FlourishAnyway believes there is a playlist for just about any situation and is on a mission to unite and entertain the world through song.
Songs About Not Remembering
Life experiences—our tragedies, triumphs, and even daily interactions—are like thousands of seeds that plant themselves in our memories. Some take root, grow deep, and flourish. We typically recall them vividly (although curiously, not as they actually happened). Other experiences germinate in our memories but then wither from inattention.
Then there are the stubborn, painful kinds of memories that can repeatedly crop up like crabgrass or even poison ivy, resisting valiant attempts to stomp them out. Often these memories relate to the failures, heartbreaks, and traumas of our lives. Being able to selectively filter out the negative is important to happiness. Constantly keeping old emotional wounds, grudges, and betrayals fresh and top-of-mind isn't helpful long-term. Additionally, it would be overwhelming to recall every mundane detail of the past.
If you are trying to forget someone or something or are concerned about how you are remembered, make a playlist of pop, rock, country, and R&B tunes about forgetting.
1. "Don't You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds
This chart-topping new wave tune from 1985 was written especially for the coming-of-age film, The Breakfast Club, and it's still a standard feature on graduation and goodbye playlists because the song was simply that fabulous. In the cult movie, five high schoolers who embody divergent stereotypes (i.e, the jock, prom queen, troublemaker, outcast, nerd) spend a Saturday in detention, only to discover that they actually do have more in common than they fathomed.
The strangers forge fast friendships during the hours spent together. When detention ends, they ponder whether they will allow those new bonds to transcend their customary social roles. The song is an appeal to not forget the relationships that have begun once they have returned to their lives. The students wonder whether they will acknowledge one another or instead cave to peer pressure upon returning to their usual high school lives on Monday morning:
Will you recognize me?
Call my name or walk on by?
2. "Forget Me Too" by Machine Gun Kelly (Featuring Halsey)
The on-again/off-again couple in this 2020 pop-punk tune are like fire and gasoline. In their volatile, ill-fated romance, each lover trades blame about waiting on the other and claims to hate their partner. This isn't love.
Mired in a toxic relationship, the man punches holes in the walls and the woman claims that she'd die before she'd let him leave, however they just can't give one another up. To add to the drama, during a quarrel, the girlfriend tells her partner to forget her.
Instead of de-escalating the conflict, her lover mirrors her angry words. I'm betting this breakup doesn't stick because these two enjoy the rollercoaster of emotions.
3. "Forget You" by CeeLo Green
Do you prefer the potty mouth rendition of this song or this one? This catchy 2010 pop number is the clean version of "F*ck You," the Grammy Award-winning international hit about a brokenhearted guy who has to watch his ex swoon over her new love interest. (Many of us can identify with the experience on some level, if we are being honest.
The poor fella is both bitter and despondent as he watches his gold digging former girlfriend drive around town with a rich guy who stole her away. Although the narrator still loves her, he tells both the interloper and his former flame, "Forget you and forget her too!" Don't worry, she'll get her comeuppance!
4. "Numb" by Marshmello (Featuring Khalid)
The chemically-altered dude in this 2022 deep house tune is kicking back at a late night party. In a content mood, he has his sights on partying with friends and dancing. Feeling a romantic connection to a lady friend, the narrator wants to just have fun and be in the moment with her, forgetting everything else. He just wants to feel numb.
5. "Hard to Forget" by Sam Hunt
Although it's not healthy to ruminate over a former flame, the narrator in this 2020 country tune can't help it because he is haunted by how much he misses the girlfriend who dumped him. He is triggered by the people they know in common, the smell of her perfume in crowds, and even by random everyday objects (clouds, anyone?).
She's all he can think about, and the trouble the narrator experiences with moving on gets worse when he spots his ex in a bar. Worse yet, she is wearing a sexy dress and looks fantastic. Imagining that his former honey is playing hard to forget, this poor sorry sucker assumes that she is just trying to make him jealous. Seems strange that the guy believes it's all about him. Maybe she's just done.
6. "Leave Out All the Rest" by Linkin Park
How will others remember you after you leave this world? With apologetic undertones, this 2008 alt-rock number features a man who addresses a loved one as he confronts his own mortality. Although it still seems eerily relevant today, it was written about a decade before frontman Chester Bennington died by suicide in 2017.
