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51 Best Sad Songs Ever (Saddest Songs of All Time)

December 13, 2023
Best Sad Songs Ever

I’ve compiled a deeply moving collection of the best sad songs ever, each tracks a poignant exploration of sorrow and heartache.

This article offers a journey through the saddest songs of all time, providing a musical space for reflection and emotional connection.

Table of Contents

Top sad songs ever

  • Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “As I Sat Sadly By Her Side”
  • Gary Jules – “Mad World”
  • Laura Marling – “Blackberry Stone”
  • The National – “Sorrow”
  • Joni Mitchell – “Blue”
  • Harry Styles – “Falling”
  • Nick Drake – “Black Eyed Dog”
  • Sia – “Breathe Me”
  • Sébastien Tellier – “La Ritournelle”
  • Bon Iver – “I Can’t Make You Love Me”

1. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “As I Sat Sadly By Her Side”

Nick Cave is known for writing delicate sad songs.

And “As I Sat Sadly By Her Side” is one of his saddest songs.

It’s incredibly beautiful and soothing and hands down one of the most emotional songs of all time.

“As I sat sadly by her side
At the window, through the glass
She stroked a kitten in her lap
And we watched the world as it fell past.”

2. Gary Jules – “Mad World”

“Mad World” is hands down one of the most depressing songs ever written.

At least if you look at the lyrics.

It tells a story of a person who believes that life is empty and repetitive.

Well, it’s not hard to get sad if you start to think about the dark side of the world.   

I find it hard to tell you
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles it’s a very, very
Mad world, mad world.

3. Laura Marling – “Blackberry Stone”

“Blackberry Stone” by Laura Marling is not the most famous sad song, but it definitely deserves a special place on this list.

It’s very delicate and calming.

And it’s one of the proofs that sadness creates some of the most emotional songs.

4. The National – “Sorrow”

Numerous songs by The National would be suitable for the list of the best sad songs.

But “Sorrow” seems like the most logical choice.

It’s thoughtful and melancholic, and Matt Berninger’s voice makes it very calming.

“Sorrow found me when I was young
Sorrow waited, sorrow won
Sorrow, they put me on the pill
It’s in my honey, it’s in my milk.”

5. Joni Mitchell – “Blue”

Joni Mitchell released “Blue” on her iconic studio album of the same name.

There’s something very captivating and poetic in Joni’s music, and “Blue” is probably the saddest song she’s ever written.

“Hey, blue
There is a song for you
Ink on a pin
Underneath the skin
An empty space to fill in.”

6. Harry Styles – “Falling”

After releasing his second studio album “Fine Line”, Harry Styles once again proved that he is a talented songwriter.

His track “Falling” is definitely a tear-jerker song.

It’s about missing someone you lost because of your own actions.

“Forget what I said
It’s not what I meant
And I can’t take it back
I can’t unpack the baggage you left.”

7. Nick Drake – “Black Eyed Dog”

“Black Eyed Dog” is very gentle and subtle, so it’s probably not one of the most depressing songs.

But if you know the meaning of the song, then you’ll realize how sad it really is.

Nick Drake suffered from depression, and “Black Eyed Dog” was his way of portraying his struggle with it.

“I’m growing old and I wanna go home, I’m growing old and I don’t wanna know
I’m growing old and I wanna go home
Black eyed dog he called at my door
The black eyed dog he called for more.”

8. Sia – “Breathe Me”

If you’re searching for songs to cry to, you should listen to “Breathe Me” by Sia.

The song has a calm beginning and gradually evolves into something very powerful and emotionally intense.

“Be my friend, hold me
Wrap me up, enfold me
I am small and needy
Warm me up and breathe me.”

9. Sébastien Tellier – “La Ritournelle”

“La Ritournelle” is perhaps not one of the common tear-jerking songs, but there’s something very sad about it.

It also somehow feels a bit otherworldly.

All in all, you should definitely put it on your sad songs list.

10. Bon Iver – “I Can’t Make You Love Me”

One of the causes of sadness is unrequited love.

And “I Can’t Make You Love Me” is one of those good sad songs about loving someone who doesn’t love you back.

It’s tender and sentimental, like most of Bon Iver’s early music.

I’ll close my eyes,
Then I won’t see
The love you don’t feel
When you’re holding me.

11. Billie Eilish, Khalid – “Lovely”

This popular song by Billie Eilish and Khalid is truly lovely.

But in a melancholic sort of way.

It’s about dealing with depression and sadness, and slowly becoming used to it.

