive enough for the other person. This mindset is extremely prevalent in SZA’s “Supermodel”, from her album Ctrl.
For some reason, we occasionally blame ourselves and our physical appearances for the breakup. We think, “I’m unattractive, of course they broke up with me.” or, “I don’t deserve to be in a meaningful relationship.” Both of these, of course, never being true.
“Leave me lonely for prettier women/You know I need too much attention for sh*t like that/You know you wrong for sh*t like that”
SZA sings these lyrics over a very soothing guitar in the background. The calm energy of the music mixed with cathartic lyrics makes this an amazing song to listen to after getting your heart broken, especially if that breakup happened to be due to the other person cheating. SZA has your back. She’s been there.
If you’ve been cheated on by a previous partner, you might blame yourself for it. It isn’t your fault. The cheater is always at fault. Like SZA said, they know they’re wrong for sh*t like that.
If You See Her – LANY
In “If You See Her”, Paul Klein sings about a relationship where things ended randomly, despite thinking that things were going great between him and his partner at the time.
Being broken up with for seemingly no reason is incredibly debilitating. One second, you’re in an amazing, loving relationship. The next, you’re alone in your bedroom, wondering what went wrong.
“Don’t know what she left me for/She won’t talk to me anymore/So if you see her, tell her I’ll do anything, I need her”
You’re clearly still in love with this person, but you don’t understand why you two broke off your relationship. You’re confused. The other person has their reasons but decided not to tell you out of fear that you wouldn’t understand. Now you’re alone, and you don’t exactly know why.
“Does she remember, the night before goodbye she said forever/And made me swear I’d never leave her/She said she doesn’t love me, don’t believe her”
I believe that this song serves as a way to help you reflect on your past relationships. It presents the listener with the question: “Why did this end?”
Music is one of the best ways to let out your anger, frustration, and heartbreak, without hurting anyone. Allow yourself to be emotional. Let the music speak to you. Heartbreak playlists are especially necessary to those of us who aren’t inclined to share their feelings with others. If you aren’t comfortable expressing yourself, listen to songs where other people do so, and hopefully realize that your feelings are normal.
I sincerely hope the music and lyrics in these songs help you process the emotions you’re feeling as well as they did for me. Here’s a playlist of these heartbreak songs.
First generation Mexican immigrant. Determinada. Journalism student at ASU.