Pop music is often known for being emotional, so it should come to no surprise that there are songs in this genre that can make one cry.
Note: Folk music that doesn't overlap with rock can also go here.
- "I'm Not In Love" by 10cc. The lyrics of the song should speak for themselves, and they're just the start.
- 2nu's ''A Father's Day", about an old man who lived an unremarkable but fulfilling life reflecting upon it on his deathbed, as well as "32", about a man reunited with his father in heaven (where they're both the ages of the best years of their lives, the son's being 32).
- "She". In the far future, a wandering man's lover is taken from him by raiders. He avenges her, and then lives as a soldier of fortune, haunted by memories of his loss. One day, he receives a note telling him "Prepare to meet the past". A woman meets him on a mountaintop, wearing his lover's armor. It's his daughter.
- "Frank's Chair" has a man who lives out in the mountains, until the day a strange woman arrives and leads him on a bizarre adventure... "There's no such thing as dusk in the city."
- Bryan Adams has a few:
- "Star". Especially since it's played at the beginning and end at the Robin Williams Tear Jerker film Jack.
- To say nothing of "Sound the Bugle", Of note are the lines "remember who you are" and "lead me away or leave me lyin' here".
- "Everything I Do, I Do It for You", the theme to the Kevin Costner Robin Hood movie.
- Then there is "Please Forgive Me."
- Adele has a couple:
- "Someone Like You", about seeing someone you're just not over and they've moved on and you're still alone. This cover by Bamboo also qualifies.
- Lampshaded on the November 12th, 2011, episode of Saturday Night Live, where an entire office of employees, including the janitor and a window-washer (who isn't even in the room), and all the members of Coldplay burst into tears upon repeatedly listening to this song. Especially funny since Coldplay is known for having quite a few sad songs of their own.
- This rendition of Rolling in the Deep, done by Linkin Park. Whereas the original came off as a warning or a threat, this version sounds more like a lament...
- Another song that definitely counts as a tearjerker is "Hometown Glory."
- a-ha has a few:
- The ending of the music video for "Take On Me" can be a Tear Jerker (but happy tears), seeing Morten Harket slamming himself against the wall, phasing between comic book and real, struggling to break out to be with the real-life female protagonist he loves. Her tearful reaction shots up the Kleenex factor that much more.
- That little love story continues in the beginning of "The Sun Always Shines On TV": in the very first scene, the guy must go back home and abandon the girl he died for. Star-Crossed Lovers, much?
- Also, "Manhattan Skyline" (about two Star-Crossed Lovers who will never see each other again as one leaves to New York) and "Slender Frame" (about a bad, bitter break-up where the narrator keeps telling his ex-lover to just go and leave him already). Love Hurts, indeed!
- "Dirty Little Secret" by the The All-American Rejects. The song itself is emotional, with a chorus far from the standard love-song drivel: "Tell me all that you've thrown away/Find out games you don't wanna play/You are the only one that needs to know..." But once you see the video and everyone holding Post Secret cards up to the camera (with secrets varying from "I have more body hair than any woman should" to "I had gay sex at church camp" to "I only love two of my children"), you'll be bawling. Or at least having soul pains from the fact that the secrets are real, even if the people are actors.
- Christina Aguilera has a few:
- "Save Me From Myself", "Mercy On Me", "The Right Man" all jerk tears out of people in these situations
- And "I'm OK" and "Oh Mother" for abuse survivors.
- "Reflection" from Mulan, particularly if you're trans or have body image issues.
- "Forever Young" by Alphaville. The longing for days past, it's haunting.
- Far Away by Marsha Ambrosius is a very sad song with an equally sad video. You may or may not be for gay rights, but what happens to these individuals is quite sad.
- Flattery by Aly And AJ, to anybody stuck in a doomed romance....
It's not in the cards
It's not in the stars!
I'm not sorry, I'm not sorry
You're not sorry
- Anastacia has a couple:
- "How Come the World Won't Stop" is a wonderfully sad song about loosing someone dear unexpectedly.
- "Pieces of a Dream", specifically the bridge.
"The faded photographs
The frames of broken glass
The shadowed memories time will soon erase
All these souvenirs
Salt from a thousand tears
But when I wake up you were never there..."
- Paul Anka's "Times of Your Life" gets sadder the older you get.
- Several songs by Antony and the Johnsons:
- Namely, the title track from the "Fell in Love with a Dead Boy" EP - as well as "Hope There's Someone", "What Can I Do?", and "Bird Gerhl" from I Am a Bird Now. Antony Hegarty's beautifully mournful voice really sells the songs and their themes of embrace towards transgender life, and their repercussions.
- For Today I Am a Boy is probably the saddest of everything they've ever done.
- "Until the End of the World" by Apoptygma Bererk.
- Aqua has many of these:
"My mamma said that the worst thing in life
Is getting used to loving somebody harder than anything else in this world baby
Knowing you're going to,
Knowing you're going to lose it all"
- Whenever Aqua releases a slower-than-usual song, expect the tears to fall. "Turn Back Time" is heartbreaking.
"If only I could turn back time
If only I had said what I still hide
If only I could turn back time
I would stay for the night..."
- Not to mention "Goodbye to the Circus", which closes their second album.
- Jann Arden's "Insensitive", which is all about being broken up with:
"How do you numb the skin
After the warmest touch
How do you slow your blood
After the body rush
How do you free your soul
After you've found a friend
How do you teach your heart it's a crime
To fall in love again?"
- "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong. Because, in spite of it all, it really is. It can straddle the line between happy tears and Jeez-why-can't-it-always-be-so-beautiful tears.
- Joey Ramone's cover is all that more heart-wrenching, because he recorded it a few weeks before his death.
- "I Miss You" by Aaliyah. Now, discounting her tragic death shortly after the release of this one, the song itself is just filled with loneliness and want.
