If you’re reeling after a failed relationship and just want to know you aren’t alone, getting lost in a heartbreak song by your favorite artist can be a great place to start. Press play on these heartbreak songs to hear relatable lyrics and have a good cry!
Top 25 Best Heartbreak Songs to Learn
1. “Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson (2004)
This Kelly Clarkson hit is perfect for blasting in the car and singing along. It’s an emotionally powerful track, too: Clarkson won a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for it.
The only thing better than singing along to this track is playing it yourself! This tutorial (video below left) will take you through both tabs and chords. In terms of chords, you’ll need G, Am, E5, F5(b5), F, B5, C5, G5, A5, D/F#, and C5/G. The original song is in the key of C major, and it’s a great chance to practice your power chords!
2. “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye ft. Kimbra (2011)
Gotye has said that he wrote this song to capture the messy feelings that can ensue after a breakup. People around the globe seemed to relate to the lyrics, too, as the song became a worldwide hit.
This song sounds especially great with some percussive strumming, so feel free to experiment with the rhythm. You can do that as you follow along with this helpful chord video (above right). It’s in the key of C, and you’ll only need to play Dm, C, and Bb.
3. “Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac (1977)
This compelling song has a somewhat unusual origin story. Fleetwood Mac member Lindsey Buckingham wrote it about a breakup with Stevie Nicks, another member of the band!
This is a fun song to strum and sing along with. And with this beginner tutorial (video below left), you can play it with just four chords: D, A, G, and Bm. The song is in the key of F, so you’ll need a capo at the third fret.
4. “Back to Black” by Amy Winehouse (2006)
Sad breakup songs can still be catchy! That’s definitely the case with “Back to Black,” Amy Winehouse’s most famous song (and the first one she wrote for her second album).
This is a fun and easily-recognizable song to play on the piano. This video (above right) takes you through it. It’s in the key of D minor, and you’ll primarily need the chords Dm, Gm (second inversion), Bb (first inversion), and A (first inversion).
5. “Big Girls Cry” by Sia (2014)
Sia’s stunning vocals and highly relatable lyrics make this one a great candidate for your breakup playlist. It captures what it’s like to repress your feelings after a breakup and finally release them.
The song is in the key of F, and you’ll need to play Dm, F, C, Gm, Bb, and Am. This detailed video (below left) takes you through chords, strumming patterns, and tabs for riffs.
6. “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus (2013)
“Wrecking Ball” is probably one of the most famous breakup songs in recent memory. And even though she delivered a performance full of emotion on the song, Miley Cyrus didn’t write it. Maureen McDonald, the writer of the song, originally penned it for Beyonce.
This video (above right) offers a straightforward demonstration and play-along. It’s in the key of F, and you’ll only need to play Dm, F, C, and A#sus2.
7. “Heartbreak Hotel” by Whitney Houston ft. Faith Evans and Kelly Price (1998)
This isn’t one of Whitney Houston’s most famous songs, but it does mark a turning point in her career. Around the time she recorded it, she was beginning to shift more toward R&B.
This song was written in the somewhat unusual key of Eb minor. As you can see here, you only need to play five chords: Ebm7, Abm7, Fm7-5, Bb7, and Cbmaj7. The song is a genre-bender as it is, so feel free to experiment with effects, rhythms, etc.
8. “Simple Twist of Fate” by Bob Dylan (1975)
If you’re trying to mend a broken heart, you might appreciate this sad song by Bob Dylan. Though the story it tells is a simple one, its lyrical imagery is nothing short of incredible.
Part of the beauty of Bob Dylan’s songs is their simplicity, and this one is a great example of simple beauty. This tutorial (video below left) shows you a version in standard tuning in the key of E. In this version, you’ll need to play E, Emaj7, E7, A, Asus2, Am, and B. Bob Dylan originally played the song in the open D tuning, with a capo at the second fret, in the key of D.
9. “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt (1995)
This breakup song is about Gwen Stefani’s breakup with Tony Kanal, No Doubt’s bassist. The two were together for seven years.
