7/2/09
The Top 100 Breakup Songs of All Time (First Draft)

This is the first of a series of posts we’ll be doing on the best breakup songs of all time. The below 100 was originally published in our book BUH BYE: The Ultimate Guide to Dumping and Being Dumped (which was called “hilarious and fantastic” by our one Amazon reviewer). Naturally, we like the list, but want to know which essential songs you think are missing, and which, if any, you would definitely not include. Unleash your wrath in the comments section.

1    “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” – Paul Simon
2    “Absolutely Zero” – Jason Mraz
3    “Against All Odds” – Phil Collins or The Postal Service version
4    “All Alone Am I” – Brenda Lee
5    “All By Myself” – Eric Carmen (definitely not the Celine Dion version; the Bridget Jones version works, but only with the visual)
6    “All My Ex’s Live in Texas” – George Strait
7    “Alone Again (Naturally)” – Gilbert O’Sullivan
8    “Another Lonely Day” – Ben Harper
9    “Apart” – The Cure
10    “Are You Lonesome Tonight” – Elvis Presley
11    “Ballad of Big Nothing” – Elliott Smith
12    “Black” – Pearl Jam
13    “Blackout” – Muse
14    “Blue Moon Revisited” – Cowboy Junkies
15    “Can’t Stand Losing You” – The Police
16    “Careless Whisper” – Wham!
17    “Crazy” – Patsy Cline or Willie Nelson
18    “Crown of Love” – Arcade Fire
19    “Crying” – Roy Orbison
20    “Don’t Cry Out Loud” – Melissa Manchester
21    “Don’t Leave Me This Way” – Thelma Houston
22    “Don’t Walk Away” – ELO
23    “Don’t You Want Me” – The Human League
24    “Ever Fallen in Love” – The Buzzcocks
25    “Every Breath You Take” – The Police
26    “Everybody Hurts” – R.E.M.
27    “Everyday I Love You Less and Less” – Kaiser Chiefs
28    “Ex-Factor” – Lauren Hill
29    “Ex-Girlfriend” – No Doubt
30    “Girl from the North Country” – Bob Dylan
31    “Girl” – Beatles
32    “Grace Cathedral Hill” – The Decemberists
33    “Harden My Heart” – QuarterFlash
34    “Heartbreak Hotel” – Elvis Presley
35    “Heartbreaker” – Pat Benatar
36    “Hopelessly Devoted to You” – Olivia Newton John (Grease Soundtrack)
37    “How Can You Be Sure?” – Radiohead
38    “I Fall to Pieces” – Patsy Cline
39    “I Hope You’re Happy Now” – Elvis Costello
40    “I Never Cared for You” – Willie Nelson
41    “I Used to Love Her” – Guns n’ Roses
42    “I Want You” – Elvis Costello
43    “I Will Survive” – Gloria Gaynor
44    “If I Can’t Have You” – Yvonne Ellimen
45    “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” – Take your pick: Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Cowboy Junkies, or Johnny Cash
46    “I’m Sorry” – Brenda Lee
47    “It’s a Heartache” – Juice Newton or Bonnie Tyler
48    “It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay” – Whitney Houston (the Thunderpuss remix)
49    “It’s Over” – Roy Orbison
50    “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” – Otis Redding
51    “Killing Me Softly with His Song” – Fugees over Roberta Flack
52    “Last Goodbye” – Jeff Buckley
53    “Leavin’ on Your Mind” – Patsy Cline
54    “Lilac Wine” – Jeff Buckley
55    “Lonesome Tears” – Beck
56    “Lost Cause” – Beck
57    “Love Hurts” – Nazareth (the cover by Joan Jett will do in a pinch)
58    “Love is Stronger Than Death” – The The
59    “Love on the Rocks” – Neil Diamond
60    “Love Stinks” – J. Geils Band
61    “Love Will Tear Us Apart” – Joy Division
62    “Lover, You Should Have Come Over” – Jeff Buckley
63    “Lush Life” – Billy Strayhorn
64    “Mandy” – Barry Manilow
65    “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)” – Barbra Streisand & Donna Summer
66    “Nothing Compares to You” – Sinead O’Connor or Prince
67    “One” – Aimee Mann (Magnolia soundtrack)
68    “Ordinary World” – Duran Duran
69    “Run” – Snow Patrol
70    “Separate Ways” – Journey
71    “She Is Gone” – Willie Nelson
72    “She’s Got You” – Patsy Cline
73    “Should’ve Been in Love” – Wilco
74    “Since I Don’t Have You” – Guns N’ Roses version
75    “Since U Been Gone” – Kelly Clarkson
76    “So Lonely” – The Police
77    “So Wrong” – Patsy Cline
78    “Soma” – Smashing Pumpkins
79    “Somebody That I Used to Know” – Elliott Smith
80    “Strange” – Patsy Cline
81    “Sweet Dreams” – Patsy Cline
82    “Tainted Love” – Soft Cell
83    “The Seventh Stranger” – Duran Duran
84    “The Sign” – Ace of Base
85    “There’s a Tear in My Beer” – Hank Williams
86    “These Arms of Mine” – Otis Redding
87    “This Woman’s Work” – Kate Bush
88    “Total Eclipse of the Heart” – Bonnie Tyler
89    “True Happiness This Way Lies” – The The
90    “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” – Meatloaf
91    “We Belong ” – Pat Benatar
92    “Why Can’t He Be You” – Patsy Cline
93    “Without You” – Henry Nilsson (not the Mariah Carey version)
94    “Writing to Reach You” – Travis
95    “You Give Love a Bad Name” – Bon Jovi
96    “You Oughta Know” – Alanis Morissette
97    “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” – Lou Rawls
98    “Your Ex-Lover is Dead” – Stars
99    “You’re Not the Girl You Think You Are” – Crowded House
100   “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” – Righteous Brothers

