20. Gang Starr
Ex Lady to Subsequent Lady (1992)

Hip-hop isn’t huge on romantic heartbreak, however it is a significantly effective instance. There’s quite a lot of bragging from Guru about how he’s so inundated with presents since his ex packed him in that she’s most likely jealous. However by some means, you get the sense he’s protesting an excessive amount of: “Went dwelling to see my mother and I noticed you on the bus cease – should I cease? I feel not.”

19. The Mellows
Smoke from Your Cigarette (1955)

Doo-wop tended to deal in teenage feelings, however there’s one thing very grownup about this attractive forgotten single, a favorite of the late Lou Reed. Lillian Leach’s vocal is limpid and delightful, the tune refined, the temper of resigned small-hours heartbreak all-enveloping. A miniature masterpiece.

18. Oran ‘Juice’ Jones
The Rain (1986)

A incredible document – pitched between easy 80s soul and the beatbox rhythms of hip-hop – The Rain’s climax comes with a unbelievable spoken-word part, through which Juice threatens to “do a Rambo” on his love rival, however reconsiders: “I don’t wanna mess up this $37,000 lynx coat.”

17. The Left Banke
Stroll Away Renée (1966)

The 4 Tops’ well-known cowl amps up the feelings, however the Left Banke’s stunning harpsichord-flecked unique nearly singlehandedly invents a specific pressure of musical heartbreak, subsequently a lot deployed in indie music: delicate, spurned narrator weeps discreetely, whereas stoically insisting all is ok.

16. Hank Williams
Chilly Chilly Coronary heart (1951)

Blessed with a voice that simply gave the impression of disappointment, cursed with a disastrous love life, Hank Williams was made to sing songs akin to this: austere, distraught and plausible, by no means mawkish or overblown. He wrote dozens, all incredible, however Chilly Chilly Coronary heart’s depiction of a disintegrating relationship is especially vivid – Love Will Tear Us Aside in a Stetson.

Marc Almond and Dave Ball.

Marc Almond and Dave Ball. {Photograph}: Eugene Adebari / Rex Options

15. Mushy Cell
Say Hiya, Wave Goodbye (1981)

Any music that opens: “Standing within the door of the Pink Flamingo / Crying within the rain” lays itself open to accusations of camp, however there’s one thing very actual and affecting in regards to the feelings in Say Hiya, Wave Goodbye. The icy synths and outpouring of lyrical bile don’t fairly conceal the disappointment at its core.

14. Bob Dylan
If You See Her, Say Hiya (1975)

Blood on the Tracks has a music for each stage of a breakup – from spleen-venting bitterness to quiet reflection – however this can be its saddest, loveliest second: crushed, resigned, haunted by the previous, nonetheless holding out a imprecise hope it’s not throughout, however conscious, deep down, that it’s.

13. Prince
When You Had been Mine (1980)

A really Prince-ish breakup music – he’s significantly outraged that he used to let her put on all his garments and at her lack of hygiene (“You didn’t have the decency to vary the sheets”) – When You Had been Mine’s taut, good new-wave strut is the pouting, powerful counterpart to the inconsolable Nothing Compares 2 U.

Carly Simon.

Carly Simon. {Photograph}: RB/Redferns

12. Carly Simon
You’re So Useless (1972)

The thriller over its topic’s id tends to obscure what a fantastically poised breakup music You’re So Useless is. She has clearly had sufficient of his smug, philandering bullshit, and is warning others off, however, from the opening murmur of “Son of a gun”, there’s a bizarre, undimmed affection about the best way she depicts him.

11. Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Maps (2003)

There’s nearly nothing to Maps – a spindly guitar half, thumping drums, 10 strains of stark lyrics – and but it’s extremely potent and affecting: the quiet desperation of the endlessly repeated “They don’t love you want I like you”, the best way Karen O’s voice shifts from an intimate murmur, cracking as she sings: “Please keep”. Impressed by her boyfriend going away quickly, it looks like for ever.

10. Elvis Costello
I Need You (1986)

Some breakup songs assist once you’re within the romantic doldrums. I Need You simply appears to make issues infinitely worse: its depiction of jealously and obsession is simply too offended, too disturbing, too self-flagellating. As a glimpse into somebody’s darkest moments, it’s extremely highly effective, its affect heightened by the rawness of its one-take manufacturing. Amazingly, it was launched as a single.


