Is it sadness hour again? Okay, so it's absolutely no secret that the last
two three years have been the most depressing in recent history, and that's me being generous. We get like... maybe a week of good news if we're lucky and then things get bad again. Not to mention that even when life goes on, you can still experience loss and heartbreak. First there's disbelief. Then there's anger. But after those two intense emotions fade away, then comes sadness (and there's more than enough of that to go around these days).
In short: You, my friend, are in need of a good cry. Instead of doom-scrolling social media, let's talk to some songs about it. And the good news? You don't even need to search Spotify, inevitably stumbling across two to three mediocre sad-girl playlists minimum*, because we have one riiiight here that's 100 percent tested and guaranteed to make the tears flow. So draw the curtains, curl up under the covers with your favorite stuffed animal, and have a packet of Kleenex at the ready—these 61 sad songs are about to take you on an emotional, sob-filled rollercoaster ride.
"hope ur ok" by Olivia Rodrigo
Sour is full of teenage rage anthems... and then all of a sudden in the last track, she becomes a geriatric millennial sipping wine scrolling Facebook and thinking about the friends she lost touch with. It's so sad. It's so sweet.
"New Year's Day" by Taylor Swift
You: Please don't ever become a stranger whose laugh I would recognize anywhere.
"Rainbow Connection" by Kermit the Frog
Why is this tiny green muppet making me CRY????? I'm kind of enamored with secretly depressing songs that you might not know are sad unless you really listen to the lyrics. This is one of the best. It's a sad sneak attack.
"Tracks of My Tears" by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
This one goes out to all the depressed extroverts out there and the popular and/or perpetually happy kids who are hurting inside. Burnt out from putting on a brave face? Belt this song out.
"See Her Smile" From 'tick, tick... BOOM!'
This song from the off-Broadway musical tick, tick...BOOM was not included in the 2021 film, and yes I will be forever bitter that I never got to hear Andrew Garfield go full emo with this one. But I digress. It's a sad song about how you feel helpless when someone you love is hurting and you can't do anything about it.
"Baby Mine" From 'Dumbo'
There are a lot of sad Disney songs, but this lullaby takes the cake.
"Stormy Weather" by Etta James
Etta James is one of the most indulgent, emotional performers. She's perfect for wallowing in your biggest feelings. Even "At Last," her most famous song, sounds sad even though it's technically a happy song. But "Stormy Weather" is for sure sad. It's the musical equivalent of a big, healing cry session.
"The Boxer" by Simon and Garfunkel
This song's for when you're sad but like... functioning enough to go journal in a coffee shop in the hopes it makes you feel better.
"Not a Day Goes By (Reprise)" by Stephen Sondheim
The late composer was known for writing show tunes that hit our most sorrowful emotions with razor-sharp precision. But while you may know "Send in the Clowns" or "Being Alive" (thank you, Adam Driver), I want to call out a deeper cut. This song is about the moment you realize it's actually really effing hard to get over someone. That specific pain is the worst.
"Stay" by Rihanna feat. Mikky Ekko
Bringing out the big guns, obviously. Chances are you've cried to this song *at least* once, don't even lie.
"Say Something" by A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera
Literally rip my heart out and throw it on the floor because I cannot deal with how gut-wrenching this iconic duet is. Reduce me to a puddle, why don't you!
"Small Bump" by Ed Sheeran
You've heard "The A Team," and yes, that one was beyond sad. But Ed singing from the perspective of a couple who suffered a miscarriage? That's next level sad.
"Buy the Stars" by MARINA
Perhaps one of the most underrated pop stars of our generation (and that is no exaggeration), MARINA is excellent at delivering music that pulls on your heartstrings. "Buy the Stars" is no exception—try to keep your composure at the 2:40 mark, I dare you.
"Old Money" by Lana Del Rey
Lana has a way of putting even the baddest of bitches in their feelings. I mean, how could she not when she sounds like an actual angel descending from the heavens while singing this tearful ballad? Asking for a friend.
"I'll Never Love Again" by Lady Gaga
If you're like me, hearing this at the end of A Star Is Born left you a soppy, wet-faced mess in the back of the theater. Won't spoil it for those who have yet to watch, but uh...yeah, you'll be messed up for
days weeks months after the end credits roll.
"26" by Paramore
For those though days in your 20s where life is unexplainably hard and you desperately crave the sweeter, carefree moments of your childhood. 😞
"Stay" by Miley Cyrus
We included "Stay" in our list of Miley's best songs for a reason (because it slaps). It was criminally underrated then, is criminally underrated now, and deserves your sad girl energy more than ever.
