For every song that captures the ebullience of love, like “Glad All Over” by the Dave Clark Five, there is a tune that taps into the melancholia of breaking up, such as “Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart” by Alicia Keys. Breakup songs are among the most popular and beloved because the lyrics are heartfelt — and because we’ve all been there.
Songs about breaking up cut across generations and genres, and that is reflected in the 24/7 Wall St. list of the best breakup songs. Many of the songs were released in the 1960s, including such torch-song classics as Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” by the Righteous Brothers. More recently, artists such as Adele (“Rolling in the Deep”) and Bruno Mars (“When I Was Your Man”) have plumbed the depths of painful breakups.
Some breakup songs are defiant, like Cee Lo Green’s “F**k You! (Forget You),” or fierce, such as Lily Allen’s “Smile.” Others are agonizing, such as Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine.” Other songs pine for reuniting, like Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together.”
Even though these artists are singing about heartbreak, some of these songs, like Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” and Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” express the belief that there is life to be lived after the end of a relationship.