55 Best Sad Love Songs Of All Time

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55 Best Sad Love Songs Of All Time

When you're feeling sad, especially after a bad breakup, one of the things to help ease the pain is listening to sad love songs. Sometimes you just listen; other times, you sing along in your loudest and angriest voice.

Music is like therapy and helps us to get our emotions out so we can process them and, in time, deal with them rationally. It's much better to allow yourself to sit with your emotions, rather than deny them.

There are some sad love songs where both the music and the lyrics are heartbreak, while others have sad lyrics with an up-tempo beat, making you listen so you get the full intention of the song and feel what the musician is feeling.

Music gives us the ability to see ourselves and empathize with the people in the story of the song, after all.

Whether you're going through a breakup or are trying to get your emotions out, these 55 sad love songs are perfect for your playlist.

RELATED: 100 Sad Songs (With The Saddest Lyrics) That Will Make You Cry

These songs range from all different genres, and will touch your heart while helping you process your own feelings.

1. Sara Bareilles, "Manhattan"

Often in a breakup, you don't just lose the person that you loved, you lose the people in their life, the places you loved going to together, and the jokes you shared.

"You can have Manhattan

I know it's for the best

I'll gather up the avenues

And leave them on your doorstep

And I'll tiptoe away

So you won't have to say

You heard me leave"

2. Keane, "Hamburg Song"

We all want different things. Sometimes, people just want to be friends or to keep things casual, while others want a commitment. It can be challenging to find someone who's on the same page as you.

"No, don't wanna be the only one you know 

I wanna be the place you call home

I lay myself down

To make it so

But you don't want to know

I give much more

Than I ever ask for"

3. Celine Dion, "All By Myself"

You may think it's love you want, but it's that you can't stand to be alone. Being trapped in a toxic relationship isn't better than being single. Of course, Celine sings the heck out of that!

"Hard to be sure

Sometimes I feel so insecure

And love so distant and obscure

Remains the cure"

4. Ed Sheeran, "Way to Break My Heart"

Is it harder to have loved and lost, or to have never loved at all? If you've had a fantastic love, being without it can make the world look and feel very dark.

"How can I live without love?

How can I be what you want?

'Cause when the morning comes around

You're still gone and I'll say

How can I see through the dark?"

5. George Jones, "He Stopped Loving Her Today"

It's easy to say you'll love someone until the day you die, but it's much harder to keep that promise of love. This song is known as one of the saddest love songs ever written.

"He stopped loving her today

They placed a wreath upon his door

And soon they'll carry him away

He stopped loving her today"

6. Adele, "Hello"

Relationships are complicated, and we make mistakes that can never be forgiven or taken back. But that doesn't mean we don't try forgiveness.

"Hello from the outside

At least I can say that I've tried

To tell you I'm sorry

For breaking your heart"

7. Chris Isaak, "Wicked Game"

Getting used by someone you thought loved you is one of the worst kind of hurt a person can go through.

"What a wicked game you play

To make me feel this way

What a wicked thing to do

To let me dream of you

What a wicked thing to say

You never felt this way"

8. Drake, "Marvin's Room"

You can try to be calm when your heart is breaking, but your true feelings still reveal themselves.

"I'm just sayin' you could do better

Tell me, have you heard that lately?

I'm just sayin' you could do better"

9. Amy Winehouse, "Back to Black"

When we're hurting and we feel overwhelmed, we tend to rationalize and suppress our genuine emotions. We act like being alone was what we wanted all along. And every note that Amy sings is like a stab in the heart.

"We only said goodbyes with words

I died a hundred times

You go back to her

And I go back to black"

10. Luther Vandross, "Dance With My Father"

There are many kinds of love besides romantic love. The love you feel for your family is mighty. When you lose a parent, it can be devastating. 

