The 10 Best, Most Accurate, and Honest Breakup Songs
We were never able to watch Full House the same way.
While there's nothing wrong with Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" or Christina Perri's "Jar of Hearts," they might be a little melodramatic.
Bob Dylan set the bar awfully high for great honest breakup songs when he wrote tunes like "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," but we think there have been some solid ones since.
Here are 10 of our favorite breakup songs that portray the realities of breaking up, rather than the over-the-top emotions.
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10. "You Oughta Know" — Alanis Morissette (1995)
Of all the angry female breakup songs, this has to be among the most vicious and the most emotionally honest. On top of how she wonders about how she stacks up against the new woman, Morissette's entire chorus of just wanting to remind her ex of everything he put her through is entirely too relatable for so many people. Plus, how could you forget about the time when Uncle Joey from Full House (allegedly) got some theater action from the world's angriest Canadian?
9. "Landslide" — Smashing Pumpkins (1994)
Speaking of female-fronted breakup songs, the original Fleetwood Mac version is good, but Billy Corgan takes it to a whole other level of feelings when he croons on the rare B-side/Pisces Iscariot version. We'll ignore the Dixie Chicks and Glee versions, because they really don't do the song justice. That said, when you're looking for a tune about dealing with the changes in your life after a harsh breakup (or anything else traumatic), we dare you to listen to anyone's version of this and not get tied up in your heartstrings.
8. "Song Cry" — Jay Z (2001)
Doesn't it seem like forever since Jay Z actually had someone to write a breakup song about? In the pre-Bey days, his song about breaking things off with a longtime sweetheart is a great example of how a rapper can write a breakup song without sounding like he's crying himself to sleep every night. For that matter, the whole song is really about how he wants to show his emotions but can't because of, you know, masculinity and such. If you've ever watched your relationship fall apart because your schedule doesn't allow you to see your significant other, then you know Hova's pain, whether he's willing to cry about it or not.
7. "The Patron Saint of Liars and Fakes" — Fall Out Boy (2003)
Considering that most Fall Out Boy (and Fall Out Boy copycat) songs contain at least one reference to wishing physical harm upon your ex or vice versa, we thought it was even more appropriate to include this chorus-driven track on our list. There are no references to car crashes or drowning or any other violent metaphors in the final track on the band's breakthrough album; it's just a guy wondering if his significant other is done with him.
6. "Ms. Jackson" — Outkast (2000)
Before Kanye had mainstream hip-hop fans around the world shouting their desires for prenuptial agreements, Andre 3000 and Big Boi tackled some of the realities of breaking things off with a lover. For one thing, how many breakup songs are addressed to the parent(s) of the ex? Because that's a conversation that has to happen sometimes, and there still aren't many other songs that touch on that. Additionally, Outkast covers everything from child custody to moving on, all over a beat that even the whitest of folks can dance to while they're upset about their baby mama drama.
5. "Ruthless" — Something Corporate (2003)
We feel bad for Something Corporate, because now that Andrew McMahon has a new band, they've fallen to "the old band of the guy who used to be Jack's Mannequin." Regardless of how many times McMahon decides to perform under a different name, we feel that Something Corporate will always be the most honest and raw work in his catalog. Sure, this song might have an overly dramatic line or two ("Oceans to drown in, you won't make a sound in"), but for the most part, it perfectly captures that moment of realizing that the person you were going to be with forever just isn't on the same page as you.
4. "Dammit" — Blink-182 (1997)
Not every great breakup song has to be entirely serious, and one of the pop-punk trio's early singles is a perfect reminder of that. As opposed to many breakup songs in which the end of the relationship is pretty much the end of the world, this classic off of Dude Ranch makes the point to say that while breaking up sucks, it's a part of life, and eventually you'll (probably) get over it. We can't even count the number of times we've sat there after a breakup and muttered "Well, I guess this is growing up."
3. "Marvin's Room" — Drake (2011)
From the telephonic introduction, you know that (arguably) the most Drake-like of Drake songs isn't going anywhere positive as far as emotions are concerned. Calling your ex and telling them how you really feel is pretty much never a good idea, but it's something that everyone's considered from time to time. You might have too much sense to actually attempt to steal your ex back from their new lover, but we know you've thought about it at least once before.
2. "I Am Fred Astaire" — Taking Back Sunday (2004)
You know that moment in (or around) the breakup when you're coming up with your grand plan on how to get back at your ex? You don't necessarily want to physically hurt them, but you want to make them miserable somehow. Of all the melodramatic Taking Back Sunday songs, this one is actually about a well-choreographed (Fred Astaire, choreography, bingo) plan to piss off a former lover. We wouldn't want to injure any of our exes, but we'd totally flip every switch on our way out of their place one last time just to be aggravating.
1. "I Hope You're Unhappy" — Farside (1999)
If you haven't heard The Monroe Doctrine by Farside before, go ahead and give it a listen next time you're in the car and feeling bad about how things ended with your ex. The peak of the album hits with one of the most accurately named breakup songs ever. Every line captures the actual emotions of going through the end of a relationship, from getting used to sleeping alone to hoping that your ex still cries about you, but not too much. Let's face it, you've totally had that exact thought before.
This story originally published on March 24, 2015, and was updated for publication on August 8, 2016.
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