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30 Best Tear-jerker Songs


Cry Baby

There are billions of songs that evoke sadness, and friends have often made fun of me for making mix cds for days when I am down in the dumps. After reading many blog lists that had "Nothing Compares to You" on the top 5, yet didn't include Eric Carmen at all, I decided to make my own little countdown. It was an extremely tough process, especially when I decided not to include musicals ("I dreamed a dream" would normally be #2 otherwise). Instead of using the suspense method, I am ranking the saddest songs from 1-30!.

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments!

1) "Tears in Heaven" Eric Clapton

Frankly I'm not sure if anyone made a song as heartbreaking as this true story of a child dying. I need tissues now.

The Saddest Song that Ever Existed

2) "All By Myself" Eric Carmen

Loneliness has never been more tragic.

3) "Slipping through my fingers" Abba

It doesn't matter where I am, I tear up when I hear this, and I relate to it as a daughter slowly leaving home. I can't imagine mothers who hear this and what they go through.

4) "My Heart Will Go On" Celine Dion

I feel like everyone makes fun of this song, and yet most people cry when they hear it. Even when they've never seen Titanic.

5) "Angel" Sarah McLachlan

Oh god, sad puppies.

6) "Against all Odds" Phil Collins

You know how when some people break up they listen to Adele over and over? This was my Adele. When something went wrong in a relationship, I ached with Phil Collins.

7) "I Have Nothing" Whitney Houston

Bittersweet and gut-wrenching at the same time!

Kurt does Whitney justice

8) "Ain't no Sunshine" Bill Withers


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9) "Everybody Hurts" REM

Why wasn't I a temp.

10) "Don't Walk Away" Electric Light Orchestra

An old friend introduced me to this one. Too beautiful to describe.

11) "Dreamer" Ozzy Osbourne

12) "Fool to Cry" Rolling Stones

13) Every Country Song Ever

From Glen Campbell to Elvis Presley and Alan Jackson, the list goes way on.

14) "Wish you were here" Pink Floyd

15) "Sound of Silence" Simon and Garfunkel

16) "The Hill" Marketa Irglova

From the movie Once.

17) "Why Me" Planet P

My dad's personal #2.

18) "Purple Rain" Prince

I'm still not even sure what this is about, but I love Prince so much.

19) "Fix You" Coldplay

20) "Asleep" The Smiths

21) Several Elton John Songs

Seriously. "Candle in the Wind", "Goodbye yellow brick road"...the man is a boss at sadness.

22) "Yesterday" The Beatles

Yeah yeah, there are a lot more, I know. This one, though.

23) "I want a Mom" Marquiqui of the Bonquiquis

All you who cried in Rugrats in Paris, you know what I'm talking about.

24) "Time" Alan Parsons Project

25) "How to save a life" The Fray

26) "Telephone Line" ELO

27) Several Platters songs

I'm talking "Smoke gets in your eyes", "Only You"...even their cover of "Somewhere over the Rainbow" makes me cry.

28) "Every time" Britney Spears

James Franco in Spring Breakers knows.

29) "Don't wanna miss a thing" Aerosmith

30) Adele Songs

Especially "Someone like You".

Honerable Mentions!

  • "Imagine" John Lennon
  • "Diary" and "If" by Bread
  • "Beth" Kiss
  • "Closer" The Wallflowers
  • "Mama" Spice Girls
  • "I want to know what love is" Foreigner
  • "The Mess I Made" Parachute
  • "Somewhere only we know" Keane (any version).
  • "Move Along" All-American Rejects
  • "Love will tear us apart" Joy Division
  • "Landslide" Fleetwood Mac
  • "Don't speak" No Doubt
  • "Hallelujah" any version (although it also gives hope, so double-sided!)
  • "Somebody to love" Queen
  • "Time after time" and "True Colors" Cindi Lauper
  • "Take a bow" Rihanna
  • "Don't Cry Daddy" Elvis Presley
  • "Coat of Many Colors" Dolly Parton
  • "Too Deep" Genesis
  • "It Will Rain" Bruno Mars
  • "Photographs and Memories" Jim Croce
  • "Nobody Home" Pink Floyd


Jake on September 18, 2017:

Yamaha by delta spirit

Steve on February 24, 2016:

Tank Park Salute by Billy Bragg. It's all about his dad dying of cancer and it is a really beautiful tribute.

Matt on May 21, 2015:

Someone Like You should be at or near the top. First song I ever heard that truly captured the feeling of regret that comes with losing "the one". Makes me cry every time dammit.

danicole from United States on October 25, 2014:

Great list!!!! IF I add to create a list:

Breathe Me by Sia

Vienna/ Heaven Forbid/ The Fighter all by the Fray

Creep by Radiohead,

I'm not crazy by Matchbox 20

Never Let me go by Florence and The Machine

Skin and Bones by Marianas Trench will all be on there

I got plenty more but these will do!!!!

Sara Psychedelic on May 09, 2014:

Thank you! And I agree, almost added Counting Crows but the list could go on and on haha

Nathan Bernardo from California, United States of America on May 07, 2014:

I certainly appreciate your humor, I was laughing pretty hard when reading the intro to this piece. I also agree with this list, there are some true tear-jerkers here. I guess I'd add Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You". It is a real bitter-sweet song, like many of her songs. Also, much of Jim Croce's work qualifies to be on this list, particularly "Operator". Counting Crows has some rather meloncholic stuff too; Raining in Baltimore comes to mind. Matchbox 20 too. I guess the list goes on. I admit I can sit and listen to a sad song and tear up and even convulse with tears. Also, you're right about Country songs; those singers specialize in the tear-jerker. Thanks for the list and the humor. Enjoyed it all very much.

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