99 Comments

  1. Blower’s Daughter – Damian Rice
    A Woman in His arms – Linda Eder
    Sour times – Portishead
    Cry me a river – Julie London
    Don’t stop now – Emmy Rossum
    Between the Lines – Sara Bareillis
    Passive – A Perfect Circle
    I know his so well – Elaine Paige
    Tear in your hand – Tori Amos
    In Between Shades- Jill Tracy
    Pofig – In Yan
    Sleeps with Butterflies – Tori Amos
    My give a damn’s busted – Jodee Messina
    Where Shadows fall – Jill Tracy

  2. Umm, No one has mentioned Mary J. Blidge, she has so many soulful breakup songs…
    some of my favorites:
    – not gon cry
    – I’m going down
    – be without you
    – Mr. Wrong
    – Why
    – I can love you
    – Take me as I am
    – Enough Crying
    – Missing you
    and how about Whitney Houston?
    _ I will always love you
    – Heartbreak Hotel
    – I have nothing
    – Where do broken hearts go
    – It’s not right but it’s okay

    I’m sure there are many others, but I can’t think of them off the top of my head. I always turn to Whitney and Mary when I have heartache.

  3. i just want to personally say to all of you that have gone through a break up that my heart goes out to you. i recently experenced a terrible break up. he was the best friend i have ever had. we broke up 3 weeks before our 2 year anniversary. i cant seem to keep the tears from falling or my heart from breaking. he’s the one i want to hate the most but the one i need as well. this is the worst emotional pain i have ever felt. just know that i know what you are going through and please just know that no matter what happened you are an amazing person. and i wish you all the best in your journeys through these break ups<3
    these songs have helped me a ton..i hope they help you too.

    beyonce-broken hearted girl
    i cant make you love me-tank
    wide awake-katy perry
    go on girl-ne-yo
    boy without a hear-jojo
    catch me-demi lovato
    love that lets go-miley cyrus/hannah montana
    final goodbye-rihanna
    a million miles away-rihanna
    fix a hear-demi lovato
    hate u-mariah carey
    i remember-keyshia cole
    i wish-one direction
    marvins room-drake
    rumour has it-adele
    take a bow-rihanna
    taken-one direction
    that should be me-justin bieber
    thinking about you-frank ocean
    up-justin bieber