- Backstreet Boys's "Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely". The video doesn't help matters, either. Neither does the fact that it's apparently dedicated to Howie D's deceased older sister, and it also reflects A.J's struggle with drug issues.
- Beach House has a few:
- "Real Love" sounds a little off-putting at first, until you realize what she's talking about. It's talking about how love seems to form in explicable places in your life. The melodies matched up with the meaning of the song itself turns it into a tear jerker for sure.
- "Better Times" might be even sadder, depending on how the lyrics affect you.
- "Take Care" can also bring up the tears. It comes right at the end of an extremely beautiful album and with it's big swooping melody it, just wraps you up in it - and one might not be able to help but cry at the final section.
- Joan Baez's a capella rendition of "O Come Angel Band".
- The Band has a few:
- "It Makes No Difference".
- "Whispering Pines". It's especially heartbreaking if you know anything about the life and death of its singer/composer, Richard Manuel.
- Also "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and "Acadian Driftwood". Robbie Robertson had a knack for writing these types of songs.
- "Nantes" by Barbara. It helps if you understand French, but subtitles will probably do it.
- A woman goes to Nantes because her dying father - whom she didn't see for ages - asked her for a last meeting. He's already passed when she arrives. Sad, isn't it ? It's even worse than you think. It's quite a well-known fact that Barbara was molested by her father when she was 10, and even if she never really said so, her most famous song, "L'Aigle Noir" (Black Eagle), is an incest metaphor...
- The Bee Gees have a couple:
- The video of Winter Song by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson can make one tear up at 3:30 in, just because it became so hopeful.
- Oh, God. Belle and Sebastian, "Like Dylan in the Movies", third verse:
"You're worth the trouble and you're the pain
You're worth the worry, I would do the same
If we all went back to another time
I will love you over
I will love you..."
- The music video for "If I Were A Boy" by Beyoncé. There's a scene in the middle, where the switched roles (Beyoncé as sexy, callous police officer having an affair with her partner, and the male love interest playing the suffering spouse) revert... maybe the song concept is a tad narm, but it can make one cry like a child.
- Legendary Irish singer Mary Black has many, many tear jerking songs, but a few of the standouts are "Almost Gone", "The Loving Time", her cover of "To Make You Feel My Love", and "If I Have To Go".
- "This Time It's Goodbye" by Perry Blake. Underrated song, underrated performer. It's amazing how only two verses and a simple piano melody can elicit such a deep and profound sense of melancholy.
- Mary J. Blige's "No More Drama" is one.
- James Blunt has a few:
- "You're Beautiful" can be a Tear Jerker to some people, while others view it as Narm. In the video, he does appear to drown himself at the end.
- "No Bravery" is probably even more of a tearjerker, when you realize he's most definitely lived through what he describes.
- Even more intense when pieced to this video of Chris Benoit "".
- Then there is "Goodbye My Lover".
- Also "Carry You Home".
- "Implode" by BoA, from her Hurricane Venus album. The somber nature of the song makes it a tearjerker in and of itself without even having to understand her (it's sung in Korean). But then you read the translation and the waterworks come all too freely. It is perhaps one of the most heartbreaking songs about having to let go of someone that you don't want to lose and the pain that comes with it.
- For the Italophones in the crowd, Andrea Bocelli, "E mi manchi tu" from Cieli di Toscana. The music itself is sad enough, but the lyrics — dear God, it'll rip your heart out.
- "Con te partiro" is definitely a Tear Jerker. The duet with Sarah Brightman can makes one well up. It can be hard to make it past the key change without sobbing.
- Then there are "Time To Say Goodbye" and "Nessun Dorma".
- Eric Bogle has a few:
- "And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda". Especially the end. The Pogues had recorded the best-known version. Either version tends to lead to folks saddening all over the place.
- "The Green Fields of France" note can also make certain people cry. The Dropkick Murphys' version can also trigger the tears.
- "You Are Not Alone". It's a Mood Whiplash compared to the rest of their songs. It's absolutely heartbreaking. The June Tabor version ends with "Flowers of the Forest". There is a version in German and English that become even more of a tearjerker, especially if you read the translation for the German Lyrics.
- Gordon Bok, a should-be-more-famous folk singer from Maine, did a wonderfully sad variation on the "Golden Vanity". Not much is changed, but what is changed stabs your heart. You'll need to hear the song to get the context...
"And some were playing poker, and some were playing dice; Some were in the hammocks, and the sea as cold as ice, And the water rushed in, and it dazzled to their eyes. They were sinking in the lowland sea." Imagine the sailors, chatting, dreamin', then one spout of water appears, then another then another then ohgod...
- Miguel Bosé's song Morir de amor. The video is sorta Narm-y by modern standards (specially considering Miguel's... wardrobe), but the lyrics about someone trying to cope with an absolutely broken heart and the despair after losing their significant other breaks your heart when you think of it.
- The Boy Least Likely To's "My Tiger My Heart" can really yank one's heart. Summary: Calvin's growing up and frightened he's going to lose Hobbes.
"My tiger my friend
My little godsend
I know someday we'll be happy again..."
- Boyz II Men has a couple:
"And I know you're shining down on me from Heaven
Like so many friends we've lost along the way
And I know eventually we'll be together
One sweet day..."
- "It's So Hard To Say Goodbye to Yesterday". Supposedly dedicated to the singer's dead little brother.
- "Goodbye To You" by Michelle Branch can fall into this category if you look at the lyrics
"Tears form behind my eyes but I do not cry
Counting the days that pass me by
... and I say goodbye to you
Goodbye to everything I thought I knew
You were the one I loved
The one thing that I tried to hold on to
... and it hurts to want everything and nothing at the same time
I want what's yours and I want what's mine
I want you and I'm not giving in this time"
- "Aubrey", by Bread, is absolutely soul-crushing.
- "Late for the Sky" and "For a Dancer" by Jackson Browne.
- Plenty of songs from Michael Bublé, especially "You Don't Know Me".
