There’s nothing better than the right music to help ease the pains of a break up. “Breaking up is hard to do,” sang Neil Sedaka. Years later this very song was performed by Brenda, Donna, Kelly, and the crazy girl Emily who set things on fire, on Beverly Hills, 90210. It was a moving performance. I was moved to make this Break Up Mix. Because, I’ve been there. And let me tell you, the hardest thing about dating a musicians is deleting all of his music from your computer when you break up. Don’t let this happen to you. Listen to this instead.
1. You Oughta Know (Acoustic Album Version) — Alanis Morissette.
No, I know, I know. This is expected. But this is a different version than the angry one you’re used to. This one is sad, full of yearning. “Is she perverted like me?” Alanis asks, not in an accusing way, but mournfully. No, Alanis. No she is not.
2. The Tracks Of My Tears — Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.
“So take a good look at my face you’ll see my smile looks out of place/If you look closer it’s easy to trace the tracks of my tears.” This is depressing but in that fun, classic, early 60s way. Don’t worry about it, everyone. Uncle Smokey’s here.
3. Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want — The Smiths.
This is also expected. But having a break-up mix without The Smiths is like having a Kardashian wedding without millions of dollars. It’s just wrong.
4. Take A Bow — Madonna.
Don’t forget the signature dance move — lean against a wall and slowly slide down, sobbing.
5. I Will Always Love You (original) — Dolly Parton.
Dolly wote this song and I still think her version is superior. This is perfectly fine to sing to. It’s the beginning of the mix. We’ll turn it around by the end. For now, you can always love them. Feel sorry for yourself.
6. Sorrow (cover) — David Bowie.
Hey check out the music video for this. Just do it, you’re probably procrastinating anyway. “With your long blonde hair, I couldn’t sleep last night.” Man, this happens to me ALL THE TIME. We’re still feeling sorry for ourselves, which is obvious, as this song features a violin. Or something with strings.
7. Take Me As I Am — Au Revoir Simone.
This song works if you were the break up leader or the one broken up with. Because either way you’re just saying, “Hey man, take me as I am. This is how I am. Take it.” And if they don’t want to take it? You hold your head high, because we have Kanye coming up next.
8. Heartless — Kanye West.
The only break up song to reference Austin Powers. When Kanye gets broken up with, he gets angry. And he breaks his MacBook Air. And he binges on autotune. And probably buys fur towels and champagne toothpaste or some other wonderful, useless, expensive thing.
9. Bloody Mary — Lady Gaga.
A song about devotion. And Jesus. Talk about the ultimate break up! But with a really great beat.
10. This Is Not A Test — She & Him.
Zooey I have no idea what this song is about. But it really helped me through my break up. When I hear it I picture an episode of some high school TV show, like Freaks & Geeks or The Wonder Years in those scenes where the camera pulls back, focused on our hero, as he watches the girl he loves walk off with the jock. Because he’s a band geek or likes math or whatever, he doesn’t get a chance. But now he’s a billionaire thanks to the Internet. But he’s still listening to this song, on his computer, and a tear is maybe falling down his cheek.
That’s what you guys had in mind when you wrote this, right?
11. You’re So Vain — Carly Simon.
Now we’re getting to the part of the mix where we’re ANGRY. We’re standing up and saying, “Hey wait a minute, I’m not the chump here. I’m not the one who walked into a party like I was walking onto a yacht with an apricot scarf. I’m not Chevy Chase. I wasn’t the problem in this relationship! YOU WERE THE ONE WHO GAVE AWAY THE THINGS YOU LOVED. AND ONE OF THEM WAS ME.” On a totally unrelated note, I had some dreams there were clouds in my coffee. Clouds. In my coffee.
12. Fly — Nicki Minaj featuring Rihanna.
Nicki Minaj has our backs. She just gets it. She gets what it’s like to try and fail and try and fail and then succeed and dress like Lady Gaga. You came to win and to conquer and to thrive, though not necessarily in that order. Rihanna knows this, Nicki knows this, why don’t you? Listen to these girls. You’re going to prosper.
13. Strong Enough — Cher.
No wait, come back, don’t leave me. Hear me out. The beginning of this starts with a sort of half-sung monologue where Cher addresses the one who cheated on her. Then whoa, whoa, whoa what’s going on here? It suddenly turns into a dance club. Oh, we’re dancing now. We’re strong enough. Gentlemen, throw your hands up. No one has to see you. But I’m telling you, if you just got your heart broken or if you quit your job or if you wish you yelled at that waiter at Denny’s who called you fat, this is your time to shine. Stand up, wave your arms around, and let Cher help you through this. Through early 00’s disco.
14. It’s My Life — Bon Jovi.
Oh yeah, this is happening. Now we’re at the part of the mix where we’re like, “Hey, wait another minute, this is my life, I don’t want to waste it on this. It’s now or never.” Because in the wise words of Bon Jovi, “I just wanna live while I’m alive.” The profundity is staggering. Go find a car and jump on top of it and blast this song as you pump your fist into the air. Or no, swing a golf club over your head. Don’t ask me why, just do it.
15. My High — Jonna Lee.
No really, this song helped me a lot through my break up. “You mean nothing to me now!” I sang along gleefully with Jonna Lee, as I drove to Subway and then ate a really big sandwich in my car.
16. Freedom! ’90 — George Michael.
This song is here because it will make you feel whole again. It is here because it will make you dance if you let it. It’s about having pride and standing your ground and having a life you like. Or maybe it’s just about George Michael. But in some ways, isn’t there a little George Michael in all of us?
17. Missing You — Tina Turner.
You know what? You ain’t missing him at all. You ain’t missing her at all. No one is missing anyone. Are you missing them? YOU AIN’T MISSING THEM AT ALL. Do me a favor and get in your shower and sing this as loud as you can. Question: are you missing him/her at all? You ain’t missing him/her at all. If you’re still confused, please refer to the lyrics:
I ain’t missing you at all …ow…(missing you)
since you’ve been gone away (missing you),
I ain’t missing you (missing you)
No matter what my friends say (missing you)
I ain’t missing you
I ain’t missing you.. I can’t lie to myself
And there’s a storm that’s raging
through my frozen heart tonight
I ain’t missing you at all
I ain’t missing you…missing you
I ain’t missing you, oh no
I ain’t missing you, I ain’t missing you
I ain’t missing you, I ain’t missing you
I ain’t missing you, I ain’t missing you.
Missing them. You ain’t.
Artwork by Emily.