Break up songs: 15 of the best
Music might not be able to mend a broken heart, but it can certainly help you along the way. Hannah Lewis shares a pick-me-up playlist of the best break up songs that will have you believing in love again in no time
Break-ups. They happen to the best of us. Chances are you already have a go-to break up song, artist or Spotify playlist that you turn to when a relationship doesn’t work out. It can be comforting – cathartic, even – to listen to songs about sadness and regret (think Bridget Jones’ All by Myself karaoke). Yet music can also lift you up and help you look to the future.
From tracks that capture the bittersweet memory of a relationship that’s run its course, to pop anthems that’ll remind you just how great you are, we’ve rounded up 15 of the best break up songs to help you beat the blues.
The best break up songs:
1. Adele – ‘Someone Like You’
This epic ballad by Adele has featured on countless break up playlists. The British star has a voice that overflows with emotion, and Someone Like You is an anthem for anyone who’s ever felt heartache. This track shares your pain but also has a hopeful spirit, reminding you that, though this relationship has ended, others will come. ‘Sometimes it lasts in love but sometimes it hurts instead.’
2. N*Sync – ‘Bye Bye Bye’
Sometimes there’s nothing to be done but stick on an unabashedly cheesy pop song and dance yourself silly. And if it’s one of those break up songs that just happens to say you’re better off single than in a bad relationship, all the better. This N*Sync track is catchy, upbeat, and you probably know the words…stick it on.
3. Gloria Gaynor – ‘I Will Survive’
Gloria Gaynor’s disco anthem has been raising spirits for 40 years – and its message is just as powerful today as it was four decades ago. Rare is the person who can resist singing along when they hear that opening line: ‘At first I was afraid, I was petrified…’ Gloria made it through and so will you. Perhaps you’ll get there a little faster if you can have a little dance to this one.
4. Beyoncé – ‘Irreplaceable’
Quite frankly, you could populate an entire break up playlist with songs by the inimitable Beyoncé. But Irreplaceable has made our top break up songs list for its incredible message of positivity and self-worth. Someone’s treated you badly? Don’t you worry. You’ll find someone else in no time. ‘Baby, I won’t shed a tear for you / I won’t lose a wink of sleep.’ Those are words to live by.
5. Ace of Base – ‘The Sign’
If you don’t know The Sign yet, you must give it a listen. This Ace of Base classic takes what could be a negative subject (asking a former, unpleasant, partner to, well, get lost) and turns it into a wonderfully upbeat and catchy song. ‘I, I got a new life, you would hardly recognise me, I’m so glad.’ Even if you’re not there yet, this will remind you that you will be soon.
6. Britney Spears – ‘Stronger’
In Baby One More Time, Britney sings ‘My loneliness is killing me’. By Stronger, she’s so over that relationship. ‘My loneliness ain’t killing me no more,’ she cries. ‘I’m stronger / than I ever thought that I could be.’ This song is perfect for banishing any doubts you might have. Britney’s no-nonsense attitude will leave you feeling resolute and powerful.
7. Cee-Lo Green – ‘Forget You’
We all know the NSFW version of this track, but even without the expletives, Cee-Lo Green’s hit is a prime pick-me-up. Been dumped? Forget them! Made to feel like you weren’t good enough? Forget them! You, like Cee-Lo, are worth so much more than the change in your pocket. And if the wound’s still raw, it’s always fun to shout ‘Forget You’ at your ex. [Figuratively and from the comfort of your own home, of course].
8.Destiny’s Child – ‘Survivor’
Break ups may knock you down, but Destiny’s Child will always be there to build you up. Survivor will remind you just how strong you are, no matter how anyone else has made you feel. ‘You thought I couldn’t last without you, but I’m lastin’ / You thought that I would die without you, but I’m livin’.’ There’s also a handy little reminder near the end that lashing out is never a good idea, just in case.
9. Kelly Clarkson – ‘Since U Been Gone’
Looking to release the last of that unhelpful post-break up anger? Look no further than Kelly Clarkson’s Since U Been Gone, a powerful tribute to getting to the other side and realising you’re better off without them. ‘Since you’ve been gone / I can breathe for the first time / I’m so moving on / Yeah, yeah.’ Try belting that out and then tell us that you don’t feel better afterwards. It can’t be done.
10. Cher – ‘Believe’
Cher’s Believe may have been one of the biggest dance tracks of 1998 but that doesn’t stop it from being a poignant tale of, well, life after love. Moving from ‘It’s so sad that you’re leaving’ to ending on ‘I don’t need you any more,’ Cher takes herself from depression through to acceptance and finally, positivity. May she do the same for you.
11. No Doubt – ‘Don’t Speak’
No Doubt’s most famous ballad is a beautiful tribute to a love that’s simply run its course. It’s sad but the break up has to happen. The song starts slow and soft, but by the time Gwen Stefani’s singing ‘It’s all ending / I’ve gotta stop pretending’ it’s built to a crescendo that can’t fail to tug at the heartstrings. Made more poignant by the fact that Stefani wrote this alongside band member Tony Kanal as they were breaking up, Don’t Speak is a classic indie tale of love lost.
12. Christina Aguilera – ‘Fighter’
This is one of those break up songs that speaks to anyone who’s ever been treated badly. As Christina says, the trials and tribulations in our lives make us who we are – they make us stronger, make us wiser. Fighter is about refusing to be a victim and about seeing the positive in the darkest situations. Christina’s powerful voice is the perfect vehicle for this empowering message.
13. Elton John – ‘I’m Still Standing’
Sometimes the oldies are the best, and Elton John’s incredible ode to surviving heartache should be on everyone’s break up anthem playlist. Once the worst is over, you’ll still be standing, even better than you were before. In fact, it’s a challenge not to dance to this one, so you might literally be standing by the end of it!
14. Gabrielle – ‘Rise’
Let Gabrielle’s bluesy tones take you from the beginning to end of your break up with this simple yet beautiful song of lost love. ‘It’s gonna take time I know / but I’ll get over you’. Nothing could ring truer. Bob Dylan loved this song so much he allowed Gabrielle to use a sample from Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door for free. If that’s not testament to the song’s greatness, we don’t know what is?
15. David Guetta featuring Sia – ‘Titanium’
There’s something about Sia’s voice that exudes confidence and positivity. It makes her the perfect vocalist for David Guetta’s powerful song about self-belief in the face of adversity. ‘You shoot me down, but I won’t fall, I am titanium.’ If ever a song could inspire you to love yourself despite what anyone else has said or done, this is it. Stick it on, sing along, and you’ll be ready to get back out there in no time.
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