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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 61 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
42. Over the Rainbow, Eva Cassidy
“Someday, I’ll wish upon a star and wake up where the clouds are far behind me.”
Over the Rainbow is an original song from the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz. It was first sung by the film’s protagonist, Judy Garland, but it became so popular that it now has many official covers.
Our personal favorite is the one by Eva Cassidy, as you can almost feel her sadness and longing.
“But I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo. What the hell am I doing here? I don’t belong here.”
There is a lot of self-loathing in this song. The main character calls himself a creep and a weirdo—he questions his own existence, because he feels like he is not good enough for anyone.
On a lighter note, however, the song also teaches the listener to recognize themselves for what they really are.
“I need somebody to know, somebody to heal, somebody to have, just to know how it feels.”
In this song, Lewis Capaldi reminds us how it feels to be so desperate for someone you used to love and who loved you back. It is a great song for when you are thinking about your ex.
“Cause you’ll be in my heart. Believe me, you’ll be in my heart. I’ll be there from this day on.”
This song was specifically written for Disney’s Tarzan. Phil Collins even earned an Oscar for best original song. You’ll Be in My Heart is a song about separation—it was Tarzan’s message to his gorilla mother.
“And you're my survival, you're my livin' proof. My love is alive and not dead.”
I’ll Be is one of those songs that you thought understood its meaning, but later realized that it meant so much more. While it was heralded as a great love song when it was released, McCain has stated that it is a heartbreak song rather than a happy one. He never intended for it to be sung at weddings. Instead, it was an admission to himself that he was incapable of entering into relationships.
“You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains. You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas. I am strong when I am on your shoulders. You raise me up to more than I can be.”
Norwegian-Irish duo Secret Garden is the original composer of this song, which became a minor hit in the UK upon its release. But it rose to international popularity when Josh Groban sang it in 2003 and Westlife performed it in 2005. If you are looking for a rendition that is sure to make you cry, we recommend the Josh Groban version.
“Nobody said it was easy. It's such a shame for us to part. Nobody said it was easy. No one ever said it would be this hard.”
Coldplay songs are almost always full of emotion. If you are a fan, you know this is not the only song they’ve written that can make you cry—but it is certainly one of the best.
The Scientist is not just a song with sad lyrics. It is also one with a powerful, melodramatic melody that allows you to feel the pain of the singer.
“Oh, twice as much ain't twice as good and can't sustain, like one-half could. It's wanting more that's gonna send me to my knees.”
In an interview, Mayer said that this song will always be a part of him. He claims that he played it with both joy and sadness—it’s a song that encompasses the full range of human emotions.
“All these places have their moments with lovers and friends, I still can recall. Some are dead and some are living. In my life, I've loved them all.”
In My Life has been said to be an autobiographical song for John Lennon. He documented a time in his life when two of his friends died, stating that he would always remember them and everyone else who has been a part of his journey.
Surprisingly, all the other band members (Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr) stated that this was also one of their favorite songs by The Beatles.
“Life is ours, we live it our way. All these words I don't just say. And nothing else matters.”
The story behind this song is quite funny. It was mainly written by band member James Hetfield for an ex-girlfriend, but he said in an interview that he has already forgot why he wrote it. He still considers it to be a great song because their fans love it so much.
“Where did I go wrong? I lost a friend somewhere along in the bitterness. And I would have stayed up with you all night had I known how to save a life.”
This song has a huge following and has become incredibly popular due to its powerful lyrics and outstanding musical arrangement. It even received wider appreciation when Isaac Slade revealed that it is actually a song for kids suffering from mental health illnesses.
“That's me in the corner; that's me in the spotlight. Losing my religion, trying to keep up with you.”
This song actually has nothing to do with a person’s religion. R.E.M. explained that they are talking about “losing religion” in a figurative way—like someone losing his faith in a certain person. The singer is talking about the kind of love that makes you go mad.
That’s just sad, don’t you think?
“Cause I can't make you love me if you don't. You can't make your heart feel something that it won't.”
This song is about a real case where a guy shot his girlfriend’s car because the girl wouldn’t love him back anymore. Mike Reid saw an article about it in a newspaper and decided to create a song about a woman asking for one last moment with her guy.
This is still one of the most popular songs that can make you cry. There have been many renditions, each of them unique in their own way.
“I wished you the best of all this world could give. And, I told you when you left me, there's nothing to forgive.”
Did you know that this song was written by Labrinth for his father, who abandoned the family when Labrinth was just four years old? At first glance, you might think it’s about a past love, but it is actually for his struggling family.
“I'm 99 for a moment, and dying for just another moment. And, I'm just dreaming, counting the ways to where you are.”
What makes this song so emotional is the fact that it makes you realize how precious our lives are. It is a reminder that life may be tough and unfair sometimes, but it is still worth living and we should always cherish every moment.
“Everything I do, I give my heart and soul. I can hardly breathe, I need to feel you here with me.”
Avril dedicated this song to her ex-husband, Deryck Whibley of the band Sum 41. It is probably the closest thing to a love song she has ever written. Her lyrics usually revolve around themes of strength and independence, but this is one of the few songs where she shows true vulnerability.
“Trying to make a move just to stay in the game. I try to stay awake and remember my name. But, everybody's changing, and I don't feel the same.”
This song was the subject of controversy during the 2010 elections in the United Kingdom. The band’s permission was not sought when one of the parties used it as a campaign song. It is also a really powerful song because of the lyrics, which can make you feel a rollercoaster of emotions.
“There ain't no room for our things to change when we are both so deeply stuck in our ways. You can't deny how hard I've tried. I changed who I was to put you both first.”
Easy on Me is a ballad dedicated to Adele’s son, explaining why she and her ex-husband (the child’s father, Simon Konecki) had to part ways. It is a plea for her son’s forgiveness and understanding that she had to break of the relationship to take care of herself.
“I'm in the corner, watching you kiss her. I'm right over here, why can't you see me? I'm giving it my all, but I'm not the girl you're taking home.”
You have two choices—the Robyn version and the Calum Scott version. Either way, we’re sure this song will make you cry. Robyn’s version is quite groovy, but you can still feel the emotions through the song’s lyrics.
“And you call me up again just to break me like a promise. So casually cruel in the name of being honest. I'm a crumpled-up piece of paper lying here 'cause I remember it all.” Here’s a song that gives you another chance to choose. You can go with the simple, shortened, five-minute version or the powerful, longer, 10-minute one. Personally, we prefer the 10-minute version. If you want to cry, why not really dive into the deep end?
Final Thoughts on Powerful Songs That Make You Cry
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.
And if you're looking for more resources on songs, be sure to check out these blog posts:
- 35 Best Songs about Moving On & Letting Go of the Past
- 21 Best Gratitude & Thank You Songs
- 35 Best Songs About What It’s Like to Have Anxiety