If you read our story on break-up songs that released this past decade and went to No 1, your mind might be cataloguing all the other epic break-up songs you’ve come across. No matter what generation you belong to — or what your relationship status is (yes, ‘forever single’ and ‘always the third-wheel’ count) — you probably have a couple of timeless tracks that you always go back to. We put together 30 of our top picks.
1. Fleetwood Mac – Go Your Own Way (1976)
Guitarist Lindsey Buckingham wrote this about vocalist Stevie Nick — and the two recorded it together.
2. Boyz II Men – End of the Road (1992)
‘End of the Road’ made history on the charts and is considered one of the most successful songs of all time.
3. Alanis Morisette – You Oughta Know (1995)
Speculated to be about Dave Coulier, aka Uncle Joey from ‘Full House’. Last year on Andy Cohen’s show, Morisette continued to keep mum.
4. No Doubt – Don’t Speak (1995)
Another inter-band split: Gwen Stefani wrote this about her ex — and No Doubt’s bassist — Tony Kanal.
5. Toni Braxton – Un-Break My Heart (1996)
Braxton’s heart-wrenching number about begging your loved one to stay was at No 1 for 11 weeks.
6. Natalie Imbruglia – Torn (1997)
A cover of Ednaswap’s song, ‘Torn’ is still Imbruglia’s most successful release to date.
7. Lauryn Hill – Ex Factor (1998)
Home to this chilling lyric: “No one loves you more than me, and no one ever will.”
8. Cher – Believe (1998)
‘Believe’ took six years to make and it was a group effort, involving seven songwriters (including Cher) and two producers.
9. Kelis – Caught Out There (1999)
Produced by The Neptunes, the instrumental track was meant for Busta Rhymes, who turned it down.
10. 112 – It’s Over Now (2000)
Ellie Goulding interpolates this R’n’B tune about your SO acting shady on her track ‘We Can’t Move To This’.
11. Justin Timberlake – Cry Me A River (2002)
Timberlake reportedly wrote the song after becoming upset when he saw ex Britney Spears at a concert and she brought up his name.
12. Kelly Clarkson – Since U Been Gone (2002)
‘Since U Been Gone’ was written with Pink in mind — and offered to Hilary Duff — before it made its way to Clarkson.
13. Usher – Burn (2004)
Billboard Hot 100 Songs of the Decade named it the 21st most successful song of the 2000s.
14. The All American Rejects – Gives You Hell (2008)
While it reads like a break-up song, it’s actually a catch-all song for anyone you can’t stand.
15. Gotye – Somebody That I Used to Know (2011)
Gotye (ft Kimbra) was a one-hit wonder, but ‘Somebody…’ is still one of the best-selling digital singles of all time.
16. Bon Iver – Skinny Love (2011)
Later covered by Birdy — both versions charted — ‘Skinny Love’ is about being in a relationship for all the wrong reasons.
17. Drake – Marvins Room (2011)
‘Marvins Room’ features Drake drunk-dialling his ex-girlfriend and lamenting his loneliness.
18. Adele – Someone Like You (2011)
‘Someone Like You’ — Adele’s second No 1 in the US — is the fourth best-selling single of the 21st century.
19. Rihanna – Stay (ft Mikky Ekko) (2013)
Rihanna broke Whitney Houston’s chart record with ‘Stay’, which became her 24th song to be a Top 10 hit.
20. Justin Bieber – Where Are U Now (2015)
Bieber puts it all on the line for someone who doesn’t reciprocate his love.
21. Gnash (ft Olivia O’Brien) – I Hate U, I Love U (2015)
How it feels when both parties are struggling to move on.
22. Little Mix – Shout Out to my Ex (2016)
The only thing better than one person calling out their ex is four people doing it at once.
23. Charlie Puth (ft Selena Gomez) – We Don’t Talk Anymore (2016)
Apparently, Gomez recorded her vocals in Puth’s closet in a session that lasted about 15 minutes.
24. Shawn Mendes – Mercy (2016)
‘Mercy’ is about that repeat offender who keeps breaking your heart.
25. Robyn – Dancing on My Own (2018)
This retro track will make you feel like the invisible heroin in a 1980s romantic film.
26. Juice Wrld – Lucid Dreams (2018)
Juice Wrld’s most famous hit before his untimely demise, the brutal ‘Lucid Dreams’ will be around for a long time.
27. LANY – If You See Her (2018)
Widely believed to be about Paul Klein’s ex Dua Lipa, ‘If You See Her’ is about passing on a message to your former love.
28. Sam Smith – How Do You Sleep? (2019)
Co-written by hit-maker Max Martin, ‘How Do You Sleep?’ is about spiralling at the end of a relationship.
29. JP Saxe (ft Julia Michaels) – If The World Was Ending (2019)
A heartbreaking song about two ex-lovers who imagine returning to each other for one last day as the world comes to an end.
30. Dua Lipa – Don’t Start Now (2019)
Coming after her break-up with Isaac Carew, ‘Don’t Start Now’ is about cutting off someone and letting them know you’re happily getting on with your life.