No matter what kind of breakup pain you’re experiencing, whether an unexpected sting or seething burn, music is the perfect salve for all of our most mucous-y emotions. You loved that guy, but now you hate that girl…whether by your own choice or someone else’s, your future’s now unwritten, and that’s fairly terrifying considering you two share a cat. A young cat. But we’re here to help with some songs that should help you to either purge your torment or take solace in the fact that others have shared its intensity. So avoid your roommates, slam your bedroom door and blast these tracks as your tears form Rorschach blots of misery into your pillow.
The “Why are you doing this to me?” breakup
The xx – “Heart Skipped A Beat”
The Streets – “Dry Your Eyes, Mate”
It’s three months later, and you haven’t left your bed except to re-up on fast food and tissues. Everything still feels as raw as that first moment, when all your plans for a happy future together were replaced with a lot of spontaneous crying and popcorn chicken. Both the xx and Mike Skinner have dealt with the sting of recent heartbreak, and though it will probably ease with time, there’s always a chance it won’t, too. Psst, hey Mike. The breakup might have something to do with the tracksuits. Aren’t you like, 34, or something? Get wit’ it, man.
The “Get out of my life!” breakup
R. Kelly – “Real Talk”
The White Stripes – “There’s No Home For You Here”
Don’t come around here anymore, don’t talk to me, don’t even bother picking up your leftover stuff. You’re being an asshole, and I never ever want to see your pizza-butt-stuck-up-no-trust-horse-patooty face again! R. Kelly’s going to hit you up with some real talk: You’ve been with him for five years and this is how you treat him? He hasn’t done anything wrong, he clearly loves you and is not a horn dog, nor has he ever had predilections as such! Jack White on the other hand has already taken down all of the pictures of you and him, stuffed your clothing into a garbage bag, smashed that little sculpture you made of him wearing a poncho and thrown it all along with the remains of your love into a fiery pit in the backyard. Perhaps a bit drastic (now you have to buy a new wardrobe), but the man is sad, give him a break.
The “It’s not over till it’s over” breakup
The Rolling Stones – “Wild Horses”
Cake – “She’ll Come Back To Me”
You’ve been dumped, but your heart of hearts tells you that this isn’t the final chapter. Do you say to hell with the restraining order, she just wants attention? Or do you kick up your feet, microwave some leftover popcorn chicken, and just wait for her to come knocking down your studio apartment door? The Stones want you to steel your resolve and make your better days happen, no matter what a piece of paper says. Cake prefers the timeless, palatable cocktail of complacent denial. Just remember: Love is not a decent criminal defence. In fact it’s probably the worst one.
The “I’ve made a huge mistake” breakup
Pulp – “Don’t You Want Me Anymore”
The National – “About Today”
Well, this is completely embarrassing. I genuinely thought I would be fine without you. I was planning on working out, maybe even following my passion of becoming a famous chef for the stars, but instead I am just fatter and make Kraft dinner for every single meal. I want you back for good, baby. Oh, what’s that? Oh, you’re really busy with another dude? Oh, that’s cool. No, no. I understand. Jarvis Cocker is being laughed out of town for thinking you’d ever want him back, so thanks for that. And Matt Berninger, well he’s pretty sure he did something wrong, but you’re so vague and obtuse and open ended that it could literally be anything! Is this about leaving the oven on all night? It was an accident, God! He’s sorry!
The “There’s someone else” breakup
Prince – “The Beautiful Ones”
Girls – “Saying I Love You”
Being left for someone else casts you into the treacherous, unnavigable seas of what-does-he-have-that-I-don’t-have in a leaky skiff of self-doubt and popcorn chicken as your woeful navigator. You’re left searching for definitive answers where few exist. It might be in her capricious nature, or maybe she just needed someone who wasn’t quite so near to insane (the Girls song and the Prince track, respectively). As you might expect, Prince doesn’t gel with idea of another man besting him, and lets loose a banshee’s wail that’s in no way mournful. In fact, it almost pities her. However, the object of Christopher Owens’ affections wants him back, but his hands are bound by the gravity of her betrayal. It’s a tune that’s hayseed doleful and California dreamin’ all at once.
The “I’m not the person I wanted to be” breakup
Feist – “The Bad In Each Other”
Kanye West – “Runaway”
Wow, what happened to me? I look in the mirror and see a different person, someone I don’t like. Usually I look like Paul Rudd—handsome, funny, charming, in the hit film Knocked Up. Now I’m just actually some dumb slob who hasn’t accomplished anything and just sits around watching Knocked Up on Blu-ray every day. You bring out the worst in me, the bad in me, as Feist would say. We’re just not on the same wavelength and what you say just gets me ticked off. Kanye West just knows that he’s not a good person generally speaking (and wants to change), but in the meantime he advises you to just leave now, before he embarrasses you in front of all of your friends by saying something like, “I’m gonna marry you, Kim Kardashian.”
The “I tried so hard and got so far/but in the end it doesn’t even matter” break-up
The Beatles – “She’s Leaving Home”
Moonface – “Quickfire, I Tried”
“She’s Leaving Home” is the kind of song that everyone listens to post-breakup, the one that seems to spell out exactly how you’re feeling until the second verse, and then you stop whispering the words till the chorus. Both songs depict strained, one-sided relationships, but where do the problems lie? Are they things we cannot change about ourselves or the other person? Or maybe watching cartoons and eating popcorn chicken five nights a week was driving her insane, and she escaped for something fresher. Like all-white meat breast fillet.
The “Staring outside the backseat of your father’s car” break up
Sun Kil Moon – “Moorestown”
Wilco – “Radio Cure”
Standing at the edge of the wooden porch, you stare at him packing the last of the boxes and placing them into the trunk of the car. His father plants his rough hand on his shoulder, ushering him towards the backseat. Looking out the window, hands clawing, the car slowly drives off and you run after it—your sandals flinging off your feet as you run as fast as you can, eventually clinging onto the vehicle with all of your might, overturning it and commandeering it so that you and your love can drive to Mexico. Sun Kil Moon and Wilco know that relationships are predicated on actually hanging out together—sometimes your career, your love of the beach, or your dad force you to move from those you love. And the distance hurts.
The “This breakup won’t last and we both know it” break up
The Jackson 5 – “Never Can Say Goodbye”
2pac – “Do For Love”
There are arguments every day, and the threat of affairs are constantly looming. You break up once a month, and you’re starting to suspect it’s for the great make-up sex. But when he’s not around, everything’s scary, bland, and foreign. 2Pac would call you “a sucker for love,“ Michael Jackson says “It’s the same old dizzy hangup / Can’t do with you or without” So what are you going to do, leave? Please. Only thing for it is to try and suppress that needling voice inside your head with louder, literal screams over the most petty things you can think of. Like whether or not popcorn chicken would be improved with a zestier breading.
The “This was a long time coming, honey” break up
Sloan – “A Long Time Coming”
Velvet Underground – “Pale Blue Eyes”
Beating a dead horse called love, you stay with your significant other because it’s easier to be complacent than to move on. But finally, with a slight smile and a handshake, you end something that’s been over for so long that you have issues feeling bad about the whole thing. If you ask Sloan to put it into words, they’ll just literally tell you that this break up has been a long time coming, with a bluntness that’s as painful as it is honest. And Lou Reed can’t stop thinking about your lingering blue eyes and understands that you and him aren’t meant to be, but god damn does that suck. Well, at least now you can move on, maybe take some classes so you can become a sous chef, or something.