33 Beautiful, Emotional Songs to Be Sad, Reflective, Depressed, and Melancholy To
Why Would I Want to Listen to Sad Music?
Music is one of the many things that causes us to experience complex emotions and, while happiness is a worthwhile endeavor, there is validity, purpose, and meaning in our sadness. Sure, I like to tap my toes to a happy tune as much as the next person, but tapping into the deep stuff can also be an extremely worthwhile and cathartic endeavor.
There is much meaning that can be derived from melancholy. In fact, sad music does not merely evoke sadness. Researchers have discovered that, sometimes, listening to sad music actually makes us feel happier, more romantic, less doomed, and supports our emotional well-being. Another study found that listeners felt less gloomy and miserable and more cheery, animated, and inclined to dance when they listened to sad music. So, in order to help with this uplifting/melancholic process, I have collected songs (listed here in no particular order) that have "sad" written all over them. Whenever I hear these songs, I'm reminded about certain large and important aspects of the human condition. While they are not always happy, they ring true.
Most Beautiful, Sad Songs
1. "Hometown Glory"
2. "Young and Beautiful"
Lana Del Ray
3. "The Call"
4. "I Will Always Love You"
5. "Sweet Disposition"
The Temper Trap
6. "Back to Black"
7. "With or Without You"
Scala and Kolacny Brothers
8. "Fix You"
9. "Somebody That I Used to Know"
10. "Remember When it Rained"
11. "You Found Me"
12. "My Immortal"
15. "How to Save a Life"
16. "Let Go"
17. "May it Be"
18. "Say Something"
A Great Big World
19. "Let Her Go"
20. "Battle Scars"
Lupe Fiasco and Guy Sebastian
21. "Stay With Me"
22. "Forever & Always"
23. "I Can't See Nobody"
24. "Eleanor Rigby"
25. "I Will Remember You"
26. "A Candle in the Wind: A Princess Diana Tribute"
27. "Time to Say Goodbye"
Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman
29. "Almost Lover"
A Fine Frenzy
30. "Everybody Hurts"
31. "Watercolor Lake"
32. "Chasing Cars"
33. "In My Veins"
Andrew Belle featuring Erin McCarley
Although we humans possess an amazing ability to rise up from the ground and overcome what hurts us, there are times when we just have to take the time to be sad. (And rise up from the ground and overcome what hurts us after that.) Below are detailed descriptions and videos for each of the songs mentioned above.
#1. "Hometown Glory" Adele
Released: 22 October 2007
Label: Pacemaker, XL
Ah, Adele. Adele has done quite well for herself by tapping into the power of melancholy. Her voice is dripping with it. So, for anyone who thinks that there is no power in sadness, look (listen) no further than Adele. Most of her music is powerful and sad. But, for me, "Hometown Glory" is her most melancholic.
Interesting Facts About Adele
- Adele has a close relationship with her mother, who raised her as a single parent.
- She has three entries in the Guinness Book of Records.
- She wrote her debut song, “Hometown Glory” at age 16.
What do you think?
What brought you here?
#2. "Young and Beautiful" Lana Del Rey
Album: The Great Gatsby: Music from Baz Luhrmann's Film
Released: April 23, 2013
This song came into popularity with the 2013 movie remake of The Great Gatsby. It is hauntingly beautiful, and it pulls at a question that is worth asking, whether the person who loves you now will still be there in old age. This song has melancholy written all over it, and hearing it will help you attain a thoroughly satisfying sad mood.
Interesting Facts About Lana Del Rey
- The name Lana Del Rey is an amalgam of the actress Lana Turner and the somewhat obscure ’80s automobile the Ford Del Rey.
- Two of her biggest musical influences are the wildly disparate Kurt Cobain and Britney Spears.
She smokes Camel cigarettes consistently, but good luck finding many pictures of her puffing.
#3. "The Call" Regina Spektor
Album: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Label: Sire, Warner Bros.
A song that taps into the heavy, questionable hope behind a word like "goodbye."
This song was used during the last scene of the movie Prince Caspian in The Chronicles of Narnia series. As the Pevensie children left Narnia and said their farewells, this song played in the background, making the children's goodbyes that much sadder (especially since two of them would not be coming back to Narnia ever again). Sniff. If you're not into Narnia, that's ok. This song can still be used to make you sad. But I digress.