In leaving this world, the narrator seeks a sense of peace and resolution, thus he pleads for forgiveness and redemption. He asks that the loved one he is addressing miss him fondly rather than resent him when he passes. Specifically, his request is to forget the bad things, the hurt, and the transgressions. Take the fond memories and leave out all the rest.
7. "Remind Me to Forget" by Kygo (Featuring Miguel)
As the man in this 2018 electro-influenced R&B single rubs his scars and the marks that his former love interest left on him, he foolishly professes that "all the greatest loves end in violence." No one really knows whether he had his ex-partner's name tattooed on his body or the couple had a dustup and she left both physical and emotional damage. The narrator still feels the pangs of heartbreak but vows to use his scars as reminders of how he needs to forget this lady and not look back.
8. "I'll Bet You Think About Me" by Taylor Swift (Featuring Chris Stapleton)
Taylor Swift gets off on playing the victim again here in this 2021 rerecording of her 2012 song. (Note: She has reissued old albums because of a conflict in ownership rights. As an artist, the songstress wants to retain control of the master recordings. The rerecorded versions like this one are referred to as "Taylor's version.")
Her scathing country pop ballad recounts a past romance believed to be with actor Jake Gyllenhaal. Their brief IRL (in real life) relationship lasted only a few months in late 2010 and early 2011, but she really roasts him here. Swift was only 19 when they dated, while Gyllenhaal was almost a decade older. He should have known better.
Tay paints herself as a farm girl who meets a silver spoon-raised rich guy. She expresses how she was made to felt inferior when they were dating. (The spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt is whispering in Tay's ear somewhere that no one can make you feel "less than" without your consent.)
Swift's former romantic partner believed himself superior to her, told her that they were too different, and dared to laughed at Swift's silly dreams which are now reality. According to the song, Gyllenhaal has a new gal pal who is high society like what he's accustomed to, and the singer taunts him that he'll never be happy.
Swift mockingly bets that her ex still thinks about her. After all, because she's on the radio and in the press she probably is extra hard to forget. However, this tune should make you pause because who exactly is singing a song about their ex rather than actually just ignoring them? Seems like maybe she's the one who's stuck in the past.
9. "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol
Like the dog who chases the car, the guy in this ethereal 2006 pop love ballad is beholden with the idea of an elusive goal. More than anything, he wishes he could lay beside the girl he is smitten with and forget everyone and everything else.
10. "Shout out to My Ex" by Little Mix
She isn't sure she loved him anyway! Now that the narrator is free from her ex, the feisty gal in this 2016 pop ditty is giving him a shout out to thank him. By breaking her heart, that loser made her who she is today, and no one will ever bring her down. As her ex falls for another chick, the narrator deletes her former boyfriend's photos from her phone and wipes all traces of him from her life so she can forget him. That-ta gal! Forget him.
11. "Forget Me" by Lewis Capaldi
It is better to be reviled than forgotten. At least that is the perspective of the man in this 2022 pop song.
Two years after the end of a love relationship, his former sweetheart seems to be living the good life, but he is still taking up precious real estate in her brain, even if it's only to diss him on social media, tell others how she wants him dead, or lament that she wishes she never met him. At least she's not ignoring him and moving on with her life. For that he is thankful.
12. "The Boys of Summer" by Don Henley
With his youth in the distance, the aging man in this 1984 rock hit returns to a favorite beach community during vacation off-season. He and his tanned, teenage beauty once fell in love there, and he has never forgotten the experience. As he drives by her old house, he recalls the memories they forged together, and he wishes he could turn back time.
13. "Forgetting Is the Hardest Part" by Kane Brown
When you feel dejected over a lost love, sooner or later comes the realization that they aren't coming back and it's time to get yourself together. That's the struggle faced by the guy in this 2015 country tune as he attempts to forget the once in a lifetime love who got away.
The pair had known each other throughout school, but then (perhaps due to graduation and different life paths), the narrator let her slip away. His sweetheart's smile faded, and they drifted apart forever. Feeling empty and forlorn, the man hopes that in the future he can find love again, but letting go and forgetting her is the hardest part.
14. "Back to You" by Louis Tomlinson (Featuring Bebe Rexha and Digital Farm Animals)
The couple trapped in this unstable, dysfunctional romance refuses to listen to friends advising them that they are simply no good together. The 2017 pop tune recounts how they scream and stress one another out, play wicked head games, and drag one another down in negativity. They are a match made in hell, and they love it. Somehow, however, they are addicted to the drama and keep coming back to one another for mutual relationship abuse. Stop it, you two, before someone does permanent damage.
