Music Spotlight: Best Breakup Albums

February 13, 2013
By

There’s nothing like blasting a good breakup album to make you feel a whole lot better about being alone on Valentine’s Day, or at least like you’re not really alone at all in being single. And there’s no one like a talented songwriter to put the misery and anger of a hard breakup to music and come out with something that’s actually kind of empowering.

Here are some of the best breakup albums, written by the artists at times when their own love lives were in the dumper. See? It happens to rock stars, too! If you’re in need of a little fellow-feeling this V-day, grab some of these, crank up the volume and caterwaul along with each tortured vocalist!

Joe Jackson – Look Sharp!

This album is excellent as either a jazz fusion pick or a breakup album pick. It’s just plain one of the best albums of all time, as a couple others on this list are. I guess there’s nothing like heartbreak to spur creativity.

Best ‘All The Stuff I Wish I’d Said When You Were Here’ track – One More Time.

Sample lyric: “Tell me one more time as I hold your hand that you don’t love me, tell me one more time as teardrops start to fall. Shout it to me and I’ll shout it to the skies above me, that there was nothing after all…Baby, baby: tell me that you never wanted my loving. Baby, baby: tell me that you never, tell me tell me one more time.”

Best ‘Love Can Bite Me’ track – Is She Really Going Out With Him?

Sample lyric: “Pretty women out walking with gorillas down my street. From my window I’m staring as my coffee goes cold. Look over there! (Where?) There’s a lady that I used to know; She’s married now, or engaged, or something, so I am told. Is she really going out with him? Is she really gonna take him home tonight? Is she really going out with him? ‘Cause if my eyes don’t deceive me, There’s something going wrong around here.”

Best ‘Happy Couples Aren’t As Happy As They Seem’ track – Happy Loving Couples.

Sample lyric: “Wanna be, wanna really be, what my friends pretend to be, be it in my own good time. Being kind to myself till I become one of two of a kind. But those happy loving couples make it look so easy, happy loving couples always talk so kind. Till the time that I can do my dancing with a partner…those happy couples ain’t no friends of mine.”

Best ‘I’m Better Off Without You’ track – Look Sharp!

Sample lyric: “Okay, what you say – Tell me what they’re wearing this year. Go on and laugh at me cause you don’t see That I got something going right here. Say I’m just a dreamer, Say I’m just a kid. Well ace, shut your face; Maybe you will see or hear. You gotta look sharp! You gotta look sharp! And you gotta have no illusions, Just keep going your way looking over your shoulder”


No Doubt – Tragic Kingdom (pop/rock)

This is the album that Gwen Stefani famously wrote following the breakup of her relationship with bandmate Tony Kanal — they’re both still in the band by the way, so apparently she got it out of her system with this album.

Best ‘All The Stuff I Wish I’d Said When You Were Here’ tracks – Excuse Me, Mr. & Don’t Speak

Sample lyric, Excuse Me Mr.: “So please excuse me Mr., You’ve got things all wrong. You make me feel like a crime. So don’t confuse me Mr., I’ve known you too long. All I need is a little of your time. For most love comes for free, They don’t pay the high cost Of mental custody. I’ll pay bail for a guarantee.”

Sample lyric, Don’t Speak: “Don’t speak, I know just what you’re saying, So please stop explaining. Don’t tell me cause it hurts. Don’t speak, I know what you’re thinking, I don’t need your reasons, Don’t tell me cause it hurts.”

Best ‘You Can Go To Hell’ track – Happy Now?

Sample lyric: “No more leaning on your shoulder. I won’t be there, no more bother. If you feel you just might want me, That’s too bad, I’m not that easy.”

Best ‘Happy Couples Aren’t As Happy As They Seem’ track – Spiderwebs

Sample lyric: “You’re intruding on what’s mine, And you’re taking up my time. Don’t have the courage inside me To tell you please let me be.”

Best ‘I’m Better Off Without You’ track – Sunday Morning

Sample lyric: “I know who I am, but who are you? You’re not looking like you used to. You’re on the other side of the mirror, So nothing’s looking quite as clear. Thank you for turning on the lights, Thank you, now you’re the parasite. I didn’t think you had it in you. And now you’re looking like I used to.”


Cake – Fashion Nugget (alternative rock)

This album is probably best known for its smash hit, The Distance, which is also a song about an unhappy relationship.

Best ‘All The Stuff I Wish I’d Said When You Were Here’ track – Friend Is A Four Letter Word

Sample lyric: “To me, coming from you, ‘friend’ is a four letter word. ‘End’ is the only part of the word that I heard.”

Best ‘You Can Go To Hell’ track – Daria

Sample lyric: “When you tried to kiss me, I only bit your tongue. When you tried to get me together, I only came undone. When you tried to tell me the one for me was you, I was in your mattress back in 1982. Daria – I won’t be soothed. Daria – I won’t be soothed over like, smoothed over like milk, like silk, a bedspread or a quilt.”