Interesting Facts About Regina Spektor
- She’s a Russian Jewish refugee.
- She once worked at a butterfly farm.
- She’s a classically trained pianist.
#4. "I Will Always Love You" Whitney Houston
Album: The Bodyguard Soundtrack
This song was written by Dolly Parton, and recorded in 1973, but it was Whitney Houston's cover in The Bodyguard in 1992 that made it such a powerful and poignant song. It moves in a way that is hard to describe (and it became the best-selling single of all time by a female artist). Hearing her sing this song gives me chills, and it is definitely moving and melancholy.
Interesting Facts About Whitney Houston
- Her father, John Houston, gave her the nickname "Nippy" when she was a baby. Her nickname led to the management company, Nippy Inc.
- Her favorite subject at school was History.
- At the age of 15, she sang background vocals on Chaka Khan's hit single "I'm Every Woman."
#5. "Sweet Disposition" The Temper Trap
Album: Conditions and Until Now
Released: 16 September 2008
Label: Liberation (AUS) Infectious (UK) Glassnote (US)
This song was used in the movie 500 Days of Summer and for a car commercial. I think it's been used for other things as well—what's neat about it is the way it evokes nostalgia for a person, a place, and a thing, while, at the same time, projecting a hopefulness for the future.
It is melancholy mixed with hope, which is a thrilling combination.
Interesting Facts About Temper Trap
- Some wanted the band to be called Hearts, but they lost out.
- The Temper Trap first met one another during a brief stint working at Melbourne Central’s General Pants.
- Their first album sold nearly a million copies worldwide.
#6. "Back to Black" Amy Winehouse
Album: Back to Black
Released: 27 October 2006
This song is all about losing love, losing yourself, losing control, losing everything and having nothing but darkness left. This is the perfect song to put you in a black mood, too.
Interesting Facts About Amy Winehouse
- When she was 10 years old Amy Winehouse started a short-lived band called Sweet n' Sour.
- The album Frank went double platinum.
- In 2009 Amy Winehouse was added to the Guinness Book of World Records for Most Grammy Awards Won by a British Female Act.
#7. "With or Without You" Scala and Kolacny Brothers
Label: Wall of Sound
While this song (from U2's 1987 album, The Joshua Tree) is not necessarily new or original, Scala and Kolacny Brothers, a Belgian women's choir, sing it in a way that really hits a chord. There's nothing like a choir to make an emotion resonate.
Interesting Facts About Scala and Kolacny Brothers
- Scala held their first rehearsal in April 1996, when the group's membership topped out at 18 singers.
- The Kolacnys grew tired of classical music and began turning to other genres for inspiration, resulting in a unique repertoire that focused on choral reinventions of rock songs.
- Their lineup now includes over 200 members.
#8. "Fix You" Coldplay
Released: 5 September 2005
We all need fixing, but until then, there is this song.
Interesting Facts About Coldplay
- The band was originally called Starfish, but aren't we all glad that that changed?
- The band once briefly paused a show because a fan was playing the tambourine in the audience. I would hate to be that guy.
- In 2003 while in Australia, Chris Martin was arrested for attacking paparazzi.
#9. "Somebody That I Used to Know" Gotye
Album: Making Mirrors
Released: 5 July 2011
This song taps into the heartbroken parts of ourselves as we deal with the inevitable loss and failure of a relationship.
Interesting Facts About Gotye
- Both actor Ashton Kutcher and singer Lily Allen tweeted about Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know" to their millions of followers, helping boost the single's sales to over half a million copies.
- "State of Art," a track on Gotye's platinum Making Mirrors album, was created using a primitive 1970's organ that the singer bought used for $100.
- Besides being a singer-songwriter, Gotye is also the leader of a rock and roll band called The Basics.
#10. "Remember When it Rained" Josh Groban
Released: November 11, 2003
Label: Reprise Records, Warner Bros. Records, 143 Records
Perfect for a melancholy, gloomy, contemplative mood, this song is full of heavy yearning.
Interesting Facts About Josh Groban
- He flies planes.
