Top 5 Songs to Listen To When You’re Feeling Sad

music when sad

When feeling down, listening to sad songs can be a great form of relief. These tunes often use slower tempos, minor chords and somber melodies that create a reflective yet soothing atmosphere.

Researchers are exploring potential explanations involving pitch-bending and dark timbre as potential contributors to why sad music can be pleasurable.

1. Adele’s “Hello”

Adele’s haunting ballad “Hello” may appear to be your typical breakup song at first listen, but upon closer examination it becomes an emotionally powerful lament about regrets and inability to move on from past relationships. “Hello” was released as part of Adele’s 2015 album 25 and laid bare her vulnerabilities and fears regarding love, parenthood, and growing up – an album-wide highlight!

The lead single from her album quickly rose to global popularity and broke YouTube’s 24-hour view record for videos. Its combination of vocal intensity and emotional complexity make it a unique offering; one which could inspire long drives or simply play on repeat while you sob into a pillow or bowl of cereal! Interestingly enough, its sound even played during commercial breaks in football games; an unlikely combination between Adele and football that seems unlikely at best!

2. Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well”

Taylor Swift’s 2012 album Red featured one of their fan favorite tracks called “All Too Well”, which chronicles a failed relationship and left many listeners tearful with its lyrics.

Swift wrote this track directly for her former flame and its message is clear from its lyrics; commitment was something Swift never relinquished willingly.

Taylor Swift released a rerecorded version of this song on her album Folklore in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic at Long Pond Studios in upstate New York with Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner from The National. This rendition of the song lasts 10 minutes long, offering listeners an engaging experience as it offers clarity for Swift’s emotional honesty. It made our list as it showcases her musical prowess.

3. Coldplay’s “The Waiter”

If you have ever experienced the heartbreak of losing someone you loved, this song will resonate. It captures that heartbreaking moment when your relationship ends and it’s time for you to start over – making this classic breakup song an excellent accompaniment for a box of chocolates and romantic comedy movie!

If you haven’t heard this renowned song yet, take the time now to do so. It tells of a man whose heart breaks at seeing his love walk into an event and yet must go ahead regardless. This song beautifully illustrates depression and loss – you might find yourself reaching for tissues after listening. This one will hit home especially hard if you have ever experienced emotional abuse yourself or witnessed someone close being hurt; this tune won’t easily leave your memory.

4. Lewis Capaldi’s “Autumn”

No matter the style – moody ballad or heartbreaking rock song – tearjerkers are an emotional rollercoaster ride, leaving many feeling moved to tears and uncontrollable sobs. While it might seem counterintuitive that such sad music could actually be enjoyable, philosopher Jerrold Levinson asserts that certain types of sadness evoked by art can actually be rewarding (Levinson 1990).

When someone is emotionally distressed, listening to sad music may help them feel better about their situation by correcting an imbalance in their brain’s homeostatic balance. The pleasure and reward associated with the experience may then become part of their current mood – as shown by bidirectional arrows in the chart below.

Lewis Capaldi also asserts that listening to sad music can bring pleasure and reward due to specific neurotransmitters released by the brain – including dopamine, which has been linked with feelings of pleasure and reward.

5. SZA’s “Special”

Since SZA released her breakthrough debut album CTRL five years ago, she has earned acclaim for releasing emotionally vulnerable tracks about dating ordinary men with extraordinary cruelty capacities. Recurring themes of self-sabotage in relationships have some questioning her emotional maturity.

SZA’s soothing vocals and instrumental combine to create an atmospheric, relaxing environment in the opening portion of “Special.” Phoebe Bridgers adds variety by breaking up its monotony with her soothing voice; however, over time the instrumental becomes repetitive and boring.

SZA gracefully articulates her emotions through her emotive lyrics, speaking about feeling possessive of her lover and wanting them to only focus on her in bed. This song resonates with anyone who has experienced emotional drain during an unhealthy relationship; its listeners will find comfort knowing their insecurities are normal and that it’s vitally important that they love themselves first and foremost.

6. Phoebe Bridgers’ “Funeral”

Phoebe Bridgers quickly made waves within indie rock with her debut album Punisher and subsequent sophomore effort Punisher II, featuring bronzed vocals and intimate lyrics that convey profound feelings with just a few words. She can also convey drug addiction’s sense of loss with ease.

Bridgers recalls her experience performing at a friend’s funeral and describes the event as an event that left a burn mark on her joys. To create a poignant atmosphere, Bridgers employs an acoustic guitar pattern with an accompanying violin burn, creating an atmospheric moodiness.

Bridgers’ lyrics serve as an effective medium for empathy, as she candidly discusses her struggles with depression in her 2017 debut Stranger in the Alps – which depicted both reckless excitement and abject loneliness that often come with new city moves – is an amazing example. Bridgers uses melancholia in her music to cultivate community among her listeners.

7. Radiohead’s “Creep”

Creep is an emotional song about self-loathing and isolation that many listeners can connect with. The lyrics are partly autobiographical and it isn’t unusual for bands to have mixed reactions towards some of their most iconic tracks (Nirvana famously disliked Smells Like Teen Spirit for example). The minor plagal cadence (Cm) lends the song its poignant tone of defeat and loss that perfectly complements its tragic message.

Thom Yorke of Radiohead wrote the song in the late ’80s and it became their debut hit single in 1992. Although Radiohead found the track lacked their desired sound or vision as artists, its producers who worked with them on Pablo Honey convinced them of its commercial viability in America; consequently it quickly became a staple at frat boy spring break parties across the US while at first becoming unpopular among members. Unfortunately it became so unrepresentative of them, they eventually hated it!

8. Damien Rice’s “The Blower’s Daughter”

Damien Rice returned to the stage last night at Manchester’s Apollo, performing to a sold out audience and opening up with Silvia Perez Cruz from Catalonia who mesmerised audience members with her sweet voice and gentle guitar playing.

The Blower’s Daughter is a haunting ballad about Rice’s clarinet teacher’s daughter; an unrequited love song where listeners can sense his desperation through his lyrics and voice.

Rice came to prominence in the US when his band Juniper (comprised of himself, Lisa Hannigan, cellist Vyvienne Long and bassist Shane Fitzsimons) were featured on the soundtrack for 2004 film Closer. Since then he has released multiple albums such as 9 and My Favourite Faded Fantasy featuring his signature blend of acoustic music combined with vocal manipulation techniques to produce emotive songs with personal connections that resonate emotionally with listeners.

9. Neil Young’s “The Needle and the Damage Done”

Neil Young’s folk song, “The Needle and the Damage Done”, is an emotionally devastating ballad about heroin addiction. Serving as an introduction to Tonight’s the Night later on, Young wrote it as an homage to those around him who were also succumbing to drug use; specifically Danny Whitten who died from an accidental heroin overdose at 23 in 1972.

After the release of Trans, Young switched gears and released Silver & Gold, an intimate acoustic album widely lauded by critics. Two years later he would return to more rock-oriented material with Freedom which achieved chart success; additionally Crazy Horse reformed and Ragged Glory showcased their unique sound.