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My Favourite Break Up Songs

So it’s Valentine’s Day this weekend and as discussed in my last blog post I have been single for 5 years. So like many others out there I have no plans for Valentine’s Day…

EXCEPT my TV show, Love Fix, airs on Valentine’s Day at 10pm on ITV2 so please watch it!

Anyway… because I will not be all loved up this year I thought I would shake things up a bit and tell you about my favourite break up songs. Now even though I have been single for 5 years I have been dating and occasionally had my heart broken and I’ve gone through a few break ups in my teens as well. This isn’t a list of THE BEST BREAK UP SONGS EVER. These are my personal favourites. I hope this introduces you to some new artists and songs and that this blog introduces you to your next break up song that you listen to whilst crying.

Also, I will warn you now. My favourite genre of music is folk so most of these will be folky songs. That’s just my jam. Deal with it.

Ghost Town by First Aid Kit

This song is not only one of my favourite break up songs it is my favourite song. Ever. By my favourite band. Ever. This song basically epitomised my love life in 2011. It’s about loving someone but not being able to give your all to them and needing to follow a different path for the time being. It’s about promising to come back to that person eventually but knowing that by the time you’re ready to be with them they’ll probably have settled down with someone else. And it’s about asking that person to remember you fondly. It gets me right in the feels! And it’s just a beautiful, heartbreaking, simple song with stunning harmonies.

Canopies and Drapes by Emmy the Great

Emmy the Great is one of my favourite lyricists. She tells vulnerable stories through her lyrics that just tell it as it is and are very funny. Canopies and Drapes is an example of a perfect break song/story. The “character” is insanely heartbroken and doing all sorts of crazy things, drinking all the time, calling him at stupid hour in the morning. Then she’s singing about all the music she’s been listening to and wants to tell her ex about. It just brilliantly brings to life that feeling of being so alone and helpless, trying to cling on to any memory of the other person, noticing their absence, trying new things and eventually moving on.

New Romantic by Laura Marling

I love this song because it’s from the perspective of the dumper not the dumpee. If you’re the person on the receiving end of this song then it’s going to be pretty harsh to hear because it’s so blunt and honest but that’s why I love it. It doesn’t hold back. New Romantic is a song version of a book that’s written with an unreliable narrator. She’s selfish and messed up but she’s honest about it. Great break up song if you’re feeling generally fed up with love and confused by the whole thing.

Pretty Girl from Michigan by The Avett Brothers

Okay this song just makes me angry listening to it again now. It reminds me of a very specific person in my life. For me personally, it feels like this specific person is singing it to me and tearing my heart out at the same time. Just listen to the lyrics. It’s this guy basically saying “whoops I shouldn’t have said/done all those things because whoops you fell in love with me and whoops I don’t love you back and actually I didn’t really mean any of it and whoops now you’re crying soz lol”. But despite the personal connection I feel to this song it is a brilliant song. Especially because it’s not often an artist will write a song from the perspective of a nasty person, usually they want you to be on their side, but with this song you can tell the person singing it isn’t great and they blame the girl’s weakness for her heartbreak and not his own behaviour. Maybe I’m too close to this song and you get something else from it?

Well there you go. Four of my favourite break up songs for very different reasons. Sorry it got a bit personal at the end there but seriously listening to that song just brings it all back and I get very angry. What do you think of these songs? Had you heard them before? I’d love to hear what you think of them! Also, if you have any personal favourite break up songs please let me know in the comments!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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  1. Pretty cool songs – I liked the Laura Marling one particularly. I think if you look at it like going through the classic stages of grief, there are different songs that suit the different stages. I’m pretty ancient so there’ve been a LOT of songs for me over the ages, but for the angry stage there’s nothing better than “Everything Ends” by Slipknot (“You are wrong, f**ked and over-rated. I think I’m gonna be sick & it’s your fault. This is the end of everything. You are the end of everything…”) and “My Plague” (“I don’t mind being ogled, ridiculed, made to feel minuscule – when you consider the source it’s kinda pitiful!”) for when you’ve broken up with a really horrible person. When you’re feeling pathetic & grief-stricken & in the bargaining stage then Jacques Brel’s “Ne me quitte pas” (“Don’t leave me”) is the ultimate heartbroken song (subtitled version here: ). For when you’ve reached acceptance, there’s the likes of Soft Cell’s “Say Hello, Wave Goodbye”, Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and Nina Simone’s “Feelin’ Good”.

  2. Oh – just remembered: Amanda Palmer’s “The Killing Type” & (particularly for women going through a break-up) Chvrches’ “Leave A Trace”, which Lauren Mayberry described as the “nastiest, snidest song” and “a middle-finger mic-drop”, for break-ups where you positively do not want to be friends again ever.

