Dance the heartache away and soak up the positive messages in these tunes.
Like the relationships that inspired them, all breakup songs are not created equal. They run the emotional gamut, from sorrowful and nostalgic to downright mad as hell. But some artists have turned the breakup song on its head and crafted uplifting anthems dedicated to healing, moving on, and loving yourself.
Whether you’re unlucky in love or happily attached, you can dance to the rhythms, belt out the lyrics, and soak up the messages of these 12 empowering breakup tracks below.
by Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus’ runaway hit “Flowers” sees the singer proclaim she can love herself better than anyone else can. The song’s chorus, which mirrors Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man,” almost plays like a list of affirmations and reminds listeners they absolutely can take themselves dancing and hold their own hands. “Flowers” sets the tone for the rest of her latest record, Endless Summer Vacation, which is filled with sophisticated pop tracks layered in funk and disco styles.
by La Roux
“Bulletproof” is arguably the most popular song from English electronic pop duo La Roux’s self-titled debut album. The catchy chorus, where vocalist Elly Jackson promises to remain confident in the face of an ex’s doubting words, made the track a standout on a record filled with tightly crafted, ’80s-influenced pop tunes.
“Go Your Own Way”
by Fleetwood Mac
The end of the romantic relationship between bandmates Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks was the inspiration for one of Fleetwood Mac’s biggest hits. Written and sung by Buckingham, “Go Your Own Way” is all about moving on from a former lover — much like the other songs on Rumours, which was recorded in the aftermath of several breakups amongst the group’s members.
“Don’t Hurt Yourself”
Beyoncé’s anger over her spouse’s infidelity is at its breaking point on “Don’t Hurt Yourself” as she reminds us all that when you diss your significant other, you’re really only dissing yourself. Jack White, who lent his guitar and vocals to the rock and roll-tinged track, described the song as an “incredibly intense” moment on Lemonade. Follow the singer’s emotional journey through several musical styles, including blues, funk, and country, on this record.
by CeeLo Green
CeeLo Green’s “F**K You” is a sunny breakup jam that sees the singer shake off a failed relationship with a little levity by offering his ex his best wishes along with a smooth middle finger. Elsewhere on The Lady Killer, Green continues to pay homage to the sounds of Motown on songs about love and loss.
“Pick Up Your Feelings”
by Jazmine Sullivan
Singer-songwriter Jazmine Sullivan often leans on her experiences from past romances to fuel her creativity, leading her to make some of the R&B genre’s best breakup songs. On the Grammy Award-winning “Pick Up Your Feelings,” Sullivan packs up the emotional remnants of a relationship and urges her ex to come and collect them — along with the rest of his belongings. Hear the singer’s strong, contralto voice and more tracks about feminism, self-worth, and social norms on her 2021 release Heaux Tales.
“Gives You Hell”
by The All-American Rejects
All-American Rejects frontman Tyson Ritter said “Gives You Hell” was originally written about “a dude who will never know it’s about him,” but the band’s energetic performance of the song’s snarky lyrics make it the perfect track to dedicate to an ex. Revisit more late-2000s pop-rock on When The World Comes Down once you’ve finished belting out this tune.
“Anything But Me”
Indie pop trio MUNA described “Anything But Me” as a song that “embodies the lightness that floods in when you realize… no one’s holding you back.” Their self-titled third studio album features bright, anthemic pop tracks that are sure to take listeners on a cathartic journey toward self-actualization.
“Si Una Vez”
“Si Una Vez” is a mariachi- and cumbia-influenced track that finds the Queen of Tejano music wondering why she fell for an unloving partner and vowing never to let it happen again, singing triumphantly “that mistake is a thing of yesterday.” While the song originally appeared on Selena’s fourth studio album, Amor Prohibido, first-time listeners should familiarize themselves with the singer’s other signature songs on Ones.
Lizzo helped us “put the sing in single” with her viral hit “Truth Hurts.” The earworm-worthy pop-rap track is about the singer’s newfound confidence following a breakup, and she even drives home the song’s self-love theme by playing a bride who marries herself in the music video. Hear it and more tracks dedicated to personal positivity on the deluxe version of Cuz I Love You.
“Bye Bye Bye”
“Bye Bye Bye” is a quintessential early aughts breakup hit by one of music’s most popular boy bands. Led by Justin Timberlake and JC Chasez, the group croons about ending a relationship with a difficult partner over an upbeat pop melody, though it’s been said the song is a reference to *NSYNC cutting ties with former manager Lou Pearlman — another kind of breakup. In any case, “Bye Bye Bye” and other singles from No Strings Attached are cemented in pop music history.
“Thank U, Next”
by Ariana Grande
On “Thank U, Next,” Ariana Grande thanks her exes by name as she reflects on the lessons learned from those bygone romances that led to a greater understanding of and appreciation for the most important relationship in her life — the one with herself. The album of the same name shines with the singer’s most vulnerable storytelling.