The Best Heartbreak Ballads and Breakup Songs

Modern Heartbreak Ballads Sheet Music
Some of the best pop songs ever written were inspired by heartbreak. And for musicians and music fans alike, there are few better ways to heal the pain of a breakup than with a song.

We have delved through our extensive catalog to bring you a selection of some of the best modern heartbreak ballads, including songs from Taylor Swift, Lewis Capaldi, Lady Gaga, and more.

What are some of your favorite heartbreak ballads? Let us and the Sheet Music Direct community know over on Facebook and Twitter.

drivers license
Olivia Rodrigo

Courtesy of her role in High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, Olivia Rodrigo was not an unfamiliar name to many prior to the release of her debut single "drivers license." But the song certainly catapulted her into the mainstream, breaking Spotify's record for most streams in a day for a non-holiday song. The song is a piano-led pop ballad with all the hallmarks of a classic heartbreak anthem. 10/10 on the breakup-o-meter.

Dancing on My Own
Calum Scott

A cover of Swedish singer Robyn's 2010 dance anthem, Calum Scott's version is a stripped-back and haunting rendition of the song in which the lyrics seem all the more sad. As far as piano ballads go, there are few more emotive than this one from the 2015 Britain's Got Talent finalist.

Lose You to Love Me
Selena Gomez

Selena Gomez's "Lose You to Love Me" looks at heartbreak from a different angle, and how moving on from a relationship is sometimes the only way to find oneself. The piano-led song, co-written by Julia Michaels, is vulnerable and yet powerful at the same time.

Someone You Loved
Lewis Capaldi

Lewis Capaldi was unknown to most prior to 2018, but courtesy of his heartfelt piano ballad "Someone You Loved" in November of that year, the Scotsman became a overnight sensation. Whilst the message of the song is seen by many as one of longing following a difficult break-up, Capaldi revealed that the song was written about a different kind of heartbreak, after his grandmother passed away.

Harry Styles

Taken from Harry Styles' second album Fine Line, "Falling" is an emotive piano-based breakup number which Styles himself describes as being about "getting right before a place that you recognise as a low for you. You kind of feel yourself falling back into that down period, I guess, and being sad about what you lost." Styles' transformation from boy band heartthrob into earnest singer-songwriter is complete.

I'll Never Love Again (from A Star Is Born)
Lady Gaga

Taken from 2018 hit movie musical A Star Is Born, "I'll Never Love Again" is a beautiful piano-led ballad which won the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media, one year after "Shallow" won in the same category. While most of the songs in our list are tales of painful break-ups, this song is one of loss, sung by Ally (Lady Gaga) after the death of her husband Maine (Bradley Cooper). Few dry eyes remain at this point of the film.

you broke me first
Tate McRae

A moody alt-pop song in the mould of Billie Eilish (even down to the lower-case song title), "you broke me first" is the break-through song by teenage Canadian singer Tate McRae. In the words of McRae herself, the song tells of "someone in a relationship who couldn't care less for the other person and then 6 months later decides to crawl back...but this time not letting them back in." An inner strength not many people have in their teenage years, we dare say.

Call Out My Name
The Weeknd

Staying on a Canadian theme, one of the country's biggest pop stars of recent years is R&B singer, The Weeknd. So big, in fact, that he performed at the halftime show of the 2021 Super Bowl. Going back a few years, "Call Out My Name" is the opening track from his debut EP My Dear Melancholy, and it's a classic story of a failed relationship where resentment is clearly the overriding emotion in the aftermath.

We Are Never Getting Back Together
Taylor Swift

Break-up songs come in many shapes and sizes. Often they are melancholic songs of longing and yearning, other times they are more, well...forthright, like this number from Taylor Swift. Indeed, one can summise that a reunion for the couple in question is probably not on the cards. So, if your post-breakup mood is one of anger as opposed to sadness, this might just be the song to belt out at the top of your lungs.

Without Me

Also to be filed under breakup songs>angry, Halsey's "Without Me" was a worldwide smash in 2018 and won Favorite Song at the American Music Awards the following year. The song tells of a one-sided relationship where one persons adorns the other with copious amounts of love and affection only to be taken advantage of and left behind. And it has an incredibly infectious chorus.

Dreaming with a Broken Heart
John Mayer

Taken from John Mayer's third studio album Continuum, "Dreaming with a Broken Heart" is a classic post breakup song about looking back at a relationship which has ended and realising things will never go back to how they were. Like many of Mayer's best songs, it has the perfect blend of light and shade – beginning with a delicate piano intro and building beautifully before the opening motif returns to close out the song.

Denim Jacket
Maroon 5

Maroon 5's sixth studio album Red Pill Blues is probably best-known for the chart-topping "Girls Like You" with rapper Cardi B. But for anyone who is struggling to get over someone after a breakup, "Denim Jacket" might be the song which holds the most appeal. All the more relatable if your loved one happened to have a penchant for denim jackets.

Let Her Go

Topping the charts in several countries around the world, Passenger's folk-pop hit "Let Her Go" is an eminently strummable breakup song. Mike Rosenberg (a.k.a. Passenger) has been quoted as saying the song has two meanings: "the first is quite literal as I wrote it after a break up and it is about letting her go. But then there is...not really understanding and knowing what you have until it is gone."

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