Bad Romances: The True Stories Behind Ten Epic Break Up Songs

Everyone knows the only way to heal a broken heart is to channel your emotions into an epic break up song. Some get their rage out screaming along with Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know,” while others opt for a more wistful sound, like Adele’s “Someone Like You.”

But what about the songs themselves? Who inspired our favorite break up ballads? Did Russell Brand really prompt Katy Perry to pen “Part of Me?” And is “Cry Me A River” about Justin Timberlake’s break up with Britney Spears? Which of your favorite break up songs are about true love gone wrong–and which were just born out of a lucky studio session?

We did a little digging on ten of your favorite break up songs of all time and found out how deep the artists had to dig to get them out.

“Someone Like You” by Adele

The Story of the Song: Just like most of the album 21, “Someone Like You” tells the tale of a heartbroken Adele desperately trying to overcome the heartache of losing whom she believes to be the love of her life…by looking ahead to someone better in the future.

The Story Behind the Song: Adele is one of the most confessional singer-songwriters in recent memory. Her acclaimed album, 21, was inspired by a horrible break up with photographer Alex Sturrock. Sturrock was hired as the official photographer on her 2009 U.S. tour, but if you click through his website, his photos of Adele look less like professional tour photos and more like intimate candids from the bedroom. Sturrock reportedly refused to call Adele his girlfriend and chipped away at her self-esteem. Adele has neither confirmed nor denied that Sturrock was the inspiration, but the timelines match up.

[Photo Credit: Getty Images, XL & Mavrick]
“Yesterday” by Paul McCartney

The Story of the Song: When we think of “Yesterday”, we think of one of the most beautiful and most lovelorn ballads in history. McCartney delivers the heart-wrenching lyrics with the absolute sincerity of a young man who has loved and lost and loves on.

The Story Behind the Song: The melody for the song was literally composed in a dream. Paul McCartney fell asleep at girlfriend Jane Asher’s house and in his dreamscape, he came up with the entire song…except for the lyrics. Once he figured out that he had in fact written a song in his sleep and not simply bit someone else’s song, he wrote lyrics about “Scrambled Eggs.” At some point, someone pointed out that no one wants to wax poetic about scrambled eggs (except for Dr. Frasier Crane) and McCartney came up with the tragic romance angle of “Yesterday.”

“F*$k You” by Cee Lo

The Story of the Song: Cee Lo Green created one of the most popular “feel good” break up songs when he wrote “F*$k You” or “Forget You.” The song tells the tale of a poor, jilted lover who was given the shaft by a woman in favor of a richer companion. The “F*$k You” is directed at the new boyfriend and the ex-lover. The catchy pop hook and the dismissive lyrics about the “gold-digger” make the narrator come out triumphantly on top.

The Story Behind the Song: Cee-Lo wrote this song with Bruno Mars and it’s not about any ex-girlfriend or lover. The “F*$k You” is directed at the music industry. In a video interview with, Cee-Lo explains–while reclining–that you have to court and be patient with the music industry just as you do when courting a woman. At the time that Cee-Lo wrote “F*$k You”, he was kind of over the music industry’s bullshit.

“You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette

The Story of the Song: “You Oughta Know” is blistering confessional ballad sung by a woman scorned. The furious narrator is confronting her the man who dumped her for another woman and listing not only his broken romantic promises to her, but their dirty escapades.

The Story Behind the Song: Alanis Morissette had been a teen star in Canada who made the mistake of getting involved with grown ass man (and Full House’s Uncle Joey) Dave Coulier. Yeah, the guy who does the Rocky and Bullwinkle impressions. As unbelievable as it is to imagine Alanis, uh…going…uh…somewhere on him “in a theater,” it’s true. It’s all true.

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