We lied. These songs are totally for the broken hearted, but the title (thanks, Jon!) was too good to give it a pass. Since you’re here already, you may as well indulge yourself in a little bit of sadness. However, if you don’t want to experience this on your own, we would encourage you to share it with a friend. The saying goes “The more people that are sadder, the better,” right? No? Whatever. Like anyone paraphrases correctly these days, anyway.
Let’s begin with A for abandonment issues… or Alicia Keys.
‘Sleeping With A Broken Heart’
Alicia Keys (The Element of Freedom, 2009)
All the tissue papers in the world could not absorb the tears we cry out while listening to this song. When she sings “Have you ever tried sleeping with a broken heart? Well, you could try sleeping in my bed,” — it’s the equivalent of pouring salt into an open wound because we’ve all been there. When someone tells us they don’t love us anymore or when the McDonald’s delivery dude says he can’t deliver to our area after midnight… Why would you hurt us like that, Ronald? Didn’t we have something special?
The Cure (Disintegration, 1989)
As romantic as this song is, there’s one thing we need to point out; the lyric in the third verse goes “Whenever I’m alone with you, you make me feel like I am clean again.” If the ‘clean’ in this context were pointing at sobriety, that’s sweet, but if Robert Smith meant it for hygienic purposes, then somebody better hand him a bar of soap because he needs showers, not lovers. We can’t be too sure as to what he meant because he looks like somebody who wouldn’t feel guilty for wearing 3-day-old eyeliner, so really, we’re just looking out for him.
‘Falling In Love (Is Hard on the Knees)’
Aerosmith (Nine Lives, 1997)
Aside from the sexual reference the title insinuates, this is quite a sad song (“I was a believer when you told me that you loved me, and then you called me someone else’s name”). Although it’s not just the knees we need to look out for, Steve. We also need to take care of our hearts, our bank accounts, our time, our mental health… so, when you think about it, is love really that worthwhile since it’s able to inflict such pain? Perhaps.
‘Love is a Losing Game’
Amy Winehouse (Back to Black, 2006)
… perhaps not. This song speaks to us on a spiritual level as we are too familiar with the odds of reciprocated love rarely being in our favour (“Love, it is a fate resigned, over futile odds and laughed at by the Gods”), this then creates a certain normality around losing everything that we love — like our drinks for example. We share the same curiosity as Captain Jack Sparrow who once asked, “Why is the rum always gone?” Or our dignities and sometimes our passports. Don’t ask us how it happened, just learn from our mistake.
‘I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Loved You)’
Aretha Franklin (I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Loved You), 1967)
Being single on Valentine’s Day is tough as the chances of you reminiscing about your previous lover is Snoop Dogg-high. So, if you feel the thoughts creeping through the window that is your mind, at least have a bit of soul for background music. Queen Aretha does not disappoint.
Elvis Presley (1960)
Who woulda thought that a man whose second skin was practically leather and had sideburns that were as wide as the bell-bottom pants he wore could make “You make me so lonely baby, well, I’m so lonely, I get so lonely I could die” sound like poetry. Elvis had one of the most iconic lines the world has had the pleasure of listening to — the man could’ve said anything and it would’ve sounded beautiful. Like him.
‘Blood on the Leaves’
Kanye West (Yeezus, 2013)
Sometimes we’re lucky to find a lifelong partner in this roller-coaster ride called Life, but before that happens, there’s usually a lot more situations of us being taken for granted than actually being taken care of. Kanye summarised it best in this 2013 masterpiece, “All want something out me, then they talk about me, would be lost without me, we could’ve been somebody, thought you’d be different ’bout it, now I know you not it, so let’s get on with it.” You get us, ‘Ye.
Childish Gambino (Kauai, 2015)
Let’s have a show of hands to know how many people can relate to the lyric “And now that’s it’s over, I’ll never be sober” — we’ll see you all at the next AA meeting. We’re kidding. Alcohol consumption is one of the finest distractions man created for himself — unless you’re an emotional drunk, in which case perhaps it’s better that you cry the feelings out instead of drinking it away. On another note, Donald Glover’s choreography in this music video made us wish our body coordination could be half as amazing as his.
‘Cranes in the Sky’
Solange (A Seat at the Table, 2016)
First of all, let’s address — again — the brilliance of Solange’s creative direction used to create A Seat at the Table. The visuals she captured were equally as beautiful as the lyrics she penned — although ‘Cranes in the Sky’ definitely takes up a bigger spot in our hearts in comparison to the other tracks. Perhaps it’s because she doesn’t try to mask her vulnerability; it’s raw and has a message that resonates well with anyone that’s been through a rough heartbreak (“I tried to drink it away, I tried to put one in the air, I tried to dance it away, I tried to change it with my hair, I ran my credit card bill up, thought a new dress would make it better, I tried to work it away, but that just made me even sadder”). This isn’t a song that prompts a session of ugly crying, instead it’s strangely therapeutic.
Frank Ocean (Blonde, 2016)
It would have been blasphemous had we not included Frank Ocean in a list such as this, no? This is an excellent example of a song that causes the listener to cry in an incredibly unattractive manner. Could it be credited to the poignant lyrics (“I care for you still and I will forever, that was my part of the deal, honest”) or Frank’s plaintive vocals? Whatever the reason may be, one thing we’d like to highlight here is; we hope he doesn’t go missing for another 4 years because we can’t roam freely without you, Frank.
‘It’s Only Love’
Bryan Adams featuring Tina Turner (Reckless, 1984)
Tina’s got the definition of love down. This is the same woman who pondered on what love had to do with it, here she is singing alongside Bryan Adams aka everyone’s favourite karaoke artiste — hello, ‘Heaven’. The two of them send a reassuring message that despite the agonising pain that love can sometimes cause, the world will keep turning and wounds will heal in time (“When your world has been shattered, ain’t nothing else matters, it ain’t over, it’s only love”). So, if you are feeling overwhelmed by the excessive PDA-type of posts on social media today, just remember, that it’s only love. That’s all.