"If I could get another chance

Another walk

Another dance with him

I'd play a song that would never end

How I'd love love love

To dance with my father again"

RELATED: 30 Best Songs For Lovers In Long-Distance Relationships (When You Miss Them So Bad It Hurts)

11. Halsey, "You Should Be Sad"

On the one hand, you need to have an open heart so that you're ready for love; on the other, be aware of the players out there who just want to use you and move on.

"No, you're not half the man you think that you are

And you can't fill the hole inside of you with money, drugs, and cars

I'm so glad I never ever had a baby with you

'Cause you can't love nothin' unless there's somethin' in it for you"

12. Brad Paisley & Alison Krauss, "Whiskey Lullaby"

Our actions have consequences, and one should always treat someone else's heart with care. If you need to break up with someone, be kind. You don't want to feel guilty about it for the rest of your life.

"She put him out like the burnin' end of a midnight cigarette

She broke his heart, he spent his whole life tryin' to forget

We watched him drink his pain away a little at a time

But he never could get drunk enough to get her off his mind"

13. Evanescence, "My Immortal"

It's impossible to get over someone when there are constant reminders of the time you spent together. Loneliness and heartbreak can be overwhelming.

"You used to captivate me by your resonating light

Now, I'm bound by the life you left behind

Your face haunts my once pleasant dreams

Your voice chased it away all the sanity in me"

14. Kesha, "Praying"

This song is about forgiveness and how Kesha got over a painful period in her life. But if it speaks to your life and your experience in different ways, that's the sign of a piece of art. It's what you get out of the song that makes it compelling.

"Well, you almost had me fooled

Told me that I was nothing without you

Oh, but after everything you've done

I can thank you for how strong I have become"

15. The Cure, "Pictures of You"

The Cure was emo before anyone knew what that was. As depressing as some of their songs could be, they remained somewhat hopeful about love. 

"I've been looking so long at these pictures of you

That I almost believe that they're real

I've been living so long with my pictures of you

That I almost believe that the pictures 

Are all I can feel"

16. Billie Holiday, "The End of a Love Affair"

When you're feeling blue and want to feel that sadness in your bones, turn to Billie Holiday. Every song on her "Lady in Satin" album will make you cry. Lady Day was a true artist, and her legacy remains strong.

"Do they know

Do they care

That it's only

That I'm lonely

And as low as can be"

17. Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper, "I'll Never Love Again"

Soundtrack albums like this one from A Star is Born often have great sad love songs that help the audience feel emotions more intensely. Besides, it's always fun to sing along with Lady Gaga.

"Don't wanna give my heart away

To another stranger

Or let another day begin

Won't even let the sunlight in

No, I'll never love"

18. The Fugees, "Killing Me Softly"

Some artists seem to know our stories without ever meeting us. It's as if they can see into our hearts and see the pain we've suffered because of love. This song has that ability and is extremely relatable.

"Strumming my pain with his fingers

Singing my life with his words

Killing me softly with his song

Killing me softly with his song

Telling my whole life with his words"

19. Eric Clapton, "Tears in Heaven"

Eric Clapton wrote this song after the death of his four-year-old son, Conor, who fell from a 53rd-floor window of a New York City apartment building. He has spoken about how music has always been healing for him and brought him much joy.

"Time can bring you down

Time can bend your knees

Time can break your heart

Have you begging please, begging please"

20. Bon Iver, "Skinny Love"

The end of a relationship isn't always dramatic and filled with intense emotion. It can be about drifting apart or not being emotionally fulfilled. A breakup can be quiet and calm, but still painful.

"Come on skinny love just last the year

Pour a little salt we were never here

My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my

Staring at the sink of blood and crushed veneer"

21. Toni Braxton, "Un-Break My Heart"

Some breakups are more painful than others, and there's no way to predict which ones are going to devastate you. You want to present as being healthy and not giving a damn, but you can't hold it together.

"Un-break my heart

Say you'll love me again

Undo this hurt you caused 

When you walked out the door

And walked out of my life"

22. Florence + The Machine, "The End of Love"

Everything combined in this song — the poetry of the words, the sound of the music, and the emotions of Florence — creates a beautiful and evocative sad song.

