Gwen Stefani, “Used to Love You”
Reminds us of: No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak”
There is no doubt (er, pardon the pun) that Gwen Stefani can write a breakup anthem: “Don’t Speak” and “Cool” are required listening for anyone feeling weepy. She debuted a new song, “Used to Love You,” at a recent live performance in New York—and even though we’ve only heard a snippet, if history is any indication, it will soon be added to everyone’s “you don’t know what you’re missing” playlist.
Taylor Swift, “Wildest Dreams”
Reminds us of: Madonna’s “Take a Bow”
Would a playlist about heartbreak be complete without an entry from Taylor Swift? Her newest album, 1989, veers away from her typical musings on lost love to a more subversive and in-control take on breakups, like the radio-friendly “Blank Space.” Her latest single, “Wildest Dreams,” is tinged with wistful inevitability, and the dramatic video (co-starring Scott Eastwood) confirms its arrival as a new classic in the breakup ballad repertoire.
Justin Bieber, “Where Are Ü Now”
Reminds us of: Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River”
Justin Bieber’s transition to big boy pants continues with “Where Are Ü Now,” a story about how a girl (ahem, Selena) who didn’t stand by his side (when he egged his neighbour’s house). Justin and Selena have both been vocal about their respective heartbreak, with Biebs saying they were in a co-dependent, marriage-style relationship that ultimately turned toxic. They both have new albums out, so look for plenty of introspective “is this about him/her?” lyrics.
Selena Gomez, “Same Old Love”
Reminds us of: P!nk’s “So What”
Selena Gomez’s “Same Old Love” takes on the emotional exhaustion of on-again, off-again relationships. (And honestly, hasn’t everyone been in a relationship like that in their 20s?) It’s definitely a more mature sound for Selena, who is looking to cast off her childhood stardom shackles (and probably, Justin Bieber) once and for all. Her fed-up growl is on point.
The Weeknd, “The Hills”
Reminds Us Of: Kanye West’s “Heartless”
Anything from The Weeknd has to be on the list of the year’s most exciting and significant music. The hypnotic single “The Hills,” which muses on cheating and feelings of isolation, is the antithesis to the more sing-along friendly hit “Can’t Feel My Face.” The lyrics are dark and hint at a messy and dysfunctional relationship based on late-night phone calls, drugs and secrecy… probably closer to today’s hook-up culture than most traditional love songs.