This is a great follow-up to last week’s question about the “sexiest sex songs.” Here are ten (okay, 12) songs to get you through each stage of your break-up.
“The Last Goodbye,” Jeff Buckley – With lines like “This is
our last embrace/must I dream and always see your face,” this one is for
when you’re in that sad, wistful stage of the break-up when just seeing her favorite cereal in the grocery store aisle is enough to make you curl up into the fetal position and cry until you can’t cry anymore.
“Movin’ Out,” Billy Joel - Okay, so maybe this one is more about Billy rebelling against the boug-y “two cars in every garage” version of the American dream. Musically, it’s one of those defiant, “Screw you guys, I’m outta here!” songs that can easily be adapted to your break-up. Particularly if you’re actually, uh, moving out.
“Use Me,” Bill Withers- A song for anyone coming out of a one-sided relationship who is tired of feeling drained and used up. Bill Withers cures everything.
“Leash,” Pearl Jam – This one works for me when I’m in the angry stage ’cause Eddie Vedder basically says, “Get out of my f–ing face” like fifty times. See also: “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)” by Motley Crue, Tom Petty’s “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” and Ugly Kid Joe’s to-the-point “I Hate Everything About You.”
“Change Clothes,” Jay-Z and Pharrell – This one is more personal, because it was popular back when I was going through a pretty rough break-up. But it worked for me, because it’s upbeat and reminds you that little things like buying a new wardrobe or getting a new haircut and getting out there really make all the difference.
“It’s Too Late,” Carole King – Save this one for when he calls you at 1am begging to take him back. In fact, print out the lyrics and keep them by your bedside.
“Love is a Losing Game,” Amy Winehouse - The whole album feels like one big break-up: Amy from her lover, Amy from the bottle, Amy from crack, Amy from reality, Amy from the public eye, etc. Man, what a gorgeous song. Come back to us, Amy. All is forgiven.
“50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” Paul Simon – While this one is more for the leaver than the leavee, it’s also a fun way to rewrite history after you’re dumped: make your own version of one of the song’s many puns by putting your ex’s name in the lyrics. For example, “Slip out the back, Jack” can be changed to “Goodbye forever, Trevor” or “Hope you get shot, Scott!”
“Cry Me a River,” Justin Timberlake - Do you think Britney really
cheated on Justin? Anyway, this song runs the gamut of break-up emotions, with sadness turning to anger and resentment, then back to sadness before you finally realize that there are no more tears to cry. Plus, it sounds like a lost Michael Jackson song.
“Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops),” Blu Cantrell – First of all, this song is awesome. It’s got this insane carnival-esque beat that I am shocked hasn’t been sampled fifty times over already. It’s also one of the greatest “f– you” break-up songs of all time, with Blu getting revenge on her cheatin’, creepin’ ex by maxing out his credit cards and blowing his cash on a Neiman Marcus shopping spree. Not the most mature response, but a great vicarious revenge song.
“Go Your Own Way,” Fleetwood Mac – Why is this one still the
ultimate break-up song? Because Fleetwood Mac members Stevie Nicks and
Lindsey Buckingham were literally breaking up while singing the song.
(And also doing massive piles of cocaine. It was the late ’70s, after
“In the Air Tonight,” Phil Collins – One of the saddest (yet also triumphant) songs of all time, written while Collins was going through a divorce. You know something’s coming, and it’s hopefully a better, less dramz-filled relationship. Plus, if that drum solo in the middle doesn’t get you pumped up and ready to find someone new, you might be a heartless zombie.
Bonus: “Breakin’ Up,” Rilo Kiley – The repeated chorus of “Ooh, it, feels good to be free!” pretty much sums up the moment when you realize it’s over, and you’re finally okay with it.
Bonus Michael McDonald smooth break-up jams: “I Keep Forgettin’” and “One My Own,” a duet which puts the listener in the awkward position of picturing Michael McDonald and Patti LaBelle doing it.
Runners-up: “Without You,” Harry Nilsson; “Idiot Wind,” Bob Dylan; “Not Crying,” Flight of the Conchords; “Jealousy,” Natalie Merchant; “Irreplaceable,” Beyonce; “He Stopped Loving Her that Day,” George Jones; “D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” Tammy Wynette; “Knock Loud,” Neko Case; “The Other Guy,” Little River Band; “I Will Survive,” Cake and Gloria Gaynor; “You’re So Vain,” Carly Simon; “Strong Enough,” Cher; “Miss Independent,” Kelly Clarkson; “You’re No Good,” Linda Ronstadt; “It’s all Over Now, Baby Blue,” Bob Dylan