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The Best Breakup Songs and Albums of 2023


The Best Breakup Songs Albums and Diss Tracks That Got Us Through 2023 Taylor Swift Olivia Rodrigo and More

Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo
TAS2023 via Getty Images;Jason Kempin/Getty Images for MTV

From teaching Us to buy ourselves flowers to figuring out if it’s over now, 2023 was filled with epic breakup songs, albums and diss tracks to help Us mend our broken hearts.

Kelsea Ballerini dominated this year’s charts with her EP, Rolling Up the Welcome Mat, which is inspired by her divorce from ex-husband Morgan Evans. The album initially dropped in February and included five songs detailing the breakdown of a relationship between two partners growing apart.

As she played the songs live on tour — and during a memorable appearance on Saturday Night Live in March — Ballerini began tweaking the lyrics of her track “Blindsided,” taking shots at Evans’ own divorce ballad, “Over for You.” The raw and emotional live delivery of her song “Penthouse,” meanwhile, went viral online, inspiring Ballerini to rethink her EP entirely.

“As [soon as] I played ‘Blindsided’ on SNL, [fans] were like, ‘We need the ‘Yeah, Sure, Okay’ version. And then when I started ‘Penthouse’ live, it kind of just changed and evolved every night,” she exclusively told Us Weekly in August. “And then one day, on a whim, I just changed one word and it took on a whole new life and they were like, ‘We need that version.’ It’s called ‘The Healed Version.’ I never made that up! That was them.”

On Rolling Up the Welcome Mat (For Good), a second version of the EP that dropped in August, Ballerini includes her lyrical swaps, along with a live version of “Penthouse” and two new songs: an extended version of “Interlude” and “How Do I Do This,” about finding new love post heartbreak.

“I’ve been in a new relationship for a while now, and people have seen that,” Ballerini told Us, referencing her romance with boyfriend Chase Stokes. “So I feel like it’s a really appropriate time to catch everyone up and to be able to move the narrative from the past to the present.”

Keep scrolling for the best breakup songs, albums and diss tracks of 2023:

Rolling Up the Welcome Mat: Kelsea Ballerini

The Best Breakup Songs Albums and Diss Tracks That Got Us Through 2023 Taylor Swift Olivia Rodrigo and More
John Shearer/Getty Images for CMA

Ballerini finalized her divorce from ex-husband Evans at the end of 2022 and swiftly delivered a country breakup EP for the ages, Rolling Up the Welcome Mat, in February.

Although songs like “Penthouse” and “Just Married” break hearts with lyrics of a disillusioned marriage, Ballerini reshaped her pain into hope when she rereleased the EP in the summer with the new title, Rolling Up the Welcome Mat (For Good).

The updated version features Ballerini channeling her freshly “healed” perspective on love with lyrical revisions on a live rendition of “Penthouse” and an expanded version of “Blindsided,” that calls out her ex’s own breakup song, “Over for You.”

GUTS: Olivia Rodrigo

The Best Breakup Songs Albums and Diss Tracks That Got Us Through 2023 Taylor Swift Olivia Rodrigo and More
Jason Kempin/Getty Images for MTV

Olivia Rodrigo’s highly anticipated sophomore album, GUTS, was released in September. The lead single, “Vampire,” topped charts for months ahead of the album’s release, followed by “Bad Idea Right?” and “Get Him Back!”

Although fans speculated that “Vampire,” which refers to a “cool guy” older than Rodrigo sucking her dry, is about her ex-boyfriend Zack Bia, others suggested the track was about another former flame: Adam Faze.

Throughout GUTS, Rodrigo manages to express heartbreak while also including more complicated notes of regret, temptation, insecurity and longing. Songs like “Making the Bed,” in which she seemingly reflects on the consequences of “playing the victim” in a previous split, give the album a mature and relatable spin.

For All the Dogs: Drake

Drake’s eighth studio album, For All the Dogs, dropped in October, followed by an expanded Scary Hours Edition. The rapper takes shots at everyone on the record, from exes — notably, Rihanna on “Fear of Heights” — to his professional rivals.

“Red Button,” a track on his Scary Hours version, includes bars seemingly aimed at Kanye West, Pusha T and Joe Burden. The songs aren’t all insults though: he also tips a lyrical hat to Taylor Swift, alluding to their ongoing friendly battle for No. 1 on the Billboard Top 100 list.

For All the Dogs also details Drake’s experience with romantic splits. On the lead single, “Slime You Out,” he teams up with ex-girlfriend SZA to revisit a breakup from the perspective of both partners. Bonus track “You Broke My Heart” — in which Morgan Wallen nabbed a feature in the music video — savagely closes out the album with the words, “F—k my ex.”

‘Flowers’: Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus made her musical comeback with Endless Summer Vacation in March. The album, which is divided into two parts, opens with an energetic first act representing the morning. The more frenetic second act gives way to the vibes of a warm summer night.

The lead single, “Flowers,” quickly soared to the top of the charts, with fans speculating the song was referencing her marriage and subsequent divorce from Liam Hemsworth. (The song’s music video was released on his birthday and seemingly referenced Hemsworth’s workout routine.)

