Style/ Beauty

17 Sad Songs That Make You Cry Every Time

Sad songs really do hit differently, don’t they? While music has the ability to evoke emotions in us like happiness, motivation and excitement, it can also make us cry at the drop of a beat.

Whether it’s the lyrics, the melody or the accompanying music video, everyone has that one song (or, in our case, plenty of those songs) that has the power to crush our souls and make the tears stream down our faces. And let’s face it, we need a sad song for all sorts of different life events, whether it’s navigating heartbreak, feeling lost in life, thinking about the future or reminiscing about past events.

From soulful ballads and gritty rock anthems to deep hip-hop tracks and heartbreaking R&B numbers – sad songs are genre-free, and we’ve created a list to prove just that. So turn up the volume, get comfy and prepare to cry your eyes out to the following 37 tunes.

1. Glimpse of Us by Joji

When: 2022
What: A dark, haunting and highly melancholic song which quickly became TikTok viral. In the song, Joji can’t help but compare the dwindling love in his current relationship to the never-ending love he felt in his previous one. His sadness stems from being unable to recreate the affection for his current partner.
Sad rating: 10/10

2. Someone Like You by Adele

When: 2011
What: You could hear a pin drop as Adele performed Someone Like You for the first time at the BRIT awards in 2011. And well over a decade later, everything seems to stop when we hear the heartwrenching, relatable lyrics of that special someone who got away. Beautiful.
Sad rating: 10/10

3. Overprotected by Britney Spears

When: 2001
What: Britney Spears may have been continuing her reign as a pop princess in 2001 with this catchy tune about being overprotected, but knowing what we know now about her past life, this song makes us feel especially sad because she was essentially trying to tell us at the time how she was feeling controlled and restricted in making her own decisions.
Sad rating: 9/10

4. Wherever You Will Go by Charlene Soraia

When: 2011
What: This haunting cover of The Calling’s Wherever You Will Go had us sobbing when it was released in conjunction with a Twinings tea advert, and it has stayed with us ever since. Honestly, it’s criminal Charlene didn’t see more chart success in the following years, as she has one of the most beautiful voices ever.
Sad rating: 9/10

5. Matilda by Harry Styles

When: 2022
What: Matilda from Harry’s third studio album Harry’s House is one of our favourites due to its intimately sad lyrics about someone he knew in real life and had likened to the character Matilda from the Roald Dahl book due to their troubled upbringing. The lyrics are cleverly articulated and undeniably despairing.
Sad rating: 8/10

6. Shallow by Lady Gaga And Bradley Cooper

When: 2018
What: We don’t know anybody who wasn’t crushed by the movie A Star Is Born, and the song sung by its lead actors, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, equally destroyed us with its delicate and soul-crushing lyrics about contentment and communication.
Sad rating: 9/10

7. Conversations With My 13 Year Old Self by P!nk

When: 2006
What: If we all wrote a letter to our younger selves, it would probably be incredibly similar to P!nk’s Conversations With My 13 Year Old Self. Anything that makes us reflect on our experiences, worries and anxieties over the years makes us emotional, and just the thought of potentially having the chance to tell ourselves at a younger age that things would work out makes us sob.
Sad rating: 9/10

8. Piece by Piece by Kelly Clarkson

When: 2015
What: When we say we got goosebumps hearing this for the first time, we mean it. Kelly Clarkson’s incredibly personal message to her father, who walked out on her at a young age, is searingly honest, devastating, tragic, and an emotional reminder that we can all achieve success no matter how unloveable we once were made to believe.
Sad rating: 10/10

9. When I Was Your Man by Bruno Mars

When: 2012
What: Boys will be boys, eh? We may not feel too sorry for them, but something pulls at our heartstrings when Bruno sings about missing his shot with his dream girl and now watching someone else treat her like a Queen. Let this be a lesson…
Sad rating: 7/10

10. Skyscraper by Demi Lovato

When: 2011
What: It’s like the world stands still when we hear Skyscraper, a beautifully poignant song about finding strength within yourself despite all obstacles and hurdles that come your way. Relatable, inspiring and moving.
Sad rating: 9/10

11. 7 Years by Lukas Graham

When: 2015
What: 7 Years gets us all in the feels as Lukas reflects on the seasons of life, from childhood nostalgia to the loneliness of old age and everything in between. It also forces us to reflect on our past and everything that we want in the future.
Sad rating: 10/10

