Welcome to the Heave Mixtape! Once a month, the Heave staff submits a couple of their favorite songs related to a theme and attempts to impress you with their musical knowledge.
Since February is suppose to be about love, we thought our mixtape should not be about that. It should be about breakups. Because c’mon – if you’re with someone on Valentine’s Day it’s not a big deal. It’s by far one of the dumbest holidays ever. You’ll probably go out with your significant other, have a meal, and possibly receive sexual gratification in some way, shape, or form. Maybe even possibly receive a heart-shaped something or a plushy thing that you will throw out later.
But if you’re alone on Valentine’s Day, THAT’S when you feel the worst. That’s when you realize being alone on a day that celebrates couplehood truly sucks. Which is why we made this mixtape to help you get through it.
“Party Hard” by Andrew W.K.
Because when you break up with your girlfriend it’s TIME TO PARTY.
Adam Cowden: “Why Don’t You Get a Job?” by the Offspring and “How’s it Going to Be” by Third Eye Blind
“Pretty Pathetic” by The Smoking Popes
Few things are worse than breakups, but here’s one of them: the desperate, sob-choked efforts to force life into a relationship that is clearly dead. It’s a heady mix of panic, obsession, and terror that all too many of us quaff without hesitation. Love is a beautiful, life-affirming thing and it’s easier to hysterically deny its death than accept it and move on. It’s also almost incalculably undignified.
This song is a brutally uncomfortable first-person account of a man doing exactly that. It’s a straight-up story song, the lyrics an unbroken narrative. As a result, the plot has a surprisingly steady arc and amount of detail, made even more impressive when considering how goddamn familiar some of these lines are. Love is a big fucking thing, and it feels impossible that it can just go away—no, you can save it if you just try harder. She’s pulling away? Hold on tighter. Show her how much you love her, and she’ll love you back again. Go all-in. Don’t hold anything back. There’s a way to be happy again if you just try hard enough. Go on. Try. It’ll work.
So pathetic, so desperate, so nauseating, so terrifyingly recognizable. The narrator’s behavior is positively cringe-inducing, but even that’d be OK if it weren’t so easy to understand, and easier still to repeat when your time comes.
“Eight Letters” by Paul Baribeau
This playlist could easily be 100% Paul Baribeau. Picking one song was like choosing a favorite from among your miserable, depressed children. Paul’s songs, in a word, are gutting. Not “sad,” not “depressing,” I’m talking prison-shank-twisted-into-your-kidney-by-the-person-you-just-summoned-the-courage-to-tell-them-you-love-them gutting. I can’t fathom the courage it takes him to put the amount of pain and emotion he does into his voice. I listen to these motherfuckers and have to fight not to weep. Ah, god, this guy.
“Eight Letters” is classic Baribeau: an acoustic guitar, a voice, and lyrics so personal you feel like you’ve walked into something not meant for you to hear. A breakup leaves a person with infinite things they want to say, and Paul explores that feeling to incredible effect here. The resentments, the aching nostalgia for the good times, and the self-pity all roil and curdle inside your brain, pressing against the edges of your mind until you can’t be silent anymore, you can’t just sit here and take this, they can’t go around not knowing what this means to you, goddammit you need to say something.
But it’s probably best not to.
“Thunder” by BoyslikeGirls
This one is basically about the girl I dated senior year of high school. She cheated on me three days before prom but I didn’t find out until after the weekend was over. “Our song” was “Two is Better than One” by the same artist. That’s irony for you.
“Angel and the One” by Weezer
The final track of Weezer’s Red Album is the most reminiscent of their work on Make Believe, the first album I ever bought. It’s an emotional charged finale about a couple whose destiny is not together. In their final interaction, however, they are desperate for one another. My four years of denial over whether my friend reciprocated my romantic feelings or not finally got shattered through this song. After years of listening to it one way, I finally listened to it another way.
“Everything Sucks” by Reel Big Fish
Yes, the relationships I had in my past shaped me but there’s something gratifying about saying, “Fuck you” to an exe. No more “Let’s get coffee, no more “Maybe we will get back together.” You grow when you realize you don’t need someone who did not better you as a person. The title is a downer, but the beat is an upper. Everything Sucks right now but knowing that is okay.
