After any relationship break-up, you’re going to need some songs to keep you company and drown out the voices in your head. Here are 14 favourites from around the Washington Post newsroom. Make a playlist and wallow / fist-pump / move on.
1. I Want to Break Free by Queen
For that moment when you know it’s time to leave. News aide Kara Elder says this song “would always seem to pop in my head right around the time I was growing tired of a relationship. (And I think it motivated me to break things off, too.)”
2. Let Him Fly by Patty Griffin
Reporter Sarah Halzack says Let Him Fly was her soundtrack for every break-up from primary school until she met her now-husband. “Her voice channels all your anger, sadness and resignation in equal parts. And the lyrics are just specific enough to conjure all your worst memories of the relationship, and just vague enough to allow you to project all sorts of personal meaning on them.”
READ MORE: * What song makes you saddest? * Fitting social media into your post-breakup narrative * Why the ‘semi-split’ is replacing the divorce
3. Don’t Speak by No Doubt
You think your break-up was bad? No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani and bandmate Tony Kanal split in 1994 – and then they went on tour singing songs about their split. Ouch. This one’s perfect for the denial stage of any break-up. Key lyrics: “Don’t speak / I know just what you’re sayin’ / So please stop explainin’ / Don’t tell me cause it hurts.”
4. Guilt Trip by Kanye West
Social media producer Tauhid Chappell listened to this song repeatedly after a break-up. “The last part of the song, where Kid Cudi croons, ‘If you love me so much then why’d you let me go’ always stuck to me because my ex said something similar as she clung to me when I said goodbye to her,” Chappell says.
5. One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later) by Bob Dylan
For when a break-up catches you by surprise and, at the same time, seemed inevitable all along. Key lyrics: “Sooner or later, one of us must know / That you just did what you’re supposed to do / Sooner or later, one of us must know / That I really did try to get close to you.”
6. You’ll Think of Me by Keith Urban
“‘Take your records, take your freedom, take your memories, I don’t need ’em’ is a brilliant bit of songwriting,” says reporter (and country music aficionado) Emily Yahr. “Plus, although the song is so bitter, you get the sense that the narrator would take back his ex in a second … and that’s a unique thing to get through in a song.”
7. Cracking by Suzanne Vega
When you’re ready to wallow, travel editor Nicole Arthur suggests Suzanne Vega. “This is not a restorative or empowering song, exactly,” she says, “but it’s perfectly suited to owning your self-pity.” Vega recorded this in 1985, but the opening lines – “It’s one-time thing, it just happens a lot” – are perfect for the Tinder age.
8. Everything I Do (Miss You) by Whiskeytown
Key lyric: “Don’t you ask me how I’m doing / when everything I do says I miss you.” Social media producer Gene Park loves the way this song “captures both that feeling of listlessness when your daily routine is thrown off track and also being taken aback at ‘let’s stay friends’ pleasantries”.
9. Your Ex-Lover is Dead by the Stars
Video producer Sarah Parnass says: “This song make me want to cry, but in a good, cleansing way. The cello gets me every time. It must vibrate on the same level as a broken heart or something.”
10. Portions for Foxes by Rilo Kiley
For when you’re toggling between anger and bargaining, Rilo Kiley is there for you and your misery of wanting to go back to someone even though you know they’re bad news. “I know I’m alone if I’m with or without you / But just bein’ around you offers me another form of relief.”
11. She’s Not Me by Jenny Lewis
The perfect break-up song for when you’re lolling around the house ruing your mistakes and hiding from the world – or for when you realise your ex has moved on first. Plus, the video is amazing.
12. Good as Hell by Lizzo
Lizzo is like that friend who will real-talk you into leaving a bad relationship and then will stick around to get you drunk afterward and check in on you the next day. “No one says ‘The only love I need is my own’ like Lizzo,” says science writer Sarah Kaplan. “All of her music is joyful, unapologetic, exhilarating – and this song in particular is so much fun. It articulates everything you need to remember when trying to get over someone: You are great. You are resilient. The world should be so lucky to include a person like you.”
13. I Will Survive by Cake
Cake’s version of I Will Survive is a favourite of copy editor Brian Cleveland’s “because it has part of the inspiration and hope of the Gloria Gaynor version, but with a lot more anger and swearing”. It covers the entire break-up progression – from not knowing how you’ll function without your ex to doing damned fine on your own, thanks. So just turn around now; you’re not welcome any more.
14. Triumph by Wu-Tang Clan
Ahh, yeah, that’s right – we’re on to the acceptance stage. “While sappy songs may help you wallow, at some point you just need to get on with it,” says pop culture writer Elahe Izadi. “It’s impossible to listen to this Wu-Tang epic and not get amped up.”