17 Songs For Every Stage Of A Bad Break-Up

Let The Smiths, Cee-Lo, and Kelly Clarkson guide you through the darkness.

So you recently suffered a break-up.

Ugh, I’m sorry – as everyone knows, splitting up with someone is the world’s living worst thing. But you can totally get through this! Delete your ex’s number, wrap yourself in a blanket, and put on this soundtrack to feeling better. The following playlist will take you through all the stages of having a freshly-broken heart, but the time it’s done, you’ll be ready to leave your bed and begin Frenching the universe with aplomb. Trust.

1. “Asleep,” The Smiths

KEY LINE: “I don’t want to wake up on my own anymore,” plus the entire rest of this maudlin-ass song

Okay, first, you’ve got to get all the way down inside your grief, Morrissey-style. It’s the only way to eventually rise up out of it. Otherwise, you’re going to hold painful little kernels of it inside your heart for longer than you have to – better to just engulf yourself in feelings now in a MAJOR way. If there’s not snot all over the front of your shirt from ugly-crying, you’re doing this wrong.

2. “Nothing Compares 2 U,” Sinead O’Connor

KEY LINE: “I can see whomever I choose, I can eat my dinner in a fancy restaurant, but nothing, I said nothing, can take away these blues.”

I know, I know. NOTHING FEELS GOOD. Well, nothing but listening to this song on repeat in bed for roughly two full days while wearing a hideous old sweatshirt and drinking various bottles of wine.

3. “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” Jennifer Hudson

KEY LINE: “No way I’m livin’ without you, I don’t want to be free, I’m stayin’, and you’re gonna love me.”

Oh, honey. Don’t send this text. You’ll regret it IMMENSELY when you sober up in a week or so. No matter how much you want the above to be true, your relationship is not going to magically fix itself by means of your desperation. So just listen to Jennifer Hudson belt what you’re feeling instead, which is way more beautiful anyway.

4. “Train in Vain,” The Clash

KEY LINE: “Tell me something I don’t understand. You said you love me and that’s a fact, then you left me.”

When your ex said “forever,” they really meant “until they got bored of you.” Ugh. The best thing you can do is listen to this Clash song, which is weirdly upbeat for a song about heartbreak, and hope to be similarly okay with your own.

5. “Mayfly,” Terry Reid

KEY LINE: “But now I know cause I’ve sorted all the things of yours and all the things of mine and I’ll send back the case when I can find a place to put it down.”

If your breakup were a sad movie, this song would be the soundtrack to its most heartbreaking scene. It’s simultaneously so, so beautiful and filled with the deepest kinds of love-pain. Put it on and pretend you’re a tragic hero or heroine because you’re going through a terrible breakup and why the hell not be dramatic about it.

6. “I Thought You Were My Boyfriend,” The Magnetic Fields

KEY LINE: “I thought I was just the guy for you and it would never end. I thought we were supposed to be like glue, I thought you were my boyfriend.”

Regardless of your gender, it’s easy to relate to this feeling. You’re entering the disbelief stage of the break-up now. How could this have happened? You two were so in love! You shared an apartment and a rescue cat and only, you know, an entire life!

7. “Get Gone,” Fiona Apple

KEY LINE: “How many times do I have to say to get away, get gone, flip your shit past another lass’s humble dwelling.”

This person has been jerking you around for way too long. Fiona knows all about it, obviously. A tip – this is an amazing song for shredding old pictures of the two of you together or rage-crying in the shower until you’re numb. Your pick!

8. “Ballad of Big Nothing,” Elliott Smith

KEY LINE: “You can do what you want to, there’s no one to stop you, though it doesn’t mean a thing. BIG NOTHING.”

Now we’re getting into full-on spite territory. You don’t want anything to do with your ex anymore. They broke up with you? FINE, you’ll cut them off entirely, since that’s what they wanted, right? Defriend their mom on Facebook, stick them with the cat that you never really liked anyway (it was mean and smelled kind of weird), and have them mail your stuff instead of dropping it off in person – they don’t get to have you anymore.

9. “Fuck It (I Don’t Want You Back),” Eamon

KEY LINE: Self-explanatory.

This is the perfect score for drawing wild conclusions about your ex’s new Facebook friends, then deciding that they were probably cheating on you even if there’s absolutely no evidence to support that.

10. “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright,” Bob Dylan

KEY LINE: “I ain’t saying you treated me unkind, you could have done better but I don’t mind. You just kinda wasted my precious time.”

If someone breaks up with you, it’s one of those rare times in life where being sort of a dick to them is permissible. Relish it, or something.

11. “Fuck You,” Cee-Lo Green

KEY LINE: Again, see song title.

If you ever feel yourself backsliding, getting lonely, or thinking about your ex, just turn up this song as high as it’ll go and look at this pug laying it down on the keys and imagine him as mini Cee-Lo. Instant sadness cure!

12. “(I Don’t Have) Anymore Love Songs,” Hank Williams, Jr.

KEY LINE: “There’s been some things that I’ve wanted to say a long time…I don’t have any more love songs to try on you.”

Sometimes, you just have to face the fact that the thrill is gone, and that it’s been missing for a while. You’ll both be better off in the end if you can accept that and let go, even if it kind of completely blows at first, feelings-wise. Soon enough, you’ll be checking out someone who’s not completely boring to you because you know everything about them. Doesn’t that sound fun?

13. “Walk Away, Renee,” The Left Banke

KEY LINE: “Just walk away, Renee, you won’t see me follow you back home.”

You’re starting to get over this. Yeah, you’re still hurting, but you’re beginning to come to the conclusion that if your ex were to come back to you right now and beg forgiveness, you’d walk the other way. You don’t blame them for ending the relationship anymore, even – these things suck vast quantities of eggs, of course, but they happen to everyone at some point or another. You’ll be okay.

14. “Ex Girl to Next Girl,” Gang Starr

KEY LINE: “You and I are the past, c’est la vie, much respect girl, but now you’re my ex-girl and I’m out with the next girl.”

Wait, is this breakup actually an awesome thing to have happened to you? OF COURSE IT IS, DUMMY! Go put your tongue in a stranger’s mouth already, for Pete’s sake! Remember how much fun that is?

15. “Otha Fish,” Pharcyde

KEY LINE: “Whether two birds of a feather fly or fall it’ll be together…there’ll be no suicide attempts for this slim-trim kid, ‘cause you know there’s otha fish in the sea.”

Even if you’re not the type to immediately jump someone else’s bones, you can rest assured that you’re not going to be alone for the rest of your life on Earth because you had one breakup. Once you feel a little better, you’ll start seeing fish everywhere.

16. “Since U Been Gone,” Kelly Clarkson

KEY LINE: “But since you been gone, I can breathe for the first time, I’m so moving on…you had your chance you blew it, out of sight, out of mind.”

Ummm, is your ex seriously trying to hit you up now after all they put you through? What is actually wrong with their brain? Luckily, you now realize that their leaving was a blessing in disguise. MESSAGE DELETED

17. “Cactus Tree,” Joni Mitchell

KEY LINE: “She’s so busy being free.”

This song acknowledges how fun and beautiful love can be, but still places autonomy and self-exploration above romance, just like you’re about to. In fact, you and Joni both know that self-love can be the most romantic thing of all, and you’re finally ready to be completely free again. GO, YOU.

Here’s a playlist featuring every song in this post.

View this embed ›

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