15. "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)" by Michael McDonald
Only one person in this relationship is still in love, and the anguished fellow in this 1982 pop love ballad keeps forgetting that fact when he stands near his former sweetheart. When he sees her face, hears her voice, he still has trouble accepting that she no longer feels the same:
I keep forgettin' we're not in love anymore (baby)
I keep forgettin' things will never be the same again
I keep forgettin' how you made that so clear (yeah, yeah)
I keep forgettin'.
16. "Smells Like Me" by Charlie Puth
Charlie Puth experienced a bad break up in 2019 that ruined the rest of the year for him. He reported that the upside of his emotional suffering was that it provided musical inspiration.
In this 2022 pop tune, Puth addresses a former lover who continues to keep mementos of him such as his cologne and t-shirt in spite of the fact that she is dating someone new. He goads his former girlfriend for being unable to forget him and suggests, "We can reconsider if you want."
17. "Cryin'" by Aerosmith
The lovelorn guy in this 1993 rock ballad details a tumultuous romance that was filled with tears. Crying is how he met his ex-girlfriend, it was curiously what she did when they made love, and now that she has left him, he complains that he is unable to forget her through his tears.
Depicting this former partner as a she-devil persona, the narrator alleges that she creates sweet misery such that he has difficulty discerning pleasure from pain. Perhaps that is why she left this troubled man, who knows?
18. "Whiskey Lullaby" by Brad Paisley (Featuring Alison Krauss)
When other coping skills fail, some people rely on alcohol and drugs to forget painful memories. Some spend an entire lifetime running from an unpleasant truth or something painful that they'd rather not remember.
The downhearted man in this tragic 2003 country song experiences heartbreak and spends the rest of his life trying to forget the woman he cannot live without. He attempts to drown her memory in alcohol, but he cannot consume enough to drink her off his mind. Finally, he drinks himself to death, and he is found face down, with a note on his pillow referencing his unending love for his beloved.
The grieving woman blames herself for his misery. In her sorrow, she repeats his chronic alcoholism and mode of death. For me, the song's general storyline is reminiscent of George Jones' "He Stopped Loving Her Today," except that it follows the two lovers' fates to and even more melancholy conclusion.
19. "I Was Here" by Beyoncé
What kind of legacy will you leave? This 2011 R&B song, Beyoncé considers what type of positive impact she wants to create on the world, thereby making her life significant, memorable, and one that worth living. She resolves as follows:
I will leave my mark so everyone will know
I was here, I lived, I loved, I was here
I did, I've done, everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be.
20. "I Forgot That You Existed" by Taylor Swift
Envy and petty arguments involving social media seem to repeatedly find Taylor Swift, so no one is truly sure who this 2019 pop tune is about. Perhaps the models and singers who are her frenemies or one of her many ex-lovers? There is a long line of possibilities.
The songstress claims that although the person whom she is addressing treated her poorly and taught her life lessons, she has simply forgotten what they were. She feels neither love nor hate for them, just indifference. Swift dismisses the target of this song as nothing to her. Burn!
Even More Songs About Forgetting
5 Seconds of Summer
22. Thick and Thin
23. New Kid in Town
24. The Days
25. I Don’t Remember Me (Before You)
26. I Won't Forget You
27. Red Red Wine
28. Forgetting You
29. It Wasn't Me
30. Don't Forget About Us
31. Mamma Mia
32. Operator (That’s Not the Way It Feels)
33. Remind Me
Brad Paisley (Featuring Carrie Underwood)
34. Don't Forget Where You Belong
36. Don't Forget to Remember Me
37. Don't Cry Joni
Conway Twitty and Joni Lee
38. Came Here to Forget
39. Almost Over You
40. Forgot About You
41. Forget to Remember
45. Have You Forgotten?
46. Gone but Not Forgotten
47. Mr. Lonely
48. Someone Like You
49. I'm Not in Love
51. You Oughta Know
52. Save the Last Dance for Me
53. That Should Be Me
54. Can't Remember to Forget You
Rihanna & Shakira
55. Easy Lover
Philip Bailey & Phil Collins
56. The Best of Times
57. Don't Stay
58. Only Girl (In The World)
59. Better Now
60. Hold On
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