Music is universal and one style of song that can be found in any genre is sad love songs. After all, nothing mends a broken heart better than meaningful music. If you need a good cry or just feel a little heartbroken, we’ve got the best songs for you to really get deep into those feels.
We’ll look at music from artists ranging from Fiona Apple to Aretha Franklin to discover the healing quality of sad love songs. These emotional tunes allow you to feel “seen” and to know that you’re not alone in your sorrow. You might be going through a bad breakup or mourning the loss of a loved one or simply just have the blues. Whatever the reason, these sad love songs have got your back in a most beautiful way.
WARNING: Some of these songs are not censored and do use language that may be offensive to some.
Listen to These Sad Love Songs to Heal Your Heartbreak
“Unf*cktheworld” – Angel Olsen
This haunting ballad from Angel Olsen is a reckoning in realtime. The song ends with the lyrics “I am the only one now” repeated several times which feels like a meditative and resonate reality check for a person who finds themselves newly single or in need of a breakup.
“I Know” – Fiona Apple
A genius songwriter, Fiona Apple, has a knack for turning pain into beautiful art. In this song from her 1999 album When the Pawn, Apple seemingly sings about a relationship that feels stunted due to a partner’s inability to get over their last one. The song’s climax features the lyrics “I can’t help you out while she’s still around.”
“Why” – Annie Lennox
“I tell myself too many times / Why don’t you ever learn to keep your big mouth shut? / That’s why it hurts so bad to hear the words / That keep on falling from your mouth,” Annie Lennox croons in this ballad the mines the depths of mixed emotions at the end of relationship.
“I Can’t Make You Love Me” – Bonnie Raitt
“I can’t make you love me if you don’t / You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t / Here in the dark, in these final hours I will lay down my heart and I’ll feel the power / But you won’t, no you won’t,” Bonnie Raitt sings in this timeless classic.
“Normal Song” – Perfume Genius
In this ethereal ballad, Perfume Genius AKA Mike Hadreas, offers comfort in the most heartbreaking fashion. “If you go back out there / Comfort the man / Help him understand / That no floating sheet / No matter how haunting / And no secret / No matter how nasty / Can poison your voice / Or keep you from joy,” the final lyrics of this song advise.
“Two Slow Dancers” – Mitski
Mitski AKA Mitski Miyawaki spins gold in “Two Slow Dancers,” a song about growing apart in a relationship. “It would be a hundred times easier / If we were young again / But as it is / And it is / We’re just two slow dancers, last ones out,” the songwriter sings on the track.
“Wild Goose Chase” – Dark Dark Dark
A cover of a song that might be more popular than the original today, “Wild Goose Chase” by Dark Dark Dark is the perfect song for the end of something great about the heartache of searching for something new. “Don’t send me away / Don’t send me upon this wild goose chase / For freedom / For money / For love,” the song begs at its climax.
“Let It Die” – Fiest
“Let it die… / And get out of my mind / We don’t see eye to eye / Or hear ear to ear,” this powerful song from Feist opens. “The saddest part of a broken heart isn’t the ending so much as the start,” it continues. The lyrics in this gem are a revelation.
“what lovers do” – Hand Habits
Hand Habits is the solo project of Meg Duffy (who you will see supporting many other artists on tour as they are a most talented and beloved musician in the indie community). In “what lovers do” In the second verse, Duffy sings “Asking you a question, now the question seems so dumb / You thought I would not remember how I was so overcome / And cards are on the table but I can see right through / Now I know what lovers do.”
“Lonely” – Jamila Woods feat. Lorine Chia
“I could be crazy / But my crazy is my own (my own) / My own, my own / You think I’m crazy / I’ll be crazy on my own (my own) / My own, my own,” Jamila Woods sings in this haunting ballad and one of the very best sad love songs on this list. Coming to terms with your own self can be difficult when in a relationship. This song highlights the importance of individuality and independence even if that means a relationship needs to end.
“Melt Your Heart” – Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins
“It’s bound to melt your heart” is a repeated lyric in this’d love song that features a whole lot of wisdom. “When you’re kissing someone who’s too much like you,” Lewis sings. “It’s like kissing on the mirror / When you’re sleeping with someone who doesn’t get you / You’re going to hate yourself in the morning.” Truer words, right?
“Space Cowboy” – Kacey Musgraves
“You can have your space, cowboy / I ain’t gonna fence you in / Go on ride away, in your Silverado / Guess I’ll see you ’round again,” Kacey Musgraves sings in “Space Cowboy,” a song about the ending of a relationship.
“Night Shift” – Lucy Dacus
Lucy Dacus’ “Night Shift” contains some of the most biting lyrics of any of these sad love songs. A highlight on this track is “You got a 9 to 5, so I’ll take the night shift / And I’ll never see you again if I can help it / In five years I hope the songs feel like covers / Dedicated to new lovers.”
“Anyone Can Fall in Love” – Kindness
Kindness gives this tune, which is a theme from British TV show Eastenders, the earnest cover that the lyrics deserve. It’s one of the most hopeful sad love songs about learning to love again. “Anyone can fall in love / That’s the easy part, you must keep it going.” Or not.