"And in a moment of joy and fury

I threw myself

In the balcony like my grandmother so many years before me

I've always been in love with you

Could you tell it from the moment that I met you?"

23. Bonnie Raitt, "I Can't Make You Love Me"

It's the time in the quiet night where you sometimes get clarity and realize there's nothing you can do to get your ex to love you again. It's a stark realization and can be even more painful than the breakup.

"Cause I can't make you love me if you don't

You can't make your heart feel something it won't

Here in the dark, in these final hours

I will lay down my heart and I'll feel the power"

RELATED: 11 Linkin Park Songs That Take On A Whole New Meaning After Chester Bennington's Suicide

24. Sam Smith, "Lay Me Down"

When you're heartbroken, it feels like you'll ever find love or happiness again. You hold on to any little scrap of love you can get from your love as they move further away out of your life.

"You told me not to cry when you were gone

But the feeling's overwhelming

It's much too strong

Can I lay by your side

Next to you, you

And make sure you're alright"

25. Robyn, "Dancing On My Own"

This song might be considered "dance music," but that doesn't mean it doesn't pack a powerful emotional punch. You can work out your feelings by singing and dancing along to this one.

I'm in the corner

Watching you kiss her, oh oh oh

I'm right over here

Why can't you see me? Oh oh oh

I'm giving it my all

But I'm not the girl you're taking home, ooh ooh ooh

I keep dancing on my own"

26. Al Green, "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart"

This is an example of a classic broken hearted song. You've heard it all over the place, including the movie Notting Hill.

"And how can you mend a broken heart?

How can you stop the rain from falling down?

How can you stop the sun from shining?

What makes the world go round?

How can you mend this broken man?"

27. Lorde, "Liability"

You never want to change yourself for another person, nor do you want to suppress your ideas, emotions, and opinions because you think you'll be better liked. Be yourself, and if the person you want can't appreciate you for who you are, move on.

"They say, 'You're a little much for me

You're a liability

You're a little much for me'

So they pull back, make other plans"

28. Dire Straits, "Romeo and Juliet"

We all want our love stories to be filled with passion, excitement, and to stand the test of time. But not every love story is a classic. Love can burn out, people can stop loving, and relationships can fail.

"I can't do the talk like they talk on TV

And I can't do a love song like the way it's meant to be

I can't do everything

But I'd do anything for you"

29. Bruno Mars, "When I Was Your Man"

After a relationship ends, we have a lot of time to look back on it and see everything that we did wrong. Regrets are powerful emotions, and sometimes making amends isn't enough.

"My pride, my ego, my needs, and my selfish ways

Caused a good strong woman like you to walk out of my life

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Now, I never, never get to clean up the mess I made"

30. Linda Ronstadt, "Someone to Lay Down Beside Me"

Linda had an incredible vocal range and evoked an intense emotional response from her listeners. The words and music are powerful in this song, and it's not just about sadness, but loneliness, too.

"Woman, sweet woman

Please come home with me

You're shining and willing and free

But your love is a common occurrence"

31. Beyoncé, "Sandcastles"

You may not have a heart if this song doesn't affect you. It's a profoundly emotional song from Beyoncé, and she doesn't hold back. Of course, she can kill a power ballad.

"Dishes smashed on my counter from our last encounter

Pictures snatched out the frame

B****, I scratched out your name and your face

What is it about you that I can't erase, baby?"

32. Gotye, "Somebody That I Used to Know"

One of the things I find hardest about a breakup is how everything changes — one minute they're in your life and the next they're gone. Staying friends is challenging and can just make things confusing if you're not ready to move on.

"But you didn't have to cut me off

Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing

And I don't even need your love

But you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough"

33. Sinéad O'Connor, "Nothing Compares 2 U"

There's so much emotion and subtext in this, it's like a whole movie instead of a song. The combination of a Prince song and her vocals is powerful and can cause the most unemotional among us to cry.

