So. If you have read this blog at any time over the past few months, you are probably aware that Fluffy has been experiencing Le Romantic Setbacks lately. These problems have been resolved, and Fluffy’s marriage thus preserved; however, in a situation as oddball as mine became, a few feathers were bound to get ruffled, notably Fluffy’s. Though my marital bliss is reacquired, I have been listening to a lot of what could be termed as breakup songs, and have become something of a connoisseur. There are many moods associated with breakups, and not all songs on the subject are suitable for every moment therein. I have consulted quite a few lists online to attempt a comprehensive list, but each list contains the same few songs and doesn’t really address the complexity of the subject. I now present, for your listening pleasure, the songs your ‘pod should contain if you are going through this Hardest of Hard Times.
MOOD A: SORROW/GRIEF
1. Adele, Someone Like You. Everything, from the mournful piano to Adele’s throaty chest-wound of a voice, about this song is tailor made for self-pity. Sure, we can be the bigger person and try to wish him the best, but the pain is still there, and this girl can tell you about it in a way no other can.
2. Evanescence, My Immortal. This song is usually on my Never-Listen List. It’s horrifically downbeat, in a suicidal, trapped-in-the-bottom-of-a-well-and-glad-to-be-there kind of way. If you’re in a good mood, it’s a day-wrecker. If you’re in a state over the loss of a lover, however, it can be very cathartic.
3. Tori Amos, Silent All These Years. Tori’s music ranges the full gamut of heartache emotion, but this one is my go-to for sorrow, when I feel like that “one more casualty” who just can’t find her way out of the sadness and the confusion, unless somehow a song can purge it. This song can.
4. Whitney Houston, I Will Always Love You. Guaranteed oceans of tears. This song has almost become a cliche of breakup misery, but it still delivers. You know it’s gonna make you cry, but sometimes that’s a good thing. There, there. Get it out. You’ll feel better for it.
MOOD B: ANGER/RAGE
The anger is often more lingering than the sorrow. In this instance, I’m not talking about the possibly lifelong bitterness that manifests whenever someone mentions the ex, but the white-hot fury that means you would probably laugh if the ex got hit by a bus. Though short-term, this sort of emotion has produced some of the most powerful and outright vitriolic songs ever.
1. Alanis Morissette, You Oughta Know. THE quintessential angry breakup song. When it came out, nobody had really explored the rage of a woman scorned, especially when she got scorned by UNCLE JOEY FROM FULL FREAKIN’ HOUSE. That’s gotta hurt. (See, it could ALWAYS be worse!) And she tells you all about it, in gory, lurid detail.
2. Fleetwood Mac, Go Your Own Way. In this classic rant, Lindsey Buckingham calls out bandmate and ex-girlfriend Stevie Nicks for what went wrong in their fractured relationship, resulting in a high-octane dance of anger that’s perfect for smashing all those framed pics of you and your former honey to. Then ripping them into little pieces. And sucking them up in a vacuum cleaner. Not that I’ve ever done that.
3. Linkin Park, In The End. This song speaks to the sense of futility that comes at the end of all relationships and then punches it in the face. Best experienced on repeat, in the car, screaming the lyrics at the top of your lungs. You know you know the words.
4. Gotye, Somebody That I Used To Know. This one has the novelty of presenting both viewpoints– those of the dumper and of the dumpee. But it’s Gotye’s disbelieving, angry wail (“You didn’t have to cut me off!”) that packs the hardest emotional punch– almost as hard as the punch you’d like to throw at the ex right about now.
MOOD C: BITTER/SARDONIC
This is the time when the anger simmers down. It may always be there, but it’s settled into a place where it’s easier to live with, and while the mention of your ex isn’t liable to make your head spin 360 degrees while you spit pea soup, you’re not quite ready to forgive just yet, and you might not ever be.
1. Taylor Swift, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together. Taylor manages a creditable, eye-rolling jab at her ex, who is apparently too thick to get the idea. It isn’t explicitly stated who broke up with whom, but at this point it doesn’t really matter– whether the ex is regretting a bad decision or sad about being ditched, the message couldn’t be clearer.
2. Beyonce, Irreplaceable. This is a pretty angry song, but at the same time it’s a pretty level-headed one. Beyonce is quite matter-of-fact about the box of belongings to the left, but the titular line, informing her now-ex that he is NOT irreplaceable, is still plenty bitter.
3. The Beatles, And Your Bird Can Sing. At its core a snide kiss-off that never really veers off into true anger, it nevertheless very decidedly smacks its own butt as it walks away from its self-absorbed subject. Of the many Beatles breakup songs, this is my favorite– less harrowing than For No One, more self-possessed than Yesterday, and certainly not as blindly optimistic as We Can Work It Out.