  4. The Chain – Fleetwood Mac
    Ghosts – Laura Marling
    Volcano – Damien Rice
    Run – Leona Lewis
    Crying in the Rain – The Bee Eaters
    Fools like Me – Vanessa Carlton
    Rewind – Diane Birch
    Somebody I used to know – Gotye
    Forgiven not forgotten – The Corrs
    Let Me Go – 3 Doors Down
    Green light – Beyonce
    Adele
    Gives you hell – The All American Rejects
    Swag Back – Amerie
    Call me When You’re Sober – evanescence
    Cry me a River – Justin Timberlake
    All I have – J.Lo and LLCoolJ
    Skinny Love – Ed Sheeran cover

  5. I have made this cd already (I call it “Bye”)

    You Don’t Know me At All, Don Henley
    Walk On, U2
    No Time, Guess Who
    To Think I Used To Love You, Uncle Kracker
    I’ve got Something to Say, The Interns
    Run Off To LA, Kid Rock
    Your time Is Gonna Come, Led Zeppelin
    Rain, Candlebox
    Someday, Rob Thomas
    EveryDay, Bon Jovi
    Freebird, Lynard Skynard
    Goodbye, Miley Cyrus
    Seconds, U2
    Better Off, Theory of a Deadman
    Ruby Tuesday, The Rolling Stones
    Bye bye baby, Janis Joplin
    Wild is the Wind, Bon jovi
    Night Flight, led Zeppelin
    Goodbye and Good Riddance to Bad Love, AC/DC
    Yellow Ledbetter, Pearl Jam
    Hope You Never, Tom Petty
    Changed the Locks, Lucinda Williams
    Control, Puddle of Mud
    Goodbye girl, Squeeze
    I’m Doing Fine Now, New york City
    Goodbye Earl, Dixie Chicks
    Hope it Felt Good, Nikka Costa
    Born Cross eyed, Grateful Dead
    Love Me Two Times, The Doors
    Cold Day In july, Dixie Chicks
    Soma, Smashing Pumpkins
    Not Big, Lilly Allen
    Little too Late, Pat Benetar
    Over Now, Alice in Chains
    You’re Crazy, Guns & Roses
    Gonna leave You, Queens of the Stone Age
    Freedom, George Michael
    Respectable, The rolling Stones
    See you Later, Soul Asylum
    Gotta get Away, Van Lenton
    Movin’ On, Bad Company
    Ain’t the One, Empress
    Last tattoo, Rehab
    Ain’t Wastin’ Time no more, The Allman Brothers
    You learn, Alanis Morrisette
    Shame for You, Lilly Allen
    American Woman, Lenny Kravitz
    Everything About You, Ugly kid Joe
    Get Out the Door, Velvet Revolver
    Hell just Ain’t the Same Without You, Theory of a Deadman
    Picture to Burn, Taylor Swift
    Time After time, Sugar ray

  6. Pink – there you go
    missy elliot – 1 minute man
    shackles – mary mary
    hush hush – pussy cat dolls
    aint it funny – jennifer lopez
    Beautiful liar – shakira beyonce
    sweet dream or beautiful nightmere – beyonce
    shut up – blck eyed peas
    moving mountains – usher

  7. Heard it Through the Grapevine–Marvin Gaye
    Lonesome Day– Springsteen
    After the Rain has Fallen–Sting
    Big Yellow Taxi–Joni MItchell or Counting Crows
    I Can’t Make You Love Me–Bonnie Raitt et. al.

  8. “Take a Bow” by Madonna, “Speechless” by Lady Gaga, and R.B. Greaves “Take a Letter Maria” are helping me through some sh*t right now.