- Jimmy Buffett has a few:
- "He Went to Paris". Buffett wrote it about a one-armed Spanish Civil War veteran he met while playing in Chicago, and it is absolutely heartbreaking. It starts out telling how he was idealistic young man who came to Paris to find himself, then travelled to England, where he met his future bride and had a son. The third verse is where your eyes begin to well up:
"The war took his baby
The bombs killed his lady
And left him with only one eye
His body was battered
His whole world was shattered
And all he could do was just cry
While the tears were a-fallin'
He was recallin'
Answers he never found
So he hopped on a freighter
Skidded the ocean and left England
Without a sound..."
- It gets even worse during the final verse, telling how he now lives in the islands, is losing his hearing, and doesn't usually talk to anyone, but if he does like you "he'll smile and he'll say/...some of it's magic/some of it's tragic/but I had a good life all the way". It can make one bawl every time.
- "Bama Breeze", written after Hurricane Katrina devastated his beloved Gulf Coast.
- "I Never Told You" by Colbie Caillat. Enough said.
- "So Far Away" from Carole King's Tapestry is all about loneliness. As one listener put it, "If there was ever a soundtrack to life, this would be for those quiet, empty hours in which time slows down, and it feels like you’re the only one on Earth still awake."
- "Butterfly Kisses" by Bob Carlisle — which is a song about a father watching his daughter growing up, and then finally marrying her away.
- Vanessa Carlton's "White Houses" could be quite a tearjerker due to the beautiful melody while a girl talks about her "First Mistake" (IE losing her virginity).
- "Annie", "Twilight"... Vanessa manages to pull off one of these with every album. Heroes and Thieves tops it with at least three big ones: the title track, "Home", and "More Than This".
- "A Thousand Miles" can bring to tears people who have lost someone that they love.
- Carpenters' "Merry Christmas, Darling". "I've just one wish on this Christmas Eve, I wish I were with you." Anyone who's ever lived through a holiday away from loved ones will be suffering from lumps in the throat by the end of this one. It's probably no accident that this song, like "I'll Be Home for Christmas" some three decades earlier, first achieved popularity during a time when many people had loved ones away at war.
- "Patches" — originally by The Chairmen Of The Board, but popularized by Clarence Carter.
- Eva Cassidy's covers of "Fields of Gold", "Over the Rainbow", "Time After Time" & "True Colors". Especially when you realize that she died in 1996 from Melanoma at the age of 33.
- Cancer Research UK used "Fields of Gold" by Eva Cassidy for a fundraising advert.
- Celtic Woman has a few:
- The song "One World". No matter how cliched the message of world peace and unity may seem in this cynical age, it really works.
- "Someday" is another one.
- Her rendition of "You Raise Me Up" pulls at one's heart strings, especially when all of the voices come together and sing.
- "The Soft Goodbye".
- Steven Curtis Chapman has a few:
- "Cinderella". It's even sadder when you learn that Maria Chapman, one of Steven Curtis' daughters and the inspiration for this song, died in a tragic accident a year later.
"Yes, I will dance with Cinderella
I don't wanna miss even one song
'cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone."
- While we're on that note, "With Hope". The tragic accident? The little girl was hit by a car pulling out of their driveway. The driver? Her teenage brother. The saddest part may be thinking about the hell the poor kids has to have gone through emotionally and mentally because of this.
- SCC wrote a whole CD of tearjerkers after the event, called Beauty Will Rise. One of the most tearjerker ones on it is "Just Have to Wait", where he talks about all the things he can't wait to do with his daughter, in Heaven. Near the end, he sings:
I can't wait to watch your brother's face
When he can finally see with his own eyes
- Chicago has a couple:
- "You're The Inspiration". Yes, it's cheesy. But then Elite Beat Agents came and made it unbelievably touching, to the point anyone who's played the game will never hear it the same way again.
- Little One, from Chicago XI, the last track sung by Terry Kath. Although written by drummer Danny Seraphine for his two daughters, one might get the feeling that Terry somehow knew that he wasn't going to be around to see his own daughter grow up.
- Eric Clapton has lots of these:
- "Because of You" by Kelly Clarkson.
"I watched you die
I heard you cry
Every night in your sleep.
I was so young
You should have known
Better than to lean on me.
You never thought of anyone else
You just saw your pain.
And now I cry in the middle of the night
from the same damn thing!!!"
"Everybody's got a dark side
Do you love me? Can you love mine?
Nobody's picture perfect, but we're worth it,
You know that we're worth it
Will you love me, even with my dark side?"
- "Piece by Piece", by far. It made both her and Keith Urban cry live on American Idol. Especially at the last verse, when she talks about how her and her husband will never leave their then-toddler daughter, River Rose. Sniff...
- The Click Five's "Say Goodnight" and "When I'm Gone".
- Phil Collins has a few:
- "Against All Odds" from the film of the same name.
- "You'll Be In My Heart", especially for people who have lost a loved one.
- "We Said Hello Goodbye", the piano and the vocals really make it sad, but what really cues the waterworks are the lyrics. Yes, all of the lyrics.
- "A Groovy Kind of Love". The lyrics aren't sad — but the music, and the way Collins sings it, somehow makes it sad.
- "Someday Never Comes" by Creedence Clearwater Revival. It's sad enough that the narrator's singing about his parents' divorce and asking why it had to happen — but, at the end, it turns out he's also going through a divorce, with his son asking the same question he did.
- Jim Croce has a few:
- "Photographs and Memories". Made even sadder, of course, by Croce's untimely death in a plane crash.
- "Time in a Bottle" is another.
"But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do once you find them..."
- "The Hard Way Every Time". It's a fairly short song about a man looking back on his life and lamenting that every lesson he learned was learned by pain. But the really beautiful, tug-at-your-heartstrings part is the last few lines:
"But in looking back at the faces I've been
I would sure be the first one to say
When I look at myself today
Wouldn'ta done it any other way..."