“Silver Spring” by Fleetwood Mac
I have the fortunate/unfortunate experience of listening to the Rumours reissue after a breakup, the same reissue that features this song. In fact, 4 different versions of this song. This song…dear sweet Lord it’s fucking sad. I urge all the lonely people of the internet to chant this verse on February 14th, preferably while crying “Time cast a spell on you/you won’t forget me/I know I could’ve loved you but you would not let me”
“Say it to Me Now” by The Frames
Half of Glen Hansard’s work is breakup songs. This is one of the best.
“Don’t Let Me Cave In” by The Wonder Years
Perfect for the Chicago-centric breakup.
“Boy” by Little Mix
This song just hits a nerve with me, it’s everything you need to hear post-breakup. You’re better than they deserve.
“Get Myself Together” by Robyn
This song got me through a rough breakup. There’s something to be said for wanting to prove to yourself how strong you are.
“You’re Not the One” by Sky Ferreira
This is to be sung at the top of your lungs with your favorite bottle of booze in hand.
“Album of the Year” by The Good Life
The chronicles of a failed relationship, from intial flirtation to emotional intimacy to drifting apart and ultimately to collapse, in just a hair over five minutes.
“Pink Triangle” by Weezer
Really, anything off Pinkerton is pretty relevant to the topic at hand. Having said that, “Pink Triangle” nails a version of the breakup process that doesn’t get as much attention, in which you become so infatuated with the imaginary person in your head that you never stop to realize that it might not work out for you.
“Virtute The Cat Explains His Departure” by The Weakerthans
You want to catch a case of feelings? Spend a few minutes listening to John Samson’s tale of a cat leaving its morose owner behind, from the cat’s POV.
William Schneider: “Nothing Better” by The Postal Service, “Cold Hard Bitch” by Jet, and “Never There” by Cake
“Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac
The greatness of this song is not in the storied cocaine and screaming fueled blizzard that was Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham together, or the bands incredible ability to sound lackadaisical and free while being tight and finely tuned. It’s a great break up song because even in it’s criticism of shady behavior (“Players only love you when they’re playing”) there is no blame. It’s tailored for those break ups/that point in the break up where you want to be mad, but you have to come to a healthy mindset when looking back. It’s best, most often, to look back and see many things as out of your control; you then must commence with your silk scarf twirling to work out your remaining romantic frustration (also good cardio).
“We Sink” by Chvches
On first listen, this is an adorably dark dance number, like Kraftwerk with kittens. Vocalist Lauren Mayberry’s treatment of the chorus sounds like she is saying “I’ll be on your side/Till you die”; wrong, she is saying “I’ll be a thorn in your side/Till you die.” Vengence, I’m in.
You listen to the first verse again where their short lines encapsulate the frustrating half thoughts you have when fighting with your partner. The second verse too, feels like the wary preamble to the talk that ends all talks. Chvrches has really shone in the past year, priming our ears for what I hope is a long career of infusing gloom with sharp and pretty sounds.
“Walking on Broken Glass” by Annie Lennox
Have you ever sang to the patrons of a bar that were not as drunk as you the majority of this song, loudly? Was is not a karaoke night/bar? You, dear reader, are acquainted with the humorous side of your tragedy. This is the perfect song, or at least perfect for those who are confused and wounded and want a love they know isn’t good for them. Out of anyone else it would sound petulant, but Lennox’s deep melodious voice is furiously on point. She validates your feelings of loss, but like your friend trying to wrangle you back to your seat, she helps you understand your better than this.
Shelby Shaw: “Bugs Don’t Buzz” by Majical Cloud, “Epilogue” by The Antlers, and “Angkor Wat Theme Finale” by Michael Galasso (sadly not on Spotify, but here’s a link to listen elsewhere)
“Walk Out” by Justin Townes Earle
It would be disingenuous of me to start this list with anything other than some real honky-tonk country blues, courtesy of Steve Earle’s son. Just a song about being wronged and turning the other cheek because it’s just not worth the effort to do anything else about it. It’s almost too catchy to be a breakup tune, but that’s the way they write ’em down south, and you gotta respect that.