Other tracks expand on her feelings about heartbreak, from expressing regret for her own actions in a past relationship on “Jaded” to accusing an ex of infidelity on “Muddy Feet.”

Think Later: Tate McRae

Tate McRae is living out every girl’s breakup fantasies on her sophomore album, Think Later, which dropped in December.

The hockey-themed LP is everywhere, seemingly referencing McRae’s ex NHL athlete Cole Sellinger, with the singer even donning goalie gear on the album’s cover.

The lead single, “Greedy,” went viral for its self-affirming lyrics, while the second single cheekily sends kisses to her “Exes.” Emotional tracks like the ballad “Grave” offer a more tender side to McRae’s past relationships, while the compelling “We’re Not Alike” calls out a former friend who turned out not to be a “girl’s girl.”

Related: 10 Reasons Taylor Swift Was the Queen of Our Hearts in 2023

Buda Mendes/TAS23/Getty Images Taylor Swift doesn’t celebrate her birthday until December 13, but she spent all year dominating the pop culture landscape. Already a 12-time Grammy winner, Swift’s career skyrocketed even further with the debut of her highly anticipated Eras Tour and its subsequent concert film, both of which broke records across the board. She […]

‘You’re Losing Me,’ 1989 (Taylor’s Version): Taylor Swift

The Best Breakup Songs Albums and Diss Tracks That Got Us Through 2023 Taylor Swift Olivia Rodrigo and More
TAS2023 via Getty Images

Swift is known for her masterful ability to pen a universally relatable breakup song for all, but she shocked fans in May with the surprise release of a bonus track from her 2022 album, Midnights.

“You’re Losing Me” seemingly depicts the slow disintegration of her romance with ex Joe Alwyn. The pair were together for nearly six years before their split in April, but “You’re Losing Me,” which was penned in December 2021, hints that their issues began long before that.

In the gut-wrenching ballad, Swift sings of a relationship that is “sick” with “loss” and “indecision” despite her best efforts to move forward. “How can you say you love someone you can’t tell is dying?” Swift asks in the second verse, begging him to “choose” her by the chorus.

In October, Swift dropped another batch of songs for heartbroken fans with the rerelease of her fifth studio album. 1989 (Taylor’s Version), with several tracks rumored to be about ex Harry Styles, featured four new tracks about letting go of an on-off relationship, including “Is It Over Now?” where Swift sings of having to watch a former flame find new love in the public eye.

Chemistry: Kelly Clarkson

The Best Breakup Songs Albums and Diss Tracks That Got Us Through 2023 Taylor Swift Olivia Rodrigo and More
NDZ/Star Max/GC Images/Getty Images

Clarkson’s 10th studio album, which dropped in June, was heavily inspired by her divorce from ex-husband Brandon Blackstock. From singing about grief and rage to acceptance, Clarkson takes listeners through the journey of healing.

In Chemistry’s opening track, “Skip This Part,” Clarkson channels the particular pain of a new breakup. “I feel every break as I realize my fate / I succumb to the taste of betrayal,” the lyrics read. “I try numbing the pain with my sweet Mary Jane, but I know this escape isn’t stable.”

“Red Flag Collector” and “I Hate Love” are other angsty headbang-worthy songs, while “Me” and “My Favorite Kind of High” are perfect for moments of self-discovery and the first flutters of new love.

Snow Angel: Reneé Rapp

The Best Breakup Songs Albums and Diss Tracks That Got Us Through 2023 Taylor Swift Olivia Rodrigo and More
Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures

Not all of Reneé Rapp’s inaugural album is about romantic heartbreak, but it does explore themes of breaking up with old versions of yourself and people you once knew. There are, of course, a few tracks about old love and bitter memories, like “I Hate Boston,” which details despising a place because of the reminders it reignites inside of you.

Elsewhere on Snow Angel, which was ironically released in August, “The Wedding Song” is a softer reflection on an old relationship, while “Tummy Hurts” seemingly describes having to watch a toxic ex move on.

‘Kill Bill’: SZA

“Kill Bill” off SZA’s SOS album, which dropped in June, is a tongue-in-cheek revenge track that is a cleverly coded reference to Quentin Tarantino’s 2003 film of the same name, taking star Uma Thurman’s story line about settling the score with her former boss and applying it to former romance.

While the song begins with promises of maturity and “seeing a therapist” to help her move on, the track slowly progresses into a hyperbolic determination of revenge. “I might kill my ex, not the best idea / His new girlfriend’s next, how’d I get here?” sing asks, plotting out her next move. “I might kill my ex, I still love him though / Rather be in jail than alone.”

‘I Know It Won’t Work’: Gracie Abrams

Heartbreak can still happen even if you’re the one who wants to leave. Gracie Abrams’ “I Know It Won’t Work,” which was released in February, depicts a dying romance that Abrams no longer wants to fight for. “I’m thinking everything you wish I wasn’t,” she sings in the second verse. “The call was tough / But you’re better off, I’m being honest.”

The single also tackles the difficulty of moving on when an ex refuses. She sings, “Why won’t you try moving on for once? That might make it easy / I know we cut all the ties but you’re never really leaving,” in the second verse, adding, “And part of me wants to walk away ’til you really listen / I hate to look at your face and know that we’re feeling different.”

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