- Crosby and Nash (with or without Stills and Young) has a few:
- "Find the Cost of Freedom" — especially over the final coda of the Woodstock film.
- "Laughing" and "Down by the River" are two more.
- "Triad", especially as David Crosby gets so choked up at the beginning that he struggles to play it.
- "Ohio", a tragic song about the Kent State shootings.
- "To the Last Whale" by Crosby and Nash is a somber Protest Song about the last whale in the ocean being hunted and killed for industrial purposes.
- Crowded House has a couple:
- "Pour le Monde" is a very exquisitely sad mid-tempo pieces.
- Also "Don't Dream It's Over".
- Miley Cyrus has a few: "Stay", "I Miss You", "Bottom Of The Ocean", "Goodbye".
- Once you get past the rather bizarre music video, "Wrecking Ball" becomes this.
- "The Space Between" by Dave Matthews Band. Sweet, somewhat bittersweet, longing words.
- Depeche Mode has "Precious", a pretty sad electronic song.
- Neil Diamond's "Morningside." Bad enough that the guy's family didn't care that he was dead, and then when they refused his final gift to them, which he'd spent hours if not days making himself...
"Morningside, the old man died.
And no one cried, he surely died alone.
And truth is sad,
For not a child would claim the gift he had.
The words he carved became his epitaph...
'For my children'"
- "Shilo" and "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" are pretty damn sad as well.
- Céline Dion has a few:
- "Then You Look at Me" from the ending credits of Bicentennial Man. It helps that it plays immediately after the Downer Ending (or is it a Bittersweet Ending?), and its tune is played as an instrumental when Andrew and Portia die.
"Fly, fly do not fear
Don't waste a breath, don't shed a tear
Your heart is pure, your soul is free
Be on your way, don't wait for me
- "Because You Loved Me," "All Coming Back to Me Now" and "The Power of Love" are also mega-tearjerkers.
- Hilary Duff, Someone's Watching Over Me, there is no one alive this song can not relate to.
- "Grandad," as sung by Clive Dunn.
- Duran Duran has a few:
- "Save a Prayer", which was later dedicated to Marvin Gave after his murder in 1984.
- Also "Ordinary World". "And as I try to find my way to the ordinary world, I will learn to survive..."
- From the B-side of the same album, "Falling Angel". "I don't believe it all, but I believe in you..." Damn, 1993 was their most magical year.
- The Eagles has a couple:
- The end of the Hotel California album, "The Last Resort". If you have faith in humanity, this song will help you get rid of it. It can make one feel like we, as a species, have failed.
- Then there is "Doolin-Dalton/Desperado Reprise".
- Erasure has a couple:
- The video for "Breathe". A modern adaptation of The Little Match Girl set in Tokyo.
- "Spiralling" is really depressing, especially compared to everything else they've ever recorded. The singer sounds like he's about to break down, and in the original version there's an implied suicide attempt at the end.
- Melissa Etheridge has a couple:
- "This Is Not Goodbye" is about death, basically.
- "Scarecrow". "Rising above, all in the name of love, love, love, love..."
- "Scarecrow" was written in memory of Matthew Shepard, a young man who was brutally murdered in Laramie in 1998 for being gay. Its title comes from the initial eyewitness report of the passing cyclist who found Matthew's dying body - he was so slight and his injuries were so horrific the cyclist thought he was a scarecrow tied there as part of a gory Halloween prank.
- "Bright Eyes" by Art Garfunkel. What makes it worse is knowing that it was originally written as a memorial for the writer's — Mike Batt's — father.
- Genesis has a few:
- "Domino" is about a man who tries to search for his love, who he knows is dead, dreams about the good times he had with his life, but he gets nightmares about the fact that his place is getting blown up and by the time it gets to the part of the kids getting vapourised by an atomic bomb (maybe, it doesn't specify what liquidises them.)
- The lyrics of "Open Door," an obscure song by Genesis, can basically be summed up as "I have to leave, and I'll never see you again."
- "Please Don't Ask" can also rip out the heartstrings.
- Much of the output by Michael Gira's post-Swans outfit Angels Of Light is fairly depressing, but their debut effort New Mother is especially devastating. Perhaps the fact that it opens with "Praise Your Name", a gorgeous folk-pop anthem written as an ode to vengeful and violent women, should give us all a clue. The most heart-wrenching of all, perhaps, are the deeply personal "Song For My Father" and "Angels Of Light", which is, quite simply, a stunning seven-minute musical portrait of a woman dying.
- Delta Goodrem, Not Me Not I, to name one example.
All you said to me, all you promised me
All the Mystery, never did believe
No I never cry, No not me...
- Picture the scene. You're almost through your last year of school, and slowly trudging your way through your last few weeks. You're ready to go out into the world. In fact, you're looking forward to it! Then you hear "Oh How The Years Go By" by Amy Grant, and you realize you still want to stay a kid forever, hug all your friends, wonder were on earth your childhood went, and collapse into a pitiful sobbing heap on the floor. It is THAT powerful.
- George Harrison has a couple:
- "Isn't It A Pity?" can break one's heart upon listening to it.
- Then there is "Marwa Blues". A hauntingly beautiful instrumental by itself; the fact that it came out on his posthumous album Brainwashed just adds to the poignancy.
- Don Henley has a few:
- "The Heart of the Matter" might make certain people want to go out and hug everyone he's ever wronged.
- His duet with Patty Smith, "Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough" is absolutely heart-wrenching.
- Also, "The End of Innocence" is a definite Tearjerker.
- "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" by The Hollies.
- Hootie and the Blowfish has a couple:
- "Innocence." "I want you to know, and to feel in your soul, that someone has come and gone."
- And "Let Her Cry", for sure.
- Bruce Hornsby's "The Way It Is" — specifically, a piano-only version from the multi-artist album "Moneyland", performed along with the Fairfield Four. Bruce sings the second verse, about the kid who can't play with the other kids because of the color of his skin and asks why not — and fifty years after segregation in the US ended, a gospel choir sings "that's just the way it is... some things will never change." Sad... but with an underlying sense of hope.