If you want to learn this powerful 90s breakup anthem, this tutorial (video above right) will show you the rhythm, riffs, and solos. In terms of chords, you will need Fm, Bbm, Eb, C, C#, D#, Cm, Gm, Bb, Db, Ab/C, B, and Gb/Bb. The song is in the key of F minor.
10. “Ex-Factor” by Lauryn Hill (1998)
This critically-acclaimed and immensely popular song might be from the 90s, but people still love it today. It was named the 18th greatest breakup song of all time by The Ringer in 2020.
This cool, easy-to-follow tutorial (video below left) will take you through the song. It’s in the key of D#m, and you’ll need to play G#m7, F#Maj7, A#m7, D#m7, B, Am7. As you can see, it sounds great when played on electric guitar!
11. “So Long, Marianne” by Leonard Cohen (1967)
Legendary singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen is no stranger to songs about heartbreak. He originally titled the song “Come On, Marianne.” When an interviewer asked why he changed the title, he replied, “I am more of a writer of elegies.”
This song sounds great strummed on an acoustic guitar, and its unique rhythm alone makes it worth learning! It’s in the key of A, and you’ll need to play A, Bm, D, G, F#m, E, Esus4, E7, and Asus4. This tutorial (video above right) will show you how to play it.
12. “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morrissette (1995)
Not all breakups call for sad songs. Sometimes, you need an angry, high-energy hit. Alanis Morrissette fans have speculated for years as to who the song may be about, but Morrissette has said she would never reveal his name.
This classic song sounds great on an electric guitar with some distortion or overdrive. As you’ll see in this easy video lesson (below left), you’ll need to play F#m7, B/F#, A5, B5, F#5, E5, F#, E, A, and B. It’s written in the key of E.
13. “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child (2001)
“Survivor” is probably one of the most iconic breakup songs of all time. But Beyonce was inspired to write it by the TV show Survivor. She got the idea after a reviewer compared the changes in Destiny’s Child members to the revolving door of contestants on the show.
“Survivor” sounds surprisingly good as a stripped-down acoustic song. You can hear it in this tutorial (video above right). As you’ll see, all you need to do is put a capo at the fourth fret and play Em, Am, and B7. It’s in the key of C#m.
14. “Dreaming With a Broken Heart” by John Mayer (2006)
This is one of the saddest breakup songs John Mayer has ever written. It captures the feeling of emptiness that so often follows a bad breakup.
John Mayer is renowned for his skill as a guitarist, and this song is wonderfully expressive. This tutorial (video below left) will show you chords, arpeggios, and more. It’s in the key of G, and you will need to play G, A7, C, G/B, G/C, D, and F.
15. “Heartbreaker” by Justin Bieber (2013)
Based on Bieber’s persona, you might imagine that this is a song about him breaking hearts. However, he actually wrote “Heartbreaker” about having his own heart broken.
This unusually poignant Bieber song has some unusual chords to help expand your repertoire. This lesson (video above right) will show you the six chords you need: Dm7, Am7, Bdim/C#, F#m7, Em7, and A7. It’s in the key of F#m.
16. “Hard Feelings/Loveless,” by Lorde (2017)
This is one of the more unique breakup songs out there, as it effectively calls out an entire generation for cold, loveless treatment of one another.
This beautiful song has two parts. But as you can see here, you only need five chords to play it. With a capo at the fourth fret, you just need to play G, C, Am, Em, and F. It’s in the key of C#m.
17. “Chainsaw” by Nick Jonas (2016)
This remarkable Nick Jonas song is about wanting to destroy reminders of a relationship gone wrong. He has said that it’s the most personal song he has ever written.
If you’d like to play and sing this breakup song, check out this easy play-along lesson (video below left). With a capo on the second fret, you’ll need to play G, Am, F, C, and Dm. The song is in the key of D.
18. “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak” by Mariah Carey (2003)
You might not think that Mariah Carey would do a cover of a Def Leppard song. But with “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak,” she does so successfully. You can check out the music video for her version here (video above, right).
These chords for the original song can take you through how to play it. You’ll need Am, F, G, Dsus2, Bb, Em9, C, and B. This version and the Mariah Carey version are both in the key of A minor.
