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The 30 Best Sad Love Songs

Now that Hot Girl Summer has ended, we’re in the throes of Sad Girl Fall: peak time for being cold, sad, and cozy. Whether you’re going through a breakup, vibing in your room, or in need of a road trip playlist, here are the best sad love songs to get you deep in your feelings.


“My Little Love” by Adele

It’s #Adele30 season, so I’m going straight for the jugular with one of the most heart-wrenching songs on her post-divorce album. In this soulful, (almost) soothing track, she sings to her “little love” (her son, Angelo), about parting ways from his father and her guilt over the breakup. It includes real voice recordings between mother and son that are sure to send you into a full, heaving sob.—Erica Gonzales


“Godspeed” by Frank Ocean

Upon hearing that first chord alone, it is over for me. On this chilling track from his masterpiece album Blond, Frank Ocean sings about ending a relationship on good terms (“I will always love you / How I do” are the opening lines of the song) and still, it’s full of so much pain, emotion, wistfulness, and love that it’ll bring tears to your eyes anyway. James Blake’s version on the piano is just as devastating.—Erica Gonzales


“How Much Can a Heart Take” by Lucky Daye feat. Yebba

This collab between Lucky Daye and Yebba is a flawless, easy listen, yet it’s about the frustrations of loving someone who takes you for granted. They sing in the highly relatable pre-chorus: “Ooh, this shit is trash / I’ma give it right on back ’cause that’s what I’ve been gettin’ from you.”—Erica Gonzales


“Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)” by Aretha Franklin

Who hurt Aretha Franklin like this? In this lovelorn classic, the Queen of Soul is waiting for the phone to ring and tapping on her ex’s windowpane—and, TBH, we’ve probably done something similar for a certain someone.—Erica Gonzales


“Saving All My Love for You” by Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston is queen of sad love songs—no, love songs period—and while her famous “And IIIIIII” appears later on this list, this hit from about 10 years earlier is a worthy addition too. Also a cover (it was originally recorded by Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. in 1978), “Saving All My Love for You” just hits that feeling of wanting to give everything to a person everyone else says is bad for you.—Erica Gonzales


“Time” by Snoh Aalegra

Snoh Aalegra wrote this tender ballad about losing her father and not having spent enough time with him. Throughout the song, she repeats the line “I wish that time never mattered” over dreamy keys, with her comforting melody and raspy vocals. It’s a bittersweet reminder to hold the ones you love close and tell them you love them.—Erica Gonzales


“I Can’t Stand the Rain” by Anne Peebles

Anne Peebles’s ‘70s classic is captivating from that opening iconic riff. While it’s been remixed and sampled many a time, the original really captures that feeling of being reminded of your past loves by the little, unexpected things.—Erica Gonzales


“Happier” by Olivia Rodrigo

Olivia Rodrigo is just being honest: It’s right to wish your past lover the best, but it’s painful to see them better off without you. In this sweet but direct track from her stellar debut Sour, she sings in the chorus: “I hope you’re happy / But not like how you were with me / I’m selfish, I know, I can’t let you go / So find someone great, but don’t find no one better.”—Erica Gonzales


“Winterbreak” by MUNA

This early MUNA hit goes out to all the hookups/potential lovers that you can’t let go of but you know won’t end well. Stubbornly, you’re always down to give it another try, no matter how much it hurts.—Erica Gonzales


“Love Is a Losing Game” by Amy Winehouse

The kind of song you need for those moments when it feels like this whole “love” thing isn’t as great as everyone says it is. Amy Winehouse said it best: It’s a game you can’t win.—Erica Gonzales


“I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston

AND IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!! The sad love song to end all sad love songs, Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You” makes saying goodbye hurt so good.—Ariana Yaptangco


“All I Ask” by Adele

Adele co-wrote this piano power ballad with Bruno Mars (the guy who gifted us sad playlist classics like “When I Was Your Man” and “Grenade,”) so it’s no wonder that “All I Ask” slaps. Her vocals are pleading as the piano trills in the background: “What if I never love again?” she asks. Cue me crying.—Ariana Yaptangco


“We Belong Together” by Mariah Carey

Mimi said “We belong together,” dammit! This Mariah classic will have you screaming the final chorus into a hairbrush until your true love returns.—Ariana Yaptangco


“Ruin My Life” by Zara Larsson

So, you miss your toxic ex. We’ve all been there, and this bop from Swedish pop singer Zara Larsson is equal parts wistful and self-aware. “I want you to ruin my life,” she croons throughout the chorus, making listeners feel a little too seen.—Ariana Yaptangco


“Death by a Thousand Cuts” by Taylor Swift

Fans were pleasantly surprised to find a breakup song on Taylor Swift’s otherwise cheery album Lover. Swift told the Elvis Duran Show that she was inspired by Netflix’s romantic comedy Someone Great. “It’s a movie about how she has to end this relationship that she didn’t want to end because she’s still in love with the person but they just grew apart and he’s not a jerk,” she explained. “It’s just sad because it’s just realistic, time passed and now we’re different people and that is the most devastating thing.”—Ariana Yaptangco