“Between the Bars” – Elliot Smith
Just about any of Elliot Smith’s songs could be considered sad love songs. In this classic, Smith sings “People you’ve been before / That you don’t want around anymore / That push and shove and won’t bend to your will / I’ll keep them still.”
“Nothing Compares 2 U” – Sinead O’Connor
A cover of a song created by Prince, Sinead O’Connor adds such an emotive quality to this breakup song. “It’s been seven hours and fifteen days / Since you took your love away,” this song starts before it climaxes to repeat the title of the song.
“Kettering” – The Antlers
“Kettering” is the opening song for The Antler’s album Hospice. The entire album is a powerful meditation about loss but the first song proves its most potent.
“I Wish I Was the Moon” – Neko Case
“Last night I dreamt I’d forgotten my name / ‘Cause I sold my soul / But I woke just the same / I’m so lonely / I wish I was the moon tonight.” Neko Case sings with her crystal-clear voice on this emotional and infinitely relatable ballad.
“Me in 20 Years”- Moses Sumney
If you have not listened to Moses Sumney’s Grae album yet, do yourself a favor and get right to it. Arguably the best-known song from the release is “Me in 20 Years.” The song is a letter to Sumney’s future self wondering if circumstances have changed. “Hey, after all these years / I’m still here, fingers outstretched / With your imprint in my bed / A pit so big I lay on the edge / Will love let me down again?” this powerful song opens.
“Gone, Play On” – Russian Red
Spanish singer Lourdes Hernández González records under the name Russian Red and this fabulous song features some of the most endearing lyrics about unrequited love of all the sad love songs on this list. “This never ending song is scratching, scratching my brain / Like a vinyl in desire,” the song opens.
“Forget” – Twin Shadow
George Lewis Jr, known best to fans as Twin Shadow, released his album Forget in 2010 and the entire thing is an amazing reckoning following heartbreak. The Title song “Forget” features the lyrics “The winter sets in. / It has a way of crystallizing the bad times, the fevers, the heartaches / This is all of it, this is everyone I’m wanting to forget.” What a gut punch.
“Fear & Force” – Vagabon
Laetitia Tamko performs under the moniker Vagabon. On her incredible debut album, you will find “Fear & Force” a song that implores “Freddy” to return to the singer. “Freddy, come back, I know you love Vermont / But I thought that I had more time / We won’t go back, I know you love where you are / But I think I changed my mind,” the singer sings in the few final moments of this tender song.
“Ruby Falls” – Waxahatchee
Waxahatchee, the solo project of musician Katie Crutchfield, finds the artist returning to her southern roots in her magical album Saint Cloud. In the song “Ruby Falls,” Crutchfield sings “I tell this story every time / Real love don’t follow a straight line / It breaks your neck / It builds you a delicate shrine.” Whew!
“The Greatest” – Cat Power
Chan Marshall is best known to fans as Cat Power. In her mesmerizing song, “The Greatest,” she sings mysterious lyrics that seem to put a voice to the sadness you’re feeling. “Once I wanted to be the greatest / No wind or waterfall could stall me / And then came the rush of the flood / The stars at night turned deep to dust,” are the lyrics that open and close this intensely moving track.
“Skinny Love” – Bon Iver
Bon Iver (Justin Vernon) made waves with the release of “For Emma, Forever Ago” an album that seemed to capture all the heartbreak in the entire world distilled into just nine elegant songs. In “Skinny Love,” the singer sings “And now all your love is wasted / And then who the hell was I? / And I’m breaking at the breaches / And at the end of all your lines.” Yes, this song and album was recorded in a secluded cabin in the woods. The perfect place to recover from heartache.
“I Wish I Knew” – Sharon Van Etten
“I Wish I Knew” is a perfect song written by one of the most talented artists working today, Sharon Van Etten. In opening of the song, the musician sings “I wish I knew / What to do with you / But the truth isI ain’t got a clue” only to come to the conclusion that she “don’t know sh*t” later in the song.
“Will You Love Me Tomorrow” – Carole King
The woman behind many of your favorite songs from the sixties and seventies, Carole King wrote this standard about fleeting love decades ago but it still feels fresh today. “Tonight the light of love is in your eyes / But will you love me tomorrow?” she asks in this stunner.
“Every Little Bit Hurts” – Aretha Franklin
“Every night I cry, every night I sigh / Every night I wonder why / You treat me cold / Yet you won’t let me go,” Aretha Franklin sings in “Every Little Bit Hurts.” The rawness in the singer’s voice really makes this track a winning one.
“Hello” – Adele
Adele brings down the house in her ballad from 2015, “Hello.” “Hello from the other side / I must’ve called a thousand times / To tell you I’m sorry for everything that I’ve done / But when I call, you never seem to be home,” the chorus of this absolute tearjerker admits.
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“I Will Always Love You” – Whitney Houston
Apparently one part Dolly Parton and one part Whitney Houston is the formula for one of the best songs ever made. It’s nice to know that this mega-hit is always there for you when you need it. We’re pretty sure The Bodyguard can cure anything that ails you.
There you go! Though you might be going through a tough time, these sad love songs will never fail you. With songs and sounds from just about every genre of music, sad love songs can be found for any taste. We hope this list and the songs on it serve you well. Your heart will go on!
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
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