The Ultimate Breakup Soundtrack – Sad Songs Alleviate Suffering

* 64% of people agree that they listen to music more often after a breakup
* 73% of people said that listening to a heartfelt song helped them achieve a sense of relief after a relationship breakdown
* ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ – Sinead O’Connor voted the number one breakup song of all time
* The 90’s provided us with the most iconic breakup songs of all time, followed by the 70’s and noughties in joint place
* Results are from a new survey of 1200 people by, the UK’s leading affairs site, the UK’s leading dating site for married people, polled 1200 men and women, split equally, to uncover the ultimate breakup playlist.

Spokesperson for, Jessica Leoni has compiled and commented on the results below:

Ever had your heart broken? It can feel so devastating it’s often difficult to know what to do to make yourself feel better. Turns out prescribing a course of medicinal music could be just the remedy for a spell of lovesickness.

64% of the respondents polled agree that they listen to music more often after a break up compared to the average day. A further 73% agreed that listening to a heartfelt song helped them achieve a sense of relief after a relationship breakdown. Seeking out depressing music when you’re sad actually has a paradoxical effect by making us feel better.

A separate study*, that supports this idea, of 772 participants by researchers at Freie Universität Berlin found that your brain experiences cognitive rewards when exposed to sad music as we connect and identify with the songs.

It’s not unheard of to channel suffering into art and arguably some of the most beautiful creations have been inspired from a place of pain – and music is no different. On that note, here are the results of the poll, giving you the top 15 breakup songs of all time.

Sinéad O’Connor, Irish singer-songwriter, has won the number one breakup song of all time with 1990 track ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ cover of Prince’s song with 14% of the vote. Sinéad O’Connor has often sparked controversy in her personal life – though she has largely attempted to shy away from the limelight opting to live, as she professes, “in a lovely little village with no-one but eccentrics and cows on one side and ducks on the other.” It’s fantastic to see her win top spot in the ultimate breakup playlist, coinciding with the release of her tell-all autobiography ‘Rememberings’. It is evident her music is just as current now as it was in the 90s.

Swedish pop band Abba, one of the top earning artists of all time, wins second place with ‘The Winner Takes All’ (1980) (12%). The group consisted of two married couples who eventually brokeup in the public eye – and their later music reflected these emotional experiences. Imagine singing a breakup song to the world written about you by your ex-husband – bittersweet.

Third place goes to English singer-songwriter Adele ‘Someone Like You’ (2011) with 11% of the vote. Adele rose to fame with her soulful renditions of love and heartbreak. Last year she announced that a new album was on it’s way citing September 2020 as the release date – but that’s been delayed because of covid. We can expect great things from Adele’s new album – fingers crossed we get to hear it this year.

Fourth place is ‘Crying’ (1962) by Roy Orbison (9.5%), followed by ‘I Will Survive’ (1978) by Gloria Gaynor in fifth place (8%).

Sixth place goes to the late Amy Winehouse with ‘Back to Black’ (2006) and 7% of the vote. Amy Winehouse had a unique style – bringing together many different genres of music from jazz, soul and R&B. A legend in her own right, her music continues to have an impact.

Seventh place is ‘I Will Always Love You’ (1992) by the late Whitney Houston (6.5%).

Bill Withers, who sadly passed away last year, takes eighth place with the timeless track ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ (1971) and 6% of the vote.

Ninth place goes to ‘Say Something’ (2014) by A Great Big World feat Christina Aguilera (4.5%), followed by ‘Without You’ (1994) by Mariah Carey in tenth place (4%) cover of 1971 hit by Harry Nilsson.

Eleventh top breakup song goes to Coldplay with track ‘Fix You’ (2005) (3.5%), followed by Britney Spears in twelfth place (3%) with ‘Everytime’ (2003) and Eric Carmen’s hit ‘All by Myself’ (1996) in thirteenth spot (2.5%).

Second to last, in fourteenth place (2%) is Al Green’s track ‘How Can You Mend a Broken Heart’ (1972).

In last place, with 0.5% of the vote is Sam Smith’s ‘Dancing With A Stranger’ (2020) in fifteenth place, the most recently released track in the top 15 breakup songs of all time.

It’s interesting to note that the 90’s brought about the most iconic breakup songs of all time with a whopping 4 tracks belonging to this decade alone, followed by the 70’s and the noughties tying with 3 tracks each in the top 15.

Top 15 Breakup Songs of All Time 
‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ (1990) – Sinead O’Connor 14%
‘The Winner Takes It All’ (1980) – Abba 12%
‘Someone Like You’ (2011) – Adele 11%
‘Crying’ (1962) – Roy Orbison  9.5%
‘I Will Survive’(1978) – Gloria Gaynor 8%
‘Back To Black’(2006) – Amy Winehouse 7%
‘I Will Always Love You’ (1992) – Whitney Houston 6.5%
‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ (1971) – Bill Withers 6%
‘Say Something’ (2014) – A Great Big World feat Christina Aguilera 4.5%
‘Without You’ (1994) – Mariah Carey 4%
‘Fix You’ (2005) – Coldplay 3.5%
‘Everytime’(2003) – Britney Spears 3%
‘All by Myself’ (1996) – Eric Carmen 2.5%
‘How Can You Mend a Broken Heart’ (1972) – Al Green 2%
‘Dancing With A Stranger’ (2020) – Sam Smith 0.5%
Other – 6%

* Taruffi L, Koelsch S (2014) The Paradox of Music-Evoked Sadness

NOTES TO EDITOR is the UK’s leading dating website for married people and the leading authority on infidelity. With over 1,000,000 genuine UK users since 2004, you’re sure to find your perfect match.

Established in 2004, we have been providing a meeting place for like-minded married and attached people for nearly 12 years. Our members have one thing in common – they are all looking for a little romance outside their current relationship. Whether that’s the occasional bit of flirtatious chat, a regular coffee date, or a full-blown affair, that’s up to them.

Check out what our users are saying to each other in our live Lockdown Forum:
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