“That’s the thing about breakups”, said John Green (probably), “they demand to be felt.” For anyone who’s been recently broken up with, heartbreak is here and it’s now. Because breakups demand to be felt, artists react to their anger, anguish, and sadness through poetry, song, and prose. And those who weren’t broken up with, the heartbreakers, write about their feelings, too. Though the post-breakup emotional spectrum varies on an individual level, these queer musicians manifest their pain, emotional catharses, and eventual hell-raising with these heartbreak anthems:
6. For anyone who’s regretted messing up a relationship:
“Gravity Don’t Pull Me” by Rostam
“Gravity Don’t Pull Me” plays like the aftermath of breaking someone’s heart, and in the process, breaking your own. Rostam, who sings about the worst things he ever did to an ex-boyfriend, invites you to listen to his regret, and find solace with the feeling that messing a relationship with someone can, unfortunately, be irreparable.
5. For Celebrating Cutting Off A Relationship With A Toxic Person:
“Call It Off” by Shamir
Shamir Bailey is serious about cutting off toxic people from his life. In a stunning piece of electro-dance pop, Shamir boycotts any further contemplation about sustaining a toxic relationship by singing, “It’s time to call it off / It’s time to walk out the door / It’s time to get gone”.
Shamir is here to sing about ditching trashy situations like gaslighting by urging you to live your best life, even if that includes cutting off that person who can’t seem to commit.
4. For Experiencing Bittersweet Emotions:
“Touch” by Shura
Love is as non-linear as it is messy. Shura’s “Touch” delves into the ambiguity of wanting to go home with her former lover because there’s a love between them, how bittersweet it feels to see her and how, while they both would ideally turn back, she knows it would be a worse course of action. With the fuzzy analogue synths Shura co-produced, she croons of how “All I wanna do is go home with you / But I know I’m out of my mind”.
3. For Someone Who’s Longing To Quit A Relationship Gone Sour:
“I Want To Break Free” by Queen
Freddy Mercury, the bisexual head of Queen, in perhaps one of the most controversial music videos of the 1980s, delivered a song that doubles as a declaratory breakup anthem about someone who wants to break free, though they can’t seem to keep living without their former lover, however self-satisfied they seem to be.
Alternatively, this song has also been perceived as an LGBT anthem for wanting to break free from the lies modern societies have perpetuated about LGBT romances being wrong. Among its most controversial lines is the repetition of “God knows, I want to break free / God knows, god knows I’ve fallen in love” to reassert that if anyone knows his love for another (man) is real, it is God.
2. For anyone who’s been deceived by someone’s intentions:
“Perfect Illusion” by Lady Gaga
Mother Monster said it herself, some people will deceive you with their intentions. They’ll take you out for coffee, plan elaborate dates, and mislead you ’til they decide the show is over. Gaga writes about getting caught up in someone’s “show” and, belting out how, while she mistook it for love, ultimately, “it was a perfect illusion”.
Though Gaga is not criminally underrated, this song just had to make the cut.
1. for anyone who wants to listen to what emotional catharsis sounds like:
“Just Sayin/I Tried” by The Internet
“Just Sayin/I Tried”, a two-part song, walks you through the process of realizing how bad someone messed up until you find peace in knowing it wasn’t your fault. “Just Sayin” starts with choruses of “I don’t love you no’ more” over The Internet’s smooth neo-soul percussion. “I Tried” is set in the future where the idea that the two people will ever find common ground will happen “when the ocean’s cold and the pigs all fly”. Talk about emotional catharsis.
But, in all seriousness, if you’re in doubt about whether a prospective relationship will take off or if the person contracted a case of Cold Feet™, do yourself a favor and give a little call to Shamir.
If you’re curious, here’s a Spotify playlist of these songs: