Top 10 Breakup Songs - Guitar World

Top 10 Breakup Songs

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It's a widely held belief that grieving comprises five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

But no one said you have to suffer these in silence. The next time you’re left lonely and ready to burn those photos of your ex, add these tunes to your pyre playlist.

It might not take off the sting, but at least your neighbors won’t hear you sobbing.

10. “Have a Drink On Me,” AC/DC

Remember the days before your relationship? Staying out late, carousing with pals, waking up who knows where with who knows whom? Dust off your favorite shirt (the one your ex hated), and call up the thunder from down under. You’ve gone through the trenches of heartache; heed the advice of your Aussie rocker friends. It’s time to cut loose. Just be sure to leave your cell phone at home. You’ll be out with everyone you need to be with, and you don’t need the drunk-dial temptation.

09. “Everybody Hurts,” R.E.M.

How to finish getting over someone: Step one, get an acoustic guitar; step two, perform this song; step three, repeat as needed. Who knows? Your sensitive, acoustic fiddling might even catch the attention of someone new.

08. “Estranged,” Guns N’ Roses

One of the Use Your Illusion set’s epic tracks, there’s no real chorus or structure. Much like your life post-breakup. With motifs all over the place, the only consistency is Slash’s torch-through-butter tone. Axl’s vocals say a lot about the desperation of loneliness, but Slash is the anchor here. Now you know why most guitarists sleep with their axes.

07. “Dear Lover,” Social Distortion

You could write a cathartic letter to your ex, seeking closure, but it will likely turn into a pathetic, tear-stained plea for return. Better leave things in the hands of professionals, like the aplomb Mike Ness. Ness’s stoic vocals and driving guitar offer the most painful lesson of love: it sucks, but you soldier on.

06. “Don’t Know What You Got,” Cinderella

Dig back to the days of big hair and spandex (seriously, lots of spandex). The fashion may be dated, but those Eighties’ rockers knew a thing or two about love, hence the power ballad. Though often overlooked for chart-toppers like “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn,” and “I’ll Be There For You,” Cinderella’s gem off Long Cold Winter contains one of the most profoundly simple refrains in all of rock. Plus, Tom Kiefer’s voice sounds how you feel: torn, guttural, and edgy.

05. “I Hate Myself For Loving You,” Joan Jett & the Heartbreakers

It’s inevitable; that anger is going to turn inward. You know you’re in safe company, however, when even the high priestess of rock can relate to your woes. By the end, you’ll wish you wrote the song, just so you could play it outside your former lover’s window. At the least, you can air guitar to Mick Taylor’s blistering solo – and go ahead and sing along; you deserve it.

04. “Mistreated,” Deep Purple

No matter what happened, it’s your ex’s fault. Listen to Richie Blackmore bend, pull, and twist his Strat in all manner of bluesy wails while David Coverdale responds in tormented kind. The studio version is found on Burn, but for the truly despondent, go for the extended live cut from California Jamming. Blackmore’s guitar sounds like Cupid dying.

03. “Battery,” Metallica

In the immortal words of Howard Beale, “you’ve got to get angry!” It’s an essential part of the grieving process. Preferably, you’ll want a heavy bag with your ex’s picture taped to it. Put on the opening track from Master of Puppets and let James, Kirk, and the boys take it from there. Just remember in real life there are restraining orders, so keep your ire limited to punching bags and heavy metal.

02. “On Every Street,” Dire Straits

Though the title-track off Dire Straits last album may not be an overt lament, its sentiment is perfectly apt for the longing and desperation following heartache. Guitarist Mark Knopfler carried a knack for clever, read-between-the-line lyrics throughout the band’s career, so it’s not surprising that while “On Every Street” may describe the vain efforts of a detective, we get the “face” he’s looking for is more than just a missing woman. The blistering pedal-steel crescendo at the end brings it all to a powerful climax.

01. “Love Song,” The Cure

Nigel Tufnel called D minor the saddest of all keys. A minor is a close second. And in the hands – literally – of The Cure’s perennially morose guitarist and frontman, Robert Smith, it captures the biting agony of love, unrequited or not. You may be lost, confused, in absolute mental disarray, but you’d be hard-pressed to find better empathy than Smith and company’s only top ten hit.