Here are some of my favorites:
Sinead O’Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U
“Since you been gone I can do whatever I want
I can see whomever I choose
I can eat my dinner in a fancy restaurant
But nothing, I said nothing, can take away these blues”
This is probably, objectively, the best breakup song ever written. Prince, as a songwriter, boils heartache down to its simplest, most direct form via commonplace, universal descriptions, and Sinead O’Connor’s vocal performance is fittingly raw, direct, and devastating.
St. Vincent – All My Stars Aligned
“There are no signs / There are no stars aligned
No amulets, not a charm / To bring you back to my arms
There’s just this human heart / It’s built with this human flaw”
Effort, faith, hope, even genuine love aren’t enough to sustain the relationship discussed in this song. It’s a nuanced perspective on breaking up — devoid of self-loathing, and rejection – but tragic and fatalistic just the same.
Feist – Let It Die
“The saddest part of a broken heart
Isn’t the ending so much as the start
The tragedy starts with the very first spark
Losing your mind for the sake of your heart”
A song that makes you never want to fall in love again – its despair is so potent; its caution that happy memories themselves are the cause of misery. Feist really nailed it with this concise, but lyrically complex song.
Blur – No Distance Left to Run
“When you see me // Please turn your back and walk away
I don’t want to see you cuz I know the dreams that you keep
It’s where we meet”
Coxon’s guitar work (in terms of tone and voicings) and Albarn’s vocal textures evoke resignation and sadness.
Beck – Nobody’s Fault But My Own
“When the moon is a counterfeit
Better find the one that fits
Better find the one that lights the way for you”
Cryptic, longing lyrics during the verses find relief in the simplicity of the chorus which is peaceful and resigned.