Just been given the flick by the would-be love of your life? Crying into a tear-drenched pillow as you slowly morph into a being more blanket than human? Feeling like the most hollow of human shells? We get ya. We’ve been there.
We’ve wallowed more dramatically than a wailing woman in the 20s, draped along her fainting couch. Unlike that woman though, if we need motivational tunes to keep us going we don’t have to hire a harpist. All we gotta do is plug in some headphones, so naturally we’ve accumulated our fair share of breakup bangers in our time.
Here’s a list (spanning decades and genres) that’ll build you up, have you back to swiping on Tinder, get you dancing around the house in your underwear (sobbing incidental) and make you strut down the street like Beyoncé as you leave passers-by trembling in your wake.
Yeah you better watch out.
1. Since U Been Gone – Kelly Clarkson
Okay let’s be real: no matter how old you were when this tune came out in 2004, you absolutely sang your lungs out as she belted, pretending to be angry at some past lover that did you wrong. I was ten years old and had never had a real boyfriend in 2004, but how dare you tell me that this song didn’t make me feel things.
2. She Hates Me – Puddle Of Mudd
I imagine listening to this song in the middle of the garage, with all your brother’s long-haired mates playing while you sit in the corner all mopey. Any song with swears in it speaks to my soul, so I’m 100% on board. There’s just something so satisfying about it, I cannot explain it. Srs 90s grunge vibes and I fucken love it.
3. You Don’t Do It For Me Anymore – Demi Lovato
I’d like to just go on the record here and say that Demi Lovato is a queen and, incredible vocals aside, this song is perfect for anyone who’s actually doing the breaking up. It’s a powerful ‘take no shit’ kind of tune that will have you realising, “Yeah, actually you DON’T do it for me, pal.” Soz not soz.
4. Stronger – Britney Spears
After all Britney Spears has been through, we owe her some damn credit. This ultimate tune is all about strength and not taking shit from people, plus it has more bare midriffs and deep white V-necks than all the other clips put together, so that’s something. Forget being lonely, we’ve got Britney. She’s here for us. She’s always been here.
5. Elastic Heart – SIA
“And another one bites the duuuuust.” Okay, the video clip is weird AF, I know. But if you can get past the strange combo of Shia Le Boeuf and Maddie Ziegler in a nude leotard, the song is all about bouncing back from being hurt, and when you’re utterly fucked from a bad breakup, that’s what you need to keep you going.
6. Thank U, Next – Ariana Grande
If you haven’t heard this ultimate post-breakup tune, then first of all you should reconsider your life choices. In three short words, Ariana Grande has spoken to our bloody souls and now somehow even in the messiest breakups you’ll hear people recognising the good shit they got from their exes. And then, ya know, next.
7. You Oughta Know – Alanis Morissette
If you’re bitter and angry about your messy breakup (and cursing whoever broke your precious heart), this is a song you’re gonna wanna get around. Granted, I used to think the lyrics were “cross-eyed bear” instead of “cross I bear”, but whatever, it’s a fucking tune.
8. Total Eclipse Of The Heart – Bonnie Tyler
Look, I can’t resist a throwback and I’m not ashamed. Sure this song was released in the 80s but Bonnie Tyler is a legend and there’s no denying that you get pumped the fuck up when the chorus goes into overdrive. Would also recommend Jeremy Jordan‘s cover, because you’ll probs fall in love with him anyway, curing your heartbreak.
9. I’m Good – WAFIA
This poppy lil’ ditty is one of the more upbeat songs on the list and will probably go a long way in lifting your spirits, coz recognising that you’re all good after your breakup is hard but necessary. Best line? “I’m by myself and that’s better for my health. You know you put me through hell, but whatever, I’m good.“
10. I Fall Apart – Post Malone
One big ol’ lesson you’ve gotta learn about breakups is that sometimes you’ve just gotta FEEL it. Let yourself collapse into a big blanket burrito of sadness and tears. It’s totally healthy to let yourself feel the pain, and this song will defs help with that. Don’t bottle it up, pals, it’s only prolonging the inevitable.
11. New Rules – Dua Lipa
If your breakup is fresh, you’d better take advice from Dua Lipa’s hit coz I swear if any of you start texting your exes that you miss them, I’ma be real mad and will be coming to confiscate your phone. You’re stronger than that, don’t you dare. Seriously though, set some rules, sing this tune a bunch, and you’ll be sweet in no time.
12. Dancing On My Own – Calum Scott
Okay, I almost put the original track here by Robyn, but I won’t lie – this version destroys my heart and soul so much more. There’s something about the piano that just gets my eyes leaking, okay. This is another one for the ‘will make you cry so hard your eyeballs may actually float out like barrels over a waterfall’ playlist, fair warning.
13. Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac
A classic breakup tune from a band that was easily one the most fucked up messes in music when it comes to relationships. Sure it’s technically about the period just before the breakup, but it can be pretty cathartic to be screaming, “you can go your own way” into the night as you let go, imagining your ex is hearing it.
14. Midnight Train – Sam Smith
Maybe you weren’t the one broken up with – maybe you were the one that did the breaking. And that can be just as rough sometimes TBH, because you know you’re gonna hurt the other person. But this song, with Sam Smith’s chilling vocals, is all about choosing yourself and doing the right thing and just, YES.
15. All I Wanted – Paramore
Pop punk music is a must for any breakup, and if you disagree then I beseech you to ask your 15-year-old self for advice. This song builds up and will probs have you screaming at the end, not to mention convincing you that your post-breakup haircut should absolutely be the emo fringe that obscures half your face. Dyed neon orange in honour of early 2000s Hayley Williams, of course.
16. Caught Out There – Kelis
Oh Kelis, how eloquently you speak the words we all think during a breakup. Sitting in the kitchen burning letters is a real mood, but nothing beats a big ol’ resounding chorus of, “I HATE YOU SO MUCH RIGHT NOW.” Truly, it’s poetry of the highest order and we should all bow down to Kelis for introducing this to our lives.
17. Gives You Hell – All American Rejects
Ah yes, more pop punk. The tunes of my teenage years. All the shit you wish you could yell at your ex, preferably while they stand there begging you back (even though they don’t deserve you). Also my attraction to the messy version of the All American Rejects explains a lot about my terrible life choices, but that’s neither here nor there.
18. We Used To – Vera Blue
Taking a break from the angry, bitter stuff for a moment, let’s have a moment of appreciation for Vera Blue. This song starts so soft but it gets ya. Right from the get go. All about getting used to the change, this song is an eye-opener for when you’re sitting there in the wake of your breakup, realising how it’s all going to be different now.
19. Another F.U. Song – Reel Big Fish
For all the times you’ve wanted to say, “fuck everything”. I need not say more.
20. Never Again – Kelly Clarkson
Yep, Kelly Clarkson started us off and she’s here to bring it home. Don’t @ me, the pipes on her are insane. This is a worthy addition to the list because holy hell, I’d almost forgotten about it and now I feel like it’s going top of my playlist for future breakups. The attitude, I tell you!
So look, once you’ve managed to play the crap out of this bunch of songs, we’re hoping you’re gonna be back on your feet. Do it in your own time, but don’t forget that there are plenty of other lovely folks out there.
And hey, if all you’re up for is putting on an empowering breakup song and swiping through your potentials on Tinder, that’s totally fine too. Who knows, you might find someone super hot who makes you wanna start playing love songs (or at the very least, some tunes from Magic Mike).