19. “Un-Break My Heart” by Toni Braxton (1996)
The writer of this song, Diane Warren, knew it was a hit from the beginning. However, she has said that Toni Braxton hated the song! Still, it charted at #1 in the United States.
If you want to try something a little different, check out this video (below left) for a beautiful fingerstyle tutorial. If you’d prefer to strum, it includes chords as well. The song is in the key of D minor, and you just need to play F#, Bm, Em, A, G, Dm, Gm, C, and Bb.
20. “It’s Too Late” by Carole King (1971)
If you’ve found your relationship ending despite no real wrongdoing on either side, you might appreciate this gentle, nuanced Carole King hit. It includes saxophone, guitar, and piano, and there’s a definite jazz influence.
If you want to learn this Grammy-winning breakup song, check out this detailed and accurate video lesson (above right). The song is in the key of A minor, and you’ll need to play Am7, D6, Gm7, Fmaj7, Bbmaj7, Dm7, Esus4, E7, Gsus4, G7, and Cmaj7.
21. “It’s a Heartache” by Bonnie Tyler (1977)
This was a song recorded shortly after Bonnie Tyler underwent vocal surgery that left her voice even huskier. That huskiness works especially well on this track.
If you’re ready to learn this classic, check out this karaoke-style play-along video! (below left). The song is in the key of C, and you just need to play C, G, Am, and F.
22. “Heartless” by Kanye West (2008)
Some of the best heartbreak songs are up-tempo ones. Kanye himself seemed to enjoy bragging about this one. On his blog, he claimed that “every line could make the ultimate rap hook!”
The original song is in A#m, and this tutorial (video above right) shows you a fun acoustic version. With a capo at the first fret, you’ll just need to play Am7, F, Dm7, and E7.
23. “Stormy Weather” by Etta James (1960)
“Stormy Weather” was initially performed by Ethel Waters in 1933. Artists including Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and Billie Holiday have covered it. But thanks to her captivating voice, Etta James’s version is easily one of the best.
If you’d like to perform your own cover of this much-loved classic, this helpful lesson (video below left) will show you how. You must play Gmaj7, G#dim7, Am7, D7, Bdim7, C#dim7, Cm6, C7, G7, Em7, and Daug. The Etta James version is in C minor, although many covers are in different keys.
24. “I’m Not the Only One” by Sam Smith (2014)
Sam Smith is a master of sad love songs. This one captures the painful realization that a lover has been cheating for a very long time.
This beautifully-done guitar version (video above right) of the song is worth learning! You’ll need a capo at the fifth fret and then just need to play C, E, Am, G, and F. The song is in the key of F.
25. “Back to December” by Taylor Swift (2010)
Taylor Swift has written some of the most popular breakup songs in the world. Fans were thrilled when she eventually revealed this one had been written about her former boyfriend Taylor Lautner.
As many Taylor Swift hits, this one isn’t too tough to play. As you’ll see in this video, you first need a capo at the second fret. From there, you need to play G, Em, C, Am, and F. The song is in the key of D.
Even More Heartbreak Songs
- “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” by Taylor Swift (2012)
- “Grenade” by Bruno Mars (2010)
- “You Were Meant for Me” by Jewel (1995)
- “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” by the Righteous Brothers (1964)
- “Thinking of You” by Katy Perry (2008)
- “Karma” by Alicia Keys (2004)
- “I Get Along Without You Very Well (Except Sometimes)” by Chet Baker (1956)
- “Water Runs Dry” by Boyz II Men (2009)
- “New York” by St. Vincent (2017)
- “Maggie May” by Rod Stewart (1971)
- “Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia (1997)
- “It Ends Tonight” by The All American Rejects (2006)
- “Gonna Hurry (As Slow As I Can)” by Dolly Parton (2009)
- “We Don’t Talk Anymore” by Charlie Puth and Selena Gomez (2016)
- “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver (2007)
From popular breakup songs to hidden gems, we hope these tracks can help you feel even a little bit better. What’s your favorite heartbreak song? Please let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to like and share if you found our list helpful!
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