“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” by Carole King

Carole King c0-wrote this song first released by The Shirelles in 1960, before recording her own version for her landmark album Tapestry in 1971. Slowing the tempo, King taps into the insecurities of falling in love: “Is this a lasting treasure / Or just a moment’s pleasure?”—Ariana Yaptangco


“Almost Is Never Enough” by Ariana Grande ft. Nathan Sykes

Everyone has an almost-ex: a person you never technically dated, but were involved with nonetheless. Situationships can hurt, and this duet between Ariana Grande and Nathan Sykes tells the story of a couple “so close to being in love.”—Ariana Yaptangco


“It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” by Céline Dion

Karaoke night simply isn’t complete without a passionate rendition of “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.” Bonus points if you try to reenact the iconic music video. Baby, baby, baby!—Ariana Yaptangco


“Irreplaceable” by Beyoncé

The official anthem for realizing your ex ain’t shit, Beyoncé reminds us you’re still That Bitch™, even after a brutal breakup.—Ariana Yaptangco


“Hopelessly Devoted to You” by Olivia Newton-John

Oh, Sandy. It’s hard to get over an ex, and Olivia Newton-John’s signature song from Grease knows that the heart wants what it wants.—Ariana Yaptangco


“When You’re Gone” by Avril Lavigne

I think about this song a lot. I also think a lot about what on earth I could’ve been going through at 13 to know this song word for word. But then again, any song with a music video that centers on a depressed elderly man mourning the loss of his wife is always going to make me cry.—Nerisha Penrose


“I’d Rather Go Blind” by Etta James

When Etta James said, “I would rather go blind, boy, than to see you walk away from me,” I felt that. No, not the “blind” part, per se, but the heartbreak and pain you hear in her voice as she sings about seeing a former lover move on with someone else. This is my go-to song when I’m knee-deep in my feelings and have no plans of turning back. How can heartbreak sound so good?—Nerisha Penrose


“It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” by Boyz II Men

Not sure if this classic Boyz II Men song was originally supposed to be a breakup song or the unofficial funeral anthem it quickly became over the years, but whenever it plays, the whole room is bound to shed a few tears.—Nerisha Penrose


“Unbreak My Heart” by Toni Braxton

You know the feeling when the water in your shower gets so hot and steamy that you pretend to be in a ’90s R&B music video? Yeah, Toni Braxton invented the act of singing in the shower when she released “Unbreak My Heart.” In the video, her boyfriend is the victim of a fatal motorcycle accident. She sings through her pain and cries in the shower, clenching the shower walls before hugging herself on the shower floor. R&B music really changed the moment singers stopped singing in the shower. Bring back dramatic R&B!—Nerisha Penrose


“Dreaming With a Broken Heart” by John Mayer

There’s regular heartbreak, and then there’s crying on your bedroom floor with your Lumira Primavera candle burning and John Mayer’s “Dreaming With a Broken Heart” playing on a loop.—Nerisha Penrose


“Jealous” by Labrinth

What do you do when the one you want to be with no longer wants to be with you? Listen to “Jealous” by Labrinth. It’s really the gorgeous piano arrangement at the beginning of “Jealous” that hits you first. Then, Labrinth’s velvety smooth vocals pour in and crushes your soul even more, as he sings, “It’s hard for me to say, I’m jealous of the way / You’re happy without me.”—Nerisha Penrose


“Gone Away” by H.E.R.

There’s nothing worse than a relationship without reciprocity. In “Gone Away,” H.E.R. sees the end of her relationship and is trying to do everything in her power to keep the romance alive, even though her significant other has seemingly checked out.—Nerisha Penrose


“The A Team” by Ed Sheeran

Are you really an Ed Sheeran fan if “The A Team” isn’t in your top five favorite Ed songs? The soft guitar strums and sparse melody is enough to put you in your feelings, and then you actually listen to the lyrics—Ed sings about meeting a girl who is homeless and addicted to drugs—and then all of a sudden, tearssssss.—Nerisha Penrose


“Wait For You” by Elliott Yamin

I can’t remember what fool broke my heart at age 13, but I do remember playing Elliott Yamin’s “Wait For You” for a week straight to help ease the pain—worst thing I ever did. “If you think I’m fine, it just ain’t true / I really need you in my life / No matter what I have to do, I’ll wait for you,” he sings, convinced his girl might return to him. We love a man who can admit his wrongs and express his feelings, and on “Wait For You,” Yamin really bares his soul.—Nerisha Penrose


“Goodbyes” by Jorja Smith

Every time I listen to Jorja Smith’s “Lost and Found,” I prepare myself for the emotional breakdown that will ensue when “Goodbyes” plays. We’ve all allowed our pride to keep us from texting or calling back, and “Goodbyes” is a reminder that tomorrow isn’t promised. So even “if you didn’t say your goodbyes / Don’t worry, love will power through.”—Nerisha Penrose

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