33 Beautiful, Emotional Songs to Be Sad, Reflective, Depressed, and Melancholy To
Beautiful, Sad Songs
"Hometown Glory" Adele
"My Immortal" Evanescence
"I Can't See Nobody" Nina Simone
"Young and Beautiful" Lana Del Ray
"Eet" Regina Spektor
"Eleanor Rigby" The Beatles
"The Call" Regina Spektor
"I Will Remember You" Sarah McLachlan
"I Will Always Love You" Whitney Houston
"How to Save a Life" The Fray
"A Candle in the Wind: A Princess Diana Tribute" Elton John
"Sweet Disposition" The Temper Trap
"Let Go" Frou Frou
"Time to Say Goodbye" Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman
"Back to Black" Amy Winehouse
"May it Be" Enya
"Hallelujah" Leonard Cohen
"With or Without You" Scala and Kolacny Brothers
"Say Something" A Great Big World
"Almost Lover" A Fine Frenzy
"Fix You" Coldplay
"Let Her Go" Passenger
"Everybody Hurts" R.E.M.
"Somebody That I Used to Know" Gotye
"Battle Scars" Lupe Fiasco and Guy Sebastian
"Watercolor Lake" Beth Sass
"Remember When it Rained" Josh Groban
"Stay With Me" Sam Smith
"Chasing Cars" Snow Patrol
"You Found Me" The Fray
"Forever & Always" Parachute
"In My Veins" Andrew Belle featuring Erin McCarley
Why Would I Want to Listen to Sad Music?
Music is one of the many ways that we feel things and, while happiness is a worthwhile endeavor, there is validity, purpose, and meaning in other states of emotion, as well. 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.
Sadness, for example. 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.
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.) 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, important aspects of the human condition and while they are not always happy, they ring true.
What do you think?
What brought you here?
#1. "Hometown Glory" Adele
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 melancholy.
Video: Adele's "Hometown Glory"
#2. "Young and Beautiful" Lana Del Rey
This song came into popularity with the 2013 remake of The Great Gatsby movie. It is hauntingly beautiful and 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.
Video for "Young and Beautiful" by Lana Del Rey
#3. "The Call" Regina Spektor
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 childrens' 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.
Listen to "The Call" by Regina Spektor
#4. "I Will Always Love You" Whitney Houston
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 the powerful and poignant song that moves in a way that is hard to describe (and 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.
Video: "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston
#5. "Sweet Disposition" The Temper Trap
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 a nostalgia for the past, a person, place, thing, etc. while at the same time projecting a hopefulness for the future.
It is melancholy mixed with hope, which is a thrilling combination.
Video: "Sweet Disposition" by the Temper Trap
#6. "Back to Black" Amy Winehouse
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.
Video: "Back to Black" by Amy Winehouse
#7. "With or Without You" Scala and Kolacny Brothers
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.
Listen to "With or Without You" by Scala & Kolacny Brothers
#8. "Fix You" Coldplay
We all need fixing but until then, there is this song.
Video: "Fix You" by Coldplay
#9. "Somebody That I Used to Know" Gotye
This song taps into the heartbroken parts of ourselves that have dealt with the inevitable loss and failure of a relationship.
Video: "Somebody That I Used to Know" by Gotye
#10. "Remember When it Rained" Josh Groban
Perfect for a melancholy, gloomy, contemplative mood. This song is full of heavy yearning.
Video: "Remember When It Rained" by Josh Groban
#11. "You Found Me" The Fray
Here's a song for when you're in the mood for a little "too little, too late."
Video: "You Found Me" by the Fray
#12. "My Immortal" Evanescence
This one is super sad and very depressing. Listen in moderation.
Video: "My Immortal" by Evanescence
#13. "Eet" Regina Spektor
Apathy. Numbness. A song about what depression feels like. (The second song by Regina Spektor on this list.)
Video: "Eet" by Regina Spektor
#14. "Apologize" OneRepublic
When forgiveness never comes. Listen to this in moderation.
Video: "Apologize" by OneRepublic
#15. "How to Save a Life" The Fray
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.
Video: "How to Save a Life" by the Fray
#16."Let Go" Frou Frou
A song about the beauty in the breakdown.
Listen to "Let Go" by Frou Frou
#17. "May It Be" Enya
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.
Listen To "May It Be" by Enya
#18. "Say Something" A Great Big World
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.
Listen to "Say Something" from A Great Big World
#19."Let Her Go" Passenger
A song that recognizes the human tendency to take things for granted, including but limited to periods of life, seasons, and significant others.
Video: Passenger's "Let Her Go"
#20. "Battle Scars" Lupe Fiasco and Guy Sebastian
Battle scars. Wounds that don't heal. Relationships and complications.
Video: "Battle Scars" by Lupe Fiasco and Guy Sebastian
#21. "Stay With Me" Sam Smith
It's hard to pick just one song from Sam Smith to put on this list as most of his music would fit here. This song channels ache, loneliness, and the yearning for human connection. And then of course, there's a hint of a choir in the background.
Video: "Stay With Me" by Sam Smith
#22. "Forever & Always" Parachute
The bittersweet aspects of forever and always in romantic love when it cannot be forever.
Listen to: "Forever & Always" by Parachute
#23. "I Can't See Nobody" Nina Simone
The consuming and blinding nature of love and the reflecting upon that love once time has passed.
Listen to: "I Can't See Nobody" by Nina Simone
#24. "Eleanor Rigby" The Beatles
There's something both catchy and haunting about this song. Maybe it's because of all the lonely people.
#25. "I Will Remember You" Sarah McLachlan
Remembering loved ones and those who have passed is sad, and this song captures that.
Video: "I Will Remember You" by Sarah McLachlan
#26. "A Candle in the Wind: A Princess Diana Tribute" Elton John
Not only can we remember loved ones, but also those who influenced the world, captured our interest, and also lived tragic lives.
Video: "A Candle in the Wind: A Princess Diana Tribute" by Elton John
#27. "Time to Say Goodbye" Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman
There is something so beautiful, powerful, and sad about this song and about goodbyes. This song captured everything that it was supposed to and one does not need to know Italian to feel what is in this song.
#28. "Hallelujah" Leonard Cohen
This song has so much feeling: 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 and Kate Voegele's version because I liked those versions but I liked a lot of the versions, so it was hard to decide on one.
Video: John Cale's version of "Hallelujah"
Video: Kate Voegele's "Hallelujah"
#29. "Almost Lover" A Fine Frenzy
Love that almost was but wasn't is always sad. Dreams that almost were but weren't. Listen and feel.
Listen to A Fine Fenzy's "Almost Lover"
#30. "Everybody Hurts" R.E.M.
A song highlighting the universality of suffering and the importance of hanging on.
#31. "Watercolor Lake" Beth Sass
Partings are 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 about helping a friend through a melancholy divorce.
Video: "Watercolor Lake" by Beth Sass
#32. "Chasing Cars" Snow Patrol
This song will make you want to what it sings about, which is just "lay here" and be sad.
Video: "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol
#33. "In My Veins" Andrew Belle feat. Erin McCarley
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 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.
Video: "In My Veins-Official Song" by Andrew Belle
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