the best breakup songs for your post valentine's day heartbreak

Black Lake from Björk's new album is dedicated to her breakup with filmmaker Matthew Barney, with this in mind, we pay homage to the crushing pain of falling out of love and turning it into music.

by Hattie Collins
Feb 17 2015, 1:25pm

To listen to Black Lake, Björk's 10 minute musical meltdown at former beau Matthew Barney is to hear the breaking of a heart itself. Fitting really, considering Björk herself posted on Facebook that her new release, Vulnicura is a "heartbreak album". Guess the only thing hell hath more fury at than a woman scorned, is a songwriter. If you date a pop star, poet or writer, you better be prepared that your behavior will be dissected not only for years to come but by, potentially, millions of people. i-D looks at 14 albums that celebrate the crushing pain of being dumped…

Adele, 21
Adele's first major affair ended in a crushing of the cardiac when her older lover trod her heart into the dirt and stamped all over it. On the one hand, Delly was well dev'd. On the other, it led her to write 21, which singlehandedly saved the British music industry, won seven Grammy's, and was the making of an international star, who now is incredibly wealthy and these days is happily paired with partner Simon and their kid. So, you know, swings and roundabouts, swings and roundabouts.

The Streets, A Grand Don't Come For Free
Not only did Mike Skinner lose a grand (and then find it again down the back of the tele), he also won and lost love in the sublime follow-up to his genre-defining debut, Original Pirate Material. Over 11 succinct, perfectly executed tracks, Mike takes us through meeting Simone in JD Sports, cheating on her while on holiday (we'd venture Beefa or maybe Malaga), before finding out she'd been shagging Dan, his best mate, all along. At the end of the record, Skinner manages to turn himself from sad sack stuck on the sofa to picking himself up and getting back on it with his mates. One of the greatest British albums ever made, single Dry Your Eyes Mate is still the ultimate break-up tune to sob your heart out to while sliding dramatically down a door bemoaning your broken heart. Come on, we've all done it.

Amy Winehouse, Back to Black
Oh Amy. The off-on-off-on (ad infinitum) relationship of one of [op's most destructive romantic pairings (see also: Sid and Nancy, Kurt and Courtney) had many ups and downs; much of Back To Black is inspired by Amy and Blake's incredibly tumultuous and ultimately ill-fated relationship. "All the songs are about the state of my relationship at the time with Blake. I had never felt the way I feel about him about anyone in my life. It was very cathartic, because I felt terrible about the way we treated each other," Amy told Rolling Stone in 2007. "I thought we'd never see each other again. He laughs about it now. He's like, 'What do you mean, you thought we'd never see each other again? We love each other. We've always loved each other.' But I don't think it's funny. I wanted to die." Delivered with an equal mixture of wit and pathos, the brilliant, beautiful Back To Black would have been hard for Amy to top; we're just so sad that she never got to try.

Nas, Life Is Good
The original Jay and Bey, Nas and Kelis were hip hop's first golden couple. When New York's coolest kids got engaged, they laughed in the face of engagement rings, buying each other matching grills made by Paul Wall instead. Swoon. All, it was assumed, was well in the world of Mr. and Mrs. Jones. It wasn't. An acrimonious divorce and some quite public mudslinging followed, with Nas not only mentioning the break-up on 2012's Life Is Good but chose, as the artwork, an image of him clutching the green wedding dress in which Kelis married him. Oh dear.

The Antlers, Hospice
Sort of like the musical version of The Fault In Our Stars, but, lets be honest, a million times better, The Antler's third studio album is perhaps one of the most depressing ever created. Hospice is about the relationship between a hospice worker and a terminally ill cancer patient. Note use of the world terminal. Unlike in Hollywoodland this story has only one end and it's not too uplifting. Somewhat autobiographical and based on the experiences of the band's frontman Peter Silberman, Pitchfork noted its "power to emotionally destroy listeners." "I didn't believe them when they said there was no saving you", is the hopeful refrain of Kettering (Or Bedside Manner) before the Epilogue, also titled as Sylvia Alive In Nightmares. Oh dear. But was it based on real life or not? "It tells the story of a psychologically abusive relationship, some of which took place in a children's cancer ward. The record sort of drifts in and out of the hospital, which is true of the relationship itself. To an extent it's autobiographical, but I guess the best way to say it is that there's a few ways to lose someone," Silberman told Village Voice in 2009.

