13. Snow Patrol - “Run”.
The Sadness: Not 100% Scottish since they’re from Northern Ireland, but Snow Patrol were longstanding stalwarts of the Glasgow scene by this point. And not 100% sad, since the essence of the song is about the hope and redemption lying in its billowing flushes. But nevertheless, their breakthrough track pulls the strings with military precision.
Saddest Bit: “You’ve been the only thing that’s right in all I’ve done.”
The Lesson: No matter how bleak things get, Leona Lewis will always be there to save you.
12. Teenage Fanclub - “Mellow Doubt”.
The Sadness: While everyone else was going silly for Britpop, the Scottish indie veterans were enjoying a breakthrough of their own with this gorgeous country-tinged lilter. It’s an almost flawless distillation of regret into three minutes of perfect beauty.
Saddest Bit: The whistling. Not sure why, it just is.
The Lesson: “These feelings don’t go away.”
11. Sucioperro - “Hands”.
The Sadness: These close associates of Biffy (frontman JP Reid fronts side-project Marmaduke Duke with Simon and is also his cousin) are better known for being grungy and boisterous. But this cut from 2012’s “The Heart String And Now To Pull It” shows just how far you can go with a battered acoustic, an exposed Scottish brogue and an unending fear of eternal loneliness. Gorgeous, is how far you can go.
Saddest Bit: “It’s not that I can’t take care of myself, I’m just needing for someone to save me.”
The Lesson: Don’t drink alone, is probably about the size of it.
10. One Dove - “Breakdown”.
The Sadness: Long before she became chief songbird to Pete Doherty’s smacky empire of dirt, Dot Allison was lead singer in short-lived nineties dreamy Glaswegian dub outfit One Dove. This was their undisputed masterpiece, a mournful ode to aloneness that you can also dance to a bit.
Saddest Bit: “I remember the night you left me, the Moon was full, I felt empty.”
The Lesson: Don’t go off and hang with Pete Doherty, the quality of your output will eventually suffer.
9. Chvrches - “The Mother We Share”.
The Sadness: There is something uniquely Scottish about making something that sounds impossibly sad sound incredibly uplifting at the same time. And the signature tune of everybody’s new favourite band is the latest example of that being done brilliantly.
Saddest Bit: The way that the segue into the chorus is actually a big flourish upward but sounds like a breakdown. Skills, there.
The Lesson: Blood is thicker than water – which means on bad days, it’s easier to sink in, like quicksand.
8. Belle and Sebastian - “I’m Waking Up To Us”.
The Sadness: B&S are sultans of sad, but probably their most devastating moment is the one where they cut out the clever stuff and just went full-on Dusty Springfield. The result is a textbook reading of that awkward moment when you realise a relationship is probably doomed: “You know I love you, here’s the irony - you’re going to walk away intact…” Because it’s all their fault. Yes, definitely all their fault.
Saddest Bit: “She was the one love of my life and I let her go, I loved her dog, her steady gaze, the chapter is closed.”
The Lesson: Put an animal into anything and it’s just going to make it sadder, that’s how these things work.
7. Frightened Rabbit - “The Modern Leper”.
The Sadness: The band’s very name might suggest everything that is twee and melancholic about Northern Britain. In fact they are the boorish punk-folk devil on Mumford And Sons’ shoulders. This boisterous number will stir the pit of your stomach with added medieval body horror. This is the sort of thing that goes on in Selkirk.
Saddest Bit: “Is that you coming back to me coming back for more of exactly the same? You must be a masochist to love a modern leper on his last legs.”
The Lesson: That isn’t really your leg falling off dear, it’s just a metaphor.
6. Annie Lennox - “Why”.
The Sadness: Written in the shadow of her own divorce, Lennox’s first solo single from 1992 proved she could more than hold her own away from androgynous electronica. It’s also an unbearably bare confessional about that moment of hurricane before acceptance that something is over.
Saddest Bit: The song sees Annie strip back the layers of everything else to reveal the woman beneath. The video conversely sees her slap on the war paint to go off and face the world like so many Corrie landladies before. The effect is oddly lacerating.
The Lesson: You can go solo in all sorts of different ways, and doing so can go down as well as up.
5. Aereogramme - “Barriers”
The Sadness: Impossible beautiful highlight from Scottish indie favourites (whose Iain Cook would end up in Chvrches) impossibly beautiful collection “My Heart Has A Wish That You Would Not Go”. Another Glaswegian weepie, but this time powered by a yearning belief that enough effort and emoting will salvage things.
Saddest Bit: The realisation that it may not work: “I never meant to hurt you, or drive you away. The barriers we’ve built look like they’re here to stay.”
The Lesson: However bleak things get, if you go and form an electro-pop outfit they may well end up being rather more successful than your indie band.
4. The Twilight Sad - “That Summer, At Home I Became The Invisible Boy”.
The Sadness: Kylith’s Twilight Sad take the same gene of Scottish sadness but play it through almost abstract lyrical motifs and overwhelming layers of post-rock and shoegaze guitars. A lot of this actually is in the way the layers of everything pile up so high, but this mood sketch of teenage desperation will still break you.
Saddest Bit: “The kids are on fire in the bedroom.”
The Lesson: Thank god you grew up eventually.
3. The Delgados - “Coming In From The Cold”.
The Sadness: Motherwell’s symphonic popsters The Delgados were pretty much emperors of the entire Sad Scot scene during their ten-year reign of Chemikal Underground records, and cast a warm hue over all who went near them. But they were never more affecting than when co-frontperson Emma Pollock took the lead, like on this tour de force about finding solace in numbers.
Saddest Bit: “Raise your glass, we’re gonna drink now ‘til the summer’s past.”
The Lesson: Drinking probably does make you feel better in the short term. This is Scotland, after all.
2. Camera Obscura - “James”
The Sadness: Camera Obscura are one of the most delightful agents of Glaswegian whimsy, setting that off against Spectoresque flourishes. But it’s the stripped down moment from 2009’s “My Maudlin Career” that really wrenches at you. Delicate acoustics stir up the desolate despair of trying to make sense of a relationship that looks like it’s falling apart and you don’t know why and you don’t really know what you can do about it.
Saddest Bit: All of it really, but we can report that it’s 100x more difficult if you’re currently going through a very similar storyline with someone whose name actually is James. You might even find you put the song higher up your BuzzFeed list than you might otherwise have done.
The Lesson: Music journalism might not be the thing to save your relationship but you’re quite deep into this list by this point.
1. Biffy Clyro - “Machines”.
The Sadness: Simon Neil has always been disarmingly open about the effect the death of his mother had on him. The breakdown he suffered provides the emotional canvas for the band’s 2007 breakthrough album “Puzzle”. And things get to their most brutal on the bare and bleak closing track.
Saddest Bit: The wallop of the of the moment he is able to look towards hope at the lowest point of absolute despair: “take the pieces and build them skyward…”
The Lesson: Tell your Mum you love her more often.