- "Stars" by Janis Ian.
- "Hero" by Enrique Iglesias — the guy sounds like he's an inch from tears throughout the entire song.
- "Seasons In the Sun" by Terry Jacks can either make one cry or make one feel guilty for not crying.
- Jigsaw's "Sky High", and its Eurodance cover by Newton.
- "I Believe I Can Fly" by R Kelly.
- Kris Kristofferson has a couple:
- "Epitaph (Black and Blue)", which is about Janis Joplin's death.
But when she was dying
Lord, we let her down.
There's no use cryin'
It can't help her now...
- Also "Jodie and the Kid". Especially the sheer simplicity with which the lyrics state, "It gets a little lonesome..."
- "Underneath" by Adam Lambert, a haunting ballad about a boy taunted by homophobia and wishing his tormentors could only see who he was underneath.
- "Outlaws of Love" is another song about the LGBT community trying to find acceptance and is heartbreaking for the same reasons.
- "Sleepwalker" can be a tearjerker for anyone haunted by a break up.
- John Lennon has a few:
- "Imagine" from Imagine. It's something about how heartfelt the entire song is, and how the lyrics describe an impossibly beautiful dream. Some listening to the song may feel that, with everything happening right now, the world is doomed — so there'll never be a true realisation of the vision described there. Global warming, forests disappearing, coral reefs dying... And there still isn't peace, acceptance of others instead of prejudice and discrimination, and resolution of social issues, at all, it seems...
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...
- "Beautiful Boy", itself already being a sentimental song, can make one tear up with sadness at the line saying how John can't wait to see Sean come of age — because John's life was tragically cut short.
- "God" "I don't believe in Beatles..."
- "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)" "So this is Christmas..."
- Even many of his more upbeat songs like "Give Peace a Chance" and "Just Like Starting Over" crossed into "Funny Aneurysm" Moment territory after his murder in 1980.
- Gordon Lightfoot has a few:
- "House at Pooh Corner" by Loggins and Messina. FULL STOP.
- Loggins' solo remake, "Return to Pooh Corner", arguably makes it even moreso with the addition of a new verse.
- Lindsay Lohan's "Confessions of a Broken Heart (Daughter to Father)" can bring to tears people who have been abandoned by their fathers.
- Considering her Creator Breakdown after struggles with an eating disorder, self-harm, and bipolar disorder (which was not yet diagnosed or treated) the previous year, the comeback single "Skyscraper" by Demi Lovato (and the song's accompanying video) certainly count as this, along with Crowning Moment of Awesome and Crowning Moment of Heartwarming. Especially considering she recorded it prior to her stint in rehab, at the height of her anguish, her voice affected by bulimia, and it came out like a cry for help.
- Madonna has a couple:
"A man can tell a thousand lies, I've learnt my lesson well
Hope I live to tell the secret I have learnt
'Til then, it will burn innside of me..."
- "Promise To Try" is pretty sad, too. It's about how her mother died when she was at the age of 5.
- "Falling Free" is especially a tearjerker. It's about finding peace at the end of a relationship and moving in while still wishing you were with the said person. It especially gets the tears flowing when she sounds as if she's about to cry at the end,
- "California Dreaming" by The Mamas and The Papas. ("Stopped into a church, I passed alooonnnnng the way...")
- "When I Was Your Man" by Bruno Mars is about a man who regrets not loving his girlfriend more and all the things he could have done for her. Now he wants her to be happy with someone else.
- Richard Marx's "Angel's Lullabye", "The Other Side", and "Right There Waiting".
- Matchbox Twenty has a few:
- "How Far We've Come".
- However, it is hardly sad next to many other Matchbox 20 songs — such as: "Back 2 Good", "Hang", "Kody", "Bed of Lies", and "3AM" to anyone who knows what it is like to watch a loved one suffer with cancer.
- Bright Lights, need I say more, with epic build and crescendo too.
Baby baby baby
when all your love is gone
who will save me
When I'm up against the world
- Paul McCartney's "Here Today".
- We All Stand Together. Some may find it a bit Narmish with the singing frogs, but arguably that's what makes it all the more poignant—and seeing the happy frog families together is absolutely shattering if you're estranged from your own family.
- 'She Falls Asleep', 'The Last Song' and 'The Ballad Of Paul K' by Mc Fly. 'She Falls Asleep' is about a girl who is Driven to Suicide, 'The Last Song', wanting to live the final moments of your life to the fullest and 'The Ballad Of Paul K' about a man suffering a mid-life crisis. The latter can be especially heartbreaking to those who have ever witnessed their own fathers going through the same thing.
- Don McLean has a few:
- Knowing the story behind "American Pie" from American Pie, this might be one of the saddest songs in rock history. The upbeat music doesn't help, either. The Day the Music Died, indeed.
- Along those lines, it's hard to not cry to "Empty Chairs".
- "The Grave". Grab some Kleenex. You'll need them.
- "Vincent" is another one. It's about Vincent van Gogh, the artist who made beautiful things — even as the world rejected them, until he finally went mad and killed himself... And the fact that the whole song describes his paintings in great detail only makes it even worse. The song's bridge is particularly crushing:
But they could not love you, but still your love was true.
But I could have told you, Vincent...
- Meat Loaf has a few:
- "Objects in the Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are".
- "Bat Out of Hell" from Bat Out of Hell. Look up the lyrics. Particularly the last verses. Now listen to it ALL THE WAY THROUGH.
- "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through", "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad", "It's All Coming Back To Me Now", "Blind As A Bat", and ESPECIALLY "For Crying Out Loud" are hard to listen to without feeling something well up in your eye. Even the man himself has broken down into tears by singing them.
- Mika's Any Other World. All the way.
- "The Rose" by Bette Midler (also performed by Westlife and Bianca Ryan.
- Pat Monahan, the lead singer of Train, has a solo album that features these tearjerkers "Two Ways to Say Goodbye" and "Always Midnight"
- "Porpoise Song" by The Monkees, especially the "Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye..." chorus.
- A lot of songs by Eurobeat vocalist Clara Moroni, who goes by many stage names such as Cherry, Leslie Parrish, and (formerly) Vanessa, have some pretty moody themes to them:
- It's hard to pick a specific part of "Killing My Love"; from the first verse ("You always give me bad surprises, so tell me tell me why you treat my feelings like a toy?") to the refrain ("[...] A dream is forever if we dream together / I don't wanna believe in love anymore"), it gives off the vibe of an apathetic or abusive lover.
- "Lonely Night" is, as the title implies, about missing a lover, with the opening lines implying that said lover is dead:
"All my life
Searching for someone
All my heart
Given to that one Now you're gone
And I just can't go on
- From the end of the refrain to "Victim":
"I don't believe that you need me, you trust me, you love me,
If you treat me the way the way that you do
Giving up on love..."
- "Broken Strings" by James Morrison
"Let me hold you for the last time
It's our last chance to feel again."
- The last minute, especially, can trigger the tears. The two voices together is beautiful and heart-wrenching.
- "Song For A Friend" by Jason Mraz. Especially the last bit.
- Randy Newman has a few:
- "Texas Girl at the Funeral of Her Father."
"Sing a sad song
For the sailor
A thousand miles from the sea."
- "Losing You". The backstory to the song qualifies as well.
- "Dayton, Ohio - 1903" has this effect on Yours Truly.
- "Marie." Especially if you've seen the movie Paulie.
- "The Christmas Shoes" by NewSong is a pretty extreme song to play on the radio, precisely because so many people start crying when they hear it, it's only a matter of time before it causes a car crash. That said, some may have the opposite reaction.
- Agnes Obel's "Riverside", a beautiful and simple piece consisting of just vocals and a piano. It's a sad song to begin with, but this troper first heard it on an anonymous blog chronicling a girl's struggle with anorexia, which made it even more depressing.
- Sinéad O'Connor has a few:
- Her collaboration with The Chieftains on "The Foggy Dew", a song about the failed Easter Uprising of 1916, which was precursor to the War of Irish Independence. This Irish-Canadian guy can easily be reduced to tears of righteous fury within the first few lines.
- One might go all melty inside over her slow, slow, almost a capella version of "Peggy Gordon."
- Nothing Compares 2 U. The video, with just her face. The single tear.
- "When You Love" — especially upon hearing it in Rugrats in Paris, shown in a scene highlighting Chuckie's lack of a mother. It appears again near the end of the movie, but in a much happier context as Chuckie finally has a new mom.
- The first Young Dubliners version of "Foggy Dew", off the album Breathe, begins as a traditional acapella lament, leaps into a furious folk rock rendition, before falling back into acapella for the heartwrenchingly bittersweet final verse. The passionate defiance of the rest of the song serves not to dilute this, but to heighten the emotion to the point of assured Manly Tears.
- Give her a cover version of "Gloomy Sunday" to do. The Angels themselves will weep.
- "Alone Again (Naturally)", by Gilbert O'Sullivan, later covered by Donny Osmond. Whichever version you're listening to, if you can hear it and not get a tear in your eye, you must have no emotions. The last few lyrics are about his father and mother dying and being left alone again. Sad stuff.
- Oingo Boingo's "Can't See (Useless)". Especially poignant if you're getting over a break-up of any kind:
"We were both cast forth by the same pale hand
And we both moved freely in the shadow land
And we both were sculpted by the same cold wind
And we both had armor that was made from tin
And I tried to find you, but it's useless
And I tried to speak, but it's useless..."
- One Republic has a few:
- "Secrets", "All We Are" and "Someone to Save You". Special mention goes to Secrets, being used in this scene in The Sorcerer's Apprentice, arguably the best and most tearjerking scene in the entire movie.
- "All The Right Moves" sounds harmless enough at first. And then you pay attention to the lyrics, and realize what's being said. He's given up any hope of ever being with the girl because, the way he sees it, there's no way that they can be together; the world quite literally will break them up and keep them from being together, no matter what. No one will ever stop this. And then he starts with the "It don't matter what you say, I know I could never face someone that could sound like you".
- Roy Orbison has a few:
- "In Dreams". It's just such a wistful, mournful little tune, but it's so sweet and innocent at the same time..
- Couple the overall sadness of "In Dreams" with the creepy way that it was used in Blue Velvet... It's pretty goddamn melancholy...
- "Crying" is another one. The buildup to the end is incredible.
- Christina Perri's song for Twilight, "A Thousand Years," is absolutely heart-wrenching already. If you've seen episode 10 Puella Magi Madoka Magica? Forget about it, you'll never have a dry eye again.
- Peter, Paul, and Mary has a few:
- "Puff the Magic Dragon" is, perhaps, a rare children's song that cause many people to break down in tears. Just something about that tale of abandonment...
- It's worth noting that a recent children's book based upon the song adds a new triumphant tearjerker ending: Puff is befriended by another child.
- Peter, Paul & Mary have been known to add a more hopeful last verse to the song as well.
- Also "500 Miles". Between the group's haunting three-part harmonies and what some may consider to be the most powerful verse in the song, the story of a traveler too ashamed of his poverty to return to his family is especially moving.
"Not a shirt on my back
Not a penny to my name
Lord, I can't go a-home
- "'Cause I'm leavin', on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again..." To make it Harsher in Hindsight, the song's composer, John Denver, died in a plane crash.
- "Don't Laugh At Me", along with the Mark Wills version might make you want to cry every time.
- "Where Everybody Knows Your Name", a.k.a. the Cheers Theme Tune, by Gary Portnoy can make one slightly teary. Or make one want to have a drink.
