The '90s were an incredible decade for so many reasons. Not only was it the decade that bestowed television classics like Ally McBeal, Sex And The City, Dawson's Creek, and My So-Called Life, the '90s were also responsible for delivering some of the most memorable love songs of all time. And wherever there are love songs, heartbreak inevitably follows. For this reason, it's time to compile the ultimate '90s breakup playlist. Basically, if you haven't listened to these tunes while bawling your eyes out over a loved one, you haven't lived.
While Zack Morris was busy breaking Kelly Kapowski's heart, and vice versa, regular people were listening to songs on their Walkmans and Discmans, and dreaming about their unrequited loves. The great thing about these '90s breakup anthems is that they're not only perfect for consoling the broken-hearted, they're also the best songs for slow dances.
There are so many songs to choose from, as the '90s was a prolific decade with literally loads of classics, but the ones that have made it on to this list are those that had the biggest impact on the world. Despite having moved on from the decade in many ways, it's clear that when it came to breaking up, the '90s knew how to do it right.
1. "Nothing Compares 2 U" — Sinead O'Connor (1990)
It would be impossible to make a list of '90s songs about heartbreak without including "Nothing Compares 2 U." Its devastating lyrics are all too relatable, making O'Connor's song a major '90s classic.
2. "Without You" — Mariah Carey (1993)
Carey's iconic song is still a heartbreak staple, and it's easy to see why. "Without You" describes exactly how it feels to be broken up with, and the world feels as though it might actually end.
3. "Don't Speak" — No Doubt (1996)
Taken from Tragic Kingdom, "Don't Speak" was an important anthem for '90s kids. Both miserable and angry, the single speaks to anyone that's been blindsided by a breakup and refuses to go quietly.
4. "End Of The Road" — Boyz II Men (1992)
Boyz II Men delivered some of the most iconic breakup and make-up songs of the '90s. That is all.
5. "Why" — Michael Jackson & 3T (1996)
Michael Jackson's duet with his nephews was a classic back in the early '90s. Though with lyrics like, "Why do we love if love will die?", it was perhaps a little too philosophical back then for our younger selves.
6. "Always" — Bon Jovi (1994)
7. "Cryin'" — Aerosmith (1993)
This list would be incomplete without Aerosmith. Plus, Alicia Silverstone is peak '90s, so it makes sense.
8. "Un-Break My Heart" — Toni Braxton (1996)
A veritable '90s classic, Braxton's breakup song inspired so many of us to sing into our hairbrushes while crying profusely.
9. "Never Ever" — All Saints (1997)
This British girl band might not have rivaled the Spice Girls in any real way, but "Never Ever" is the perfect song to play when you're trying to figure out why a breakup happened.
10. "Try" — Macy Gray (1999)
Gray's classic single perfectly encapsulates that feeling we've all had when it's impossible to get over somebody, no matter how hard we try.
11. "Stay (I Missed You)" — Lisa Loeb (1994)
Loeb's song, with a video directed by Ethan Hawke, has been a classic since it came out. Featured on the soundtrack of Reality Bites, "Stay" is the perfect song for reminiscing.
12. "Foolish Games" — Jewel (1997)
Taken from her debut album, 1995's Pieces Of You, "Foolish Games" is the brooding, '90s breakup track that will get you through your worst moment.
13. "Torn" — Natalie Imbruglia (1997)
Featured in Pitch Perfect 2, "Torn" is one of the best breakup songs of the '90s.
14. "You Oughta Know" — Alanis Morissette (1995)
For when you're really angry, and you don't care who knows it.
15. "A Long December" — Counting Crows (1996)
The video features Courteney Cox, making it a must-watch. And with lyrics like, "I can't remember the last thing you said as you were leaving...", you know your heart is going to be broken.
16. "Miss World" — Hole (1994)
During every breakup, there comes a time when a person just needs to jump around their bedroom and pretend, if only for a second, that they feel no remorse. Plus, "I've made my bed, I'll cry in it," feels like the perfect mantra.
17. "Wicked Game" — Chris Isaak (1990)
Featured in David Lynch's Wild At Heart (1990), Isaak's classic love song has spawned countless covers, but the original is still the best.
18. "Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover" — Sophie B. Hawkins (1992)
Unrequited love at its finest.
19. "Kiss The Rain" — Billie Myers (1997)
Featured in Season 2 of Dawson's Creek, "Kiss The Rain" is about reaching out to an ex who doesn't feel the same. Devastating, but catchy.
20. "Ex-Factor" — Lauryn Hill (1998)
Hill's classic single goes out to all the exes we can't seem to let go, however hard we try.
21. "Nobody Knows" — The Tony Rich Project (1996)
The '90s produced so many amazing breakup songs, I'm feeling a bit emotional right now.