20s Survival Guide: Breakup Songs

Tonight we continue the new series “20s Survival Guide” with Episode 2: Best Breakup Songs.

Unfortunately, all of our hearts will get squashed at some point. You’re certainly going to want to have something on to drown out the sound of your wailing and tears – and you really shouldn’t subject your roommates to Adele 24/7. Pop some of these songs on to spice the rotation up a bit.

[Disclaimer: This list, like any created about music (I’m looking at you, High Fidelity) is very subjective. The majority of these songs were selected by people who had one too many mimosas at a brunch that my friend Mallory hosted on Sunday or people who had one too many margaritas at dinner on Monday. I’d like to dedicate this list to you, my friends: without your unwavering dedication to day drinking and cheap Mexican food this list never would have made it on the blog.]

What Do You Mean This Relationship Is All Wrong For Me?

Oh, denial, you sly bedfellow. You make us think that we can change someone else, or ourselves. You make us stick around when we should run. You keep thousands of therapists employed. And you’ve also inspired some pretty great songs:

Ain’t No Sunshine- Bill Withers. Bill knows that he should leave the young thing alone. In fact, he tells himself “I know” no less than 26 (yes, 26) times. Bill needs an intervention, stat. (All kidding aside, it is brilliant that Bill Withers can deliver a message that sticks with you in a song that only lasts two minutes and four seconds).

With or Without You – U2. The ultimate song for co-dependency.

Ex-Factor – Lauryn Hill. Just put this song on repeat. Genius.

Dancing On My Own – Robyn. Body Talk is one of the best breakup albums I’ve heard in a long time. AND YOU GET TO DANCE TO IT.

Love and Happiness- Al Green. Love will make you do wrong. Love will make you do right. Ignore the title- this song is a melancholy tour de force set to one of the best bass lines of all time.

So What If I’m Chainsmoking In The Bathtub? At Least I Bathed Today

Ah, so it’s really over. You’re watching 500 Days Of Summer and Garden State nonstop on Netflix. The only thing in your fridge is an old block of cheese and a half finished bottle of Charles Shaw Chardonnay. You’ve reached the depressed phase.

Harder Now That It’s Over- Ryan Adams. Gold is one of those rare albums that felt honest from start to finish. You believed every word on the album, especially when he sings “You’re free/ free with the history” on this song.

Unbreak My Heart- Toni Braxton. Makes the list based on the video alone. 5 Stars, Toni and Tyrese.

Everything Reminds Me Of Her – Elliott Smith. Any man that can record this song and then stick a knife in his own chest must know a little something about pain.

Lover, You Should Have Come Over – Jeff Buckley. This song will always make my top ten favorite songs. The final line is delivered as a quiet plea: “It’s not too late.” Gets me. Every. Time.

I Can’t Make You Love Me – Bonnie Raitt. I dare you to listen to this song and not cry. Bring on the chocolate and tissues, cause it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

Fake Plastic Trees- Radiohead. Really, I could have just made a list of Radiohead songs and you would have had a decent breakup playlist.

The Only Thing Stronger Than My Anger Is This Bottle of Scotch

You’re over the sadness. Now you’re just plain pissed. You’re out for blood. Might I suggest this: before you go throw a brick through your ex’s window, take a minute to live vicariously through these songs. You’ll feel better belting them out and you won’t have to deal with a court date.

Alanis Morissette – You Oughta Know. The ultimate angry breakup song came out when I was eleven years old. Needless to say, my naïve little brain was a bit shocked by some of the lyrics. I think I learned more from this song than my sex-ed class, but only after my more worldly friends explained it to me. I’ve always been a little behind the times. Bless my little heart.

Under My Thumb- The Rolling Stones. The boys at brunch all grunted in approval about this one. You know that one girl who completely screwed you over? Now she’s under your thumb. Boom, how good it tastes when the tables are turned.

Since U Been Gone – Kelly Clarkson. The inner sorority girl in me had to list this one. This may have been the most played song in the Delta Zeta house at the University of South Carolina in the spring of 2004.

Before He Cheats – Carrie Underwood. Do not cheat on a woman that knows how to swing a Louisville Slugger and can wield a knife. And if you do, I hope you have really good insurance.

What are your favorite breakup songs? What did we miss? Let me know in the comments section!

Honorable Mentions:

Here I Go Again On My Own – Whitesnake

These Boots Were Made For Walking – Nancy Sinatra

How Do I Live Without You – LeAnn Rhimes (thank you, Kyle, for serenading this tune to us over brunch)

Every Rose Has Its Thorn – Poison

Limit To Your Love – Feist

Out of Touch – Hall & Oates

Back to Black – Amy Winehouse

When Your Mind’s Made Up – Glen Hansard

Legendary – Lou Barlow

Lack of Color – Death Cab For Cutie

Drumming Song – Florence + The Machine

Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right – Bob Dylan


2 thoughts on “20s Survival Guide: Breakup Songs

  1. Natalie says:

    Plein! I just read this entry almost 2 months later (from France, so add that to the map WordPress!) and I would like to submit You’re Not Sorry by Taylor Swift – the remixed version that was on an episode of CSI – in the I’m Over It category. Oh man, my iTunes shows an embarrassingly high number of plays on that one after a breakup with a liar and a cheater…

    • laateedaa says:

      It’s kind of amazing how well a song can speak to a situation. I currently have Sia and David Guetta’s “Titanium” on repeat 🙂 call it my “You’re Not Sorry.”

      So glad to know you’re reading from France! How the heck are ya?

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