Heartbreaks and breakups are earth shattering and painfully hard for anyone and especially for the person on the receiving end. Sometimes it feels like your heart has been ripped out of your chest or split in two. The days seem excruciatingly long and you can’t help but to review, agonize and carefully dissect everything that happened leading up to the painful breakup. But everyone, everyone goes through it. This certainly does not make it any easier. However, thankfully we have many very talented musicians and songwriters that have poured their hearts out into their work. We are fortunate that because of them, there’s a wealth of music that comes from their sadness. Whether you’re looking to identify with others who have been there, prefer this kind of music as an anti-Valentine’s day alternative to the tracks circulating this time of year, or you’re just curious about this kind of music, we have done the search for you. If your significant other has just broken up with you and you’re looking for music that expresses your miserable mood, or if you’re the person ready to call it quits in a relationship and are looking for inspiration; or if you simply like music about people being kicked to the curb and having broken hearts, then check out this list of the best R&B breakup songs.
‘Ex-Factor,’ Lauryn Hill
‘Can’t Let Go,’ Anthony Hamilton
From Anthony Hamilton’s 2005 Ain’t Nobody Worryin’ CD, “Can’t Let Go” hit an emotional chord with listeners, remaining on the Billboard R&B chart for 68 weeks. It’s a painful song about losing someone you deeply love and not being able able to move on from the relationship. More »
‘Everybody Knows,’ John Legend
“Everybody Knows” is one of John Legend‘s saddest songs. Recorded for his 2008 Evolver CD, it tells the story of a man who can’t cope with the fact that his former lover now has a new man in her life. Legend opens the song singing:
“It gets harder everyday but I can’t seem to shake the pain
I’m trying to find the words to say, please stay
It’s written all over my face
I can’t function the same when you’re not here
I’m calling your name and no one’s there” More »
‘Un-Break My Heart,’ Toni Braxton
“Un-Break My Heart” is the most successful song of Toni Braxton’s career. It won a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. From her 1996 album Secrets, it remained at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for eleven weeks. The song was certified platinum and was ranked the number four song of the first 40 years of Billboard magazine (1958-1998). In the song, Braxton begs a former lover to return and “un-break her heart.”More »
‘So Sick,’ Ne-Yo
From his 2006 debut CD, In My Own Words, “So Sick” is the biggest hit of Ne-Yo’s career. Certified four times platinum, the song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The story about a man who is tired of hearing love songs on the radio because they remind him of breaking up with his girlfriend was inspired by Ne-Yo’s own experience.
He says, “It’s about the first time I fell in love with a girl in a way that I completely screwed it up. So it was a story that I didn’t have to think really hard about putting it together. A lot of heartbreak went into that song, so that’s why I think a lot of people dug it the way they did – because you can feel it.” More »
‘Not Gon’ Cry,’ Mary J. Blige
From the 1996 Waiting To Exhale soundtrack produced by Babyface, “Not Gon’ Cry” by Mary J. Blige became her second platinum single, and her third number one hit on the Billboard R&B chart. The song also peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100. “Not Gon’ Cry” received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, and a Soul Train Music Award nomination for Best R&B/Soul Single Female.
The song was inspired by a storyline in Waiting to Exhale as Bernadine (portrayed by actress Angela Bassett), is abandoned by her cheating husband.
‘I Need You,’ Mayer Hawthorne
On his doo wop-style song “I Need You,” Mayer Hawthorne sorrowfully laments how he let his woman get away, and how much he needs her back in his life.
Key lyric: “When I saw you last night, it brought back memories to life/Of how we used to love one another, so sad we didn’t go any further.” More »
‘How It Was Supposed To Be,’ Ryan Leslie Feat. Jadakiss
In the song “How It Was Supposed to Be” from his 2006 self-titled debut album, Ryan Leslie wishes he could change the events that caused his girlfriend to leave him.
Sample lyrics: “Now when I think back to the days that you were mine, oh how I wish I could flip the switch to turn back the hands of time/You were the one that made me real, Now that you’re gone tell me, what in the world am I supposed to feel?” More »
‘Used To Be My Girl,’ Brian McKnight
From Brian McKnight”s 2006 Ten CD, “Used to Be My Girl” flips the script on a breakup as he taunts the new lover of his former girlfriend. He sings, “Go ‘head playboy do your thing, don’t be mad when she calls my name.”
‘How Can You Mend A Broken Heart,’ Al Green
“How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” by The Bee Gees is the ultimate song about recovering from a break-up. Al Green delivered one of his greatest vocal performances on the cover version he recorded for his 1972 Let’s Stay Together album.
‘Tyrone,’ Erykah Badu
Erykah Badu provided a song for women to use when kicking their boyfriends out when she recorded “Tyrone” for her 1997 Live album.