To some people, sadness does feel like home.

“Isn’t it lovely, all alone
Heart made of glass, my mind of stone
Tear me to pieces, skin to bone
Hello, welcome home.”

12. Damien Rice – “9 Crimes”

Without a doubt, Damien Rice has some of the best sad songs.

The Irish singer knows how to write genuine lyrics and touching melodies.

And his song “9 Crimes” talks about cheating and all the complex feelings it involves.

It’s the wrong time
For somebody new
It’s a small crime
And I’ve got no excuse.

13. Placebo – “Bosco”

“Bosco” by Placebo is, without a doubt, a top ten saddest song.

Although it’s not one of the band’s most popular hits, it’s definitely one of their most emotional songs.

Brian Molko’s distinctive voice, thoughtful lyrics, stunning melody…

It’s everything you need from a sad song.

I love you more than any man
But I seem to lay it all to waste
I do you harm because I can
With a joke in questionable taste.

14. Radiohead – “How To Disappear Completely”

Radiohead’s Thom Yorke is another artist who puts sadness into music so masterfully.

It was hard to choose only one song, but “How To Disappear Completely” is arguably one of their most depressing songs.

In a little while
I’ll be gone
The moment’s already passed
Yeah it’s gone
And I’m not here
This isn’t happening.

15. The Antlers – “Kettering”

“Kettering” by The Antlers is a delicate and unique sad song.

It will pull you in and help you cope with whatever’s bothering you.

And even if you’re feeling sad for no particular reason, you might find it interesting to listen to.

16. Alanis Morissette – “Not As We”

This beautiful pop ballad will give you all the comfort you need.

Alanis Morissette is known for writing simple yet thoughtful and heartfelt songs.

“Reborn and shivering
Spat out on new terrain
Unsure, unconvincing
This faint and shaky hour.”

17. Adele – “Woman”

Adele is definitely a queen of sad songs.

However, with her 2021 studio album “30”, she changed her approach to the topic of love.

Her track “Woman” is melancholic but in a different way.

Nevertheless, it’s a fantastic song with interesting lyrics and a captivating melody.

“Consistency is the gift to give for free, and it is key
To ever keep, to ever keep a woman like me.”

18. Lorde – “Liability”

When you’re listening to “Liability”, you feel like Lorde is singing directly to you.

It’s a very simple song but somehow incredibly touching and relatable.

Sometimes there’s true beauty in simplicity.

“I do my best to meet her demands, play at romance, we slow dance
In the living room, but all that a stranger would see
Is one girl swaying alone, stroking her cheek.”

19. Ane Brun – “Understrøm”

Sometimes there’s also something beautiful about sadness.

And Ane Brun’s music is one of the proofs.

Her 2022 track “Understrøm” is one of her most authentic songs so far.

Even if you don’t understand Norwegian, you can feel the singer’s raw emotions and passion for music.

20. Editors – “No Harm”

“No Harm” by Editors can be interpreted in many ways.

But the important thing about this song is its captivating and almost haunting atmosphere.  

“My children despise my wonderful lies
I’m a go-getter
I see through your walls
And your space down your halls
I’m a go-getter.”

21. Kings of Leon – “Closer”

If you’re looking for sad rock songs, you should put “Closer” by Kings of Leon on the list.

It’s also one of their best songs, in our opinion.

“Floor is crackling cold
She took my heart, I think she took my soul
With the moon I run
Far from the carnage of the fiery sun.”

22. Slipknot – “Snuff”

“Snuff” is also one of the saddest rock songs.

After being released in 2008, it soon became one of the band’s signature songs.

“Deliver me into my fate
If I’m alone I cannot hate
I don’t deserve to have you
Ooh, my smile was taken long ago
If I can change I hope I never know.”

23. Gorillaz – “On Melancholy Hill”

“On Melancholy Hill” can be both sad and hopeful.

It depends on your state of mind.

Either way, it’s very dreamy, emotional, and easy to listen to.

In a way, music like this can help you accept your sadness.

“Up on Melancholy Hill
There’s a plastic tree
Are you here with me?
Just looking out on the day
Of another dream.”

24. Nelly Furtado – “All Good Things (Come To An End)”

This is also a song that can feel both happy and sad.

Just like Nelly Furtado says, all good things come to an end.

That does sound a bit sad, but it doesn’t mean that new beginnings aren’t just around the corner.

25. Taylor Swift – “my tears ricochet”

Taylor Swift released “my tears ricochet” on her 2020 studio album “Folklore.”