“Going To Cleveland” by The Mountain Goats
John Darnielle is the undisputed master of breakup songs. This is a song for when you’re so done with a relationship that you end up saying, “Whatever—go ahead and get bent because you’re terrible and can’t ever give me a straight answer, so I’m moving to a Rust Belt city with terrible sports and changing my name so you can never find me again.” Plus it starts with 12 seconds of ear-splitting feedback, which is a great prank to play on your recent ex!
“I Don’t Love You Anymore” by Bomb The Music Industry!
Sometimes you’re so happy about not being in love with someone anymore that you take a break from being a Long Island ska-punk band to write a 1970s-inspired Motown song about how over and done with a person you are. This song is great for long car rides alone, drunken jam sessions with your pals, and basically any time you remember how happy you are to be single again after getting out of a bad relationship and t,he bridge is especially cathartic to shout along to, for the record. …Not that I’ve ever done that.
“For No One” by The Beatles (weirdly not on Spotify, here’s a link to listen to it elsewhere)
From my favorite Beatles album, and possibly my favorite Beatles song of all time, “For No One” probably isn’t a tune that comes to mind for most people when they think of the Fab Four. Barely over two minutes, and including a jaunty little french horn solo, “For No One” tends to get lost among the myriad of other amazing tracks on Revolver. And yet, when I think of the album, it’s always the first thing that pops into my head. More of a pre-breakup song than an actual account of a relationship ending, “For No One” is about what happens when you know things are over, even as you cling to some kind of hope they might not be. The song’s protagonist is stuck in a monotonous, tired relationship. He tries to convince himself and his paramour that something remains between them, but in the end, she still leaves; not in anger, but without feeling anything at all. There is no more love behind her eyes, just an absence of love that used to be. It’s a heartbreaking song about a heartbreaking situation, and it reminds us just how hard it is to say goodbye.
“Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor
Still the ultimate breakup song, “Nothing Compares 2 U” is one of those covers that’s so good it doesn’t just improve on the original, it redefines it, and makes it better. Don’t get me wrong, I will worship at the alter of Prince any day of the week (he can do anything! We all saw that New Girl!) But just like Jimi Hendrix did with Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower,” Sinead O’Connor absolutely destroys his Princely majesty on her version of one of his most emotive songs. With such go for broke lyrics and an equally go for brokemusic video, it’s no wonder O’Connor has been made fun of for this one a lot overtime. And yet her rendition is so deeply felt, so utterly sincere, it retains its power (probably doesn’t hurt that it’s spelled like a text message either.) The idea is simple; no matter what you do (Seeing other people! Going to fancy restaurants!), it doesn’t matter without that person in your life. Very romantic, yes, although frankly, it’s also a borderline unhealthy way to feel, especially for long periods of time. But everybody, at least once in their life, has been there. Sure, eventually you get over it, but for awhile, there’s just nothing that compares. 24 years after it was released, I find myself still listening to this song today. I put it on sometimes when I want to feel sad, but it’s a good kind of sad. The kind of sad that reminds you that you’re able to experience something intensely powerful, even if it doesn’t last forever.
“Thinkin Bout You” by Frank Ocean
Alright, I’m cheating again with this one. A post-breakup song that may be about a relationship which happened, or that merely came close to happening, no matter how you slice it this is still my go-to pick from the many affecting tracks on Frank Ocean’s groundbreaking major label debut, channel ORANGE. I’ve mentioned before that I love this song for the way it contemplates whether the people we think about think about us similarly or as often. But I’d also like to mention the way Ocean expertly weaves back and forth between casual and deadly serious. One moment he says, “I don’t like you, I just thought you were cool enough to kick it,” and the next he’s confessing “I been thinking ‘bout forever.” Because Ocean understands the way love works. Sometimes it feels like all or nothing, and other times it’s just kicking it, and finding someone to hang out with. “Thinkin Bout You” was my favorite song of 2012, and every time I listen to it I’m reminded once again of what a talented, nuanced songwriter Ocean is.
Jonathan Mondragon: “Barriers” by Aereogramme, “Headless Horseman” by The Microphones, and “Ferris Wheel On Fire” by Neutral Milk Hotel (again weirdly not on Spotify, here’s a link)