  9. i jus want to say thanks for the list… i wish to listen to all….even though my bf n i didnt breakup jus yet…i dnt knw when we will, or i will, because i should do tht already but, love him too much to say goodbye n never see him again….its too hard, its tougher thn the pain i m in by being with him 🙁

  10. Don’t Cry – GunsN’ Roses
    Babe I’m Gonna Leave You – Led Zepplin
    Painted On My Heart – The Cult
    Angel – Amanda Perez
    Something To Lose – Nadia Ali
    Apologise – One Republic
    Hole In The Head – Sugababes
    Right Here Waiting – Staind
    What Hurts The Most – Rascal Flatts
    He Wasn’t Man Enough – Toni Braxton
    Just Feel Better – Steven Tyler Ft. Santana
    9 Crimes – Damien Rice
    Moving Mountains – Usher
    Won’t Go Home Without You – Maroon 5
    Stop – Sam Brown
    Rain On Me – Ashanti
    Heartless – Kanye West
    Heel Over Head – Puddle Of Mudd
    Away From Me – Puddle Of Mudd
    Sick & Tired – Anastacia
    Pieces of A Dream – Anastacia
    It Must Have Been Love – Roxette
    Under The Thumb – Amy Studt
    Stuck – Stacie Orrico
    Nobody Knows It But Me – The Tony Rich Project
    Kiss – Korn
    Over – Lindsay Lohan
    She Fucking Hates Me – Puddle Of Mudd
    Supergirl – Reamon
    Always – Bon Jovi
    Cry Baby Cry – Sean Paul, Joss Stone, Santana

  11. My favorites lately have been:

    “No Children,” the Mountain Goats
    “I’ll Miss You,” Ween
    “Sunshine,” Handsome Boy Modeling School
    “You Were My Fiji,” John Vanderslice

    Jeff Buckley is always good but I like to keep some healthy bitterness in there.

  12. Seconding “Don’t Think Twice,” the cover by Joan Baez + The Indigo Girls is the best.

    Also on my playlist:
    Untouchable Face – Ani DiFranco
    Won’t Be Home – Old 97s
    Wish the Worst – Old 97s
    Bust Your Windows – Jazmine Sullivan (or … Glee)
    Love is Just A Four Letter Word – also Bobby D, I think? But Joan does it best
    There You Go – P!nk
    Ring The Alarm – Beyonce
    … and others that have been listed already. I’m really all about the righteous indignation, I guess.

  13. Two songs by the Beatles are the all time best break up songs.

    Yesterday

    For No One

    (The day breaks, your mind aches, you find that all her words of kindness linger on…..when she no longer needs you……and in your mind you see nothing, no trace of love behind the tears…..shed……for No One….a Love which should have lasted years)

    Second place

    John Lennon’s

    Woman

    Jealous Guy

  14. “Our Song” – Aventura
    “Losing My Religion” – R.E.M.
    “My Immortal” – Evanessene
    Just a few I thought should be added

  15. Daughtry – NO SURPRISE

    Straight to the point and layin it out on the line! Can’t put a quote without putting the whole song on here. But here is the link to the video, which I feel could have been better but hey, it still doesn’t take away from the lyrics.

  16. many excellent suggestions on here, but wanted to include:
    “Its Too Late” by Carole King and
    “Traces of Love” by the Classics IV

  17. Any song by Fiona Apple is basically a good break up song, especially…

    Carrion
    “Won’t do no good to hold no seance/What’s gone is gone and you can’t bring it back around”

    Sick In My head
    “And the signature thing that used to bring a following I have trouble now even remembering”

    Get Him Back
    “Now every other man I see reminds me of the one man who disappoint me”

    Not About Love
    “This is not about love/’Cause I am not in love/In fact I can’t stop falling out”

    Yeah – she’s my favorite angry chick

  18. So many possibilities…..

    D-I-V-O-R-C-E byTammy Wynette
    Tears Of A Clown by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
    Walk Away Renee by The Left Banke
    You Don’t Bring Me Flowers by Barbra Streisand
    What Becomes of the Brokenhearted – The Temptations
    The Story In Your Eyes by Moody Blues

    Would love to see the lists combined & voted on…..

  19. First one that comes to mind is Debra cox along with the dude from that group called “Next”. It’s called “We can’t be friends”… I almost burst out into tears whenever I hear it. Really, a wonderful collaberation!

