The year is just about done and OMG, has it been a doozy. I don’t know about you, but it’s felt like just one continuous streak of “WTF?” and “Is this really happening?” and “How is this possibly getting worse?” one right after the other. And what’s better for getting through a tough time than throwing on some sad tunes, getting really into your feelings, and having a good cry? Nothing, I tell ya!
The one happy upside of all of the sadness going on this year is that it’s given the best musicians around some fodder for kick ass (yet still very sad) songs. So whether you’re dealing with some love life troubles, feeling a little general malaise about the world, or you’re just wanting to lean into your emotional side, these are some of the best sad songs to come out in 2021.
“Drivers License,” by Olivia Rodrigo
You don’t even have to be in high school to relate to Olivia Rodrigo’s teenage heartache. If you’ve somehow made it through 2021 without hearing this song a bajillion times, let me fill you in: yes, it’s about getting your drivers license, but it’s also about looking back on a relationship that you thought was going to last forever while you’re now brokenhearted and alone.
“Happier Than Ever,” by Billie Eilish
This song will take you through a whole emotional journey in just a few minutes. It starts off super sweet and folk-y, with Billie singing about being happier when you’re away from someone, and then the song builds to an intense rock explosion, letting out all the anger about how badly that person treated you. It’s honestly therapeutic to listen to.
“Rubberband,” by Tate McRae
Have you ever ended something knowing it’s bad for you, but then can’t help but constantly think about that person? And you’re confused, and sad, and just want yourself to snap out of it? Well, this song’s about that.
“Girls Like Us,” by Zoe Wees
Call me crazy, but there’s nothing I like more than an upbeat song paired with sad lyrics, and oh man, does this song have some devastatingly sad ones. Zoe Wees is speaking to the girls out there who feel like they’ve been hurt by everyone, even the people they love, and don’t know how to trust anyone again. It’s truly heartbreaking.
“Meaningless,” by Charlotte Cardin
Charlotte Cardin’s voice is so silky smooth that she could sing about literally anything and I would still listen to the album on repeat forever. This particular song is about being left by someone and feeling like life without them is totally meaningless and all you want is for them to come back.
“We Were Happy,” by Taylor Swift
You can’t have a list of sad songs and not include T-Swift. (I’m pretty sure that’s a federal offense or something??) But her re-release of Fearless brought us this previously unreleased gem. It gets into what it’s like looking back on the happy moments of a relationship, which TBH, can be the most painful part of a breakup.
“Spaceman,” by Nick Jonas
If you want a song that’s VERY 2021, put this on. Nick Jonas took all the feelings we’ve felt since the start of the pandemic and boiled them down to three minutes. Feeling disconnected, being frustrated over politics, COVID case numbers, taking your face mask off—it truly has it all.
“Reason to Believe,” by Vagabon (ft. Courtney Barnett)
There’s nothing more confusing than having someone straight up lie to you, but deep down you’re still hoping they give you a reason to believe them, and this song captures that perfectly.
“Remember That Night?” by Sara Kays
This song will reaaalllllyy hit home for a lot of people because so many of us have been through this exact situation. You’ve taken your time, finally gotten over someone and then BAM, they decide to pop back into your life. But then just as quickly, they’re gone again, leaving you right back where you started.
“Traitor,” by Olivia Rodrigo
Just because someone didn’t technically cheat, doesn’t mean they’re innocent. And if they break up with you and almost immediately start dating the person you were worried they might be cheating with?? Seems pretty suspect if you ask me!! It’s a total perfect storm for feeling wildly betrayed, but thankfully Olivia channeled those feelings into this perfect song.
“Reckless,” by Madison Beer
It just so happens that this song is also about being suspicious of the person you’re dating and then, after you two break up, they get together with the person you were suspicious of in the first place. TBH, it’s sad that there are so many of these, but this song’s got such a hauntingly beautiful melody to it that you’ll want to hear it over and over.
“Faith Healer,” by Julien Baker
Everyone has vices, but this song focuses on the ones that you might think are helping you, and maybe they’re even bringing you some temporary relief, but when it comes down to it, they’re doing much more harm than good.
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