"It's been seven hours and fifteen days

Since you took your love away

I go out every night and sleep all day

Since you took your love away"

34. Radiohead, "Creep"

You feel unique and lucky when the person you love, loves you back. But when that love disappears, all your insecurities and fears can come out. You wonder if you'll ever be loved again.

"When you were here before 

Couldn't look you in the eye

You're just like an angel

Your skin makes me cry"

35. Taylor Swift, "Sad Beautiful Tragic"

When you've been cheated on or betrayed, it's challenging to forgive them and go back to how things were before the infidelity. 

"And time

Is taking its sweet time erasing you

And you've got your demons

And darlin' they look like me"

36. Dolly Parton, "Jolene"

Having a partner who flirts with everyone is terrible enough, but when you know they're obsessed with someone else, that's tough. How can you compete with a fantasy, and should you have to? 

"He talks about you in his sleep

And there's nothing I can do to keep

From crying when he calls your name


RELATED: 50 Songs About Loneliness To Help Get You Through The Tough Times

37. Coldplay, "Fix You"

Love sucks, especially you lose the person you thought was "the one." All your hopes and dreams were tied up in this one person, and now it's all over.

"When the tears come streaming down your face

'Cause you lose something you can't replace

When you love someone but it goes to waste

What could be worse?"

38. Lana Del Rey, "Cruel World"

One way to get over someone quickly is to find somebody else. Make sure your ex knows that you're doing fantastic and that you never think about them.

"I shared my body and my mind with you

That's all over now

I did what I had to do

I found another anyhow"

39. Joni Mitchell, "Both Sides, Now"

The original singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell has been the inspiration of many of our favorite artists. She's a poet, an artist, and an activist. One thing about her songs is she leaves room for each person's interpretation.

"I've looked at love from both sides now

From give and take and still somehow

It's love's illusions that I recall"

40. Sufjan Stevens, "Blue Bucket of Gold"

It's not that he has the saddest lyrics or music, but the combination is devastating. Not just this song, but many of his songs speak to the pain of love, loss, and struggle.

"My blue bucket of gold

Friend, why don't you love me?

Once the myth has been told

The lens deforms it as lightning"

41. From Hamilton, "It's Quiet Uptown"

You'll find some of the saddest love songs in musicals. In Hamilton, this song deals with a family in crisis. Can love continue after the death of a child, infidelity, and other tragedies?

"There are moments that the words don't reach

There is suffering too terrible to name

You hold your child as tight as you can

And push away the unimaginable

The moments when you're in so deep

It feels easier to just swim down"

42. Pink, "Just Give Me a Reason"

Breakups can be confusing, especially when they come out of nowhere. You thought you were happy, you thought you'd be together forever, and suddenly everything has changed.

"Just give me a reason

Just a little bit's enough

Just a second we're not broken just bent

And we can learn to love again

It's in the stars

It's been written in the scars on our hearts"

43. Paul McCartney, "For No One"

Let's take a ride in the wayback machine and go back to the 1960s. This song still holds up and will bring you all the feels. Having someone fall out of love with you is forever painful.

"And in her eyes you see nothing

No sign of love behind the tears

Cried for no one

A love that should have lasted years!"

44. Tori Amos, "Northern Lad"

Tori Amos is a musician who tops the list of people we want to listen to when we're going through a painful breakup. Her voice is pure emotion, and it's hard not to be moved by it.

"You don't show much these days

It gets so f***in' cold

I loved his secret places

But I can't go anymore"

45. Roberta Flack, "Jesse"

Sad songs don't have to be loud to affect you. In this classic song, Roberta Flack starts very quietly. The song is intense, raw, and real. The pain of the song feels personal because we feel as if we've been there.

