Eat Your Heart Out With Our Ultimate Breakup Playlist
Raise your hand if you’ve ever attacked an innocent pint of ice cream with aggressive spoon dips while your tears blended with the runny vanilla. Raise your hand if you’ve ever tossed back cocktails like water and swore you’d never fall for anyone ever again. Raise your hand if you’ve ever given an emphatic, convincing performance of Les Mis’ “On My Own” to your dog then started belting literally any Taylor Swift song ever five minutes later like some sort of soul rejuvenation.
Or maybe you’re the quiet type, in which case you’ve probably let the discographies of any number of pop-punk bands yell what you’re feeling. Maybe you play it cool. Maybe heartbreak doesn’t break you. Maybe you’re moving on. The point is that there’s a song for every breakup, a go-to anthem you’ll need like a security blanket.
That’s why we’ve curated a pretty robust playlist of 40 songs you’ll want to shuffle once you’ve gone through a breakup. From ballads for the brokenhearted to bangers for the dance-floor folks and a whole bunch in between, our Eat Your Heart Out playlist offers tons of tracks for any stage of the post-breakup blues.
P.S. We take playlist curation so seriously that we even included a quick breakdown of what you can expect — note the banger-to-ballad ratio. Not too bad. Keep reading to learn more about each song or just head to the bottom of this post to start listening!
Soul / Rap / R&B: 5
“thank u, next” sentiment: 16
“baby come back” sentiment: 13
The Music Mermaid Alumni: 9
1. thank u, next by Ariana Grande: The quintessential breakup anthem isn’t even a month old but it’s garnered chart-topping, record-breaking success already. Ari expertly crafts a sweet sentiment to the loves she lost and hypes herself up (as she should) all while simultaneously making it a total pop banger. Honestly, this playlist might as well just be thank u, next for every song.
2. Expense of Us by Josh Collins: In this pretty acoustic tune by London-based singer-songwriter Josh Collins, he narrates a beautifully bittersweet tale of falling in and out of love. It’s unassuming in its simplicity, just these tender strums and vocal echos joining together for a sweet, fleeting reflection.
3. Walk On by Overcoats: Electro-pop duo Overcoats build a mesmeric soundscape out of low drone tones that drift through steady percussion while Hana and JJ sing (well, it’s less singing and more just aching) gut-punch confessions over and over again. The song itself is a heartbreak, but it sounds so damn good we don’t mind the hurt.
4. Don’t Ask Me by OK Go: LA-based alt-rock group OK Go aren’t having any of your nostalgic drooling. This punchy power-pop anthem is super quick — just over two and a half minutes — and offers a refreshing reprieve from the breakup blues. This is when the regret turns to anger, an in-your-face rock romp like a musical middle finger.
5. Everything Looks Better (In Hindsight) by The Wild Reeds: Indie folk band The Wild Reeds are absolutely genius songwriters, but there’s something about this sparkling song and its full-band build-up that make it so palpable. The band gets real about lost memories and when that hook hits, you’re in for something far more raw and relatable than you probably signed up for.
6. Ode To Ex-Girlfriends by Alex Dezen: In one of the most unique and well-executed “list” songs, solo artist Dezen cycles through his past loves by tenderly attributing memories and characteristics to each. Accompanied by sweet acoustic strums and his emotive vocals, he builds earnest tributes to the past.
7. Do You Still Love Me? by Ryan Adams: The prolific singer-songwriter’s intense 2017 single is a desperate plea we all can relate to in some way or another. There’s not much here, just a lot of emphatic wondering, but it’s surrounded by rich, rollicking rock arrangements and a searing guitar solo you’ll need to stand on your coffee table to re-enact.
8. Can’t Shake You by Gloriana: On their chart-topping hit, Nashville-based country group Gloriana delivered a powerful radio-ready singalong for the brokenhearted. Twangy guitar, blending harmonies, and thick percussion are the perfect base for those painful lyrics about being unable to let go of a love.
9. Needed Me by Rihanna: The almighty RiRi’s deliciously woozy ballad had a special place on her eighth record. Drunk with buzzing drone, distant slaps, and swollen synths, it’s a masterful electro-R&B track serving as a modest diss to the amorous.
10. The Last Thing by Sawyer: Nashville duo Sawyer’s 2016 single is an indie-pop explosion, but it doesn’t start that way, instead moving seamlessly through breathy vocals and key sparkles to searing guitar and vibrant percussion all while Emma and Kel get real about getting over love.
