There’s no knowing when the mood strikes you. You’ll be sitting at your desk, or driving home, and WHAM. All of a sudden, you want to belt out the lyrics to your favorite sad tune, or just have a good cry while listening to a moving melody.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Best Sad Love Songs
- Best Sad Rap and R&B Songs
- Best Sad Country Songs
- Best Sad Rock, Alternative, or Indie Songs
- Best Sad Pop Songs
- Best Sad 90s, 80s, 70s, and 60s Songs
It’s okay to feel sad, and even then wallow in said sadness. While it’s not healthy to stay there forever, sitting with your feelings is important. According to most therapists, it’s probably one of the best things you can do for your emotional health.
While you do that, you might want the perfect soundtrack to your feelings. If so, we’ve got you covered with sad songs, from pop to R&B to country.
Best Sad Love Songs
Did a loved one or family member love to play some truly weepy love songs on repeat? If so, some of these might be great funeral songs.
1. "Bad At Love" by Halsey
There’s always a reason it didn’t work out. Halsey lists them in this song: the timing wasn’t right, drugs claimed the life of her lover, and so forth.
2. "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion
“I’ll never let go Jack, I’ll never let go.” The now-famous line uttered by Kate Winslett’s character Rose as she floated in the debris of the sunken Titanic harkens back to this penultimate ballad by Celine Dion.
The song spent a significant amount of time as number one on the Billboard charts.
3. "When We Were Young” by Adele
Love tends to bring back a lot of nostalgia. First love, high school love...there’s a reason so many songs are written about it.
4. "Forever and Always” by Taylor Swift
This song was part of Taylor Swift’s early repertoire, capturing her ability to pen ballads about her broken hearts. At the time, it was a song about her breakup with Joe Jonas.
5. "Hopelessly Devoted to You” by Olivia Newton-John
Were you a fan of Grease? This is Sandy’s signature song!
6. "Death By A Thousand Cuts” by Taylor Swift
Breaking up is always hard to do, especially when your memories all revolve around the person you once called yours. Swift sings about finding her former love in all the tiny places as she seeks to forget.
7. "You should be sad” by Halsey
Do you like your breakup songs a little tragic, with a touch of anger on top? Then this song is perfect for you!
8. "From the Dining Table” by Harry Styles
Harry Styles’ first solo album focused on the evolution of a relationship, from start to finish. This song covers aching loneliness, which is something anyone can feel or go through.
9. "River” by Ben Platt
The star of Dear Evan Hansen pours his heart out into this cover of a Joni Mitchell song. As a timeless scene in a recent Netflix original focused on teenage ambition, this is a tearjerker.
10. "I’ll Never Love Again” by Lady Gaga
This is one of the strongest pieces on the soundtrack from A Star Is Born. Even if you didn’t watch the movie, it’s still a great song.
Best Sad Rap and R&B Songs
Many of these are odes to tragedy or songs about missing someone.
11. "Cuz I Love You” by Lizzo
When she talked about writing this song, Lizzo remembered an old boyfriend that used to criticize her for getting emotional.
12. "Burn” from Hamilton
The musical that launched Lin-Manuel Miranda to near mythical status, Hamilton’s musical odes took direct influences from hip-hop, rap, R&B, and dancehall. This soulful and heart-wrenching ballad can make anyone twinge with sadness at the anger spouting from Eliza Schuyler-Hamilton.
13. "Torn” by LeToya
Were you a fan of Destiny’s Child? This song by an ex-band member talks about what it was like to wonder if you should stay together or break up.
14. "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” by Marvin Gaye
R&B has always been melodic and soulful. In this song, Gaye is sad about the hand he’s been dealt, and how systematic factors are keeping him down.
15. "How Could You Leave Us” by NF
This tragic song, a collaboration between NF and Tommee Profitt, is railing against his mom for drug addiction and abandonment.
16. "Mockingbird” by Eminem
Trying to be a parent through a divorce is hard. But being the child of that divorce, and missing both parents sometimes, is even harder.