- He gets mistaken for Josh Brolin.
- He's a sports enthusiast.
#11. "You Found Me" The Fray
Album: The Fray
Released: November 21, 2008
Here's a song for when you're in the mood to remember a time when things were just "too little, too late."
Interesting Facts About The Fray
- Lead vocalist and piano player, Isaac Slade once tried out for Star Search.
- The song, "Never Say Never," was written by guitarist Joe King
- Their song "Over My Head (Cable Car)" is about the estrangement of Isaac Slade and his brother, Caleb.
#12. "My Immortal" Evanescence
Released: December 8, 2003
This one is super sad and very depressing. Listen in moderation.
Interesting Facts About Evanescence
- Amy Lee dedicated the songs "Hello" and "Like You" to her younger sister, who died at the age of three years from illness.
- Amy Lee's vocals can be heard in Seether's song "Broken" and Korn’s "Freak on a Leash."
- The band was founded in 1995 by 13-year-old vocalist Amy Lee and 14-year-old guitarist Ben Moody.
#13. "Eet" Regina Spektor
Released: November 27, 2009
Label: Sire Records
Apathy. Numbness. A song about what depression feels like. (The second song by Regina Spektor on this list.)
More Interesting Facts About Regina Spektor
- Regina Spektor's middle name is Ilyinichna.
- Regina Spektor date of birth: February 18, 1980.
- Regina Spektor's shoe size is 9.
#14. "Apologize" OneRepublic
Album: Dreaming Out Loud
Released: April 30, 2006
Label: Mosley, Interscope
When forgiveness never comes. Listen to this in moderation.
Interesting Facts About OneRepublic
- The band claim they don’t fit into any genre, instead mixing their songs between rock, pop, indie and hip hop.
- The band were originally called Republic.
- Zach can speak fluent Spanish.
#15. "How to Save a Life" The Fray
Album: How to Save a Life
Released: March 26, 2006
Yes, this is the second song by The Fray, but they have so many excellent melancholy songs I had to add another to the list.
Interesting Facts About The Fray
- The song, "Never Say Never," was written by guitarist Joe King.
- Vocalist/piano player Isaac Slade and guitarist, Joe King both attended Faith Christian Academy in the Denver area. They were a few years ahead of drummer, Ben Wysocki.
- Drummer Ben Wysocki began learning to play the drums when he was in the sixth grade.
#16."Let Go" Frou Frou
Label: Island Records (UK) MCA (USA)
A song about the beauty in the breakdown.
Interesting Facts About Frou Frou
- Repeat their name and it sounds like a dog barking: "Rouf Rouf!"
- The name Frou Frou was decided upon when Francophile Sigsworth noticed the phrase in a Baudelaire poem.
- Manufactured an impressive brand of vocal-driven, electronic pop in the exclusive territory of Björk.
#17. "May It Be" Enya
Album: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (soundtrack)
Enya's voice is the epitome of wistfulness. A lot of Enya's work would make it on this list. In fact, Enya could have her own list. But in lieu of that, I have added this song to the list.
Interesting Facts About Enya
- Enya has sold 75 million albums worldwide.
- In 1997 Enya purchased a castle in Killiney, Ireland.
- Throughout her career Enya has performed songs in 10 different languages.
#18. "Say Something" A Great Big World
Album: Is There Anybody Out There?
Released: September 3, 2013
A song that taps into human struggles, when we fight for ourselves, when others help us fight, and when others give up on us in that fight. You will feel it.
Interesting Facts About A Great Big World
- The day after they performed on ‘THE VOICE,’ the song hit number one.
- People assume they're a couple.
Christina Aguilera heard their song ‘Say Something’ and emailed them.
#19."Let Her Go" Passenger
Album: All the Little Lights
Released: 24 July 2012
Label: Embassy of Music, Black Crow, Sony (distribution), Nettwerk
A song that recognizes the human tendency to take things for granted, including, but limited to, periods of life, seasons, and significant others.
Interesting Facts About Passenger
- Rosenberg opted to band's name for his solo work after the band dissolved in 2009.
- He was born in Brighton & Hove, East Sussex, England .
- He started writing songs when he was about fourteen years old.
