Don’t we all just need a good cry sometimes? It really does feel good to tear up a bit, release all of your emotions and be moved by something. Music can allow some of our more suppressed emotions to surface — which let’s face it, is nothing but healthy.
Unless you’re naturally a crier (which is totally fine!), sometimes you need a little something extra to get those ~feelz~ to subside with a good cry. There’s nothing more cathartic then popping in your earbuds and letting it all go to some nice, sad songs.
If you want to feel things you haven’t in awhile and allow yourself to let all those tears go, these 22 songs might just do the trick. Or at the very least, you’ll appreciate all of these musical pieces for the art that they are, then watch an episode of Grey’s Anatomy which you know will make you cry every time.
1. “The Scientist” by Coldplay (2002)
This slow and moving song is beautifully led by a piano and has a stylistic simplicity that’s different compared to other Coldplay songs and adds to its overall raw feeling. The song is about a man feeling lost about his love and wanting to start over. We’ve all had regrets and have wanted a reset button.
As the lyrics say, “Let’s go back to the start,” is such a want we’ve all probably desired, as impossible as it truly is.
Plus Chris Martin‘s falsetto fits perfectly in this song. Listen to it here and let the tears flow.
2. “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley (1994)
Originally written by music legend Leonard Cohen, this version by Jeff Buckley is hauntingly beautiful. He took an already meaningful song and made it even more emotional. It’s a symbolic ode to the Bible but pretty much anyone with a heart, no matter their religion, will feel moved by this piece.
It also doesn’t hurt that this version of “Hallelujah” was included on The O.C. soundtrack — popularizing the song to the next generation. Here’s the official video for a stroll down memory lane and cry alley.
3. “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Green Day (1997)
You’ve undoubtedly listened to this song around the time of your high school and/or college graduations, and it made you tear up. Every. Single. Time. “Good Riddance” is definitely about nostalgia and is often seen as an emotional farewell to your childhood friends and memories, which is pretty sad no matter how much you hated your high school peers. The song’s creation is really about lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong‘s feelings about breaking up with his girlfriend because she was moving to a different country, which is also sad, but it just makes us think about graduation more than anything.
See if you pick up on the true meaning here with this 90’s video.
4. “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry (2010)
This country song from The Band Perry is about the tragic death a young woman. How could you not cry with a line like, “Funny when you’re dead how people start listenin'”?! On our worst days, we probably think about how true this is. Other really only recognize your accomplishments and words after you die. It’s also the narrative in this song that keeps you crying. Kind of like reading a sad story, “If I Die Young” has a beginning, middle and end that plays out tragically.
Weep freely here.
5. “Creep” by Radiohead (1992)
This hit song is such a classic and a staple on any alternative rock radio station. The slow-moving song details a young man who desperately wants to talk to a woman he likes but just follows her around instead. Hence, the name “Creep.” “Stalker” would be appropriate, as well. Even so, the rhythm itself will make you cry — no matter if you find yourself sympathizing with the stalker or not.
Watch the video here.
6. “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak (1990)
Chris Issak‘s brooding voice makes this song what it is. While it’s about dangerous love — it’s not got that upbeat thrilling sound to it like “We Found Love” by Rihanna (which low-key makes some of us cry ANYWAYS). Instead, this song is actually pretty sorrowful. It’s dirty and gorgeous at the same time — yet completely tragic.
The extremely erotic video can be found here.
7. “Unchained Melody” by Righteous Brothers (1995)
Ugh, the pottery scene from Ghost, how sexy was that? It took “Unchained Melody” to next-level status of a hit song with staying power. The song was first written and recorded in 1955, but The Righteous Borthers did their own recording in 1965. This version was used in Ghost and made us cry everytime from then on.
Listen to this melodic charmer here.
8. “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper (1984)
Cyndi Lauper has such a unique singing voice and can reach high notes most can only dream of. “Time After Time” is one of her many hits but it’s nothing like “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” Instead, it’s a love song detailing the difficulties of long term relationships and the anguish you feel when you can’t simply fix everything.
Sway to the beat of this love song here. Grab some tissues and practice your own vocals (probably best to do so without any company).
9. “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” by Death Cab for Cutie (2005)
Everyone’s favorite indie rock band has had songs detailing hardships, heartache, and love but “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” just might be the one with guaranteed tears considering it’s about death and the complete unknown of it all. For a lot of us, it also came out in our middle school years and attached itself to some pretty ~emotional~ life events as well.
Death Cab for Cutie rose to more popular prominence after being a Seth Cohen favorite on The O.C. and teen gals were hooked ever since. This song will never fail to get you to stop and listen. Do that now with this live acoustic version. Ugh, the acoustic ones will make you cry even more.
10. “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan (1998)
If this song doesn’t make you feel anything, you may be a robot. Written through the influence of a fellow musician, Jonathan Melvoin‘s heroin overdose, “Angel” is a simple song with a huge impact. It doesn’t hurt that Sarah McLachlan has one the most beautiful singing voices ever in the history of the world and has an incredible range.
Here’s the official video to remind you of her angelic voice.
11. “The Blower’s Daughter” by Damien Rice (2002)
“And so it is, just like you said it would be, life goes easy on me, most of the time” so starts “The Blower’s Daughter.” There’s a lot of mystery surrounding this song and the true meaning has never been confirmed — and probably never will be. If the frustration of that doesn’t make you cry, then the song itself will.