"Lithium" by Evanescence
The geniuses behind "Bring Me to Life" and "My Immortal" created yet another golden track to accompany your existential dread. The push and pull of fighting with your sorrows? Now that's what I call Relatable™.
"Ruby" by Foster the People
"Happiness ain't free/ Everybody fights just like me" honestly hits real different after a 3 a.m. weeping sesh.
"Casanova" by Allie X
Poured the entirety of your soul into a person who chewed you up and spit you out? This song is exactly what your exhausted heart needs.
"everything i wanted" by Billie Eilish
It would've been waaaay too easy to put "when the party's over" on this list, but Billie's voice in this track sounds like her chest is tight from holding back a sob, and that's enough to let the tears flow.
"Love in the Dark" by Adele
Let's be real—you came to this list with the full intention of seeing Adele make an appearance. Ask and you shall receive.
"The Scientist" by Coldplay
Sure, "Fix You" might be the iconic Coldplay staple that people always flock to, but "The Scientist" demands just as much respect, 'mmkay? (FYI: It sounds even sadder after your third—fourth? fifth??—glass of wine.)
"Falling Short" by Låpsley
Hmmm, guessing she wasn't talking about my height when she wrote this. 😶
"Look After You" by The Fray
There's a running commentary that every single big song by The Fray sounds exactly the same, but TBH that doesn't even matter because they're the KINGS of sad bangers.
"Forever & Always (Piano Version)" by Taylor Swift
Feel free to fight me on this (and lose) but the piano version of "Forever & Always" is infinitely better than the slightly angrier original version. It really gets across the pain of an unreciprocated breakup and shows just how much Joe Jonas hurt Taylor's teenage feelings. It just goes there, you know?
"A Little Bit Longer" by The Jonas Brothers
Speaking of a Jonas, "A Little Bit Longer" is entirely from Nick's perspective about him almost going into a coma from his type 1 diabetes as age 13. If you don't weep for the song itself, weep for BB Nick.
"Clair De Lune" by Flight Facilities
Flight Facilities might be known for making danceable electronic music, but "Clair De Lune" is different—the second you hit play, a shot of melancholy is injected into your veins, instantly placing you into a trance. True story.
"Liability" by Lorde
BRB, blasting the living sh*t out of this (and demolishing the nearest box of tissues, of course) until I can see Lorde on tour IRL.
"Rainbow" by Kacey Musgaves
Originally, Kacey wrote "Rainbow" to personally encourage herself in times of hardship, but that later changed. "It turned into a song as a little message to myself, and then ended up being a song for anybody with any kind of weight on their shoulders," she told Taste of Country. (Ah, so that's why it makes me blubber like a big ol' baby!)
"It's All in Vain" by Wet
There's truly nothing more depressing than being with someone physically and still feeling lonely...aka the feeling that Wet flawlessly captures in this hauntingly beautiful track.
"Somebody Else" by The 1975
If you had to listen to one single piece of music by The 1975 for the rest of your life, it better be "Somebody Else." Die hard fans agree, casual fans agree, hell, even frontman Matty Healy listed this in his top 10 faves from the band...so uh, take that for what you will.
"When Did I Lose It All" by Pale Waves
"I wanna marry you, but not now" — Pale Waves/my boyfriend 😭
"Jar of Hearts" by Christina Perri
I'm going to age myself by a million years for saying this, but I first heard this song on VH1 back in 2009 (*cough* when they used to play actual music videos *cough*) and was instantly blown away. The pain in Christina Perri's voice! The emotion of the lyrics! They don't do it like this anymore, kiddos.
"Something in the Way" by Nirvana
Legend has it that "Something in the Way" was originally based on a stretch of time when Kurt Cobain was sleeping under a bridge in his home state of Washington. People can't agree on if that rumor is true or not, but imagine how lonely Kurt must have felt if it was. :'(
"Stone Cold" by Demi Lovato
Still cursing out the Recording Academy to this day for failing to give Demi a Grammy for this track. My "allergies" act up every. Damn. Time.
"Read All About It, Pt. III" by Emeli Sandé
Is that a draft? Oh, no...turns out it's just the chills running through my body at the sheer emotion in Emeli Sandé's voice.
"Dust Is Gone" by MØ
"Lean On" isn't the only vibe that MØ is capable of delivering, you guys. Burn a candle as this deep cut of hers involuntarily causes your throat to tighten.