4. Jo Dee Messina, Bye Bye. Let’s just leave all this pointless drama behind, shall we? With a lead foot down on the accelerator, no less. This song assembles all the typical angry tropes of every breakup song ever and acknowledges their weariness, but asserts that they are both applicable and necessary.
MOOD D: JOCULAR/CRUEL
Occasionally it feels good just to be mean.
1. Cee Lo Green, F*ck You. C’mon, you know you wanna say it.
2. Puddle of Mudd, She Hates Me. Yeah, she kinda does.
3. Guns ‘n’ Roses, Used to Love Her. But he had to kill her. Bwahahaha.
4. Katy Perry, Ur So Gay. And you don’t even like boys!
MOOD E: NOSTALGIC/WISTFUL
There are even going to be times you think about what used to be with a sort of fondness. Even if it seems hard to imagine now, you’ll get there. And, sadly enough, it will still hurt. Though kind of in a good way.
1. Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here. This song, with its spare guitar and softly introspective vocal, strikes a pang in the heart when you think of that one person. Tears are possible, but a sad smile is just as probable.
2. Taylor Swift, Red. Yes, Ms. Swift again. What can I say, she’s on the radio a lot. This little musing on a lost lover doesn’t delve deeply into what went wrong, but celebrates the passions that used to be in a series of similes that simply take you back.
3. Fergie, Big Girls Don’t Cry. It’s okay to miss someone, but it’s easy to forget that sometimes the loss is for the best. Put on your big girl panties and pull yourself together– it’s gonna be okay. I promise.
4. Jackson Browne, In the Shape of a Heart. It’s a regretful, often painful reminiscence of a relationship lost, but it’s heartbreakingly beautiful, and a lesson in perspective.
MOOD F: CONFUSED/WTF?
1. Liz Phair, F*ck and Run. Ever wondered what the hell just happened to you?
2. Katy Perry, Hot and Cold. More Katy Perry, too. Some people seem born to confound others, like the subject of this song.
3. Matthew Sweet, Where You Get Love. Oblique and a bit perplexed, this is the tune that dares to ask, “Am I the whore you’re working for?”
4. Tori Amos, Talula. With lyrics as disjointed as your brain right now, Tori (again) somehow still manages to express her angst clearly.
MOOD G: ACCEPTANCE/EMPOWERMENT
1. Christina Aguilera, Fighter. Xtina thanks you for your cavalier treatment, because she’s the one who actually learned something from all this crap. Yep, you’ll do a little touchdown dance to it.
2. Kelly Clarkson, What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger). It’s true.
3. Matthew Sweet, Over It. A short and almost joyful song that may or may not be ironic, it will definitely put a smile back on your face.
4. Katy Perry, Part of Me. This list is particularly Katy-heavy. Well, you’ve probably deduced that I’m the world’s oldest Katycat. But it’s a nearly perfect empowerment song as well as a send-off: “In fact you can keep everything, except for me.”
There are a great many other really awesome breakup songs but I’ve tried to keep my mood lists short, and some songs aren’t so easily classified. So here is an appendix of other favorites of mine, in no particular order:
Destiny’s Child, Survivor
Kelly Clarkson, Since U Been Gone
The Eagles, Already Gone, Heartache Tonight, Lyin’ Eyes
Liz Phair, Extraordinary, Most of the entire Exile in Guyville album
Tori Amos, Blood Roses, Hey Jupiter, Most of Boys for Pele and Little Earthquakes albums
Lisa Loeb, Stay (I Missed You), Do You Sleep?
Don Henley, The Boys of Summer
Soft Cell, Tainted Love
Avril Lavigne, My Happy Ending, Losing Grip, Most of the Under My Skin album as well as many others
Nazareth, Love Hurts
J. Geils, Love Stinks
All-American Rejects, Gives You Hell
Katy Perry, Wide Awake, The One That Got Away
Taylor Swift, Pretty much her entire catalog except for Love Story and You Belong With Me.
Hot Chelle Rae, Honestly
The Beatles, See entry on And Your Bird Can Sing for other good breakup songs
Green Day, Good Riddance (Time of Your Life), Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Motley Crue, Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
Alex Clare, Too Close, most of his other songs deal with some form of romantic fallout as well
Pink, Almost everything she has ever recorded.
Matthew Sweet, Nothing Lasts, Thunderstorm, lots of others, he’s definitely got good ones
If my comprehensive list lacks for anything, let me know in the comments, unless it has to do with Gloria Gaynor, whose song I’m really tired of… and smile. It’s good for ya.