17. "Acid Rain” by Chance the Rapper
This song is based on Chance’s real-life experience of watching one of his best friends die.
18. "We Ball” by Meek Mill
Lyrics for “We Ball” start off strong with homages to Meek Mill’s friends who have died as a result of gun violence and the cycle that ensnares everyone, including him.
19. "I Feel Like Dying” by Lil Wayne
With an ode to the crash after taking drugs, Lil Wayne drops not only his feelings from being up that high as a rich man but also the troubles that he faces from being up so high.
20. "Dance” by Nas
As a tribute to Nas’ mom, he wishes for another last dance with her.
Best Sad Country Songs
You might find it cathartic to listen to songs about death. If so, the country music genre delivers.
21. "I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” by Hank Williams
Crafted as a B-side to a 1949 hit, it took a while for this country classic to take off.
22. "Old Shep” by Red Foley
In a genre popularized by heartbreak and lost love, Foley takes the tie to remember a pet that he lost.
23. "Concrete Angel” by Martina McBride
This tearjerker, focused on sharing a story about child abuse, is sure to bring emotions and raise awareness. If it’s a sensitive topic for you, you may want to hit skip.
24. "Why” by Rascal Flatts
Originally, this was going to be a Faith Hill number. When it got passed off to Rascal Flatts, he did justice to a song about lamenting a friend’s suicide.
25. "Five More Minutes” by Scotty McCreery
In the country genre, wishing for a few more minutes with a lost loved one is a little cliché. But trust us—this ode to McCreery’s grandparents is worth listening to.
26. "You Should Be Here” by Cole Swindell
Sometimes, it’s not the past you miss. It’s being able to share a moment, here and now, with a lost loved one.
27. "Drink A Beer” by Luke Bryan
This isn’t typical of Bryan’s crowd-roaring style. It’s a soft ode to loved ones that have passed away..
28. "Talladega” by Eric Church
You might be sad for no specific reason. Maybe it’s loneliness. Maybe it’s nostalgia. No matter what it is, Church sings about missing your youth.
29. "Over You” by Miranda Lambert
Lambert co-wrote this song with Blake Shelton. He’d recently lost his older brother to a car crash, which adds a truly raw dimension to these lyrics.
30. "Keep Your Eyes on Me” by Faith Hill and Tim McGraw
Did you watch The Shack in theaters? If so, that’s where this tearjerker ballad comes from.
Best Sad Rock, Alternative, or Indie Songs
Indie and alternative music are often a little wistful. That makes it perfect for a sad mood.
31. "Angeles” by Elliott Smith
Indie singer-songwriter Elliott Smith was the king of sad songs, penning loads of guitar-driven melancholic songs that would make anyone tear up. Angeles is about coming back to the town you knew only to see that it’s become fickle, fake, and nothing like you remembered.
32. "Casimir Pulaski Day” by Sufjan Stevens
Young love in an indie song? Sign us up. But this wrenching Stevens song ends tragically—bone cancer claims the life of one young lover.
33. "Hello, I’m in Delaware” by City and Colour
Dallas Green, known by his moniker of City and Colour, wrote this song about being on the road for long stretches at a time, seeing life pass by.
34. "No Surprises” by Radiohead
A classic off their ‘97 album OK Computer, this song warns that accepting ‘good enough’ is like dying of carbon monoxide poisoning.
35. "Brick” by Ben Folds Five
This heart-wrenching song is told from the perspective of a boyfriend, whose lover gets an abortion the day after Christmas.
36. “Light Years” by The National
The National is known by many to be a band that plays such moody, sad, and haunting songs that it can be hard to pick just one from their repertoire. “Light Years” tells a story about missing someone and not knowing they could be right there.
37. "A Stone” by Okkervil River
This indie anthem is about two people who fell in love, but came to the relationship with very different expectations.
38. "Kettering” by The Antlers
This entire album is tragic, but especially this song. After a cacophonous middle, Kettering is a gut-punch of sorrow.
39. "Re: Stacks” by Bon Iver
Bon Iver is an indie staple. Off his album For Emma, Forever Ago, he sings about his own confusion on how he lost this much.