The whole album is very sentimental and melancholic.

And in “my tears ricochet”, she talks about the end of a relationship.

In one of the interviews, she said the lyrics were inspired by an emotional drama “Marriage Story.”

“And you’re tossing out blame, drunk on this pain
Crossing out the good years
And you’re cursing my name, wishing I stayed
Look at how my tears ricochet. “

26. Tom Odell – “Another Love”

“Another Love” is a good sad song to cry to.

Tom Odell doesn’t have any tears left though.

His tears have been used on another love.

“I wanna sing a song, that’d be just ours
But I sang ’em all to another heart
And I wanna cry, I wanna fall in love
But all my tears have been used up.”

27. Alicia Keys – “Dead End Road”

“Dead End Road” is definitely one of the saddest songs from Alicia Keys’ 2021 album “Keys.”

But it’s also very soulful and comforting.

“But the sun don’t dry nothing
And the waterfalls keep coming
And tears keep breaking through.”

28. Sade – “Somebody Already Broke My Heart”

When thinking about soulful melancholic music, Sade immediately comes to mind.

Her soothing voice, heartfelt lyrics, and captivating melodies… “Somebody Already Broke My Heart” is a good example of her timeless charm.

It’s a song about being afraid to be heartbroken again.

“Somebody already broke my heart
If someone has to lose, I don’t want to play
Somebody already broke my heart
No, no I can’t go there again.”

29. Childish Gambino – “I. Flight of the Navigator”

Childish Gamino is one of the most interesting artists of the past decade.

He is known for hip hop and R&B songs, but he also writes unique melancholic tunes such as “I. Flight of the Navigator.”

30. Roo Panes – “Lullaby Love”

Roo Panes is no stranger to sad songs.

And “Lullaby Love” is arguably one of the most emotional songs he’s ever written.

It simply speaks directly to the soul.

“When my feet get bored of travelling
And it looks like it’s all unraveling
When this heart’s too old for dreaming
That’s when I hear the angels sing your lullaby. “

31. Måneskin – “VENT’ANNI”

Italian Eurovision sensation Måneskin, known for the energetic rock hit “Zitti e Buoni”, released “VENT’ANNI” (meaning 20 years old) on the second studo album “Teatro d’ira: Vol. I.”

They wrote it in the spring of 2020, during the COVID lockdown.

The song talks about the frustrations and uncertainty you feel when you’re young.

And young people really do experience a special kind of sadness…

32. LP – “Lost On You”

“Lost On You” is one of the most popular LP’s songs.

It’s very captivating and emotionally intense.

Essentially, “Lost On You” is a breakup song.

And you can feel the pain it describes in its atmosphere.

“When you get older, plainer, saner
Will you remember all the danger
We came from?”

33. Billy Boyd – “The Sacrifice of Faramir/The Edge of Night” (LOTR Soundtrack)

When you’re feeling blue, turning to sad movie songs is the best thing you can do.

They will remind you of all the important things in your life.

And help you feel all the feels.

“The Sacrifice of Faramir/The Edge of Night” from the Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of those songs.

As a fun fact, the actor Billy Boyd (Pippin) wrote the melody and sang the song in the movie.

34. Hans Zimmer – “Remember Who You Are (The Lion King Soundtrack)”

If you’re a fan of The Lion King, you’ll probably agree that this is the saddest song in the world.

Hans Zimmer is undeniably one of the best film composers, and The Lion King soundtrack is one of the proofs.

35. Max Richter and Dinah Washington – “On the Nature of Daylight/This Bitter Earth”

The combination of Max Richter and Dinah Washington sounds better (and sadder) than you would ever imagine.

This is a powerful song that will make you see the world from a different perspective.

36. Chopin – “Nocturne op.9 No.2”

Classical music is always a good choice if you have the urge to listen to sad songs.

And Chopin has composed a good number of melancholy songs.

“Nocturne op.9 No.2” is one of his most famous pieces.

It’s also one of his easiest nocturnes, in case you have a wish to learn how to play the piano.

37. Ludovico Einaudi – “Natural Light”

If you prefer contemporary pianists, you should listen to Ludovico Einaudi.

He released “Natural Light” in 2021.

It’s very touching and captivating, just like most of his compositions.

38. Sigur Rós – “Ekki múkk”

Many would agree that Sigur Rós invented their own music genre.

Their music can simply transport you to a different state of mind.

It’s peaceful, melancholic, otherworldly.

And there’s something very touching about their 2012 track “Ekki múkk.”

