41 Powerful Songs That Make You Cry

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There are a lot of emotional songs out there, and they can make you feel different things at different times.

Some can make you genuinely happy, while others can make you seriously sad. Some can even light sparks in you that you never knew existed before.

In this article, we have compiled a list of songs that make you cry. We’ve gathered 41 powerful songs that might just bring you to tears.

Get your Kleenex ready and let’s check them out!

1. Everybody Hurts, R.E.M.

Everybody Hurts is arguably one of the most powerful songs ever written. It regularly makes top 10 lists of emotional ballads.

In this song, R.E.M. reminds us that our lives may be tough, but so are everybody else’s.

2. Someone Like You, Adele

You can almost feel the emotions Adele was experiencing as she wrote this song. She was bitter and in pain, but also hopeful.

This song perfectly embodies the feelings of an ex-lover who is hurting, but who is also wishing the best for their ex-partner.

3. Say Something, A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera

Have you ever given up on someone? If so, you likely know how it feels to hope for them to say or do something to prevent you from giving up.

The combination of powerful lyrics, incredible musical composition, and flawless vocalization gives this song enormous power and emotion.

4. Back to Black, Amy Winehouse

Back to Black is a song dedicated to Amy Winehouse’s ex-husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, before they got back together and remarried. She explains that it is a song about going back to what you used to love and being comfortable with after finishing a long-term, toxic relationship.

5. Hurt, Johnny Cash

While the original version of this song is powerful in its own right, Johnny Cash’s rendition might just bring you to tears. He covered the song while suffering from a health condition and some people believe that it was his way of saying goodbye to the world.

6. Nothing Compares 2 U, Sinead O’Connor

This song is a definite heartbreaker. You may be trying to enjoy life, despite all the pain, but ultimately you can’t lie to yourself about how much it really hurts.

7. Landslide, Fleetwood Mac

Landslide is a classic from the timeless band Fleetwood Mac. No one is certain if it was written for a loved one, a family member, or for Lindsey and Stevie’s career, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. The song is pure power and nostalgia, and is sure to give anyone a case of the feels.

8. Let Her Go, Passenger

This song about regret captured a lot of hearts upon its release. Michael David Rosenberg (Passenger’s real name) states that it is actually about realizing and understanding what you have lost only after it is gone, which can be quite painful.

9. When the Party’s Over, Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish used an analogy when she explained the meaning of this song. She said that it is like “being in a loud environment while on the phone with someone.” The song is for a lover who you are having chaotic moments with, and you just want to end it all.

10. Yesterday, The Beatles

There is quite a controversy behind this song, as some people believe it is about the end of a relationship, while others claim it was written about a death. Either way, it is a beautiful song that has touched the hearts of millions over the years.

11. Fix You, Coldplay

This super hit from Coldplay was actually written for Gwyneth Paltrow. It was Chris Martin’s way of comforting his ex-wife when she lost her dad. He wanted to tell her that even if she was feeling broken, there were people in her life who would do anything to support her.

12. Skinny Love, Bon Iver

Justin Vernon explains the lyrics of this song in a very simple way: A skinny and unhealthy relationship between two people who are about to break up. One party is still holding on, while the other wants to let go. What is more painful than that?

13. Hallelujah, Jeff Buckley

The song's original version by Leonard Cohen speaks of a romantic relationship, while Jeff Buckley’s version is more on the sensual side. Buckley interpreted it in a unique way, but both renditions are equally powerful. There is just something about this song that touches you deep in your soul.

14. I Know It’s Over, The Smiths

The Smiths is a great band to play on loop during a rainy day. Their songs range from silly to incredibly powerful. This particular leaves us hanging in the end. Even though it is over, how do you get through that feeling of being left alone?

15. The Boxer, Simon & Garfunkel

This song was based on the songwriter’s own personal experiences. It is about living in poverty and loneliness while being trapped in a place that is restless and chaotic. If you are looking for a classic fight song, then this is a great choice.

16. Jolene, Dolly Parton

It is hard to decide which is better—Miley Cyrus’ version, or Dolly Parton’s original. Either way, this song imploring Jolene not to steal the singer’s man is full of emotion. There is no anger or resentment—just love and desperation.

17. Wicked Game, Chris Isaak

One of the things that makes this song so powerful is the fact that Chris Isaak wrote it in a flash. He was waiting for a girl to come over to his house and penned the song during the wait.

When creativity strikes, you have to follow the muse!

18. Samson, Regina Spektor

We rarely hear Delilah’s side of the classic love story, but thankfully we have Regina Spektor to share it with us.

Samson loved Delilah so much that he still loved her even after she took his strength. In this song, however, Delilah responds and tells him that she did indeed love him, and continues to do so even after the tragic ending.

19. I’ll Never Love Again, Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga wrote this song for the movie A Star Is Born, but it was also dedicated to her friend who passed away from cancer a few moments before she recorded the studio version.

It was hard for Lady Gaga to come back and shoot the movie after that loss, but with the help of her co-stars and her friend’s husband, she was able to embrace her grief.

20. So Sick, Ne-Yo

So Sick is about being “so sick” of the love songs Ne-Yo is always hearing. It is based on his personal experience after breaking up with a girl he really loved.

He said it was a way for him to forgive himself after “screwing up” the relationship. He was so sick of all of those love songs that he wrote one himself.

21. Somebody Else, The 1975

Are you currently going through a painful breakup? Is there tension between you and your partner? If so, Somebody Else is a great breakup song to cry to. Crying is not a sign of weakness. Instead, it is an indication that you are vulnerable and open.