40. "Sleeping Alone” by Lykke Li
This is off her album I Never Learn. If you like heartbreakingly sad breakup albums, culminating in Li’s realization that she has no one to wake up with anymore, this one's for you.
Best Sad Pop Songs
Pop music covers the gamut of emotions—from breakups to deaths.
41. "Poison & Wine” by The Civil Wars
You might not want to love someone. But sometimes, despite your best intentions, you do anyway.
42. "Barton Hollow” by The Civil Wars
This song, paired with a black-and-white music video that serves as a short movie, is reminiscent of old-time gospel music in some ways.
43. “when the party’s over” by Billie Eilish
Acute pain always comes when you feel the need to break up, and let things go. Billie’s brother Finneas helps produce this song, lending some ghostly vocal back up to make this song the haunting melody it is.
44. "Joshua Tree” by Rozzi
Even if their relationship doesn’t last, Rozzi still hopes her boyfriend remembers all the good times they had together.
45. "Sorry Seems to Be The Hardest Word” by Elton John
Popularized by the recent rock biopic Rocketman, Elton John’s take on forgiveness and apologies is a real stunner.
46. "Summertime Sadness” by Lana del Rey
The queen of deep, dark, and melancholic songs, Lana del Rey, perfectly captures a sad, drowsy summertime mood with her raspy vocals.
47. "Anyone” by Demi Lovato
Lovato, making her first appearance after a long stint in rehab, blew everyone away with this emotional performance at the 2020 Grammys.
48. "Liability” by Lorde
Many of Lorde’s songs follow this pattern—anger, emotion, and slow acceptance.
49. "lovely” by Khalid and Billie Eilish
Produced by two major talents, this song is about finding strength and loveliness in being lonely.
50. "Don’t Watch Me Cry” by Jorja Smith
Smith’s searing 2018 album is full of numbers like this one—soulful R&B set to a mournful and agonizing melody.
Best Sad 90s, 80s, 70s, and 60s Songs
If you like a classic sad tune, here are some options for you.
51. "Black” by Pearl Jam
From their 1991 album Ten, this sad song always guarantees crowd participation at a Pearl Jam concert.
52. "Something in the Way” by Nirvana
Kurt Cobain knew how to dig deep to bring emotions in with his lyrics. This song, written about his time living under bridges in Aberdeen, Washington, is perfect for an especially sad mood.
53. "Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin
It’s a sad song about the vicious cycle of life and regret. It’s about a neglected child who grows up alone, yet never gets to see his own kids grow up. This happened to Chapin, too, who died in a 1981 car crash.
54. "Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails
Have you only heard the Johnny Cash version? Trent Reznor, frontman of Nine Inch Nails, brings a lot to this cover.
55. "All By Myself” by Eric Carmen
Are you a classical music fan? The melody of this song was taken from Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2.
56. “Seasons in the Sun” by Terry Jacks
The original version of this song was called “The Dying Man,” which was a French song that Jacks remastered.
57. “Suicide is Painless” by Johnny Mandel and Mike Altman
If you ever watched M.A.S.H, you know this is the theme song!
58. "I’ve Gotta Get A Message to You” by the Bee Gees
Saturday Night Fever this is not. While the Bee Gees were known for some groovy songs that made the John Travolta film memorable, they also had a few sad ones up their sleeves. It follows a character who’s about to die, after killing a man for sleeping with his wife.
59. "At Seventeen” by Janis Ian
This song is a rom-com anthem for girls who feel they’re unpopular or ignored.
60. "Shannon” by Henry Gross
Shannon could be anyone. But actually she’s a Beach Boys member’s dog, a lovely Irish setter.
Take a look at our picks for the best nostalgic songs if you're looking for more older hits.
Picking the Perfect Song
Most people know that starting end-of-life planning is important. Selecting a casket, deciding on inheritance details, writing down your passwords... but what about picking a funeral song?
What song do you want people to associate with you? If you want people to express their sadness at your funeral, one of these might be the perfect pick.