The Breakup Survival Guide: 33 Essential Breakup Songs for Your Heartbreak Playlist

“Breakin’ up is hard to do,” sang Neil Sedaka in the 1960s hit breakup song. Though the song is over 80 years old, the sentiment remains: breaking up sucks!

For centuries, musicians have created heart-wrenching ballads, angry revenge songs, and reflective poetry to overcome their broken hearts and help millions of others move on after a breakup.

Here are the best break-up songs ever written, categorized to help you find the exact tune you need to soothe your aching heart.

Angry Break-Up Songs

Sometimes, all you want to do after a breakup is scream, shout, and revel in your anger. Angry break-up songs provide healthy outlets for these negative emotions. 

Get it all out with these bangers. 

You Oughta Know – Alanis Morsette


The raw emotion Morsette belts out when she growls, “Yeah, can you feel it!?” makes “You Oughta Know” the go-to break-up song for anyone who needs a cathartic release.

Until I Met You – Mest


You probably haven’t heard of Mest, but if you need to scream and shout about how much you hate your ex, you need this song. 

“Nothing to be said, except you make me wish I was dead; this time, I’m breaking up for good,” sings frontman Tony Lovato, putting the misery of a toxic relationship on display.

Before He Cheats – Carrie Underwood


Underwood’s fantasy revenge song helps us fulfill every jilted woman’s dreams without legal trouble.

He should have thought about that before he cheated.

You’re So Vain – Carly Simon


We still don’t know who is vain, but it feels good to sing it about a narcissistic ex. 

Simon’s lyrics, “You gave away the things you loved, and one of them was me,” resonate with anyone who’s ever loved someone incapable of loving them back.

You Give Love a Bad Name – Bon Jovi


Bon Jovi’s rock ballad about a failed relationship lets us shout, “You’re to blame” about a failed relationship.

The iconic lyrics “You promise me Heaven, then put me through hell” remind us what it’s like to date a user.

Your Fault – Plain White T’s


Though “Hate (I Really Don’t Like You) is the more popular Plain White T’s breakup song, their earlier release, “All Your Fault,” is far more cathartic.

Lead Singer Tom Higgenson wears his heart on his sleeve as he explains what went wrong in the relationship and has an epic realization when he sings, “I thought you were all that I had, but without you, I’ve got it all,” adding, of course, “it’s all your fault.”

Heart-Wrenching Breakup Songs

It’s important to give yourself space to feel sad after a breakup. When you’re ready for a good cry, listen to these songs.

Someone Like You – Adelle


Even people in happy relationships feel the poignant passion in “Someone Like You.” Adelle’s powerful vocals pack an emotional gut punch, evoking nostalgia for first loves and longing for recent partings.

Unbreak My Heart – Toni Braxton


Before Adelle, there was Toni Braxton.

Braxton’s expressive vocals begging a lost love to “Un-break my heart, say you’ll love me again” bring tears to the eyes of even the most stoic listener.

Don’t Speak – No Doubt


The song that catapulted No Doubt to stardom embodies the roller coaster ride of a painful breakup.

Gwen Stefani starts with a sweet opening about how great the relationship was and what she’s losing, but she ends in despair, pleading with her ex to stop the breakup because facing it hurts too much.  

Back to Black – Amy Winehouse


The quick beat and fast melody in “Back to Black” contrasts Winehouse’s emotional cries of despair.

As her lost love goes back to an ex, she has nothing left in her life, leaving her nothing to go back to except blackness.

Foolish Games – Jewel


Jewel’s folk-style melody and acoustic guitar are perfect backdrops for a plea to stop playing silly games and take a relationship seriously.

It’s a wistful look at how slight differences can snowball into massive barriers if a partner can’t put aside their ego and accept the other for who they are. Jewel calls her ex’s refusal to accept her as she is a “foolish game,” and we’ve all been there.

Torn – Natalie Imbruglia


Imbruglia’s “Torn” captures the personal upheaval resulting from a breakup.

“Nothing’s right; I’m torn,” she howls, trying to pick up the pieces of a shattered heart and life.

The Fray – How To Save a Life


No other song captures a back-and-forth battle near the end of a relationship better than The Fray’s “How To Save a Life.”

She doesn’t want the relationship to end but cannot continue unless he makes serious changes. He doesn’t want it to end but is unwilling to commit to those changes.

Songs To Show You Will Get Through This

Breaking up is often the best course of action. Though we didn’t always see it at the time, upon reflection, we realize the relationship wasn’t serving us, and we’re better off on our own. 

Add these songs to your playlist when you need a reminder that you can do better, and you’ll get through this. 

We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together – Taylor Swift


Swift made her fortune singing about love lost, but none of her songs showcase the clarity of moving on like “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”

The song follows Swift as she takes him back again and again, then finally realizes she’s wasting her time and can do better. It’s a crucial message – he won’t change, so stop expecting it and move on.  

I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor


The 1970s power ballad celebrates strength. Gaynor admits feeling lost and scared after a breakup, but as she shouts, “I will survive,” she finds the power to reclaim her life and move on.

If she can do it, you can too.

Survivor – Destiny’s Child


Destiny’s Child’s 2001 hit “Survivor” replaced Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” as the breakup survival song for young women.

The song captures the experiences of a breakup, feeling like you can’t breathe, can’t grow, can’t get over it, but culminates in the powerful message of survival, moving on, and improving your life.

IDGAF – Dua Lipa


Dua Lipa gives us all the courage to laugh at the loser ex who comes crawling back when they realize what they’ve lost.

I see you tryna get to me, I see you begging on your knees, Boy, IDGAF,” she sings, telling him to get lost after treating her poorly.

Look at Her Now – Selena Gomez


Selena Gomez allows us to take time to heal after a bad breakup. The song describes a short-lived romance with a cheater. Though she was devastated when she discovered the affair, she took time to heal and then found her inner strength.