#20. "Battle Scars" Lupe Fiasco and Guy Sebastian
Album: Armageddon and Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor II
Released: 10 August 2012
Label: Sony Music Australia/Atlantic Records, 1st & 15th/WEA International Inc.
Battle scars. Wounds that don't heal. Relationships and complications.
Interesting Facts About Lupe Fiasco and Guy Sebastian
- Lupe Fiasco was discovered by Kanye West.
- His mom didn’t like his 'fro.
- Guy Sebastian is an ambassador for the Australian Red Cross and World Vision Australia.
#21. "Stay With Me" Sam Smith
Album: In the Lonely Hour
Released: 14 April 2014
It's hard to pick just one song from Sam Smith to put on this list, because most of his music would fit here. This song channels ache, loneliness, and the yearning for human connection. And, of course, there's a subtle, but beautiful, choir in the background.
Interesting Facts About Sam Smith
- Smith was named Brit's Critic Choice Award of 2014.
- He battles with OCD, which he frequently discusses on Twitter.
Before he was who he is today, he worked at a bar.
#22. "Forever & Always" Parachute
Album: The Way It Was
Label: Island Def Jam Music Group
The bittersweet aspects of forever and always in romantic love... when we know it cannot be forever.
Interesting Facts About Parachute
- On June 15, 2009, Will Anderson and Kit French appeared as Parachute on the twentieth episode of Live From Daryl's House.
- In the fall of 2010, the band headlined their US tour with singer-songwriter Joe Brooks and pop rock outfit Hot Chelle Rae as support acts.
- In October and November 2016, Parachute was one of three openers for the American Christian rock band, NEEDTOBREATHE.
#23. "I Can't See Nobody" Nina Simone
Album: To Love Somebody
Label: RCA Victor
This song is about the consuming and blinding nature of love, and reflecting upon that love once time has passed.
Interesting Facts About Nina Simone
- Nina was a child prodigy starting at the age of three, playing piano by ear.
- Her hopes of becoming a classical pianist were stripped away when her dream school, Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, denied her admission.
- Nina's version of "My Baby Just Cares for Me" (1957) was used in a 1980s Chanel commercial in Europe. It quickly became a hit in the U.K.
#24. "Eleanor Rigby" The Beatles
Released: 5 August 1966
Label: Parlophone, Capitol
There's something catchy, but also haunting, about this song. Maybe it's because of all the lonely people.
Interesting Facts About The Beatles
- The BBC banned "I Am the Walrus."
- Ringo's real name is Richard Starkey.
- John grew up near a place called Strawberry Fields in Liverpool.
#25. "I Will Remember You" Sarah McLachlan
Album: The Brothers McMullen
Remembering loved ones and those who have passed is sad, and this song captures that.
Interesting Facts About Sarah McLachlan
- Surfacing sold more than 7 million copies.
- In 1998, McLachlan won two Grammy Awards—for the instrumental "Last Dance" and the other for "Building a Mystery."
- Besides music, McLachlan is also known for her avid support for the animal welfare organization, the ASPCA.
#26. "A Candle in the Wind: A Princess Diana Tribute" Elton John
Album: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Released: 5 October 1973
Label: MCA (US) DJM (UK)
We remember loved ones, but we also remember those who influenced the world and captured our interest. Unfortunately, too many of them lived such tragic lives.
Interesting Facts About Elton John
- When he changed his name from Reginald Dwight, the singer chose a stage name that paid tribute to vocalist Long John Baldry and saxophonist Elton Dean.
- He sang “Crocodile Rock” on the animated “Bob the Builder: A Christmas to Remember.”
- John has a number of famous godchildren, including Sean Lennon, son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
#27. "Time to Say Goodbye" Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman
Album: The Harem World Tour: Live from Las Vegas
Label: Polydor Records
There is something so beautiful, powerful, and sad about this song, and about goodbyes. This song captured everything that it was supposed to capture, and one does not need to know Italian to feel the emotional impact of this song.
Interesting Facts About Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman
- Andrea Bocelli was born in Tuscany.
- Andrea Bocelli lost his sight at the age of 12.
- Sarah Brightman is the first artist to have been invited twice to perform at the Olympic Games.
