On this stunner off 1968’s Tell Mama, James claims she’d prefer never being able to see again than watch her love walk away. What’s more, she's helpless: She notices the way her man is chatting up another girl and knows right then and there that, no matter how much she cares for him, it’s all over. Throw that sentiment over a simple chord progression that builds beautifully with horns, an organ, backing vocals and a heart-melting performance by James, and you've reached timeless soul perfection.
Breakups songs don’t fit one simple pattern, because breakups don’t fit one simple pattern. Okay, maybe they fit three or four simple patterns, but we’re talking some pretty radical extremes of feeling: are you happy, are you sad? Did you dump or were you dumped? Do you want them back or do you never want to see them again?
Breakup anthems are complicated things that run the full gamut of emotion. Sadness and grief are certainly the classic ones. But some are righteous cries of joy that signal the end of a bad relationship. Others are thoughtful meditations on human connection. And others… well frankly they’re a little toxic, songs about burning the very concept of love to the ground.
The best breakup songs distil raw, universal human emotions into sonic symphonies. On this list, you'll find wounded soul singers and divas walking unbowed from the ashes of bad relationships. There are indignant rappers and spiteful rockers. Adele is lurking in the shadows of her ex's place, as she is wont to do. And among the 55 greatest breakup songs of all time, you're certain to find something to relate to. And if it’s all too bleak, well, we've got a list of pick-me-up songs ready for you to queue up to help the healing begin.