  20. My list:

    Cher– Believe
    Cher– Strong Enough
    Destiny’s Child– Survivor
    Lara Fabian– I Will Love Again
    M People- Moving on Up
    Scandal– Goodbye to You
    Don’t Bother by Shakira
    Christina Aguilera– Fighter
    Gloria Gaynor– I Will Survive
    Nancy Sinatra– These Boots are Made For Walkin’
    Get Out (Leave) – JoJo
    Beyonce – Irreplacable
    Britney Spears – Stronger
    Daughtry – Over You
    Fireflight – Unbreakable
    Hilary Duff – So Yesterday
    JoJo – Leave (Get Out)
    Katharine McPhee – Over It
    Kelly Clarkson – Never Again
    Kelly Clarkson – Since U Been Gone
    Kristinia DeBarge – Goodbye
    Linkin Park – Don’t Stay
    Pink – So What
    Pussycat Dolls – I Don’t Need A Man
    September- Cry For You
    Stacy Orrico – I’m Not Missing You
    The All American Rejects – Gives You Hell

  21. Great tunes here, so have some more
    “outta love”- Anastasia
    “pictures of you”- Cure
    “wicked game”- Chris Issak
    “goodbye to you”- Michelle Branch
    “what do i have to do” Stabbing Westward
    “the thing i hate”- Stabbing Westward
    “it’ll be alright” Ween
    “fighter”- Christina Agulaira (whats her face)

  22. Lets see….”I Don’t Want You Back”-Emon (hilariously awesome, now that is one heated bloke)
    Fiona Apple: “Limp”
    Mary J Blige: “Ain’t really Love” & “Not Gonna Cry”
    Profyle: “Liar”
    Toni Braxton: “Another Sad Love Song”
    Changing Faces: “Ghettout”
    Chrisette Michele: “Best of Me” & “Epiphany”
    Ideal: “Get Gone”
    Beyonce: “Me, Myself & I” & “If I Were a Boy”
    Diana Krall: “Walk On By”
    Aaliyah: The One I Gave My Heart To
    Brandy: “Have You Ever?”
    Anthony Hamilton: “Can’t Let Go” (for those of us who can’t leave well enough alone)
    Avant: “Separated”

    Believe it or not, Snoop Dogg has a song called “Waste of Time,” I’m pretty sure we’ve all been here in one form or another. Who woulda thunk Snoop? May not like hip-hop, but the lyrics are pretty spot on in his owny Doggy way.

  23. “Time of Your Life” – Green Day

    That this breakup song is (or was) one of the most played at weddings makes it a supreme irony!

  24. What about Roses From My Friends by Ben Harper since we’re mentioning him, or Mexico by Incubus, or a rarer one by them still, which is Monuments & Melodies

  25. “Para Noir” by Marilyn Manson. The best angry break-up song EVER. It helps you feel vindicated after you’ve been used, abused, or neglected.

  26. I’m suprised “Gives you Hell” by the AAR… Especially when you find out that ex stole from the wrong cookie Jar… hehehe

  27. I’m really not a Death Cab fan, but I’d have to say that “Summer Skin” would fit pretty well on this list.

  28. AlanK-

    “Everybody Knows” is a brilliant suggestion! I couldn’t choose between Leonard’s recording or Concrete Blonde’s cover myself, but either one is spot-on in my book. And let’s not give short shrift to “Greensleeves” either. At least, it’s always been a favorite of mine.

  29. It’s worth pointing out that music did not begin with Elvis. Cole Porter, anyone? Sondheim? About half of all of Sinatra’s stuff?

    But anyway,,,you can’t do better than Dylan”s “It ain’t me babe,” as mentioned before. And almost all of Leonard Cohen’s songs are nasty, with “Everybody knows” perhaps the king. (“They’ll be a meter round your bed” indeed.)

  30. Props for mentioning Jeff Buckley. I could put the songs you listed on repeat and that’s enough for a tear fest.

    A couple of others:

    Paper Bag- Fiona Apple
    Nicest Thing – Kate Nash
    House of Cards- Radiohead

    Those three above are more unrequited love songs, but still.