11. Changing of the Seasons by Two Door Cinema Club: Irish indie outfit Two Door Cinema Club have endlessly addictive tunes, but this one is a power-pop kiss-off track erupting in rapid-fire electronic rhythms — it’s a neon banger tracking the progression of breakup recovery.
12. Can’t Hold Us Down by Christina Aguilera ft. Lil’ Kim: Throwing it back to the early 2000s is the ultimate girl-power anthem from two powerhouse vocalists. Together, Kim and Christina create a smooth, soulful hip-hop track in which boys are not allowed.
13. Nothing Where Something Used To Be by Vanessa Carlton: Prolific pop-rock singer-songwriter Vanessa Carlton’s 2015 track is a shadowy, slinking low-key pop song heavy with emotion. Bursts of discordant multi-instrumentation contribute to the edge of the song as Vanessa contemplates her own reasons for leaving a relationship.
14. Chaos and Clothes by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: The ultimate soul-stripped songwriter, Isbell’s heartbreaking take on a friend’s breakup is genuinely hard to hear — so many beautiful, devastating details — but this minimalist folk ballad is worth thorough reflection.
15. Still Not Over You by Klyne: This track by Dutch electronic duo Klyne is bursting with flavor. It buzzes, fizzes, and pulses, endlessly punchy electro-pop elements floating around their falsetto harmonies as they admit defeat to a heartbreaker. Bring it to the dance floor but then cry later.
16. I Know Better Now by Maggie Rose: Emmy-winning Nashville artist Maggie Rose’s powerful track off her debut album is an intense country anthem howled by her strong vocals above wild strings wailing among hard-hitting percussion. It’s a masterful achievement in which Rose spends some time loving and learning.
17. The Best You Had by Nina Nesbitt: The lead single off Scottish singer Nina Nesbitt’s sophomore album is an addictive hook-heavy anthem that has caught the attention of fans and celebs alike. Her wisp of a voice and those sparkling slaps of percussion offer an obsession-worthy singalong about an ex moving on.
18. Nothing Left For You by Sam Smith: Last year, the golden-voiced Sam Smith dropped an album chockful of emotional breakup ballads, including this one. It’s a soulful slow-burn flavored by bluesy keys, rock-tinged riffs, and an impactful choir aiding Sam as he yells, “I gave my heart to a goddamn fool.”
19. bad days by Tove Lo: On this song by Swedish electro-pop artist Tove Lo, she reflects on forgetting about an ex. The soundscape is ethereal with dreamy synth swells before the track turns to a vibrant percussion-led dance arrangement, all while her voice stays steady.
20. Run Along by Taliwhoah: R&B singer Taliwhoah’s latest single boasts that thank u, next vibe with a fizzy electronic arrangement over which she urges an ex to “run along.” Subtle bursts of staccato beats and vocal loops make this a soulful anthem destined for repeat.
21. Someone You Loved by Lewis Capaldi: Just released a few weeks ago, this ballad finds Scottish singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi delivering an aching, emphatic vocal performance above a quick piano melody. The minimalist arrangement offers just enough of a base for Capaldi to break down, beautifully, about a past partner.
22. New Rules by Dua Lipa: We’re still not over Dua’s insanely addictive breakup anthem from last year so of course it makes the cut. A tropically-tinged dance-floor banger, it’s got lowkey EDM elements that are tastefully done in a way that builds catchy beats one after the other all while Dua chides us and teaches us the rules of moving on.
23. Fooled by Lane Simkins: This quaint folk song by singer-songwriter Lane Simkins is seemingly understated, but Lane’s sweet vocals admitting “I don’t wanna be friends” is joined by acoustic strums, the steady surge of percussion, and shimmering swells as he continues to relay something so honest it feels like a diary entry.
24. Even If It’s A Lie by Matt Maltese: London-based singer-songwriter Matt Maltese’s very first release is a heartbreaker, a rough-cut demo in which Matt’s strong voice is stripped-down with just a tender piano line as he painfully addresses a past love.
25. Gonna Get Over You by Sara Bareilles: Soul-pop singer Sara Bareilles has a whole slew of singalongs under her belt, but this one especially finds her empowered by the thought of moving on. It’s a quick-paced doo-wop tune fueled by a retro groove with the quirky hooks and jazzy details we know and love from Bareilles.