Fleetwood Mac, Rumours
There's little worse than breaking up with someone and then having to look at their stupid face at work every single day. Pity then, Christine and John McVie who not only had to get the bus in together (probably), but had towrite a whole album about the dissolution of their love. Awks. Recorded under 'tense' circumstances, Mick Fleetwood was also going through it with the break-up of his marriage, while Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were simultaneously enjoying a relationship best described as 'stormy'. The result was Dreams, Go Your Own Way and Songbird - written by McVie who had to watch her ex parade around a rebound chick at each session. Their losses were, of course, music's gain.

Justin Timberlake, Justified
At first glance JT's post N*Sync solo outing could be seen as an upbeat dedication to the club and chicks. But it so isn't. Rarely does a pop star of such status bare all, especially about the break-up with another very famous pop star. When Britney cheated on Justin, he went in. Like, really, really in. The uptown funk of Like I Love You and heart-wrenching ballad of Never Again were topped only by The Greatest Single Of All Time, Cry Me A River. And the video? Sorry Thriller, but The Greatest Single Of All Time was accompanied by The Greatest Video Of All Time. There was no coming back from this for Britney. RIP Justin and Britney and RIP Double Denim.

Alanis Morrisette, Jagged Little Pill
Ok, Ironic may, ironically, not contain the finest examples of irony, but whatever. You Oughta Know, written in response to Mozza's breakup with comedian Dave Coulier is a tear your hair out, let your pits grow to braidable level, drink 14 bottles of sharp white wine anthem.

Sam Smith, In The Lonely Hour
Like Adele before him, Smith can console his broken heart by taking comfort in his four Grammy's, 3.5million album sales and being BFF's with Mary J Blige, Rihanna and Kim Kardashian. If a manual existed detailing how to stick it to an ex (even one who wasn't an actual ex), it would probably contain be all of the above.

Coldplay, Ghost Stories
Tbh, we would never ever listen to a Coldplay album, but the Daily Mail reliably informs us that the latest offering from Chris and co. was based on his conscious uncoupling from Gwennie. We only hope that J-Law is providing some comfort - and perhaps a full fat fry-up - to Mr. Martin.

Bob Dylan, Blood On The Tracks
What's great about this album is that Bobby D - in a move that many of us can identify with - tried to pretend this album had nothing absolutely whatsoever to do with his ex-wife Sarah. No, no, it's actually all about Chekhov. No, honestly, really it is. Absolutely. 100%.

Kanye West, 808s & Heartbreak
It's hard to remember a time before Kimye, but believe us, there was. Before he became Mr. Kardashian, 'Ye had been the other half of fashion designer Alexis Phifer. The two were even engaged to be married. It wasn't to be of course, and the dissolution of that relationship, as well as the loss of his mother, was the basis for West's autotuned masterpiece. We definitely really don't want this to happen, but could you imagine the record would Yeezy make if ever he and Kim split.

Every Taylor Swift Album Ever
Don't go out with Tay-Tay if you don't want her to make a song about it. Cos she will. And it will be brilliant. And the whole world will sing along to it loudly all day, every day, and wonder what on earth was the matter with you that you could break a heart so pure and delicate and wonderful as Swift's.

Björk, Vulnicura
We'll leave the final word to Björk, with these words from Black Lake. "I did it for love, honored my feelings / you betrayed your own heart / corrupted that organ. Family was always our sacred mutual mission / Which you abandoned… You have nothing to give/ Your heart is hollow." Sing it sista!


Text Hattie Collins 

Valentine's Day
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break up songs
Black Lake
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