While we are against encouraging people to be sad, we understand that there are times when your body craves that emotional state. For those moments, we bring you 100 sad songs in English. After all, sadness must exist for a reason, just like happiness, anger, or joy. Its purpose or finality? If only we could know for certain, because with time, we give explanations to everything. Yet, no matter how much tragedy plus time equals comedy, for example, for many, tough times have led to mental strength or maturity, while for many others, they have only brought more suffering in this life.
Our main intention is for this playlist of the saddest songs of all time to serve as catharsis. A way to let it all out. To achieve this, we’ve arranged the selection in a way that even if one song makes you feel miserable (hopefully not, in any case), the next one will uplift you enough, despite maintaining a melancholic tone. Because in the end, this is our true foundation: a series of melancholic songs that, at times, carry luminosity. You’ll notice this, especially as you reach the last tracks, where optimism begins to take shape like a light at the end of the tunnel.
As you’ll see, most of the songs are centered around love and heartbreak, the classic themes. However, there’s also room for other lyrical themes within sad music in English. So, if you’re adept in the language and want the lyrics to resonate as much as the melodies, you’ll find more avenues to feel sorrow. Nevertheless, the idea is that knowing the language well isn’t a requirement to fully immerse yourself in their meanings. That’s the beauty of good music; it’s always universal, reaching you even through language barriers.
Top of 100 Sad Songs in English (To Cry To or Not)
When we say that this playlist includes sad songs to cry to (or not), we’re leaving it up to you. As we mentioned, many of them leave room for hope, but not all, so you can choose your favorites for each day.
With that said, let’s get to the essentials of the playlist. It’s composed mostly of songs from this century, with a highlight on the years 2010-2022. However, there’s also space for famous old music and other years closer to this last decade and the present.
In fact, if you enjoyed our selection and are interested in discovering more sad music in English, we invite you to listen to and subscribe to our nighttime songs playlist, where we delve into other melancholic and sad compositions from the first decade of the 21st century.
People, I’ve been sad, by Christine and the Queens
In addition to offering you the playlist with all the songs, we wanted to emphasize the ones that open the list, providing an overall view of what you’ll encounter as you progress.
The first is “People, I’ve been sad” by Christine and the Queens, which, with its title, already gives a good idea of what the lyrics are about (after all, sad lyrics are everywhere in this song). The French singer-songwriter Héloïse Letissier, also known as Chris since 2018, surprised many of us in 2013 with her debut work, “Nuit 17 À 52”, continuing to expand her career ever since and collaborating with other artists around the world. This song belongs to the 2020 EP “La Vita Nuova”, a gentle work where everything seems to work together as if it were a film. Interestingly, the music videos she released follow the structure described by the tracks. This is something we’ll see again at the end of this list.
9 Crimes, by Damien Rice
While most sad songs in this selection are from the 2010s, we considered it necessary to include some that reflect undeniable sorrow. This is one of them; the other comes right after. From there on, we truly focus on other themes, but just listen to Damien Rice’s “9 Crimes” and tell us it doesn’t make you feel anything but happiness. How much emotion do we owe to Lisa Hannigan, and how much to Damien Rice? All of it.
Breathe Me, by Sia
Before becoming the queen of dance floors alongside David Guetta, singer Sia was known for her melancholic, sensitive tunes, the kind that club-goers usually avoided. The advantage of English, however, is that it allows you to continue writing sad lyrics and deliver them with great cheer amidst lively productions. Sia has showcased versatility and that she doesn’t need to rely on any type of DJ, as demonstrated by “Breathe Me” and many others that followed.
Petrified Heart, by Mt Warning
We’ve talked about Mt Warning in our list of the best music of 2015. Since then, they’ve given us several sad joys, not just “Petrified Heart,” which you’ll also find in this playlist of sadness.
This is a project by musician Mikey Bee and filmmaker Taylor Steele, born from the question, “What would a song sound like from a man sinking into the ocean?” Together, they explored the sounds of new songs that eventually evolved into what you’re listening to right now.
Candles, by Daughter
The London-based indie folk trio formed by Elena Tonra (vocals, guitar), Igor Haefeli (guitar), and Remi Aguilella (drums) made a strong start from the beginning.
With singles, EPs, and a debut album full of great sad, melancholic, yet luminous tracks, they offer lucid reflections that speak about their personal experiences as college classmates studying music together.
If you’re not familiar with this band, we recommend starting with their work “His Young Heart,” released in April 2011, and “The Wild Youth,” released in October. That should give you a good understanding of what we’re talking about.
Light Years, by The National
When we began talking about all these songs, we mentioned that there would be another where the music videos were closely associated with the musical work, as if it were a movie. Well, The National provided the music for a short film with the album “I Am Easy To Find,” starring Alicia Vikander, who also appears on the album cover.
The song “Light Years” is one of the many standouts from the album. All of them could be part of this list because nothing expresses human glory and pain better than a song by The National. However, this one strikes all the chords.
(Madrid, 1987) Novelist by vocation, SEO specialist by profession. Music lover, cinephile and reading lover, but in “amateur” mode.