"Jesse, come home

There's a hole in the bed

Where we slept, now it's growing cold

Jesse, your face and the place where we lay

By the hearth, all apart, it hangs on my heart"

46. The Dandy Warhols, "We Used to Be Friends"

Yes, this was the theme song of Veronica Mars, but that doesn't mean it isn't a great song. The feelings we have when a friendship ends can be just as intense as when a relationship ends. 

"A long time ago

We used to be friends

But I haven't thought of you lately at all

If ever again"

47. Solange, "Losing You"

A multi-layered song that speaks to the heart with an excellent groove. Solange is continuously being compared to her sister, Beyoncé, when she's a brilliant musician and performer on her own!

"Tell me the truth boy

Am I losing you for good?

We used to kiss all night

But now there's just no use

I don't know why I fight it

Clearly, we are through

Tell me the truth boy

Am I losing you for good?"

RELATED: 15 Heartbreaking Lana Del Rey Lyrics About The One Who Got Away

48. Pearl Jam, "Last Kiss"

Pearl Jam took a classic tune from J Frank and the Cavaliers (check out the original) and made it their own. It's a song of teenage love, death, and destruction done with Pearl Jam's distinctive spin.

"Oh, where oh where can my baby be?

The Lord took her away from me

She's gone to heaven

So I got to be good

So I can see my baby

When I leave this world"

49. Demi Lovato, "Stone Cold"

You want to be happy for your ex when they find happiness and love, even if it kills you. If you're not in a place where you can be in a relationship, you can't expect the other person to put their life on hold.

"Stone cold, stone cold

You're dancing with her

While I'm staring at my phone

Stone cold, stone cold

I was your amber

But now she's your shade of gold"

50. The 1975, "Somebody Else"

It can be terrifying to be vulnerable, so there are times when we're in pain that we try to act cool, so we look as if we're fine and that our heart isn't breaking.

"I just don't believe that you have got it in you

'Cause We are just gonna keep 'doin' it'

And every time I start to believe in anything you're saying

I'm reminded that I should be getting over it"

51. Rihanna, "Stay"

Ballads tend to make the best sad love songs, and this song is no exception. It's heavy on the piano, tear-inducing lyrics, and Rihanna showing her vulnerability in every note.

"Not really sure how to feel about it

Something in the way you move

Makes me feel like I can't live without you

It takes me all the way

And I want you to stay"

52. Elton John, "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word"

There's a reason why Elton John has been on the charts since the 1970s — he and his musical partner, Bernie Taupin, are influential songwriters. Their songs hold up, and they have several songs perfect for when you just want to feel your sadness.

"What have I got to do to make you want me

What have I got to do to be heard

What do I say when it's all over?

And sorry seems to be the hardest word"

53. Alicia Keys, "Why Do I Feel So Sad"

People grow apart all the time, and friendships end. We should be able to handle it, but there are times when it's painful, especially when that friend betrays you and breaks your trust.

"So why do I feel so sad?

You cannot hide the way you feel inside

I realize

Your actions speak much louder than words"

54. Elliott Smith, "Oh Well, Okay"

The late singer/songwriter Elliott Smith knew how to strip a song down to its purest emotions. In this song, he's looking at old photos and trying to figure out why his relationship didn't work out. It's simple enough, but you can feel the emotion just under the surface.

"Couldn't figure out what made you so unhappy

Shook your head to say, no, no, no

And stopped for a spell

And stayed that way

Oh well, okay"

55. Wilco, "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart"

The tighter you try to hang on to a person, the harder they'll fight to get away. You can't force someone to love you again, and it only makes things sadder when you try—one of the classic sad love songs.

"I'd always thought that if I held you tightly

You'd always love me like you did back then

Then I fell asleep and the city kept blinking

What was I thinking when I let you back in?"

RELATED: 50 Empowering Breakup Songs (To Help You Feel Happy It's Finally Over)

Christine Schoenwald is a writer and performer. She's had articles in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, and Woman's Day. Visit her website or her Instagram.