10 Best Break Up Songs
Sometimes the best break up songs conjure a sense of relatable loss, temporarily mending our hearts and our minds. While some of the songs are inspired from personal experience, others stem from the songwriters’ idea of a situation. After all, everyone has some baggage, right? Here are our favorite break up songs, covering every type of feeling that comes along with them — including deception, disappointment, alienation and even revenge.
Leave it to Beyonce to find the bright side of breaking up. In this 2006 song from her album ‘B’Day,’ the power diva sings over a light-hearted pop beat about a cheating boyfriend, and how she is kicking his sorry a— out! The ‘Single Ladies’ songstress directs her loser ex “to the left, to the left” as she lets him know what’s really on her mind: “Baby I won’t shed a tear for you, I won’t lose a wink of sleep / ‘Cause the truth of the matter is replacing you is so easy.” You go, girl! Tell him how it really is!
‘The Scientist’ is another interesting look at the outcome of a heart-wrenching breakup. In the song, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin sings to a former love over a moving piano riff. Although it is hard to hear the nostalgic agony in a voice as sweet as Martin’s, the lyrics to this song say it all: “Nobody said it was easy / It’s such a shame for us to part / Nobody said it was easy / No one ever said it would be this hard / Oh take me back to the start.” We’re sure lots of forlorn singles had this track playing on repeat back in 2003.
‘When I Was Your Man’
Oh, Bruno Mars, you break our hearts when you sound so, so sad. On ‘When I Was Your Man,’ the ‘Unorthodox Jukebox’ crooner sets the bar for breakup songs with his heart-wrenching, personal lyrics and impassioned performance. It’s refreshing to hear the breakup from a man’s point of view, and Bruno lets his emotions flow on the piano ballad, singing, “My pride, my ego, my needs and my selfish ways / Caused a good strong woman like you to walk out my life / Now I never, never get to clean up the mess I made.”
Forget the drama, forget the tears, and forget the apologies, because all Cee Lo Green is sending his former flame’s way is a big, fat “f— you.” Of course, that’s the uncensored version of this top breakup song, which was changed to ‘Forget You’ for obvious reasons. On the track, which went all the way to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, Green brings the laughs with his funky vocals, as he tells off the money-grabbing girl who played him. Towards the close of the uptempo, R&B jam, Green busts out the falsetto as he sings, “I pity the fool that falls in love with you.”
‘Someone Like You’
Nobody can bust out a break up song like vocal powerhouse Adele. The Brit has a plethora of amazing songs about lousy relationships, but none of them are quite as captivating as 2011’s ‘Someone Like You.’ Adele’s beautiful vocals are laid over a melodic piano, as she laments over the boy that got away. “Never mind / I’ll find someone like you / I wish nothing but the best for you too / ‘Don’t forget me,’ I begged / ‘I’ll remember,’ you said / ‘Sometimes it lasts in love / But sometimes it hurts instead’,” Adele sings during the chorus.
‘Since U Been Gone’
In 2004, Kelly Clarkson served up one of the best breakup songs of all time with ‘Since U Been Gone.’ The ‘American Idol‘ winner puts an ex on blast on this upbeat, catchy track, which is off of Clarkson’s second studio album, ‘Breakaway.’ Clarkson shows off her strong pipes as she sings about the positive side of breaking up: “Since you been gone / I can breathe for the first time / I’m so moving on / Yeah, yeah / Thanks to you / Now I get / What I want.”
‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’
Instead of groveling to a guy to take her back, Taylor Swift is stoked to be single on her Grammy-nominated ‘Red’ track, ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.’ This anthem of independence is one of the best breakup songs because it celebrates freedom while adding some sassy little disses into the bubblegum, country-pop mix. Since releasing this song, it’s become the go-to “f— you” track for ladies who are too classy to drop F-bombs, like Taylor herself!
‘Cry Me a River’
In 2004, Justin Timberlake unleashed this hard-hearted song about a cheating ex. This one is personal for JT, who co-wrote ‘Cry Me a River’ about his former girlfriend Britney Spears. Timberlake sings in a high register throughout the Grammy-winning song, with a pain in his tone that only a scorned lover could possess. “You told me you loved me / Why did you leave me, all alone,” he asks his ex, as she begs for forgiveness. However, getting back together is not an option, as he tells her to “cry [him] a river.”
Sometimes the best breakup songs steam from personal experiences. ‘Don’t Speak’ is presumed to be about Gwen Stefani and bassist Tony Kanal’s seven-year relationship, penned by the No Doubt songstress member and brother Eric Stefani. The pleading “I don’t want to really know what you’re thinking” lyrics touched listeners who once were in dwindling relationships, taking the Grammy-nominated song to the top of the charts in 1996, and to the top of our best break up songs list!
‘Somebody That I Used to Know’
Gotye and Kimbra tug at your heart strings and send shivers up your spine as they trade verses on their climactic breakup song ‘Somebody That I Used to Know.’ The music evokes that weird “in limbo” feeling, with plunky xylophone and twangy strings at the forefront, as Gotye belts about his ex, who left him with ambivalent feelings of relief and frustration: “But you didn’t have to cut me off / Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing / And I don’t even need your love / But you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough.”