Staff Recs: Breakup Songs

Nothing like some sad 90s emo from a band who broke up after their first album to help you through that breakup of your own.


Nothing like some sad 90’s emo from a band who broke up after their first album to help you through that breakup of your own.


In honor of both Val and Galentine’s Day, here’s the best music to blast when you’re crying alone in an Olive Garden at 3 a.m. At least there’s endless breadsticks.

“Never Meant” By American Football

American Football recorded only one album and disbanded soon after its release, but their 1999 self-titled album is so powerful and leaves such a lasting impression that they don’t ever need to record new music. In the opening song, “Never Meant,” the singer wants to forget his failed relationship because it’s easier to pretend it never happened than to feel the weight of the loss. The song has a beautiful guitar melody that is more melancholic than explicitly sad. It’s still absolutely devastating though. —Zach Martin, Arts Editor

“All The Best” by John Prine

Break ups often lead to harsh words, not limited to name calling and renouncement of all previous feelings. It is, by all means, pretty shitty. But there’s something worse: wishing your past partner well. John Prine’s “All the Best” tries its best at doing so, and ends up somewhere between whiskey-soaked self pity and white-knuckled anger. It’s utterly devastating. Prine works through his tender pain, showcasing the horrible ambiguity of dying love. It contains the line “I wish you don’t do like I do/And fall in love like someone with you,” which practically simmers on the tongue. Listen to the acoustic version for maximum effect, or the Jim James cover. —Ethan Sapienza, Film Editor

“Irreplaceable” by Beyoncé

Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable” is the ultimate powerful break-up song. It’s such a nice reminder from Queen Bey that whatever breakup you’re going through isn’t the be-all, end-all. There are other people out there (especially when your ex is a piece of trash who’s rollin’ other girls around in the car you bought for him). What’s more powerful than a friendly reminder from mid-2000s Beyoncé that we “can have another you in a minute, matter fact he’ll be here in a minute.” The catchiness of “to the left, to the left,” upbeat rhythm and Beyoncé’s melodic voice create the perfect break-up song. —Joseph Myers, Theater & Books Editor

Literally any song by Mayday Parade

For the most heart-wrenching, #relatable breakup songs, check out the entire genre of pop punk. If that’s too broad, look at anything involving Jason Lancaster. If that’s still a bit overwhelming, go for Mayday Parade. Just about anything they write is breakup-related, and both Lancaster and Sanders do a great job of sounding like they’re writing just for you. For angry breakups, try anything from 2007 album “A Lesson In Romantics,” especially “When I Get Home You’re So Dead” or “If You Wanted A Song Written About You, All You Had to Do Was Ask.” For a sad breakup, opt instead for their 2011 self-titled album. Highlights are “When You See My Friends” and “I’d Rather Make Mistakes Than Nothing At All.” —Hailey Nuthals, Highlighter Editor

“I Know It’s Over” by Jeff Buckley

There’s something about the Smiths that makes it impossible for me to take them seriously. Morrissey’s version of “I Know It’s Over” is, in typical Morrissey fashion, exaggerated, self-deprecating, and downright goofy. Jeff Buckley does the same thing to “I Know It’s Over” that he did to “Hallelujah” — his voice twists an otherwise tired song into something truly heart-wrenching. Buckley could not be a more apt singer of this breakup song; the line “the sea wants to take me” seems to prophesize his own watery death. —Abigail Weinberg, Deputy Features Editor

“The Potential Breakup Song” by Aly & AJ

I’m not an expert at breakups, but my experience lies in those moments where a breakup seems imminent. “The Potential Breakup Song” has been my go-to song for venting out relationship frustrations since before my music repertoire extended beyond the scope of the Disney channel (obviously). The song is catchy, yet holds the perfect amount of pre-teen angst to get you through the most trying times with your bae. The song is open ended, which makes it perfect for when you love and hate your S.O. simultaneously. —Anne Cruz, News Editor

Check out these breakup songs and more on our Spotify playlist below.

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