The song’s best part is the realization that you don’t need someone for a full life. Gomez sings, “She knows she’ll find love (she knows she will), Only if she wants it,” showcasing that love isn’t everything.

Sometimes It’s Your Fault: Breakup Songs to Help with Self-Reflection

It’s not easy to admit we were wrong, but sometimes our actions caused the breakup. Listen to these tunes when you’re ready to accept your role in your relationship’s demise. They may help you be better in your next relationship.

Always On My Mind – Willie Nelson


Nelson’s country version of “You Were Always On My Mind” makes the list for his soulful country yearning.

The song, initially released in 1972 and covered by numerous artists, including Elvis, is about a man who realizes he didn’t treat his love right and hopes she’ll give him a second chance because, despite the mistreatment, “you were always on my mind.”

Baby Come Back – Player


“You can blame it all on me,” implores Player as he begs his ex to take him back.

Player does more than take the blame in this heartfelt melody. He admits he’s doing everything he can to fake being over the relationship and that he was ultimately in the wrong for whatever ended the relationship.

Love Me Like You Used To – Lord Huron


Lord Huron’s sorrowful plea to ‘love me like you used to” hits harder when you realize he’s the one who left.

His mournful “I dream most every night that I never left you” showcases his grief and regret, and throughout the song, he swears he’s changed and will do better.

Perfect Situation – Weezer


Weezer’s alternative rock ballad provides a perfect mix of self-reflection and self-loathing, as frontman River Cuomo knows he’s the problem but can’t figure out how to change it.

You can almost feel the painful resignation when he sings, “Though I can’t satisfy all the needs she has, and so she starts to wander,” adding the sorrowful question, “Can you blame her?” to showcase his awareness of his shortcomings.

John Lennon – Jealous Guy


Though John Lennon and Yoko didn’t completely break up, his melancholy tune “Jealous Guy” shows he was aware of his insecurity and failures as a husband.

He laments, “I didn’t mean to hurt you; I’m sorry that I made you cry,” acknowledging that his jealousy gets the best of him.

Getting Back Together

Most of the time, our exes are exes for a reason. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t pine for a happier time or wish to get back together.

If you are obsessed with your ex, try listening to these songs about getting back together after a breakup.

I’d Do Anything – Simple Plan


Simple Plan captures the despair and longing of young breakups, promising, “I’d do anything” for another chance.

Despite the desire, the poignant “Will you remember me because I know I won’t forget you” betrays the thought of getting back together, offering a tiny bit of closure in the upheaval of heartbreak.

Picture – Kid Rock (Featuring Sherly Crow)


Kid Rock’s duet featuring Sheryl Crow showcases heartache from both sides, as neither part of a separated couple can fully move on.

They both keep returning to a picture, remembering better days and hoping they can work things out and get back together.

Escape (The Pina Colada Song) – Rupert Holmes


The couple in the Pina Colada Song perfectly highlights the struggles of a long-term relationship. Neither is happy in the monotony of everyday life, so they both attempt to find excitement elsewhere.

The search only brings them back to each other as they discover everything they wanted was right in front of them the whole time.

Reunited – Peaches & Herb


The quintessential back-together song, “Reunited,” offers a satisfying release of tension when you finally get back into your missing lover’s arms.

As we reminisce on precious moments like this, I’m glad we’re back together,” the R&B duet sings, giving us all hope that this time, it will last.

Take That – Back for Good


Take That wants a reunion without self-reflection but offers the perfect song for those facing a breakup without any idea of what went wrong.

Lead singer Gary Barlow promises he’s sorry and will fix it despite acknowledging that he does not know what happened.

Moving On After a Break Up

The final phase of a breakup is moving on. Add these motivational songs to your playlist when ready to put yourself back out there.            

You Can Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac


As Stevie Nicks belts out, “You can go your own way,” we all know she’s over it and going hers, despite keeping her ex in the band.

I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston


Though “I Will Always Love You” was initially written by the iconic Dolly Parton, Whitney Houston made it magical.

Houston’s power vocals perfectly capture the love, loss, and acceptance of an ending relationship. Although she knows breaking up is the right move, she offers “I will always love you” as a tiny solace amidst the heartache.

Irreplaceable – Beyonce


Beyonce is done, and she’s moving you out.  As she packs your stuff up and reminds you, “It’s my name on the Jag,” she scoffs when you claim she can’t do any better with “I could have another you in a minute.”

It’s the perfect song for anyone ready to kick him out.

So Yesterday – Hilary Duff


Hilary Duff’s So Yesterday reminds us to leave the past behind us and look forward to better days.

Laugh it off and let it go, and when you wake up, it will seem so yesterday,” she sings, realizing that the future is bright.

Since U Been Gone – Kelly Clarkson


Kelly Clarkson’s cathartic “Since U Been Gone” empowers people to live on their own terms after a suffocating relationship.

Her iconic line, “I can breathe for the first time!” lets us all collectively sigh with relief as we rebuild our lives after a toxic relationship.  

Breaking Up is Hard But Worth it

Most breakups happen for a reason.  The relationship ran its course, and you’re both better apart. That does not make it any easier, but hopefully, listening to these epic breakup songs on repeat will!

You can get over this break-up and come out the other side stronger! 


Author: Melanie Allen

Title: Journalist

Expertise: Pursuing Your Passions, Travel, Wellness, Hobbies, Finance, Gaming, Happiness

Melanie Allen is an American journalist and happiness expert. She has bylines on MSN, the AP News Wire, Wealth of Geeks, Media Decision, and numerous media outlets across the nation and is a certified happiness life coach. She covers a wide range of topics centered around self-actualization and the quest for a fulfilling life.