12. Please Don’t Say You Love Me by Gabrielle Aplin

When: 2013
What: Gabrielle’s delicate vocals are touching as she sings about taking a relationship slow as she is too afraid of saying the L word. Honestly, we all sometimes fear that if we let our feelings known to someone we care about too quickly, it may not be reciprocated, so we can certainly relate to this song.
Sad rating: 8/10

13. Summertime Sadness by Lana Del Ray

When: 2012
What: Lana’s overwhelmingly intense and haunting lyrics tell the story of someone who lost a special person but can’t stop reminiscing about them and feel as though they can’t live without them.
Sad rating: 9/10

14. Brenda Had A Baby by 2Pac

When: 1992
What: 2Pac was known and loved for his ability to shed light on the social and political problems of underprivileged African Americans through his music, and Brenda Had A Baby is a prime example. The track, which featured on his debut album, 2Pacalypse Now, is about a 12-year-old girl who falls pregnant after being sexually abused by her uncle and ends up giving birth on her bathroom floor before throwing the newborn in the bin. 2Pac’s graphic lyrics and the horrifying true story are enough to break the hearts of even the coldest of us.
Sad rating: 10/10

15. See You Again by Charlie Puth ft Wiz Khalifa

When: 2015
What: This was on the Fast & Furious 7 soundtrack and is dedicated to the franchise’s late star Paul Walker who died following a car accident in 2013. It plays at the end of the film as we watch his and Vin Diesel’s characters’ heartbreaking final ride together. The song has received over three billion views on YouTube and was Charlie Puth’s breakout hit. It’s impossible to listen to it with a dry eye – especially if you’re a Fast & Furious fan. Listen here
Sad rating: 9/10

16. When We Were Young by Adele

When: 2015
What: Let’s face it, Adele’s voice alone is enough to pull at our heartstrings. But the nostalgic lyrics of this song and the memories of an old love were always going to tip us over the edge. Pass us the Kleenex, the tears are coming.
Sad rating: 7/10

17. Hurt by Christina Aguilera

When: 2009
What: This song is about the loss of a loved one and the painful thought of never being able to do over some of the mistakes you’ve made with that person. While many people believe the song is about Christina’s own experiences with her abusive father, singer/songwriter Linda Perry who helped pen the song, revealed in an interview that it actually stemmed from the loss of her own father, who died a year prior to the making of it.
Sad rating: 8/10

18. Photograph by Ed Sheeran

When: 2014
What: Good ol’ Ed knows how to write a tearjerker, but Photograph is his stand-out ballad in our eyes. It’s a nod to all of those who have experienced a long-distance relationship and the struggles that come with it. Ed urges his partner to remember their good times together when things get tough by looking at a photograph. The song’s nostalgic video, made up of home clips from his childhood, is also guaranteed to have you all up in your feels.
Sad rating: 7/10

19. Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol

When: 2006
What: Who can forget that gut-wrenching scene in Grey’s Anatomy when Alex lifts Izzie away from the body of her lover Denny and holds her while she cries? Chasing Cars is used as the soundtrack for this, and it shatters our hearts into a million pieces every time.
Sad rating: 8/10

20. A Thousand Years – Christina Perri

When: 2011
What: A Thousand Years is not only the flagship song to The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 but the one track all ‘Twihearts’ felt represented Bella and Edward’s relationship. It’s romantic and heartbreaking at the same time.
Sad rating: 8/10

21. Runaway Love by Ludacris ft Mary J. Blige

When: 2006
What: The narrative of this song and the video combined will turn you into a blubbering mess. The track focuses on the issue of child abuse as Ludacris walks us through the lives of three young girls who flee from horror.
Sad rating: 10/10

22. Lay Me Bare by Stormzy

When: 2017
What: Every great artist has that one song where they’re completely vulnerable and share their personal demons with the world. For Stormzy, it’s the final song on his debut album Gang Signs & Prayers. On the track, we hear the grime star rap about everything from his battle with depression to growing up in the midst of violent gang culture and his strained relationship with his absent father. You won’t make it to the second verse without a tear in your eye.
Sad rating: 8/10

23. Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley

When: 1994
What: It’s been covered by quite literally everyone. But nothing beats the emotion behind Jeff Buckley’s original version of Hallelujah. His voice has us sobbing for DAYS.
Sad rating: 10/10