22. Tears in Heaven, Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton wrote this classic song after losing his four-year-old son, who fell from a tall building. This heart-rending song is one of both sadness at an unbelievable loss and hope that he will one day see his son again.

23. Good Riddance, Green Day

Good Riddance combines a bunch of different emotions in one single song—loneliness, excitement, anxiety, etc. We recommend it for those who are undergoing life transitions, like graduating students or those who have resigned from their jobs to pursue their passions.

24. Teardrop, Massive Attack

Elizabeth Fraser dedicates this song to her close friend Jeff Buckley. She heard of Buckley’s death while she was recording the song and felt that there was a strange connection. She says that the song reminds her of Buckley every time she hears and sings it.

25. No Distance Left to Run, Blur

Blur’s vocalist, Damon Albarn, wrote this song after breaking up with Elastica’s lead singer, Justine Frischmann. Reports claim that he cried while he was writing this song, so don’t feel bad if you cry while listening to it!

26. With or Without You, U2

Many people believe that Bono wrote this song for a lover. However, he later revealed that he wrote it while struggling with internal conflicts between his family and his professional life. He wrote it for himself and for all the other members of the band, articulating what it was like to become a celebrity and have to sacrifice your private life.

27. The River, Bruce Springsteen

The River was inspired by Bruce Springsteen’s sister’s personal experience. She had a shotgun wedding with her husband and they both had to sacrifice a lot—including their individual dreams—to build a family. It can be painful when you know there are things you could have done if you only had the chance.

28. Fast Car, Tracy Chapman

This is an absolute classic, and a great song for an emotional road trip. Fast Car talks about the cycle of family issues and how difficult it can be to break out of toxic patterns.

29. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, Bob Dylan

There are a lot of emotions in this song, no matter who sings it—and it has been covered more than nearly any other song. In our opinion, however, Bob Dylan’s original version is still the best.

The singer-songwriter created it for the 1973 film titled Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, but it achieved even greater heights when Ted Christopher sang a rendition of it. The song was #1 in the UK for weeks.

30. Angie, The Rolling Stones

There was a lot of speculation about the origins of this song over the years, but guitarist Keith Richards cleared it all up in his 2010 autobiography titled “Life.”

He said that it wasn’t about anyone in particular. Rather, it was just a name, like, “Oh, Diana.” Creativity struck and he threw his heart into writing the song. Richards wrote it immediately after realizing that he was able to move his fingers again while detoxing from a heroin addiction.

31. Heaven, Beyoncé

Most of Queen B’s fans believe that the diva wrote this song after her miscarriage, which happened years before Blue Ivy’s birth. Its message is a detailed narration of what a person feels when a loved one has been taken away from her. The song also speaks about how to go through the letting go and moving on phase.

32. Shallow, Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper

There is something about this song that just makes you want to cry every time you hear it. It is open for interpretation, but Lady Gaga associates the song with gender equality and how men and women should converse in a way that genuinely connects them.

33. Just Like Heaven, The Cure

It is rare when a band will give you a straightforward explanation of their songs, but The Cure is known for doing just that. Interestingly, the band decided to keep the meaning of this particular song vague. It is open to interpretation, and we think that is what makes it powerful.

34. What About Us, P!nk

P!nk is a known activist who fights for justice, equality, and diversity. She is also a very powerful artist. We really love how she uses her influence to create a change in society, as she does with this song.

35. Stay, Rihanna ft. Mikky Ekko

If you are still in the early stages of moving on, this song can perfectly sum up your emotions. It is healthy to sit with your pain and allow yourself to feel it. You can only let go and move on once you process the emotions.

36. Candle in the Wind, Elton John

Candle in the Wind is a melancholy song that was said to have been written for Marilyn Monroe. However, Bernie Taupin, who wrote the song, states that it is also dedicated to others who had beautiful but short lives—like James Dean and Kurt Cobain.

37. Just A Dream, Nelly

Just a Dream is somewhat similar to Passenger’s Let Her Go, as it is about regretting the moments the singer took his girlfriend for granted when they were still together.

Although it is a song of admiration, telling the world how the woman in Nelly’s past was so beautiful, it also reminds listeners that they should value the things they have while they are still there.

38. Don’t Speak, No Doubt

The backstory behind this song is as powerful as the lyrics are. Gwen Stefani and Tony Kanal spent seven years creating music and memories together, both as band mates and partners. This breakup song perfectly captures the feeling of losing someone who is so important to you.

39. See You Again, Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth

The lyrics of this song are certainly emotional, but knowing it was dedicated to actor Paul Walker after his untimely death only adds to its power. This song really hits hard, especially for those who have lost a friend.

40. When I Was Your Man, Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars promised not to sing another ballad ever again because he feels like he can’t create anything better than this song. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, he said that he feels like it is the “most honest, real thing” he ever sang.

41. Somebody that I Used to Know, Gotye ft. Kimbra

Did you know that this heavy, emotional song is not part of any album? Gotye released it as a single and it shot up the billboards in the blink of an eye. It is very powerful and speaks of feelings that many of us who have gone through breakups can relate to.

Conclusion

Sometimes the best way to handle strong emotions is to cry them out. If you are having a hard time dealing with those emotions alone, you can always resort to these powerful songs that make you cry.

Pick the one that best relates to your situation, play it on loop, and cleanse your heart and soul with your tears.

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