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Top 10 Breakup Songs

By Edited Apr 27, 2015 1 0

A friend of mine recently settled her divorce.  It was neither an unexpected nor tragic event - quite the opposite.  She had long since fallen out of love and the divorce gave her a newfound sense of freedom to explore new opportunities.  To celebrate, she threw a party and asked that I put together an "optimistic" playlist to mark the occasion.  In reviewing a number of "he-done-her-wrong" songs, I put together a list that I now want to share.  If you ever find yourself looking to celebrate a break-up, then this is the list for you.

10. I'm Still Standing (Elton John)

Why this song? Most Memorable Lyric
This is a surprisingly upbeat break-up song with a pretty catchy refrain.  My friend is a fan of 80's music and is a fan of Elton.  The key message in this song is that eventually life will return to normal and you will be able to move forward without dwelling on the past.  
Don't you know I'm still standing
better than I ever did
Looking like a true survivor,
feeling like a little kid
I'm still standing after all this time
Picking up the pieces of my life
without you on my mind

9. Hit the Road Jack (Ray Charles)

Why this song? Memorable Lyric
This one is a little corny but everybody knew the words and could sing along.  In this song, Ray Charles' partner is kicking him out of the relationship for several reasons.  My friend's husband was horrible with money, so the line to the right was very funny.
...you ain't got no money you just ain't no good...

8. Smile (Lily Allen)

Why this song? Most Memorable Lyric
This was Lily Allen's biggest hit and was released in 2006.  This song is about a cheating boyfriend who is caught, then tries to get back together.  The thing I like most about this song is that it captures the guilty pleasure of seeing an ex- falling on hard times. I was so lost back then
But with a little help from my friends
I found a light in the tunnel at the end
Now you're calling me up on the phone
So you can have a little whine and a moan
And it's only because you're feeling alone

7. Hot Stuff (Donna Summer)

Why this song? Most Memorable Lyric
RIP Donna Summer.  She was a superstar during the disco heyday of the 1970's and passed away earlier this year after a battle with cancer.   This is a fun and playful song about finding a one night stand.  It is not totally on target within the 'break-up' genre, but it does get people onto the dance floor.  Lookin' for some hot stuff baby this evenin'
I need some hot stuff baby tonight

6. I am Woman (Helen Reddy)

Why this song? Most Memorable Lyric
This song has become the unofficial anthem feminism, and by extension, divorced women in the 1970's.  Helen Reddy sings of becoming stronger through sacrifice and having the internal resolve to face all challenges.  It is a call to action to have the internal strength to rise up and move forward.
Oh yes, I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to
I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman

5. Part of Me (Katy Perry)

Why this song? Most Memorable Lyric
This is a new release from Katy Perry and coincides with her major motion picture release of the same name.  This song hit my radar after watching her perform it at the 2012 Grammy Awards.  Like most songs on this list, this song is about summoning the resolve to move forward after a failed relationship.  There are hints of abuse in the lyrics - perhaps I am reading too much into the words. 
But your not going to break my soul
This is the part of me
That your that your never going to ever take away from me

4. You Oughta Know (Alanis Morissette)

Why this song? Most Memorable Lyric
If Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman" was the anthem for 1970's feminism, this song was the 1990's equivalent for scorned women.  This is a disturbing, shocking and honest song that struck a vein and helped to launch Alanis's career in the 1990's.   The lyrics detail the raw anger of a betrayed lover whose ex- has moved onto a new relationship. Alanis's passionate vocals are truly unforgettable.

Note: Some lyrics are not appropriate for younger listeners.

And I'm here to remind you
Of the mess you left when you went away
It's not fair to deny me
Of the cross I bear that you gave to me
You, you, you oughta know

3. Bad Romance (Lady Gaga)

Why this song?
Most Memorable Lyric
I have tried to avoid songs about being in a relationship, but this song's account of being involved in an unhealthy relationship seems appropriate.  This is an uptempo song with strong drum beats that kept the crowd on the dance floor.  
I don't want to friends...
I want your love, and I want your revenge
You and me could write a bad romance

2. I Will Survive (Gloria Gaynor)

Why this song?
Most Memorable Lyric
This song was released in 1978 and has long been considered the consumate break-up recovery song.  It details the progression from devastation through to recovery after a difficult break-up.  I have long considered this the Number 1 break-up song, until I first hear the new Number 1 song...
It took all the strength I had not to  fall apart
Kept trying hard to mend  the pieces of my broken heart
And I spent, oh, so many nights just feeling sorry for  myself
I used to cry
but now I hold my head up high

1. Forget You (Cee Lo Green)

Why this song?
Most Memorable Lyric
Is there not a more honest account for how you feel after a break-up?  There are two versions of this song - the one shown above and a less appropriate version that is easily found on YouTube.  I recognize that this song is from a male perspective, but the sentiment is totally fitting. 
And although there's pain in my chest
I still wish you the best with a...
Forget you!

All things considered, this playlist set the atmosphere for a very lively and fun party.  One of the funnier parts of the evening was when my recently-single friend's girlfriends all presented her with a copy of 50 Shades to help her get her mojo back.

I would be interested to hear your take on this list, particularly if there were any obvious songs that I may have overlooked. 




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