Damien Rice leaves it up to you to make conclusions about the meaning, but that just adds to the overall effect of the song. It was featured prominently in the movie Closer, about an affair between characters played by Jude Law and Natalie Portman, so it’s pretty sultry, too.
This melodic song can be found here.
12. “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton (1992)
When you know the meaning behind this song, it makes it even more emotional and tragic. Eric Clapton’s four-year-old son was killed when he fell out of a window of a high rise. This ballad shows the unadulterated pain of the event, as well as the heartbreaking wonder of whether Eric and his son will ever be reunited and what that would be like. “Tears in Heaven” is widely regarded for its deep emotion, moving lyrics and simple guitar acoustics.
Cry your eyes out here.
13. “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac (1975)
This classic rock band has delivered so many hits! If you don’t know them, check out some their music today. “Landslide” is a Fleetwood Mac defining song and one you probably have on repeat on your “breakup” playlist. Written by lead singer Stevie Nicks about a turning point in her life, either leaving the band to finish college or continuing on in music. She soldiered on and became a rock legend in one of the most critically acclaimed bands in history. Cry to this song and then follow your dreams, people.
Here’s her life-changing sad song.
14. “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel (1964)
Known for their easy-listening folk tunes, Simon and Garfunkel are no strangers to hit songs. But this song’s initial commercial failure led to their first breakup (tragic in and of itself). The song was re-released a year later, without their permission, and became a hit. There has been no confirmed origin of the song but it has been theorized its inspiration comes from the JFK assassination.
The lyrics “Hello darkness my old friend” sets listeners up for a sad trip right off the bat. The Disturbed cover (and Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd‘s dance to it on Dancing With the Stars) is pretty effing tragic as well.
Listen to the original version here.
15. “Stay with Me” by Sam Smith (2014)
This ballad has some gospel ties and while we could have basically picked any song from Sam Smith‘s debut album, this one in particular showed us Sam’s vocal range and ability to connect emotionally with an audience. We can all relate… maybe not with begging a one night stand not to leave, but at least wanting an SO or crush to stay and give things a real shot. Empathize with the loneliness of life here.
16. “Tied Together with a Smile” by Taylor Swift (2006)
This is a completely underrated Taylor Swift song that you may remember from high school or junior high. It’s from her self-titled debut album that I would argue is her best album ever. It wasn’t even a single and there is no music video (talk about tragedies), but “Tied Together with a Smile” deserves some legit praise.
Tay-Tay wrote this song when she was shocked to learn that a friend of hers was suffering from an eating disorder, and finding it difficult to cope knowing that things aren’t always what they same. Remember the confusion you felt as a teenager listening to this song, or experience it for the first time here.
17. “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera (2002)
Smack dab in the middle of Christina Aguilera‘s ‘Dirrty’ phase came “Beautiful.” It was a time of change for her and once this song was released, we all realized that Christina Aguilera was just as insecure as the rest of us. Let’s face it, hearing other’s opinions of us can be straight-up brutal and teaching yourself not to value those thoughts is way easier said than done.
Listen to this early 2000’s hit and TRL staple here.
18. “Foolish Games” by Jewel (1995)
Remember Jewel? “Foolish Games” was single from her debut album and it. was. SAD. Here was this folksy guitarist that surprised everyone with her simple notes, storytelling lyrics, and truly beautiful voice. (Sound like anyone else?)
This song is about a woman begging her lover to stop treating her poorly and how much being with this person is emotionally hurting her. And then she gets pissed. YAS, girl. We feel you. Turn your sadness into anger with this reminder of a hit song.
19. “All of Me” by John Legend (2013)
This is the ultimate modern day love song. John Legend wrote this song for his love, Chrissy Tiegen (who reportedly started bawling the first time she heard it). Well, duh, of course she did. Music-wise it’s a fairly stripped down piano ballad but the simplicity of it is what makes it so beautiful. Also, Chrissy stars in the music video — because he could never sing that song to another woman.
Weep to this song here.
20. “Yesterday” by The Beatles (1965)
Often seen as the most influential band of all time, The Beatles have had some of the best songs and albums of all time. “Yesterday” is a simple, sad ballad about a breakup and the longing of when things were good and enjoyable. “Yesterday all my troubles seem so far away”… isn’t that so true?! And that’s definitely tear-inducing. This classic original song can be found here.
21. “Someone Like You” by Adele (2011)
This woman is a powerhouse! Adele is the most talented singer of this generation and this is such a relatable song about regret and moving on from a serious relationship that even those perpetually single can connect to. Written about her first serious relationship ending really hit the nail on the head lyrically and musically with how emotional that feels. … If you’re not crying during this super emotional song, I’m honestly concerned for you.
Here’s the Grammy award winning video.
22. “How to Save a Life” by The Fray (2006)
Anyone who has ever lost someone close to them is immediately reminded of that pain with “How to Save a Life” comes on the radio. Made popular by Grey’s Anatomy (classic). It’s all about wanting to help someone who is suffering from self-destructive behaviors but feeling completely at a loss. Sometimes, that feeling is all too real. Let it all out when you listen here.