Best ‘Happy Couples Aren’t As Happy As They Seem’ track – Race Car Ya-Yas

Sample lyric: “She doesn’t care Whether or not he’s an island. She doesn’t care, Just as long as his ship’s coming in. She doesn’t care Whether or not he’s an island. They laugh, they make money. He’s got a gold watch. She’s got a silk dress And healthy breasts That bounce on his italian leather sofa.”

Best ‘I’m Better Off Without You’ track – I Will Survive (a cover of the original hit)

Sample lyric: “At first I was afraid, I was petrified. Kept thinking I could never live without you by my side. But then I spent so many nights just thinking how you done me wrong, and I grew strong. And I learned how to get along.”

 


Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill (pop)

This has to be the best-known, and maybe most well-worn breakup album of them all. Morissette has admitted this purge of an album is a collection of songs about a specific man, a celebrity even, but she has never revealed who.

Best ‘All The Stuff I Wish I’d Said When You Were Here’ track – Right Through You

Sample lyric: “Hello Mr. Man. You didn’t think I’d come back. You didn’t think I’d show up with my army And this ammunition on my back. Now that I’m Miss Thing, Now that I’m a zillionaire, You scan the credits for your name And wonder why it’s not there.”

Best ‘You Can Go To Hell’ track – You Oughta Know

Sample lyric: “Did you forget about me, Mr. Duplicity? I hate to bug you in the middle of dinner. It was a slap in the face, How quickly I was replaced. And are you thinking of me when you f*** her?

Best ‘Happy Couples Aren’t As Happy As They Seem’ track – Ironic

Sample lyric: “Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly. He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids goodbye. He waited his whole damn life to take that flight. And as the plane crashed down he thought, ‘Well isn’t this nice…’. And isn’t it ironic… don’t you think?”

Best ‘I’m Better Off Without You’ track – Hand In My Pocket

Sample lyric: “I’m broke but I’m happy. I’m poor but I’m kind. I’m short but I’m healthy, yeah. I’m high but I’m grounded. I’m sane but I’m overwhelmed. I’m lost but I’m hopeful baby.”

 


 

Tori Amos – Little Earthquakes (folk rock)

This one is the result of a very abusive relationship Amos had gotten herself out of.

Best ‘All The Stuff I Wish I’d Said When You Were Here’ track – Silent All These Years

Sample lyric: “So you found a girl Who thinks really deep thougts. What’s so amazing about really deep thoughts? Boy you’d best pray that I bleed real soon. How’s that thought for you?”

Best ‘You Can Go To Hell’ track – Crucify

Sample lyric: “Every day I crucify myself. Nothing I do is good enough for you. Crucify myself. Every day, And my heart is sick of being in chains.”

Best ‘Happy Couples Aren’t As Happy As They Seem’ track – Precious Things

Sample lyric: “He said you’re really an ugly girl But I like the way you play. And I died But I thanked him. Can you believe that? Sick holding on to his picture, Dressing up every day. I wanna smash the faces of those beautiful boys.”

Best ‘I’m Better Off Without You’ track – Winter

Sample lyric: “I get a little warm in my heart When I think of winter. I put my hand in my father’s glove. I run off Where the drifts get deeper. Sleeping beauty trips me with a frown. I hear a voice ‘You must learn to stand up for yourself Cause I can’t always be around.’ ”

 


Nine Inch Nails – Pretty Hate Machine (hard rock, industrial)

This is the album that made Trent Reznor a megastar, so whoever ripped his heart out and stomped on it deserves his gratitude as well as the gratitude of music fans everywhere.

Best ‘All The Stuff I Wish I’d Said When You Were Here’ track – Head Like A Hole

Sample lyric: “Head like a hole, black as your soul, I’d rather die than give you control. Bow down before the one you serve, you’re going to get what you deserve.”

Best ‘You Can Go To Hell’ track – Ringfinger

Sample lyric: “Well you’ve got me working so hard lately, working my hands until they bleed. If i was twice the man I could be I’d still be half of what you need.”

Best ‘Happy Couples Aren’t As Happy As They Seem’ track – Kinda I Want To

Sample lyric: “I can’t shake this feeling from my head. There’s a devil sleeping in my bed. Watching you from across the way. I cannot make this feeling go away.”

Best ‘I’m Better Off Without You’ track – Um, this album doesn’t really have one. Ol’ Trent wasn’t quite recovered from whomever done him wrong when he wrote this rage- and pathos-filled album.


 

What about you? Got some comfort music to add to the list?

 

This is a cross-posting of material I originally wrote for the Digital Media Mom site.

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