For some of us, Valentine’s Day is a moment when we kind of believe love exists and joyfully go out with our new fling, but for others, it’s a perfect moment to think about exes, heartbreak, and disillusion. And if the past few years are any indication, a lot of us are carrying that heartbreak baggage; the acute sense of hurt has never been stronger. We’ve sent lovelorn texts, struggled with disappointing heroes, and probably broke up with one or two exploitative jobs only to get another one.
Pop stars are also feeling the heartache. Ariana Grande gave us arguably the song of 2018 and ’19 with “thank u, next”. She boldly called out every single one of her exes by name in the song and continues to set the example for pop excellence. Selena Gomez also released “Lose You to Love Me”, which is widely speculated to be about Justin Bieber, who married Hailey Bieber last year. Following the heels of Gomez’s release, her ex, The Weeknd, gave hints that he was going to release a song about her called “Like Selena” — which appears to no longer be happening. Still, for pop stars these last few years, breakups were truly the gifts that keep giving, at least in terms of songwriting.
But, back to us: We’re a little over three years into Trump’s reign and the sense of everything being a burning pile of shit is stronger than ever. The wealth disparity in the country is comical, and what rich people can get away with feels outrageous. For example, a moment last year when we found out wealthy people photoshopped their kids into sports photos so the kids could attend colleges they otherwise wouldn’t be admitted into.
So yeah, breakups aren’t just with our disappointing lovers. They can be with your heroes, with what you thought was true, and more. Some of us gave up on Kanye West when his lackluster Jesus Is King album made more headlines for the weird celibacy vows West put his songwriters through than the actual music. Lana Del Rey on “The Greatest” certainly prepared a mournful eulogy to not only West but an American dream that was always false.
In no particular order, here are 10 songs this Valentine’s Day for whatever breakup you’re going through. If you’ve recently broken up with lovers, with ideas, with truths, with lies, terrible jobs, or outdated ways of being, this is the playlist for you.