24. Back To Black by Amy Winehouse

When: 2007
What: The pain in Amy’s voice throughout this track, matched with her heartbreaking lyrics, is exactly what has earned Back To Black a spot on this list. The song is about the late singer’s rough patch with then-boyfriend (and later husband) Blake Fielder-Civil. He went back to an ex, and she went back to “a very black few months, doing silly things”, as she said in an interview.
Song rating: 7/10

25. Wild Wolves by Athlete

When: 2009
What: Any true Gossip Girl fans will recognise this song from the end of the 13th episode of season three when Chuck shares the pain of never having a mother with Blair, prompting her to say, “that doesn’t mean you’re alone. I love you, Chuck.” Ahh, our hearts 💔
Sad rating: 6/10

26. Fix You by Coldplay

When: 2005
What: This song really pulls at our heartstrings, and not just because it was the soundtrack to Caleb’s death in The O.C. Chris Martin wrote this for his then-wife Gwyneth Paltrow following the death of her father. Fix You was about him trying to put me back together after my dad died,” the actress revealed in an interview.
Sad rating: 8/10

27. Stole by Kelly Rowland

When: 2002
What: Stole was the second single from Kelly Rowland’s debut solo album Simply Deep, and that’s exactly what the song is: deep. It tells the story of three teenagers who had great potential but were robbed of their future due to their personal circumstances and family situations.
Sad rating: 7/10

28. All By Myself by Celine Dion

When: 1996
What: Two words: Bridget Jones. That’s all there is to say.
Sad rating: 8/10

29. I’d Rather Go Blind by Beyonce

When: 2009
What: If there’s one thing Beyonce can master time after time, it’s pouring her emotions into a heavy ballad. She can do it with her eyes closed. In the 2009 movie Cadillac Records, Bey performed Etta James’ classic I’d Rather Go Blind, and let’s just say that if heartbreak was a person, it’d be her right there.
Sad rating: 10/10

30. Earth Song by Michael Jackson

When: 1995
What: In the words of MJ himself, “[‘Earth Song]‘ is my chance to pretty much let people hear the voice of the planet.” The song highlights the fact that humans are mistreating the planet. The visual effects of the video, as well as MJ’s cry for help, make this song more than sobworthy.
Sad rating: 8/10

31. With Or Without You by U2

When: 1987
What: With or Without You is about the struggles of a relationship where you can’t be with the person but can’t live without them either. If you’re a true romantic like us, it’ll hit you where it hurts.
Sad rating: 7/10

32. Mockingbird by Eminem

When: 2004
What: Eminem’s Mockingbird is an honest, open letter to his daughter Hailie and his niece Laney. Sounding at his most vulnerable, he raps about missing out on moments of their childhood and apologises to his daughter for what she’s had to witness between her parents. The video sees him reminiscing with old photos and features the family’s real home videos. If all that doesn’t set you off, we don’t know what will.
Sad rating: 10/10

33. How To Save A Life by The Fray

When: 2005
What: The song is based on lead singer Isaac Slade’s experience at a teenage shelter. “I was paired up with one kid in particular. His story was just amazing. All the relationships that he had put at risk because of the decisions he made, and eventually […] the cost of his lifestyle and his choices, and kind of relating them to my own life and my own stories,” he said in 2005.
Sad rating: 8/10

34. Too Good At Goodbyes by Sam Smith

When: 2017
What: This is Sam Smith’s highly anticipated comeback and the debut single from his second studio album, and he’s returned in true Sam Smith form. Too Good At Goodbyes is the ultimate break-up song. It’s about pushing the person you love away before they get a chance to hurt you. It’ll have you sobbing within seconds.
Sad rating: 8/10

35. Breathe Me by Sia

When: 2004
What: Long before Chandelier, an unknown Sia released Breathe Me. The haunting track will resonate with anyone who is going through or has overcome struggles with depression. Unsurprisingly it’s been used as a soundtrack to many gut-wrenching film and TV moments over the years.
Sad rating: 9/10

36. I’ll Be Missing You by Puffy Daddy, Faith Evans & 112

When: 1997
What: Released shortly after the murder of hip-hop legend Biggie, I’ll Be Missing You speaks to anyone who’s lost someone close to them. It’s a classic.
Sad rating: 8/10

37. Untitled by Simple Plan

When: 2005
What: The music video to Simple Plan’s single shows a drunk driver killing a woman after crashing into her, but the powerful lyrics could relate to so many scenarios. It’s impossible to not feel sadness and regret when you’re listening to this one.
Sad rating: 10/10

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