- The Pretenders, "I'll Stand By You".
- Chris Rice's song "Breakfast Table" — a man singing to his deceased wife: how much he misses her now, and how he looks forward to seeing her in heaven. The chorus in particular:
"Save me a seat at the breakfast table, save me a dance around the Milky Way, and save me a thousand years to whisper in your ears all I've wanted to say."
- Linda Ronstadt's "Winterlight", especially over the ending credits to the 1993 version of "The Secret Garden".
- Diana Ross' "Missing You" — her tribute to her fallen friend, Marvin Gaye. The video ratchets things up by including Tami Terrell and Ross' bandmate, Florence Ballard.
- Roxette has a couple:
- "Anyone". Marie Fredriksson's voice carries such raw, numbing loneliness that you end up wanting to hug her just to pour a little warmth into the aching void.
- Also, "It must have been love". Even if the Pretty Woman movie gives vibes, it can't be denied that the song is really beautiful and heartbreaking.
- Peter Schilling's "Major Tom", which is a sequel of sorts to David Bowie's "Space Oddity". See David Bowie for more info.
- Scissor Sisters has a few:
- "Mary" was written for Jake Shears's best friend — and, at one point, expresses his touching wish to be able to sacrifice his own happiness in exchange for hers. It's even sadder considering that the real Mary later died from complications of surgery.
- They wrote YET ANOTHER SONG, called "The Other Side", that's quite sad. It may, at least, be partly influenced by the sudden death of the lead singer's close friend. But that is just speculation.
- "It Can't Come Quickly Enough" can make some people feel inexplicably sad. It may be due to Jake Shears voice combined with the lyrics ("We knew all the answers and we shouted them like anthems..." WHY IS THAT DEPRESSING IN A BEAUTIFUL KIND OF WAY?!)
- "Return To Oz", which manages to use the obscure 80s film as an analogy for crystal meth abuse, and still manages to be a real tear-jerker.
- The Script has a few:
- "I'm Yours". ("You touch these tired eyes of mine/ And map my face out line by line/ And somehow growing old feels fine")
- Also: "Breakeven", "For The First Time", "Before the Worst", anytime Danny O'Donoghue starts singing.
- Seal has a couple:
- "Love's Divine". And just to prove that it isn't imagery, take a listen to the non-video version. Also a bit of an oddity, since you cry both to how sad it is, and then how triumphant it sounds near the end.
- Stay far, far away from their version of "Puff the Magic Dragon" - originally by Peter, Paul, and Mary.
- Selena's tragic murder brought melancholic undertones to her most famous song, "Dreaming of You." The fact that she died before the song was released makes the song all the more poignant, and it especially became more sad when it appeared at the end of Selena.
- Paul Simon has a couple:
- "Boy in the Bubble" from the Graceland album can make people feel pretty depressed, due to the almost hopeful way that the lyrics come across...
- "Wartime Prayers" from the Surprise album.
- Sirusho's songs pertaining to the Armenian Genocide can be absolutely heart wrenching. "Kga Mi Or" and "Der Zor" are great examples.
- "Havatum Em" as well. A very poignant song about unrequited love.
- Smash Mouth (yes, that Smash Mouth) have "Waste":
"Don't want no one to ache
Oh, to be drunk and forgetful
To get out of this unscathed
Oh to be free and inhuman"
- From the same album, there's "Fallen Horses":
"Blinded by the whiteness, staring at the sun
I'm wishing that I had wings so that I could become one
Would you help me, if I wanted to die?
I could ride off with horses tonight."
- Michael W. Smith has a couple:
- "This is Your Time" was written in memory of Cassie Bernall, the Columbine victim who supposedly was killed because she said she believed in God. The story turned out to be an urban legend, but the song is tearjerking nonetheless:
This was her time, this was her dance. She lived every moment, left nothing to chance.She swam through the sea, drank of the deep, embraced the mystery of all she could be.
- The tears later turn to those of inspiration when at the end of the song Smith directs the chorus at the audience ("This is your time, this is your dance...") and implores, "What if tomorrow, maybe today, when faced with the question - what would you say?"
- "Friends" can make some cry tears of sentimentality.
- "There She Stands" and the accompanying video - especially when one realizes that he wrote the song almost immediately after the 9/11 attacks.
- "Hello Goodbye" was written for a family grieving the death of their infant son.
- Dusty Springfield has hundreds of them, but "Goin' Back" can stand out for some — especially with the connection it has with Springfield's death (it was the song played over footage of her funeral).
- Cat Stevens has a couple
- "Father and Son". The song is about a father and his son arguing over an undisclosed choice that the son is making. Cat sings both parts: the father's calm, even demeanor as he tries to explain things to his son, and the son's emotional outbursts against the interference in his life. The son's pieces are particularly difficult to listen to, because aside from the evident pain and distress in his voice, his words are heart wrenching:
"How can I try to explain? When I do, he turns away again. It's always been the same, same old story. From the moment I could talk, I was ordered to listen. Now there's a way, and I know, that I got to go away..."
- "Trouble" is very gloomy, and it's about suicide. "Trouble, oh trouble can't you see, you have made me a wreck won't you leave me in my misery?"
- "Moonshadow" is another one.
- Rod Stewart's "The Killing of Georgie" was about a gay friend of his who was stabbed to death in New York in the mid-1970s.
- The Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb duet "What Kind of Fool".
- Take That's "Rule The World", inspired by the film Stardust.
- James Taylor has a couple:
- "Fire and Rain", which probably takes the cake.
- "Our Town".
- "Apologize" by Timbaland (featuring One Republic).
- Tanya Tucker has a couple:
- "Two Sparrows In a Hurricane" can really rip one's heart out.
- Along with "Somewhere Out There" is "Dreams To Dream". Tanya's voice actress sells this song. Hell, even Cat R. Waul sheds a tear at her performance, if you look carefully at 1:54.
