There are two kinds of songs in the world- songs about when love is good, and songs about unrequited love (okay maybe 3 if you throw in songs about heartbreak). If you’ve ever suffered a heart-break or a crush who didn't feel the same back (which are basically the same thing, right?) then chances are, you still have that mix tape or CD you made of all the songs that made you feel better, or made you feel worse so you could have a good cry. I know I have songs that I can't listen to without feeling a certain type of way, so see if these help you get over it or help you wallow in it…
1. Heartbeats – Jose Gonzalez
Jose Gonzalez works magic on this horrid excuse for a dance track. It’s hard to believe this is the same song as the original, sung by a long-forgotten band called The Knife. This is the anthem for lovers who never got to say good-bye, whose love outlived the time they could spend together. Play it as quiet as you can, and his voice is an intimate, pained whisper.
2. Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley
At some point in his woefully short life, Jeff Buckley had his heart broken. There’s no way he could sing this song with as much heart-wrenching sorrow if he hadn’t. Leonard Cohen’s original is great, but it lacks the searing, harrowing anguish of Buckley’s take.
3. Dammit – Blink 182
The break-up made you angry… she, the perfect indie girl, left you for a total douche bag. This is the perfect song for anyone who’s been unjustly dumped for someone who’s so much less worthy. Perhaps you've even loved someone and been glanced over for someone else- good ol' unrequited love! (Sigh) If you like this one, try “Gives You Hell” by the All-American Rejects; it's perfect for purging any romantic feeling you might have.
4. Pictures of You - the Cure
Does The Cure have any songs that aren’t written for the broken-hearted? This is far and away my favorite though, so sorrowful and poignant. From its opening line (“I’ve been looking so long at these pictures of you/that I almost believe that they’re real…”) to its melancholy ending, it’s gorgeous… Truly the epitome of songs about unrequited love.
5. Delicate – Damien Rice
Damien Rice’s rough-and-tumble vocal acrobatics are perfectly suited for this song, a tale of a hidden, forbidden love. He knew when he fell in love that she was already taken, but he couldn’t help himself. Sound familiar? He’s raspy, off-key, but it actually adds to the heartbreak of the song, and you wish he had been able to keep the girl. The live version on YouTube is great, but listen to it quietly in the dark of your room, looking out the window on the falling snow to get the best heart-broken effect.
6. Rebound (Acoustic) – Sebadoh
No-one wants to be the rebound lover, but sometimes maybe it’s not so bad. Sometimes, despite the warnings and apprehension, you can fall in love while you’re still mourning someone else. The lyrics are concise, brilliant, truthful. The time you’ll spend digging up the acoustic version is worth it — the regular version sounds too angry for the stark honesty of the lyrics to cry your eyes out to when you're listening to songs about unrequited love but sadly, the acoustic version is nowhere to be found on YouTube…
7. I Wanna Be Adored – the Stone Roses
Who doesn’t want to be loved? This band is seriously under-rated; especially when it comes to songs about unrequited love. This is one of their best songs because it's beautiful, sad, and full of much understood longing. He doesn’t wish for a particular girl, just someone to adore him… could it be you?
8. Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses – U2
Unrequited love is bad, but even worse is love that was given, then taken away. Bono’s voice matches perfectly with the dejected lyrics, wallowing in misery… this is the perfect song if you know damn well the new love will never replace you because they can’t possibly love your ex the way you do. If you like this one, also try “One.” Listen to both of them loud, loud as you can.
Written by Prince, but completely owned by Irish pixie Sinead O’Connor. She’s wrung-out, numb, measuring out the hours and days since her lover left. You feel her heartbreak in the tremble of her voice, but she’s angry, too, and that makes this song so much more vivid, so much more real.
So grab your box of Kleenex, turn off the lights, grab your iPod, and take some time to mourn your loss by listening to these fantastic songs about unrequited love. Cry a little or a lot, and move on. Any of these songs will help! Which of these is the best broken-heart song? Is there another song that comes to mind for you?