  3. Distance by Andrew Jackson Jihad is my favourite songs about breaking up. The song that makes me remember a break up is bon iver perth, that song still breaks my heart a bit.

  4. Thanks for your list of songs! I’d never heard of any of those singers/bands, and now I adore Emmy the Great and “New Romantic.” And that last song is super harsh, but I like it because I don’t know any other songs like that. I can see why it would bring back some bad feelings, though.

    Have you heard Alkaline Trio’s “Love Love Kiss Kiss”? Even though I’ve been in a relationship the last 4 Valentine’s Days, I always play that song on VDay. The chorus goes: “So what? Love love kiss kiss. Blah blah blah. You’re making me sick. I wish you’d just stop showing off for the rest of us that no one wants to love.”

    And on the topic of Alkaline Trio, if you like break up songs, they have a ton. Including a hate song disguised as a love song. It’s called “Radio” and has the classic line: “I’ve got a big fat f**king bone to pick with you, my darling. In case you haven’t heard I’m sick and tired of trying. I wish you would take my radio to bathe with you, plugged in and ready to fall.” <<—- acoustic version since you like folksy stuff and Alk3 is generally not folksy at all.

    1. Ryan Adams “How Do You Keep Love Alive”, “she runs through my veins like a long black river and rattles my cage like a thunderstorm”, brutal…

  5. That last one… just listened to it for the first time and it reminded me of someone that hurt me so much i can’t deal with it. I want to cry and i’m filled with rage at the same time. And even then, i still a bit of love for him and it makes me even more angry.
    Thank you so much for sharing this songs! Greetings from Spain!

  6. I can see why you enjoy these songs! Especially the first one – it’s great! : ) I’ll be listening to that one a lot! I hadn’t heard any of these songs before. Thanks for the recommendations! : )

    I’ve never been in a relationship, so I’ve never broken up with anyone. I do like a few songs that are considered break up songs. I listen to one often (at least once a month) called Sunny Came Home by Shawn Colvin. It’s wonderful! It’s about a woman who gets fed up, gets the kids out, and burns the house down. Ultimate break up there! lol. I knew the song well before I ever watched the video, and I’d recommend you listen to it at least once before watching the video. It’s haunting to listen to Colvin sing it:

    A huge hit and popular break up song from when I was kid is You’re So Vain by Carly Simon. It makes me smile every time I hear it. If you’ve never heard it before, well, you should! Lol (The song is about several guys Simon dated, but she’s hasn’t named all the names yet.) I rarely listen to this song, but I do love it.

    Obviously, these songs don’t hold any personal significance for me as break up music. I just love them. I also love Dido’s Hunter. I listen to it regularly too. I feel very empowered whenever I hear it:

    Recently, I fell in love with Adele’s Hello. It’s everywhere on the radio now, so I won’t bother to post a link for it; I’m sure you’ve heard it. I stayed up and listened to it on repeat all night after hearing it the first time. It applies to many non-romantic relationships I’ve had, so it touches me on that level.

  7. Nice pics for all your favorite songs to work through emotional turmoil. You’ve made a new fan of First Aid Kit out of me!

    Since folky songs are your jam, I thought you might enjoy my favorite break up song, Rivers and Roads from the Head and the Heart. I once shared this song with someone I thought was starting a real relationship with, who returned the favor and got me the whole CD, and found it helpful when that relationship wasn’t what was promised. It’s a song about knowing how things will change, how you’ll miss them when the change happens, and the path you take before seeing them again. It’s thoughtful, a little mournful yet hopeful. It’s one of my favorites, and I hope you enjoy!

  8. On the subject of being lonely, and trying to bring back an old flame, or find someone, (this goes back years before you were born), is “Cupid,” by Sam Cooke.

  9. One of my favourite break up song is by Savages The answer. “if you don’t love me
    you don’t love anybody”. But Your list is good as well!
    Thanks for sharing.
    Love, Liliann from

  10. ‘Changer’ by Anais Mitchell is my all time favorite break up song. It’s so honest and can be related to from any perspective. It’s about how important it is to be honest about your emotions, but also about your relationship and why it ended. Being both honest with your ex and with yourself. I love it because she kind of says ‘this is awful and it feels awful but sometimes awful is okay and necessary and not forever’. She’s one of my favorite artists ever though so I might be biased.

    Another good one for when you’re just feeling stupidly angry at that person is ‘Bad day’ by Chiddy Bang. It’s so up beat and gentle but it’s about wishing lots of little irritating things on a person because they SUCK. UGH.

    Thanks for the post, I really enjoyed it! 🙂

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