#28. "Hallelujah" Leonard Cohen
Album: Various Positions
Released: December 1984
This song sparks so many intense feelings: pain, heartbreak, heartache, loss, illusion and disillusion—it’s an effective raincloud. It also poetically brings together the highs and lows of love and sex with Biblical ties and parallels.The songs on this list have videos using the original singer of the song, but even though Leonard Cohen wrote the song, I do not find his version to be the most melancholy or emotional. There are many excellent versions of this song, and many that will bring on the feels, but I included a video that has John Cale's version of the song, Kate Voegele's version, and Jeff Buckley's version, because I liked those versions the most.
Interesting Facts About Leonard Cohen
- After college, he considered becoming a lawyer.
- He named his daughter Lorca for Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca.
Phil Spector once showed up at his door at 4 a.m. with a bottle of wine and a .45, which he cocked and shoved into Cohen’s neck.
#29. "Almost Lover" A Fine Frenzy
Album: One Cell in the Sea
Love that almost was, but wasn't, is always sad. Dreams that almost were, but weren't, pull at our hearts. Listen and feel.
Interesting Facts About A Fine Frenzy
- Alison Sudol spent most of her life in Los Angeles, having moved there with her mother when she was five years old.
- The name A Fine Frenzy was taken from a line in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
- Sudol appeared in the series Transparent, the mini-series Dig, and the Harry Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
#30. "Everybody Hurts" R.E.M.
Album: Automatic for the People
Released: April 15, 1993
Label: Warner Bros.
A song highlighting the universality of suffering, and the importance of hanging on.
Interesting Facts About R.E.M.
- They were the last Saturday Night Live musical guest of the 20th century.
- Their debut album, Murmur, was named album of the year by Rolling Stone.
- When Berry left, they made three albums without a drummer.
#31. "Watercolor Lake" Beth Sass
Album: Knowing Me
Released: August 1, 2012
Label: Beth Sass
Parting is always difficult, especially when it is not only a parting, but a dissolution of a union. The sadness and difficulty in this dissolution is expressed through this song, which is about helping a friend through a melancholy divorce.
Interesting Facts About Beth Sass
- By 12, Beth was inspired by her poet mother and artists such as the Beatles, Laura Nyro, Dusty Springfield, The Carpenters, Paul Williams, Judy Collins. and Leonard Cohen.
- By 8th grade, she was part of a duo with a friend, Nancy Walt, that lasted throughout high school and resulted in a vinyl record.
- Beth went to Smith College for a year before splitting with Walt and headed to Berklee College Of Music where she became a composition major.
#32. "Chasing Cars" Snow Patrol
Album: Eyes Open
Released: 6 June 2006
This song will make you want to read the lyrics.
Interesting Facts About Snow Patrol
- Lead singer Lightbody still lives in Co Down, near his parents, but has bases in London and Glasgow.
- Snow Patrol's debut album Songs For Polarbears was a critical success but a commercial flop.
- Final Straw won a prestigious Ivor Novello award in 2007.
#33. "In My Veins" Andrew Belle feat. Erin McCarley
Album: The Ladder
Released: February 2010
Label: Universal Motown, Universal Republic, Republic
There's something both sad and beautiful about this song, and listening to it brings out the melancholy. In order to leave people on a sad note, both the television shows Grey's Anatomy and Castle have used it in their season finales (season six finale of Grey's Anatomy and in the 2012 season finale of Castle). This is one of my favorites from this list.
Interesting Facts About Andrew Belle and Erin McCarley
- Andrew Belle's single "Sky's Still Blue" was used in a commercial for Microsoft Windows.
- Born Drew Fortson, Andrew Belle he was raised in Wheaton, Illinois.
- Erin has been compared to Sara Bareilles, Regina Spektor, and Sheryl Crow.
More Great Sad Songs by These Artists
"Sad Songs (Say So Much)"
"You Could Be Happy"
"Night Comes On"
"Make It to Me"
"(There Is) No Greater Love"
"Losing My Religion"
"Love Is A Losing Game"
Which of these songs was the saddest?
Which artist does the best job of playing your heart like a sad violin?
Questions & Answers
© 2013 Nalini Marquez