Reference Couch: Breakup Songs

The Reference Couch

In Which A Librarian Tries to Solve Your Personal Problems with Literature

Q: My BFF just went through a dramatic breakup and she’s really mopey. Also, I don’t really want them to get back together since he’s a jerk. What are some good breakup songs that will make her get over him already?

A: BFFs with jerk BFs are the worst. You probably want to dance around her singing Walking on Sunshine by Katrina & The Waves. But keep in mind, everyone needs some time to sit around in their pjs, eating Doritos and watching High Fidelity (does that sound too specific?) and just be sappy until they feel okay again.

Tom from our Sight & Sound department is providing you with a Top 10 list of Breakup Songs your pal can listen to until they figure out that they will survive (and maybe even be better off). And I’ve taken the liberty of providing “liner notes” for some of my favorites…


1. “Heard It Through the Grapevine” BY Marvin Gaye ON What’s Going On (Marvin had WAY more personal problems than one little old breakup “going on”. Read this intense biography of him, but only if you want to cringe every time Sexual Healing comes on the radio for the rest of your life.)

2. “You Oughtta Know” BY Alanis Morissette ON Jagged Little Pill (This song has special significance to me. I listened to it on repeat for the entirety of my 8th grade winter break because my boyfriend broke up with me after I’d already spent my allowance on his Christmas gift. He still oughtta know.)

3. “Somebody That I Used to Know” BY Gotye ON Making Mirrors

4. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” BY Joy Division ON Left of the Dial Dispatches from the 80’s Underground

5. “I Will Survive” BY Gloria Gaynor ON Billboard Top Hits, 1979 (Duh. And also “Fire” by the Pointer Sisters is on this album and it’s a great song. The Sisters don’t really sing about breakups but they sing a lot about what they will and will not accept from a partner, which your friend might need a lesson in. Basically, they want someone with a Slow Hand that will Jump for their love.)


6. “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” BY The Righteous Brothers ON Anthology 1962-1974

7. “Someone Like You” BY Adele ON 21 (Adele is the best for crying and lip-synching.)

8. “Kiss and Say Goodbye” BY The Manhattans ON The Best of The Manhattans

9. “Scientist” BY Coldplay  ON A Rush of Blood to the Head (For the conscious uncoupler.)

10. “I Will Always Love You” BY Whitney Houston ON Bodyguard Original Soundtrack (Ok, I take back what I said what about Adele. Whitney reigns supreme for crying and lip-synching.)

Tom also added some hidden tracks from albums you might not think of as breakup soundtracks:


11. “Delilah” BY Tom Jones  ON American Hustle Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

12. “I’m Not In Love” BY 10cc ON AM Gold 1975 (And maybe sneak in a little Linda Rondstadt singing “You’re No Good” while you’re at it. )

13. “I Hear You Knockin’” BY Smiley Lewis ON Rocks (I hear you knockin’, but you can’t come in. Ever. Go away.)

Photo Credit: Featured images by talented graciehagen via photopin cc

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