12 Best Songs to Cry to

September 30, 2018

CW: death, AIDS, suicide

By Trent Vu

I’m a crier. I cry at everything. I’ll immediately start bawling my eyes out when I’m thrown the slightest inconvenience. Whenever I receive a compliment from someone, the floodgates are immediately opened. And I can’t help but turn on the waterworks when I crumble under the stress of overcommitting myself to too many things. But crying can be healthy—cathartic even. Sometimes, when I’m feeling a bit shitty, I’ll feel better after I’ve cried it out.

Usually, my favourite way to cry is to watch the underrated Disney classic The Fox and The Hound. But sometimes, I don’t have an hour to sit around for the scene where Widow McTweed has to leave Tod in the woods. In these moments, when I just need to kickstart the crying process and move on with my day, music is my tear-triggering medium of choice.

And with that, if you’re in the mood for a crying sesh, here are my 12 Best Songs to Cry to.

Bend till I Break – Maria Mena

I recently discovered this song, and have definitely already shed a few tears while listening to it this past week or so. Of the song, Maria said: “This song is a song I wrote about going through something and thinking ‘I’m not going to be able to make it. I’m going to break’, and then looking down at your feet at the end of it, and you can see you’re still standing.”

White Horse – Taylor Swift

Before she became too annoyingly self aware and contrived, T Swiz was writing killer ballads—’Tim McGraw’, ‘All Too Well’ and ‘Teardrops on My Guitar’ to name a few. White Horse is all about that moment when you realise love isn’t like it is in the movies and that guys just suck. A great song for when you’re having boy trouble and need to cry it out.

I’ll Cover You (Reprise) from Rent

I’m a huge musical theatre nerd and Rent is without a doubt my favourite musical. People might think of ‘Seasons of Love’ or ‘Take Me or Leave Me’ when they think of the seminal Broadway classic, but my mind immediately goes to ‘I’ll Cover You (Reprise)’ and the raw anguish Collins, played by Jesse L. Martin in the movie and original Broadway proud, feels in this moment after losing his partner Angel to AIDS.

Because of You – Kelly Clarkson

Anyone who has dad issues can 100% relate to this song. Plus, ‘Because of You’ has a key change and modulation just makes everything better. Kelly Clarkson is a queen of writing emotional ballads—others include ‘Piece by Piece’, ‘Tightrope’ and ‘Sober’. Heck, she even has a song called ‘Cry’, which—you guessed it—is all about crying, so she definitely knows a thing or two about writing a tearjerker.

When She Loved Me – Sarah McLachlan

You’re a dirty liar if you’re claiming the Jessie and Emily scene in Toy Story 2 doesn’t have you reaching for the tissue box. This song provides the soundtrack for one of the greatest/saddest moments in Disney/Pixar history, and marries perfectly with the bittersweetness of the scene as Jessie looks back at her past and abandoned by someone she loves.

The Sea – Corinne Bailey Rae

Corinne Bailey Rae is mostly known for a certain song about putting ones records on, which is a shame, because she has plenty of good music out there. ‘The Sea’, a song brimming with pain and sorrow, is a lament to her husband, who had passed away two years prior to the release of her album of the same name.

Both Sides Now – Joni Mitchell

‘Both Sides Now’ is one of the greatest songs ever written. Don’t @ me. The version Joni recorded and famously performed in 2000—over 30 years after the original recording—stirs up emotion in me with a combination of the world-weariness in her alto voice, the retrospect in her delivery and the glorious string-heavy arrangement.

One Moment More – Mindy Smith

Mindy wrote this song as a tribute to her mum, who passed away from breast cancer. The simplicity of the melody and the gorgeous fingerpicked acoustic guitar melody are sure to tug at your heartstrings and turn you into a blubbering mess. Grab a box of tissues before you check out this track all about wanting to share a bit more time with someone who’s passed.

I’m Here from The Color Purple

The Color Purple is a great movie to cry to, and after I discovered the songs from the musical, I had even more crying material. At this point in the musical, Celie—after suffering through numerous hardships in her life—finally realises she doesn’t need anyone to love her, because she feels empowered and beautiful. This is a song for more of a happy cry.

When You’re Gone – Avril Lavigne

Before she became a victim of meme culture, Avril LaQueen dished up some iconic music. While ‘When You’re Gone’ isn’t as beloved by the public as ‘Girlfriend’ or ‘Sk8er Boi’, it’s a beautiful song about being separated from someone you love. The second verse gets me every time, and the music video—with an elderly man who’s lost his wife—gets my tear ducts going.

Hangin’ by a Thread – Jann Arden

I generally cry to songs I can relate to—Jann Arden wrote this song from the perspective of her brother, who was in jail—but the ache and emotion in the Canadian singer’s voice is so raw that I can’t help but get a little verklempt when I listen to this song.

Kindergarten Boyfriend from Heathers: The Musical

The first time I heard this song was when I was watching UMMTA’s production of Heathers last year. If I’m gonna to be honest, I wasn’t really feeling any of the songs thus far into the musical. But when the uncool girl Martha sang this song about unrequited love and realising you have to move on from the fantasies you’ve conjured up in your mind, before attempting to take her own life, I lost it and was uncontrollably crying as I sat there in the audience. Afterwards, I even went up to the poor girl who played Martha and cried again and probably made her very uncomfortable. I still can’t listen to this song without sobbing like the hot mess that I am.