OutKast. {Photograph}: Jim Cooper/AP

9. OutKast
Ms Jackson (2000)

There are many songs through which one celebration in a breakup addresses the opposite; fewer that handle the opposite celebration’s mum or dad. Behind Ms Jackson’s singalong refrain lurks a witty, sophisticated music that brilliantly covers a gamut of feelings whereas attempting to clarify what went incorrect. It’s variously melancholy, offended, charming, exasperated and fatalistic. “You’ll be able to plan a fairly picnic / However you possibly can’t predict the climate.”

8. Steve Harley and Cockney Insurgent
Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me) (1975)

Not each nice breakup music offers with romance, as evidenced by Steve Harley’s fabulously bitter recounting of Cockney Insurgent Mark 1’s cut up. Within the pantheon of screw-you-for-quitting songs – dwelling to John Lennon’s How Do You Sleep? and Future’s Youngster’s Survivor – it reigns supreme, not least as a result of it units its spite to such sunny, charming music.

7. Etta James
I’d Slightly Go Blind (1968)

On stage, James may stretch I’d Slightly Go Blind out to 10 minutes of extempore soul-bearing, however the easy, concise studio unique is just about good. Beautiful tender/powerful vocal, lyrics filled with poignant element: “The reflection within the glass I held to my lips / Revealed the tears that was on my face.”

6. Kelly Clarkson
Since U Been Gone (2004)

The 00s’ reply to I Will Survive, in that it turns a breakup right into a badge of honour, one thing to precise delight about – “I can breathe for the primary time, I’m so shifting on” – full with refrain designed for the just lately dumped to bellow defiantly, gleefully alongside to.


ABBA. {Photograph}: Olle Lindeborg/EPA

The Winner Takes It All (1980)

That includes one of many nice opening strains – “I don’t wish to speak,” it protests, like a drunk in a bar determined to spill their story – The Winner Takes It All’s gleaming pop perfection conceals actual psychodrama: a girl, Agnetha Fältskog, singing lyrics by her ex-husband, Björn Ulvaeus, that ostensibly view their divorce and his new relationship from her perspective. “Inform me – does she kiss like I used to kiss you?”

4. The Carpenters
Goodbye to Love (1972)

The creaminess of Karen Carpenter’s vocal however, it appears astonishing that one thing this despairing and hopeless was ever categorized as straightforward listening. The guitar solo is LA-sessioneer slick, however the lyrics starkly seize the purpose the place romantic failure turns into a full-on existential disaster: “Nobody ever cared if I ought to dwell or die … all I do know of affection is how one can dwell with out it.”

3. Gloria Gaynor
I Will Survive (1979)

Gloria Gaynor could have made higher data, however I Will Survive is just overplayed as a result of it connects with folks so instantly. The strings soar; the lyrics challenge defiance within the face of a controlling ex-partner who has made the error of chancing his arm once more: “I’m not that chained-up little particular person nonetheless in love with you.”

2. Marvin Gaye
I Heard It By way of the Grapevine (1968)

The sound of somebody attempting and failing to maintain calm within the face of mounting proof his relationship is over, I Heard It By way of the Grapevine is, musically, all cool management – the one snare drum that opens it, the muted bass and electrical piano taking part in the riff – however vocally all anguish and urgency. The cumulative impact nonetheless flooring you 50 years on.

Roy Orbison.

Roy Orbison. {Photograph}: David Redfern/Redferns

1. Roy Orbison
It’s Over (1964)

Initially an unconvincing rockabilly, Roy Orbison solely hit his stride when he was allowed to unleash a melancholy that mapped out new, darkish emotional territories for rock music. Definitely, no male performer had beforehand waded so deep into ache and vulnerability as Orbison did on In Goals or Crying. However It’s Over is his masterpiece, 4 inconsolable minutes throughout which stars cry, rainbows weep, golden days are sorrowfully recalled and drums beat out a leaden funeral march, earlier than all of it reaches a horrible climax, throughout which his voice rises to a determined quiver, repeating the title as if distress is a form of catharsis. Concurrently melodramatic and relatable – a nasty breakup often includes a level of melodrama – it has by no means been bettered.

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