26. I’m Kissing You by Des’ree: A true breakup ballad, this 90s piano-led track from British R&B artist Des’ree has to be one of your go-tos when it comes to a breakup. The simple piano line gains urgency as searing strings move into the arrangement, Des’ree’s soulful voice crumbling under the weight of emotion.
27. Blue by ZOLA: On this modest beauty, Cali-based singer-songwriter ZOLA delivers a gorgeous reflection on learning from lost love. It’s a slinking slow-burn built on percussive slaps and tender keys, but later, when it erupts into a searing explosion, its emotive nature becomes that much clearer.
28. Break by Cooper & Gatlin: This electro-pop anthem from brother-sister duo Cooper & Gatlin might be their debut, but they have burst onto the scene with this neon dance banger jampacked with warbling synth, buzzy pop beats, and Gatlin’s versatile vocals.
29. Rebekah by Jack Vallier: On this lowkey electro-pop track, English singer-songwriter Jack Vallier implores Rebekah to reflect on their relationship with a series of questions and pleas lost among an otherworldly arrangement of synth blooms and slaps of drum-pad beats.
30. Our Apartment by Aaron West & The Roaring Twenties: A folk-rock project from The Wonder Years’ member Dan Campbell, Aaron West’s albums explore a fictional character and his deteriorating life. This song is a masterful play-by-play of love’s final stages, told through the jangling, discordant alt-folk arrangements and Campbell’s frenzied vocals.
31. Backwards Walk by Frightened Rabbit: We’re biased here because Scott Hutchison of Scottish indie-rock band Frightened Rabbit will forever be our favorite songwriter, but this guitar-driven track is an authentic heartbreaker in which Scott poetically and profoundly notes the ways in which he works to recover after a breakup.
32. Lonely by Beck Pete: This dazzling ballad by powerhouse vocalist Beck Pete is mesmeric in its otherworldly arrangement blooming from nothing. You can hear the cracks and fissures in Beck’s voice as she confesses, “I’m not lonely, I’m just haunted all the time,” while the ghostly backing rhythms float alongside her devastating — but so stunning in all its intricacies — delivery.
33. Yours by Lo Lo: When you get dumped on April Fools Day, there’s nothing left to do but drop an absolute banger in the form of a bubblegum-pop anthem. That’s what Toronto singer Lo Lo did. The result is an addictive singalong decked out in Cali-inspired guitar rhythms, fizzy percussion, and Lo Lo’s sweetened vocals delivering a breakup anthem destined for chart-topping success.
34. Don’t Love Anybody by Shlomo Franklin: On the title track of his debut EP, New York singer-songwriter Shlomo Franklin delivers an aching plea — please don’t love anybody else — among a gorgeous arrangement touched by soft strings, quiet drum punches, and sparkling keys, all of which provide a bittersweet base for his gritty croon.
35. You Should Talk by FLETCHER: Indie powerhouse FLETCHER’s 2017 single is an anthem to the ghosted, an in-your-face pop explosion detailing the things she wished she’d had a chance to say. Bubbling synth and slaps of percussion abound around her soulful vocals.
36. The Bleeding by Five Finger Death Punch: Okay, admittedly, maybe this one’s a little misplaced on such a pop-centric playlist, but this track by heavy metal group FFDP powerfully details heartbreak and builds a dynamic, raging arrangement that throbs beneath the frustrated vocals.
37. Maybe by Emeli Sandé: Off her debut album, Emeli tells the story of a breakup on this piano-led ballad. Her soulful voice beautifully narrates endlessly poignant lines while the plink of piano is joined by a more robust arrangement of heartbeat percussion, shimmers, slaps, and even strings.
38. Another Love by Alice Smith: This fast-paced soul anthem by singer-songwriter Alice Smith is an earnest (and therefore nearly painful) letter to a lover (well, liar). But it’s upbeat, these rapid-fire keys and drum beats hitting one after another in quick succession, laying a vivid bed for Alice’s rich, cabaret-style voice.
39. Green Light by Lorde: Melodrama was essentially a concept album in which our Lorde and savior reflected on a painful breakup — the lead single for it was this ultimate electro-pop anthem moving seamlessly through different phases of deep electric throbs, neon synth swells, and maniacal dance-pop.
40. Expectations by Lauren Jauregui: Released last month, former Fifth Harmony member Lauren’s debut single is a powerful R&B belter in which she gets real about a standstill relationship. Her powerhouse vocals — soulful and smoky — lead the track along with a searing rock guitar solo and slinking percussive pulses.