"Mind Games" by BANKS
If you're reading this, imma need you to stop sleeping on BANKS RTFN because she is a literal goddess that has a song to fit each one of your moods. "Mind Games" is just one of the few that will get you feeling every single emotion.
"If I Ever Feel Better" by Phoenix
Depressed, feeling generally empty on the inside, and a little hopeless...but make it funk. Boom.
"Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac
Alright, so this isn't the saddest of sad songs, but it's like...you know that moment you're like "Shit, I'm an actual grown-up now and life came at me so fast?" This song feels like that. Thank you, Stevie.
"ghostin" by Ariana Grande
Rest in peace, Mac Miller. 😞
"She Used to Be Mine" by Sara Bareilles
"She is hard on herself / She is broken and won't ask for help / She is messy, but she's kind / She is lonely most of the time"...Sara, just saying, you really didn't have to expose me like this.
"This Night Has Opened My Eyes" by The Smiths
You know what's worse than feeling sad? Feeling not happy yet not sad at the same time, much like Morrisey describes. I'll take "ennui" for $500, please.
"1901" by Birdy
Not to make you feel bad, but Birdy recorded this when she was 15 (!) years old. Yep, feeling hella unaccomplished right about now.
"Runaway" by AURORA
Ah yes, yet another child prodigy to make me feel badly about my lack of songwriting abilities. :') Just gonna go ahead and rub this into your big fat wound right about now, but AURORA literally wrote this when she was twelve. Twelve!!! Goodbye, logging TF off.
"You & I" by One Direction
Um, where my Directioners at??? If Zayn's high note at 2:58 doesn't leave you a bleeding mess, then you aren't a real one. I said what I said.
"Fade Into You" by Mazzy Star
Fun fact: I cried while listening to this in the shower once. Do with that information what you will.
"I'm in Here" by Sia
Before Sia started churning out hit singles and hiding her face behind elaborate wigs, she made enigmatic songs like this one—another gem from VH1's golden days :').
"Chamber of Reflection" by Mac Demarco
If I had a dollar for each time Mac forlornly sings the word "alone" on this track, I'd be approximately $15 richer.
"Dum Surfer" by King Krule
Okay, so I will admit that the video for this is a lil Halloweenie. However! It's just what you need to fill the void inside of your sorrowful soul. Trust me on this one.
"Good to Love" by FKA Twigs
Hahaha, what? Me?? Crying??? Nope, I just have FKA's ethereal voice and otherworldly talent in my eyes.
"Malibu Nights" by LANY
Bet you didn't expect to hear a song on here that's entirely about Dua Lipa breaking a man's heart, but here you are.
"Praying" by Kesha
Rising like a Phoenix from the ashes, Kesha sings of the sexual harassment, emotional distress, and employment discrimination she faced.
"Because of You" by Kelly Clarkson
Specifically for when the emotional traumas from your childhood are weighing down on your fragile spirit.
"Don't Speak" by No Doubt
In need of a dramatic song for your next at-home karaoke sesh? Hello, "Don't Speak" is two parts perfect, one part sad-angsty, all parts crowd pleaser.
"Confessions of a Broken Heart (Daughter to Father)" by Lindsay Lohan
Forget "Rumors," y'all. "Confessions of a Broken Heart" is easily Lindsay at her most raw. Turn it up, cry it out, let it flow.
"Youth" by Daughter
Hipster YouTube ate this up back in when it started making the rounds back in 2012, and with good reason—with lyrics like "if you're still breathing, you're the lucky one," there's literally no way to not get choked up while listening.
"Samson" by Regina Spektor
Didn't realize that the biblical story of Samson and Delilah could leave me feeling so vulnerable. Welp, I guess that's the power of Regina Spektor. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
"Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M.
I mean...where is the lie.
"Let Down" by Radiohead
It would be criminal to have a sad songs playlist and not include Radiohead, don't you think? It's the line when lead singer Thom Yorke says "crushed like a bug in the ground" that really gets me, because can anyone really feel lower than that? (Nope, no, probably not.)
Assistant News Editor
Starr Bowenbank is the assistant news editor who writes about all things pertaining to news, pop culture, and entertainment—you can follow her here.
Leah Marilla Thomas
Leah Marilla Thomas is an entertainment writer, UNC alum, and former Hasbro Toy Tester (yes, that's a real thing) who loves The Good Place and Love Island equally.
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io