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5 Stages, 25 Songs: A Heartbreak Playlist

Are your friends tired of handing you tissues while you ugly cry? Have you developed a twitch from checking your phone every five seconds for texts from your ex? Have you forgotten what it’s like to wear real pants because you’ve been living in your sweats for weeks? If so, this playlist goes out to you.

Compiled of everything from old-school mom jams to current pop hits, these songs will provide great background noise while you wallow in self-pity, burn old photographs, or take a Louisville Slugger to both headlights. Remember: if you’re going to feed your soul post-breakup, do it with these tunes instead of raw cookie dough. (Disclaimer: we are in no way condemning raw cookie dough.)

Stage 1: Denial

Common side effects may include:

  • Telling concerned friends that it’s whatever” and that you’re “over it” while furtively and obsessively checking your phone for missed calls or texts
  • Suggesting to your ex that you remain “friends”/ having regrettable late-night encounters


1. Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”

2. Rihanna, “Stay”

3. Chris Young, “I’m Comin’ Over”

4. U2, “With or Without You”

5. A Fine Frenzy, “Ashes and Wine”

Stage 2: Anger

Common side effects may include:

  • Gagging whenever someone talks about their happy relationship and becoming irrationally enraged by cute couples
  • Digging your key into the side of his pretty little souped-up four-wheel drive


11. Carrie Underwood, “Before He Cheats”

12. Christina Aguilera, “Fighter”

13. Alanis Morissette, “You Oughta Know”

14. P!nk, “So What”

15. Lily Allen, “Smile”

Stage 3: Grief 

Common side effects may include:

  • Turning into a walking cliché as you watch “The Notebook” wearing your ex’s sweatshirt while washing down a pint of ice cream with tears and wine
  • Harassing your BFF via text and phone calls by sobbing to them at ungodly hours


6. Dixie Chicks, “Once You’ve Loved Somebody”

7. Taylor Swift, “Forever and Always” (piano version)

8. Coldplay, “Warning Sign”

9. Banks, “Someone New”

10. Colbie Caillat, “I Never Told You”

Stage 4: Acceptance  

Common side effects may include:

  • Realizing you might be better off without your significant other
  • Finally deleting all those old texts you were too scared to erase, “in case you got back together”


16. Taylor Swift, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together

17. Adele, “Turning Tables”

18. Kelly Clarkson, “Since U Been Gone”

19. Leona Lewis, “Better In Time”

20. Beyoncé, “Irreplaceable”

Stage 5: Moving On

Common side effects may include:

  • Allowing your friends to drag you out for a night on the town
  • Finally giving your number to that cute guy from lecture


21. Gloria Gaynor, “I Will Survive”

22. Fleetwood Mac, “Go Your Own Way”

23. Whitney Houston, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”

24. Jay Z, “On To The Next One”

25. Sheryl Crow, “All I Wanna Do”

Images/GIFs: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

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Leah Rosenfield

U Mass Amherst '20

Professional ice skater and polisci major; Lover of all things travel-related or glittery.
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