Most of us have been there before: we've either felt the hurtful sting of being broken up with or faced the unpleasant task of having to break up with someone. And after the break-up comes the heartbreak; the empty feeling in the pit of your stomach, the feeling of hopelessness, lack of will to carry on. But if you're in that spot right now, there's hope. Not only does go on, but plenty of other people have been in the same situation and lived to tell about it. Or better yet, sing about it. In fact, some artists like Mary J. Blige, Ne-Yo and the late, great Amy Winehouse, to name a few, are known for their woeful tales of heartbreak. And the songs on this list represent some of the better modern day and classic songs about being brokenhearted.
This song, which was the second single off Ne-Yo's second album, Because of You in 2007, is a tale of a man going through some serious emotional trauma because he still hasn't gotten over his ex and can't get her off his mind. The lyrics take the form of a letter he writes to his former love, who's just had a child with another man and is now engaged: "Swear that I'm not tryin' to start no trouble, Tell your fiancee he can relax, I'll leave you alone for good I promise, There's a question I just gotta ask," he sings. "I just wonder, Do you ever think of me anymore? Do you?"
Sade Adu hasn't been someone whom you'd associate with '70s hard rock band Thin Lizzy, but that changed with her band's tender, wistful remake of the Lizzy's "Still in Love With You," which appeared on a 2011 Sade best-of collection. Key lyrics: "Think I'll just fall to pieces If I don't find something else to do, This sadness never ceases, I'm still in love with you."
The main highlight on Fantasia's 2010 album Back to Me is the first single, "Bittersweet," during which 'Tasia agonizes over a former lover whom she can't get out of her mind or heart, even though he treated her poorly: "Part of me wants you, part of me don't/part of me is missin' you, part of me is gone," she sings.
On this doo wop-style song, Mayer sorrowfully laments how he let his woman get away and how much he needs her back in his life. Key lyric: "When I saw you last night, it brought back memories to life/Of how we used to love one another, so sad we didn't go any further."
'Not Gon' Cry,' Mary J. Blige
Believe it or not, the first-person lyrics in this tale of a brokenhearted wife were written by a man: singer-songwriter Babyface. A taste of the lyrics: "While all the time that I was loving you, You were busy loving yourself, I would stop breathing if you told me to, Now you're busy loving someone else, Eleven years out of my life, Besides the kids I have nothing to show, Wasted my years a fool of a wife, I shoulda left your ass a long time ago."
Toni Braxton's finest moment as a singer came when she managed to reach the lowest of lows emotionally on this song. The lyrics, which are about wanting someone begs a former lover to come back and undo the pain they've caused. Toni's rendition was so powerful that in 1997 it won a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
Alice Russell, one of the UK's finest Soul singers, released this gem about having a hopelessly broken heart in late 2012. "Now I know when hearts are broken, that with time they heal, or so they say," she sings. "But this hold on me, I'm choking just to breathe, another kiss I pray."
As Ne-Yo demonstrates here, it doesn't get more real - or sad - than not changing your answering machine message so that you can still hear the voice of the person who broke your heart when they moved out. "I'm so sick of love songs so sad and slow, So why can't I turn off the radio?"
Not all broken heart songs have to be completely down in the dumps, something that Jazmine Sullivan reminds us on this delightfully wicked song about getting revenge on a cheater. Or as Jaz puts it in the song's opening lyrics: "I bust the windows out your car, And no it didn't mend my broken heart, I'll probably always have these ugly scars, But right now I don't care about that part."
'How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?,' Al Green
The title says it all; this is the kind of song that you want to listen to while drowning your sorrows in a bottle of scotch. Painful though the song is, it's also arguably the most shining moment in Al Green's long, glorious career. It was actually the Bee Gees recorded this song first, but Rev. Al did it best.