- Tiffany has a couple:
- The song "Geboren um zu leben" (translation would be "Born to live") by German band Unheilig brings one to tears, despite the rather optimistic lyrics. The song makes you feel as if the singer had to deal with bagloads of pain to get there.
- Listen to this version of "Don't Fear The Reaper" by Unto Ashes a few times, and you'll probably want to hang yourself from depression.
- The Veronicas has a few:
You know I love you, I really do
But I can't fight anymore for you
And I don't know, maybe we'll be together again
Sometime, in another life
In another life
- Also most of their first album and their b-sides
- To some, "Leave Me Alone".
- Bobby Vinton has a couple:
- rendition of "Blue Velvet" It describes perfectly a happy and loving relationship he had that ended in messy heartbreak, down to the circumstances and minor details.
- "Dick and Jane". Shameless, but effective.
- Vitamin C's "Graduation" can be especially affecting at the end of the school year, or when looking back on your high school days.
- The synthpop band VNV Nation has a few:
- "Forsaken", which wasn't actually released with its vocal line on an album until a few years after the album it debuted on was released. The lead singer of the band has stated that there was no words for it until a live performance they did in Germany, which came entirely from emotions that night. Here is a recording with the lyrics. Anyone who has lost anyone bursts into tears with the combination of the lyrics and the rawness of the singer's voice.
- If you feel like sobbing, here it is. Ronan's vocal rawness just adds that extra layer of gut-wrenching.
- The unexpected Jacob's Ladder quote can especially set people over the edge.
- From the same band, "Beloved".
- Furthermore: "Illusion" can make one teary eyed by the end.
- "From My Hands".
- Rufus Wainwright has a couple:
- "Memphis Skyline" probably won't make you cry on first listen, but the more you expose yourself to the song, the more emotional it gets. It's about Jeff Buckley, who was actually friends with Rufus during the last few months of his life. Warning: after about 3 listens you'll be crying your eyes out.
- "Pretty Things" is another one, especially at the line "Be a star and fall down somewhere next to me."
- We The Kings has "We'll Be A Dream", "Heaven Can Wait", and "August Is Over". "August Is Over" is an especially triumphant example.
- "Just Keep Breathing" and "Die Young , Live Forever" can be added too since they were recorded when the bassist Charles Trippy was dealing with a brain tumor.
- Roger Whittaker's "Durham Town (The Leavin')".
- Dar Williams's "Mercy of the Fallen".
- Robbie Williams has a few:
- "Advertising Space" can be pretty depressing as well.
- "She's The One" is another one.
- Amy Winehouse, "Back to Black", "Love is a Losing Game" and "Some Unholy War" from Back to Black, particularly for the now extra-tragic line, "B, I woulda died too - I'd like to."
- "Once in a Lifetime" by Wolfsheim. Written after the singer's wife and unborn child perished in a hurricane. Lyrical Dissonance doesn't help matters.
- Stevie Wonder's "Overjoyed" seems to have the opposite effect given the title. It tends to make people cry tears of sorrow.
- "Blame It On The Sun" is a sad song of heartbreak.
- Young Fire's "A Shattered Heart". The group has done plenty of sad songs, but this one is so depressing it's unbearable. The Lyrical Dissonance makes it even worse.
- Zoe Girl has a couple:
- "Plain". For someone who has struggled with self-esteem over the years, the chorus can be especially poignant:
"You are a jewel, you are a treasure
You are one of a kind
And you shine just as bright as the stars in the sky
You're a rare kind of a wonder created just right
So keep your head up no matter the pain
There's nothing about you that's plain."
- "Forever Seventeen", which is even worse when you consider that most of the Life album is cheerful religious pop... and then you get hit with THAT song out of nowhere.
- All girl band ZONE's popular song, Secret Base ~Kimi ga Kureta Mono (What You Gave Me)~ is bound to be one if you've ever had to say goodbye to a friend.
- Eric Hutchinson's "Watching You Watch Him" can be pretty poignant with any guy who knows the feeling.
- "The Living Years" by Mike and the Mechanics. Rumor has it that Rolf Harris was brought to tears on live TV by this song. It's about a son's troubled relationship with his father and the fact that he regrets not being able to talk with his father about the subject while his father was still alive. The Reality Subtext makes it especially hard-hitting: the song's writers, Mike Rutherford and B. A. Robertson, had both just lost their fathers (with whom they had particularly strained relationships). For listeners whose own lives have gone or are going down a similar path, this song is like a sledgehammer to the heart.
"I know I was a prisoner
To all my father had so dear
I know I am a hostage
To all his hopes and fears
I just wish I would've told him
In the living years"
"I wasn't there that morning
When my father passed away
I didn't get to tell him
All the things I had to say"
- * Push Away by Versant, as well as the demo.
"You thought I would leave you down
When the weight was too much
I will lift you from the ground
Don't you feel we're both in the storm?
(take, take another life)
I keep fighting the wind so you know why
Even those that doubt us believe
(take, take another life)
We must be the only ones breathing
Still you push away"
- "Bronte" by Gotye. The final track on "Making Mirrors", unless you have a European copy, this song was apparently written for a friend whose dog had died. The lyrics definitely convey this sense of loss and a premature goodbye to a dear friend
Now your bowl is empty
And your feet are cold
And your body cannot stop a-rockin'
It hurts...to let...you go...
"We will be with you"
When you're leavin'
"We will be with you"
When you go
"We will be with you
And hold you till you're quiet
I know...it hurts...to let go...
"You will stay with us...
- Toni Braxton's Un-Break My Heart. The music video shows her lover played by Tyson Beckford leaving their home, only for a fast car to hit him and cause an accident, killing him and leaving him lying on the street as Braxton cries over his body. Braxton walks through her home, remembering all the good times she had with him before his untimely death.
- "Closer To Me" by Five. And It's Music Video. Especially the final scene. Considering this is one of the last songs they released before breaking up in 2001, this one is a real tear jerker.