    Walk Away – Ben Harper
    I’m Gonna Find Another You – John Mayer
    How’s the World Treating You?- James Taylor & Alison Krauss
    Sleep to Dream – Fiona Apple
    Wreck of the Day – Anna Malick

    And throwing in a bit of country cause I can…

    Songs About Rain & Smoke Rings in the Dark – Gary Allen
    Kerosene – Miranda Lambert

  31. Bob Dylan’s entire album “Blood on the Tracks”, probably the best breakup album of all time. Depending on your mood, “Idiot Wind” (angry, self-righteous), “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go” (wistful), “If You See Her, Say Hello” (resigned), “You’re A Big Girl Now” (like a corkscrew to my heart)… or the masterpiece opening track, “Tangled Up In Blue” (contemplative).

    The Wallflowers’ Jakob Dylan said of this album “The songs are my parents talking.” And no, they didn’t stay together.

  32. There are already some fantastic suggestions, but I’d like to submit the following for consideration:
    “Diary”- Bread
    “The Last Day of Our Acquaintance”- Sinead O’Connor
    “Tuesday’s Gone”- Lynyrd Skynyrd
    “Breathe (2AM)”- Anna Nalick
    “Cumbersome”- 7 Mary 3
    “Valse Bebe”- Beausoleil
    “If You Could Read My Mind”- Gordon Lightfoot

  33. SO HAPPY to see Your Ex-Lover is Dead by Stars on this list!!! Wonderful song, perfect for getting over a breakup.

    I’m not sorry I met you
    I’m not sorry it’s over
    I’m not sorry there’s nothing to save

    <3

  34. “I Can’t Make You Love Me” – Bonnie Raitt
    “Already Gone” – The Eagles
    “Till Death Do Us Part” – Madonna
    “Cry Me A River” – Justin Timberlake
    “Bye Bye Love” – Everly Brothers
    “Donna” – Ritchie Valens
    “I Will Always Love You” – Dolly Parton
    “Big Girls Don’t Cry” – Fergie
    “Leave(Get Out)” – Jojo
    “Your Time is Gonna Come” and
    “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” – Led Zeppelin
    “Still Ain’t Over You” – Augustana(live on Letterman pref’d)
    “Hemorrhage(in my hands)” – Fuel
    “Yesterday”??? – The Beatles

  35. Elliott Smith – “Say Yes”

    George Michael – Waiting For that Day/You Can’t Always Get What You Want”

  36. Innumerable Magnetic Fields songs, including but not limited to
    “All My Little Words”
    “I don’t want to get over you”
    “busby berkely dreams” (for the mopier moments)

    Also “People Ain’t no good” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

  37. So many good songs already on the list!
    But, I gotta go with…
    “Alone” and “It Hurt So Bad”- Susan Tedeschi

    There are SO many from Otis Redding: “Pain in My Heart”, “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out”, “I’ve Got Dreams to Remember”, “Just One More Day”, “I Love You More Than Words Can Say”

    Oh, & don’t forget Cake’s version of “I Will Survive”.

    The rest of an eclectic list:
    “Who Will Comfort Me”, “Your Heart Is Black As Night”, and “Gone” – Melody Gardot
    “Here without you” – 3 Doors Down
    “Lost” – Michael Buble
    “You Don’t Love Me” and “Don’t Go” – Matthew Sweet
    “Nothing Ever Hurt Like You”, “If You Don’t Wanna Love Me”, and “The Last Goodbye” – James Morrison
    “Last Request” and “Rewind” – Paolo Nutini

    80’s/90’s style:
    “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)”, “I’ll Be Alright Without You,” “Ask the Lonely” – Journey
    “Who’s Lovin’ You” – Terence Trent d’Arby
    “Kiss Off” – Violent Femmes

    R&B style:
    “One Last Cry” – Brian McKnight
    “Un-break My Heart”, “Love Shoulda Brought You Home”, “How Could An Angel Break My Heart”, and “Breathe Again” – Toni Braxton

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