Staff Picks: Best Breakup Albums


Image via Kristopher Harris, Wikimedia Commons

Adele performs in Nashville in 2016.

By The Pitt News Staff

Ah, l’amour. You can’t escape it, especially this time of year with Feb. 14 on the horizon.

In truth, we’d rather stay at home and relax than go out to a packed restaurant spending money on overpriced food. So if you want to bask in your aloneness this Valentine’s weekend, how about indulging yourself in a karaoke session with all the best breakup albums. We’ve got songs about vengeance, we’ve got piano-driven power ballads, rock and roll tear-jerkers. You’ve got the pick of the litter with these staff picks — crank up your Spotify and get going.

Kelly Clarkson, “Breakaway” // Gabby Garvin, For The Pitt News

Released in 2004, Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway” has been empowering women through their breakups for decades. Clarkson provides a series of songs in this album that convey not only anger and devastation, but a sense of longing and admiration for the relationship that has 

ended. Breakups aren’t always as straightforward as they seem, and Kelly’s display of the rollercoaster of emotions behind them makes the album perfectly nostalgic when you’re in your feels. And just to make it better, the leading song on the album, “Breakaway,” is included in “The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement.”

The album brought many songs to the table that continue to fill people across the globe with empowerment and nostalgia, especially as an iconic collection from the early 2000s. The most popular song on the album is “Since U Been Gone.” The song literally screams independence, as Clarkson recognizes her worth aside from her significant other. To follow, the album provides yet another hit, “Because of You” which follows the natural phases of losing someone; when anger turns to fear. All in all, if you’re looking for an album to both hype you up and cry with, “Breakaway” is a timeless option.

Literally all of Adele’s albums // Diana Velasquez, Culture Editor 

I have spent many rainy afternoons curled up under the covers listening to “Someone Like You,” watching droplets roll down the window. Very main character energy, I know, but sometimes you deserve to take center stage in life after a particularly bad breakup. Adele is known for her songs of love and heartbreak, and while I’m of the opinion that “21” is her best album, there are bops on every album to satisfy that post-breakup heartache. So all of her albums it is.

“Chasing Pavements” from “19” is a wonderful testament to Adele’s younger days of love, and more of a “moving on” kind of breakup song for when you’re feeling like you can let go. If you want to bask in all the anger and heartache you’re feeling, “Set Fire To The Rain” from “21” is something to scream to — though we may never aspire to Adele’s singing level. And how could I forget “Hello” from “25” which broke the internet with its iconic music video? Recently I’ve taken to listening to 25’s “Love in the Dark” when feeling lovelorn. This one lyric “Please, don’t fall apart. I can’t face your breaking heart” — I could sob reading that on its own. Or you could pick literally any song from her new album “30,” “Easy on Me” is quickly becoming a classic. I hope y’all have a box of tissues ready after listening to these. Or maybe just let the tears flow for the aesthetic.

Fleetwood Mac, “Rumours” // Patrick Swain, Staff Writer

John Mulaney once described “Rumours” as “an album written by and for people cheating on each other.” Decades later, it still holds up as the perfect breakup record.

Most songwriters penning a breakup song dissect their relationship ills outside the band. Fleetwood Mac were much too involved amongst themselves to follow this norm. John and Christine McVie were ringing in their eighth year of marriage. Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham enjoyed a friends-with-benefits situationship. Mick Fleetwood was married to Jenny Boyd, sister-in-law to George Harrison (and later Eric Clapton). This fragile balance didn’t hold for long, though — the McVies ended their marriage, Nicks and Buckingham fought and feuded in the off stages of their on-off, and Boyd cheated on Fleetwood with his best friend.

Enter “Rumours.” The premise seems absurd and awkward — the musicians collaborated to write and record songs about their splintering relationships within the band. Still, by the power of their songwriting prowess, these interpersonal perspectives coalesce in a perfect pop piece, filled to the brim with lust, debauchery and yearning. Few albums have so perfectly captured universal themes of relationship angst as “Rumours,” hence, it has become one of the most commercially successful records of all time.

Taylor Swift, Red (Taylor’s Version) // Julia DiPietro, Staff Writer 

Thirty beautifully heartwrenching songs to sob to, with a short film masterpiece to go along with it. On Nov. 12, 2021, “Red (Taylor’s Version)” dropped, leaving no spirits unshattered. Taylor Swift walks listeners through the stages of a relationship — the meet-cute, the talking phase, the falling and the heartbreak. Do not be fooled by the title — “Red” might represent all things love, but Swift dishes out some of her most cry worthy material in this album. All the original songs from the first release in 2012 are featured, as well as nine new additions “from the vault.” One song to definitely check out is “I Bet You Think About Me.” Mixed with country and pop, these lyrics perfectly capture the pettiness and drama after the fall out of a messy break up.

The biggest component of “Red (Taylor’s Version)” is the 10-minute version of “All Too Well.” Swift walks listeners through a whirlwind story of a not-so-perfect relationship that she went through during a young age. Because of the meaningfulness behind this time in her life, Swift wrote and directed a short film based on it. It stars Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien and takes place in upstate New York in autumn. To summarize the raw emotion conveyed in this album, here’s a line from “All Too Well” — “And you call me up again just to break me like a promise. So casually cruel in the name of being honest.”

Olivia Rodrigo, “SOUR” // Katelyn Kruszewski, Staff Writer 

Nominated for seven Grammys, teen pop star Olivia Rodrigo delivers “Sour” for your most brutal breakups. The Disney star was rumored to have had a relationship with her co-star Joshua Bassett in “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.” The plot thickened when Bassett allegedly was seen going out with former Disney star Sabrina Carpenter.

Rodrigo’s “SOUR” is heavily rumored to be about her relationship with Bassett and is essentially telling her side of the story. Released in 2021, Rodrigo shocked young adults with songs such as “Drivers License,” “Deja Vu,” “Good 4 You” and more. Fans of the TV show found multiple parallels between Rodrigo’s harsh lyrics and Bassett’s actions.

The album goes through multiple stages of breakups highlighting the initial anger, heartbreak and acceptance. “SOUR” perfectly captures that breakup pettiness that most of us endure after a relationship ends. The album portrays feelings of betrayal in a beautiful raw way that we can all relate to supplying a fantastic album to jam to if you’re in the mood for revenge.