The Huffington Post’s divorce channel is featuring a piece called “Divorce Songs: 7 Tunes Inspired By Splits.” Anybody who has ever gone through a split of any kind knows how important it is to have an arsenal of carefully chosen breakup songs at the ready to get through the cranky days and lonely nights that usher in the end of a relationship and the beginning of single life. HuffPo’s “divorce song” choices run the gamut of musical styles from country to soul to indie rock.
What they have in common, though, is that most of them were written post-divorce, during the time that one looks back mournfully from the other side on the sad truth of a disastrous relationship. Sorry, but if you’re currently in the midst of trying to extricate yourself from the hell of a broken marriage, that’s just not gonna do it for you.
The one exception to this model on HuffPo’s divorce tunes list is Usher’s “Papers,” which I’d never heard before today. True to Usher’s self-congratulatory style, even his divorce joint starts with his name being whispered by his crew, adding a tongue-and-cheek element of humor that every pathetic divorcee needs to keep alive in order to survive. “Papers” has an amazing groove and features lyrics like, “Who the hell argue and fight like dogs at 6 in the morning? I know it’s gonna be some more sh*t tonight.” Now that’s what I’m talkin’ bout! THAT’S a breakup song.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t think there isn’t a place for music about divorce itself in the divorce process; it’s just that I’ve found the music that was most cathartic for me on all three sides of my divorce (pre, during, post) fell into two broad categories: songs that raised a middle finger to the relationship I was just in, and songs that gave me hope about finding someone better in the future.
So, I offer you now a list of the albums and tunes I’ve worn out in the last two years, broken down into categories based on your emotional needs. YOU’RE WELCOME.
I’m angry, you jerk!
MIA – Paper Planes
Ben Folds – Song for the Dumped
Cee Lo Green – “Forget” You
Alanis Morrisette – You Oughta Know
Pat Benatar – Love is a Battlefield
Barenaked Ladies – The Old Apartment
Carrie Underwood – Before He Cheats
Kelly Clarkson – Since You Been Gone
This one is not really a breakup song, but it always helps to listen to Rage Against the Machine’s, uh, “Forget You” song, Killin’ in the Name Of. I once threw my back out listening to that in college.
I wanna be happy!
Jason Mraz – I’m Yours
Jesse McCartney – Leavin (Please. Sometimes I think Jesse McCartney literally saved my life. YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT’S GONNA HAPPEN, GUYS!)
Beyonce – Irreplaceable, Single Ladies (obvs)
Pink – So What
Kate Nash – Merry Happy (Apparently I need to get into Kate Nash further, because I just heard her song “Dickhead” for the first time and it’s amazing.)
Sara Bareilles – Love Song, King of Anything
Estelle – American Boy
Corinne Bailey Rae – Put Your Records On
Feist – 1234
She and Him – Why Do You Let me Stay Here
The Cardigans – Lovefool
Atmosphere – Sunshine
Frontier Brothers – Take It for Love
Paul Simon – 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover (Though that one can bring up some weird cheating issues so be careful!)
Razorlight – Who Needs Love
Natasha Bedingfield – Unwritten
The Rumble Strips – Girls and Boys in Love
The Wombats – Let’s Dance To Joy Division
For when you just want to bawl or be held:
Sade – Lovers Rock, the whole disc.
Stars – Your Ex-Lover is Dead
One Republic – Apologize
Adele – everything she’s ever recorded
Fergie – Big Girls Don’t Cry (don’t judge!)
Neil Young – The Way (OMG pleeeeeaaassssseeeee…….)
For when you want to pine/luxuriate in pain, feel lost and need hope/inspiration:
Keane – Hopes and Fears. Play the whole thing from start to finish, lather, rinse, repeat.
Kings of Leon – Use Somebody, Sex on Fire
Nothing at All – Air Supply (and as much 80’s hair music as you can handle, really.)
Ani Difranco – pretty much everything of hers, and this bee has recorded a lot of ess, but especially Evolve, which I consider her divorce album.
K’s Choice – Not an Addict (might as well face it, you’re addicted to love…)
I’m gonna add Sarah MacLachlan and the Indigo Girls to this list out of respect for my youth as a woman of the 90’s.
Ian Brown – On Track
Regina Spektor – Laughing With, Fidelity, probably everything she’s ever done…
The New Pornographers – Myriad Harbor (I don’t know why, I just love this song.)
Band of Horses – Lamb on the Lam
Dar Williams (her music is so ranging in emotional quality I could put some of her songs in every category, but some of her great divorce/breakup songs are Iowa, Spring Street, After All.)
Anything by Annie Lenox, especially “Why?” (WHY????!!!!!!)
And then you need a few songs specific to your breakup, of course. For me, one of the songs I still like to play when I come across it is Amsterdam by Peter Bjorn and John because my ex is Dutch. You might want to add a song about your city, or the city you/your ex lived in/will live in to your playlist. Or a song about a city that inspires you – for me, that’s Boston, and I love the song Boston by Augustana. Also, don’t be afraid to get music from friends and start listening to a bunch of new stuff when you go through a breakup. Most of the music on this list is stuff I got from a friend’s iTunes collection, which is just as well, since I hadn’t really paid attention to new music at all the entire time I was married.
Most importantly – don’t forget to just throw on the Top 40 station as you drive around crying/pack your boxes/clear your new/old place. After a while, it’s the tunes you’ll hear on that station that’ll make you feel sexy when it’s time to hop in the sack with someone else. My newest preferred jam? Hold It Against Me by Britney Spears. It may be trashy and tawdry, but you know what? I know how she feels when she says she needs a vacation tonight. After all, she’s a divorced single mother, too.
Other songs suggested by friends: The Who – I’m Free, Cake – I Will Survive and I’m Sick of You, Pink – U & Ur Hand, Billy Bragg – Valentine’s Day Is Over, Wilco – I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, Daniel Cirera – Why, Violent Femmes – Gone Daddy Gone, Elvis Costello – I Want You, Sleater-Kinney – Good Things, Julie London – Cry Me A River, Faith No More – Art of Making Enemies, Nas – If Heaven Was a Mile Away, Destiny’s Child – Survivor, Christina Aguilera – Fighter, (I’ll add Britney Spears – Stronger to that twosome, making it a perfect pop trifecta of emotional recovery), Toni Braxton – He Wasn’t Man Enough for Me, Kelly Clarkson – Never Again, Blu Cantrell – Hit ‘Em Up Style, Whitney Houston – It’s Not Right But it’s Okay and I Learned From the Best.
Please add your favorite breakup songs in the comments!
Source: Divorce Songs, Huffington Post