So, you’re going through a break-up. It’s likely that you are too caught up in trying to mend your heart and are oblivious to the fact that there are three stages of a breakup. You should also beg your ears and your pride for forgiveness because you’ve likely subjected yourself to some questionable pop music. Carrie Underwood, Adele, Taylor Swift — these are all musical staples of a rough split. Let’s break down the stages of a break-up and try to understand why we listen to the songs we do when our hearts are broken.
This is the time where you are the most vulnerable; your heart has just been broken and you are feeling out of control and unable to find someone to understand your pain. This is the time you turn to pop music, because their lyrics resonate so well with you.
Justin Timberlake – “Cry Me a River”
Everything in this video illustrates the irrationality felt right after the break-up. JT was pissed. He was brazen about using a Britney look-a-like and did a lot of illegal things in the span of five minutes. He vandalized Brit’s home by throwing that stone through the window to get it consequently, breaking into her home. Evidently, this represents the preliminary part of the breakup where you’re desperate to cling on to the relationship by doing ridiculous things to get your former lover’s reaction. This doesn’t work. Stop doing it.
Carrie Underwood – “Before He Cheats”
Carrie takes the Timberlake approach to the next level when she destroys the shit out of her ex-boyfriend’s car. Not only that but she resorts to name-calling his new girl. It’s understandable that anyone that your ex dates will never be tolerable to you but the more you let people see that, the more they will think you are really taking too long to get over the relationship. Don’t vandalize your ex’s car (or anything else).
TLC – “Unpretty”
You have now reached the end of the super irrational phase of the breakup where you are now starting to wonder what it is that you did to ruin the relationship. Were you too fat? Were you too needy? You question everything that happened and replay the last few days or weeks in your mind dissecting your every move.
This is the really shitty part. This is the part where you stay in your room crying and make a playlist on your iPod called “Sad Songs” or something to that extent. You mope around with your hair all ratty and eyes all puffy. You don’t answer anyone’s phone calls: you’d much rather just lay in your bed, alone and embrace the sad songs.
Adele – “Someone Like You”
There is a reason why Adele is number one this year and it’s because every single woman can relate to her lyrics. I’m going to get personal (and a little lame) but when 21 came out I was in the midst of a break (up?) and spent many nights with lit candles gazing out the window reflecting on what I did wrong and wondered what he was doing in that moment (I’m picturing you reading this in a dramatic voice). Adele looks really bummed out in this video: her long reflective stroll and the darkness in the video adds to the cry factor.
James Blunt – “Goodbye My Lover”
Err… as if James Blunt didn’t already make you want to kill yourself, you’ll certainly want to jump out the nearest window after listening to this song and watching the even more depressing video. I’m tempted to compare it to Rihanna’s We Found Love video in that this seems to be a turbulent relationship that ends in tragedy. However, Ri Ri has an upbeat, dance track behind her lyrics while Blunt chooses the slow, melancholic sound of the piano.
Alicia Keys – “Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart”
This was really nice of Alicia Keys to write a break-up song for Swizz Beatz’ now ex-wife Mashonda to sulk to. If you remember, Beatz and Mashonda were married and it’s been rumoured that Keys is, in fact, the home wrecker in this triangle. Nonetheless, the title of this song in itself describes how most heartbroken ladies feel. Losing sleep is not worth it.
Taylor Swift – “Mean”
Tay Swift is well-known for her breakup tunes. If you get on her bad side, you can bet that she’ll be in the studio writing a new song all about you. Apparently Mean is aimed at Jake Gyllenhaal whom Swift dated for a short period of time. Although it appears that the video is showing some kid getting bullied by his teammates, we later see a scared Swift tied up on some train tracks. Does this represent the relationship as being one where she was kept tied up and unable to have he freedom? Whatever this is supposed to represent, we all have a relationship where we want to just scream how mean your partner was. Listen to this if you just want a sing-song way of being bummed out. Don’t let people be mean.
All Saints – “Never Ever”
In the opening few lines of this song there is a lot of reflection as to why the relationship dwindled; it prefaces the rest of the video. Woah, I just realized that intro monologue goes on for 1:14. I’ve got a pro break-up tip: if you’ve got many memories in the form of photos, clothes and videos, get rid of them!. There is no reason to look at photos of the two of you – it’s over. While you’re destroying them, go on Facebook and delete the albums with you two in it.
Natalie Imbruglia – “Torn”
Contrary to what the lyrics implicate (worse things than just a breakup), this video has sad breakup all over it. Natalie and her lover have some moments where they embrace and look like they’re happy however. The majority of the time, however, Imbruglia is standing around dishevelled while aspects of her life are rearranged.
You’ve survived, congratulations! This is the point where you get out of bed and wash your hair and reenter society. Your iPod is now full of the anthems - the songs that make you feel like you are the strong independent person you once were. You put your heart and soul into belting out the lyrics because you really feel that these artists get you.
Rihanna – “Take a Bow”
Despite Rihanna’s tolerance of Chris Brown lately, this video shows RiRi annoyed by her pleading ex and her attempt of ignoring him at all costs (like when she slowly drives down the street so he can follow at a glacial pace). She’s also got that determination in her eyes and finally realizes that this guy isn’t really sorry; he’s just trying to get himself out of the mess he made. It’s natural that although she’s over the relationship, she would do something menacing to the ex – like burn all of his clothes in her house. Don’t burn shit in your house.
Maroon 5 – “Wake Up Call”
It’s only natural that Adam Levine’s pretend ex girlfriend is a really provocative-looking cheater. Now, contrary to the Carrie Underwood video, Levine really explains that she should’ve told him the issues and they could’ve worked them out. Instead, she just cheated – and that is not acceptable. It’s also acceptable that Levine uses violence in the video because in reality, we all know that guy couldn’t and wouldn’t hurt a fly – he’s a judge on The Voice guys.
Hilary Duff – “So Yesterday”
Hil takes a different approach to the whole moving on thing in this video. She seemingly stalks her ex at the beach and when the time is right she snags all of his clothes and decides she will not give them back. In her defence, she claims that they look good on her and who’s to question good style? I’m happy that Hilary was able to find willing candidates to wear a random shirt and allow her to take their photo. Did anyone think to question what she was doing with the photos? Hil then drops off the t-shirt along with a photo of her wearing a shirt that reads: You’re So Yesterday; apparently this is the ultimate f-you.
FeFe Dobson – “Bye Bye Boyfriend”
FeFe is pissed; she lets us know this by singing a really hardcore song with a seemingly hardcore band – am I right? I want to say that she is over the relationship at this point and that she is moving on however, the scene in the taxi where she is getting slightly out of control makes me think otherwise. Wait! She’s suddenly out of the cab, likely kicked out – but it’s fine by her, she’ll walk. Oh no, she’s broken into the ex’s house. She’s smashed the photo of the two of them. She finds lipstick and vandalizes the mirror, then steals his jacket, gets back into the same cab that kicked her out and still makes it to her show on time. See, breakups aren’t so bad.
I hope this breakdown of music videos helps you understand the phases of a breakup and the dichotomy of these songs. While the lyrics are everything you want them to be and the videos project the things that you would like to do, in reality – you’d likely be in jail or in a psych ward. So please, on behalf of us here at PopHunter – do not try these at home.