10 Best Break-Up Songs

By Lauren DuBois,

While love songs are the norm this time of year, and are my favorite kind, there’s something special about the other songs out there. If half of the songs in the world are love songs, the other half are the anti-love songs: the ones about regret, broken hearts, and angry exes.

Break-up songs have their own special place in my heart: they’ve been there for every time a guy wasn’t. The thing that makes them so great is that there are break-up songs for every stage of the grieving process after a relationship ends: the ones that help us cry, the ones that help us scream, and then, the ones that remind us that someday we will move on and find someone else, someone better. Because of these reasons, these songs are just as special as love songs. So for those who are single, no matter what state of single-dom you’re in, this Valentine’s Day, here’s a list of ten great Break-Up songs to help you through it:

10. “7 Things,” by Miley Cyrus (2008; Pop rock, pop punk; Written by Miley Cyrus, Antonia Armato and Tim James; Produced by John Fields)

This song, long presumed to be about Cyrus’s then recent-ex Nick Jonas, is a perfect song for the young girl who has just been dumped. Cyrus herself said in interviews about the song that she was going through so many different emotions at the time she wrote it, and the song reflects that—the anger that makes you feel like you hate everything about that person, and the fact that your hatred of them also inspires a feeling like you may love them all the more. In short: breaking-up is confusing.

Lyrics that make it a great break-up song: “The 7 things I hate about you…You’re vain, your games, you’re insecure, you love me, you like her. You make me laugh, you make me cry, I don’t know which side to buy. Your friends, they’re jerks, when you act like them just know it hurts. I wanna be with the one I know. And the 7th thing I hate the most that you do…You make me love you.”

9. “Picture to Burn,” by Taylor Swift (2008; country, country rock; Written by Taylor Swift, Liz Rose; Produced by Nathan Chapman)

Another song that captures post-breakup anger perfectly is the fourth single released from Taylor Swift’s debut album. Known for her songs about her broken heart after each one of her relationships, this was Swift’s first one to express the anger she felt. Inspired by the nature of a man Swift never actually established a formal relationship with, it does however express the anger of a woman scorned.

It stands today as one of Swift’s only songs written along this vein, as her tone and style has changed as her career has evolved over the years. The overall message of this song: don’t mess with a girl and break her heart—you’re going to regret it one day.

Lyrics that make it a great break-up song: “And if you come around, saying sorry to me, my daddy’s gonna show you how sorry you’ll be…and if you’re missing me, you’d better keep it to yourself, ‘cause coming back around here would be bad for your health.”

8. “Cry Me a River,” by Justin Timberlake (2002 pop; Written by Justin Timberlake, Timothy Mosley, and Scott Storch; Produced by Timbaland)

Inspired by Timberlake’s very public failed relationship with fellow pop singer Britney Spears, and was the second single from Timberlake’s debut solo album post NSYNC. About a brokenhearted man who can’t accept his own past, the song has been covered and sung by numerous other artists over the years, including Leona Lewis, Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez. It’s the perfect song for the person who just hopes that their ex will start feeling an ounce of the pain they did. The overall message of this song: One day, you’ll miss me like I missed you—but I won’t care.

Lyrics that make it a great break-up song: “You told me you love me, why did you leave, all alone? Now you tell me you need me, when you call me, on the phone. Girl I refuse, you must have me confused, with some other guy. Your bridges were burned, and now it’s your turn, to cry, cry me a river.”

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