Some people are really helpful. You know the kind. They’ll be on hand to offer a word or two of wisdom when you’re in your deepest, darkest hour of need that cuts right to the core of your problem: “there’s plenty more fish in the sea”, “it’s better to have loved and lost then to have not loved at all” etc. And of course, you’re expected to be grateful for this: “Very useful. No really, thank you. You’ve profoundly managed to grasp exactly how I feel with that stock phrase and it’s made me feel a whole lot better about the fact my entire world has just crumbled to dust from the weight of a single sunbeam… Why are we friends again?”


When you’ve just had your chest driven through by the Dumper Truck, there’s a certain narcissism that kicks in that assumes that no one could ever possibly understand the way you feel. EVER. Self-pity and self-indulgence know no bounds at this stage and the miss-the-point-platitudes of well-intentioned-but-pretty-much-clueless friends aren’t going to even touch your abyss of eternal despair. So, just fuck off and leave me alone, OK?!

This is a universal plight. Everyone endures this at some stage. Even Kanye West. It’s the reason why record labels make Love compilations that contain only songs about unrequited love, and failed love, and doomed love, but never I’m-really-bloody-happy love. It’s also why Whitney Houston can sell ten trillion copies of a song that sounds like the Holocaust turned up to 11. The problem is, all of these songs are terrible, designed specifically for stupid people who don’t like music. They are the aural equivalent of Peaches Geldof making a documentary about Islam.

When you’re wallowing, you need a soundtrack of mutual understanding. You need to know that your suffering is not new. You need a soundtrack that doesn’t judge you for your inability to get out of bed before you have to go to bed again, or that you’ve spent the last 17 days eating only Jaffa Cakes and crying so hard into your pillow it’s turned transparent. You need a soundtrack that documents what comes just AFTER the end of the world.

Of Montreal – “The Past Is A Grotesque Animal”


The title is misleading. The past is NOT a grotesque animal. You wish it was. Your recently deceased past is the foreign country of paradise made from hugs, mix CDs and comfortable silences from which you have been extradited and can only now live in the memory of. And it doesn’t matter how many times you watch Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind. This song is eleven minutes long, which gives you just about enough time, if you concentrate really hard, to forget for about two minutes that your life is ruined. Use the repeat button.

Sample lyric: “Though our love project has so much potential, it’s like we weren’t made for this world”

LCD Soundsystem – “Someone Great”


James Murphy has the same ability that New Order once had to make really euphoric dance music that’s sadder than an NSPCC marketing campaign. It’s like Ben & Jerry’s made from the bones of a thousand crushed kittens. The fact that this song could also be interpreted as referring to someone dying is a level of meaning that only ups the trauma. Because realising this will then also remind you that the person you’re pining for is not dead, but, in fact, alive and well, probably on a date at Megabowl having Megalaughs with someone Megabetter than you who they don’t hate. Utter crushing realisation that you can dance to (but you wont. You Megacan’t).

Sample lyric: “The worst is all the lovely weather, I’m stunned it’s not raining.”

Big Star - “Holocaust”


Not all heartbreak songs have to be biographical. As your self-pitying will likely encourage, misanthropy and self-hatred will be very prominent feelings. Darkness envelopes you. You will turn the mirror on yourself. You are the reason for this failed relationship. You didn’t learn. You couldn’t change. Only the pure and utter terror doom of the heaviest song will reflect your inescapable failings. And other than Whitney Houston, there’s nothing more soul destroying than the reality of the Holocaust.

Sample lyric: “You’re a wasted face, you’re a sad-eyed lie, you’re a holocaust”

Daniel Johnston – “Some Things Last A Long Time”


Save a few obsessions with Mountain Dew and the Devil, Daniel Johnston’s entire career has been concerned with the fact that he cannot get over one girl whom he never dated or even spoke to. Pretty creepy, until you see that big cute Labrador smile of his. She married an undertaker; he appeared on Kurt Cobain’s chest. Things didn’t work out so bad. But fame and critical acclaim aside, Johnston understands the notion of absence better than any, constantly trapped inside the prison of one memory that never seems to fade. HEAVY. He also still lives with his parents, like you do now since you found your stuff in the street last Monday. You and Danny J: two peas in a pod. Harrowing.

Sample lyric: “Some things last a life time”

Arab Strap – “If There’s No Hope For Us”


Yeah yeah, you were the best couple ever. Never argued. Great sex, always. Their parent’s loved you. Perfect. How could it fail? Erm, because you got comfortable and fat and stopped closing the door when you went to the toilet.

Sample lyric: “You said we can still be friends, ?but we both know that we won’t??, and your mates all laugh and smile as if they know something I don’t”

Sebadoh – “Think (Let Tomorrow Bee)”


This song is slightly undermined by the fact that Lou Barlow wrote it as part of an album about a failed relationship that then subsequently won back the affections of the girl in question. Kind of questions your authenticity, Lou. You, on the other hand, will have no such dilemma. It’s over. Face it.

Sample lyric: “And though this has to end, I hope I’m always with you, honestly your friend”

Tyrone Davis  - “Can I Change My Mind”


There’s a common perception that only those who are dumped can be heartbroken. Not true. The dumpee can also often be distraught, having spent many soul searching days/weeks/months wrestling with the decision, coming to the conclusion that it’s ultimately for the best, but left with the realisation that three years have been wasted and the whole process has to start again from scratch. And to make matters worse, what if they don’t even care?

Sample lyric: “Aww, she didn’t bat an eye, as I packed my bags to leave”

PJ Harvey – “Rid of Me”


When you’ve been killed by love, you sometimes do really horrifically stupid things that will make you cringe for the rest of your life. 3am phone calls always seem like a good idea when you’re full of Lambrini. They’re not.  Perhaps it’s a good idea to have your friends forcibly remove you from your phone, or maybe you could delete that eleven-digit number yourself? And chill out on the Facebook/MySpace/LastFM stalking too. Looking at pictures of your ex innocuously getting up close with some random stranger is so sadomasochistic it makes PJ Harvey seem sane (she’s not).

Sample lyric:” Yeah, you’re not rid of me, I’ll make you lick my injuries, I’m gonna twist your head off”

Leonard Cohen – “Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye”


Ignore the fact that Leonard Cohen has slept with more women than you’ve had wanks, this is doomed heartbreak at its rawest. Apparently about an argument with “the wrong woman in the wrong room, both vying for unconditional victory”. That’s your life that is.

Sample lyric: “But now it’s come to distances and both of us must try, your eyes are soft with sorrow, hey, that’s no way to say goodbye”

Stars – “Your Ex-Lover is Dead”

This song has purposefully been listed last. You have to treat “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead” with kitten gloves. It is the Mortal Combat Finishing Move of heartbreak songs. I offer this with the warning that, if this catches you at the wrong moment on the wrong day, your heart will involuntarily tear from your chest like you’re birthing an alien made of stillborn dreams of young love. Maybe it’s the traded boy/girl verses that build like a crushing waterfall of emotion. Maybe it’s the opening sample that endorses self-destruction when all other options fail. Maybe it’s the stark finality in the proclamation of the title. Or maybe it’s because this song is the inescapable realisation that love is a finite thing, that neither time, nor money, nor will, nor rose-tinted nostalgia can overcome. JEEEEEESUS!

Sample lyric: “I’m not sorry it’s over, I’m not sorry I met you, I’m not sorry there’s nothing to save”