In a way, you don’t need to speak Icelandic to understand it.

That’s the power of their music.

39. Pearl Jam – “Black”

On the other hand, if you understand its lyrics, Pearl Jam’s “Black” feels even more emotional.

It’s definitely one of the band’s saddest songs.

“I know someday you’ll have a beautiful life
I know you’ll be a star
In somebody else’s sky
But why
Why can’t it be
Oh can’t it be mine.”

40. Beyoncé – “Heaven”

Beyoncé dedicated “Heaven” to someone she lost too soon.

It’s a piano-driven ballad with heartfelt lyrics and a bunch of delicate feelings.

“I fought for you
The hardest, it made me the strongest
So tell me your secrets
I just can’t stand to see you leaving.”

41. Sigrid – “Strangers”

Sigrid is known for making sad songs you can dance to.

And “Strangers” is a good example.

It’s also one of her best-known songs.

“Just like in the movies
It starts to rain and we
We’re the broken beauties
Blindfolded minds collide and we fall.”

42. Jorja Smith – “Don’t Watch Me Cry”

“Don’t Watch Me Cry” is a soulful piano-driven ballad.

It might sound simple at first, but if you look at the lyrics, you realize it’s dealing with difficult emotions. 

“Oh, it’s harder when you can’t see through their thoughts
Not that I wanna get in but I want to see how your mind works.”

43. Leonard Cohen – “Avalanche”

“When I am on a pedestal
You did not raise me there
Your laws do not compel me
To kneel grotesque and bare.”

It’s sometimes hard to describe Leonard Cohen’s songs.

When it comes to songwriting, he was the master of the craft.

And a unique soul.

And “Avalanche” is an important part of his musical legacy.

44. Jeff Buckley – “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over”

Speaking of unique souls, Jeff Buckley is also a name to remember.

He is known for creating some of the best sad songs.

And “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over” is certainly a timeless tune. 

45. Sting – “Shape Of My Heart”

It wasn’t hard to choose Sting’s saddest song.

Released in 2001, “Shape Of My Heart” remains one of his best tracks.

If I told her that I loved you
You’d maybe think there’s something wrong
I’m not a man of too many faces
The mask I wear is one.

46. Dido – “Hurricanes”

Sometimes sadness feels like a hurricane.

It can be strong, overwhelming, even scary.

But just like every storm, it eventually passes.

And all you can do is face it.

Let me not turn away
From happiness or pain
Just not to run away
In my heart and in my head
Let me face

47. Tom Waits – “Kentucky Avenue”

Tom Waits is another music legend familiar with melancholy songs.

And “Kentucky Avenue” is probably one of his saddest songs.

48. Lykke Li – “Sadness Is a Blessing”

Yes, sadness can often be overwhelming.

But many songs indicate that sadness is actually a blessing.

Well, if you compare it to long and numbing emptiness, that’s can certainly be true.

In “Sadness Is a Blessing”, Lykke Li thinks about sadness in a similar way.

Sadness is a boyfriend she’s trying to get away from.

But every time she tries to escape, they get back together.

49. MARINA – “Happy Loner”

In her 2021 song, Marina Diamandis admits she doesn’t mind being a loner.

But “Happy Loner” is also about feeling overwhelmed and being “on the edge.”

It’s a rather melancholic track that also feels somewhat healing.

“They don’t understand, why I like being alone
I don’t wanna be so accessible
Emotionally I’m on the edge of a knife
That’s how I learn, that’s how I learn to survive.”

50. Sleeping at Last – “Sorrow”

Another song that belongs on your sad songs playlist is “Sorrow” by Sleeping at Last.

It’s incredibly beautiful, emotional, and at times even hopeful.

“It feels like falling
It feels like rain
Like losing my balance
Again and again.”

51. Elton John – “Sad Songs (Say So Much)”

We didn’t save the world’s saddest song for last.

We wanted to give you a bit of hope instead.

Elton John’s “Sad Songs (Say So Much)” is a reminder that good music works wonders.

In other words:

“Turn ’em on, turn ’em on
Turn on those sad songs
When all hope is gone
Why don’t you tune in and turn them on.”

Final Thoughts

When you’re feeling low, listening to sad music can really make you feel better.

It can also help you remember you’re not alone.

But just because everybody experiences sadness, it doesn’t mean it’s insignificant.

On the contrary, it can be very powerful, and sad songs are one of the proofs.

So, next time you’re feeling blue, you should listen to Elton John’s advice: when all hope is gone, turn on those sad songs.

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Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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