Valentine’s Day is tomorrow and if you’re as single as I am you’re probably thinking about gifting yourself a bunch of chocolate, eating all by yourself alone in your apartment, and then watching Channing Tatum’s stripping video on repeat. Like, for the whole day. Maybe it’s pathetic, but just know that if you’re headed down that route towards major single self-awareness, you don’t have to go it alone. Many have gone before you. Some of them even wrote entire albums about it, albums that are some of the most depressing albums you’ll ever hear, and we all know that the greatest cure for the blues is the blues. So if you’re single, and even if you’re not and you’re just sad or whatever, get yourself through the day with some of the saddest albums of the decade — so far.
Sam Smith had one of the most heartbreaking albums of the year, and because of In the Lonely Hour, Smith’s got four Grammys to keep him company. Watch fellow YOK graduates Hozier, Aloe Blacc, and more write love notes to Smith on the 2015 Grammys red carpet for Valentine’s Day.
Bon Iver (2011) by Bon IverSad thought you’re likely to experience after: “I can’t do life right now.”
Who doesn’t listen to Bon Iver and immediately want to cry? Strangely enough, that’s also the reason you love him, right? Bon Iver’s eponymous 2011 album is restless and contemplative, much like his gorgeous 2008 debut For Emma, Forever Ago. “Holocene” is one of the most stunning songs on the album. That night you played me ’Lip Parade’ / Not the needle, nor the thread, the lost decree / Saying nothing, that’s enough for me.” These are some of the lyrics Vernon’s falsetto voice breathes air into, and as he does, down come the tears. Am I right?
Burst Apart (2011) by The AntlersSad thought you’re likely to experience after: “I’m gonna be so old one day.”
This album isn’t just sad, it’s “devastating.” That’s at least what Ian Cohen had to say about it in his Pitchfork review of the album. The opening song, “I Don’t Want Love,” is enough of an indicator for what’s to follow, and other dispiriting highlights on the album are “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out” and “No Widows.”
21 (2011) by AdeleSad thought you’re likely to experience after: “I’ll never know me like Adele does.”
Adele’s music is upsetting, and yet, don’t you find it energizing? It’s like she gets you so sad that you just want to go do something about it. Like, slow dance to it alone in your room. Or make out with a stranger. Regardless of what Adele makes you want to do, it’s that familiar yearning in her voice that enables you to do it.
Channel Orange (2012) by Frank OceanSad thought you’re likely to experience after: “Forever is a long time.”
“Do you not think so far ahead? / ’Cause I’ve been thinkin’ ’bout forever,” Ocean poses on “Thinkin Bout You.” When Ocean revealed that his first love was a man, the album reached new levels of sadness, though the opposite happened for Ocean, as he finally felt “free.”
AM (2013) by Arctic MonkeysSad thought you’re likely to experience after: “What are we doing here?” *existential crisis to follow*
“I go crazy ’cause here isn’t where I wanna be / And satisfaction feels like a distant memory / And I can’t help myself / All I wanna hear her say is “Are you mine?” Alex Turner poses a question in “R U Mine?” that he won’t get an answer to, leaving him just as confused as many of us are by hookup culture in general — “Are you mine tomorrow, or just mine tonight?” Pitchfork deemed the album “paranoid and haunted,” both of which can be applied to describe the hit opener “Do I Wanna Know?”
Cerulean Salt (2013) by WaxahatcheeSad thought you’re likely to experience after: “I hate everything.”
“Is this just a wrinkle on a page that ends dismally?” Katie Crutchfield asks on “Lips And Limbs.” The rest of the song, as well as the rest of the album, is as miserable as that question. Ben Hewitt put it best when he wrote for NME that Crutchfield’s sophomore album Cerulean Salt, goes to show that “she’s still brutally picking at old scabs to expose the muck festering underneath.”
The Lone Bellow (2013) by The Lone BellowSad thought you’re likely to experience after: “Love me, feed me, never leave me.”
This Brooklyn-based band got their start when Zach Williams, lead singer and guitarist, started writing songs while his wife was in the hospital. She had undergone an accident that left her paralyzed from the neck down. His wife eventually recovered, but Williams’ trauma from the accident remained, giving birth to an album full of beautifully sorrowful songs.
In The Lonely Hour (2014) by Sam SmithSad thought you’re likely to experience after: “More wine is a good idea. Wait, I’m out of wine. Damn.”
The unrequited love-inspired album that won Sam Smith four Grammys at the beginning of the week is powerfully depressing. There’s a reason they call Smith the male Adele, and though he hates it, it holds some truth. Like Adele, Smith has a voice so commanding, it’ll distract you from the depth of sorrow fueling it. Only afterwards do you realize how heartbreaking it all really is.
Benji (2014) by Sun Kil MoonSad thought you’re likely to experience after: “I miss my parents.”
“My mother is seventy-five / One day she won’t be here to hear me cry / When the day comes for her to let go / I’ll die off like a lemon tree in the snow,” Mark Kozelek sings on “I Can’t Live Without My Mother’s Love,” a song title that’s a sad enough statement on its own. If you’ve misted up to this album, which is very much fixated on mortality, you’re not the only one. As Tom Breihan wrote in his Stereogum album review, “there is every chance that you will end up crying sooner or later.”
Ultraviolence (2014) by Lana Del ReySad thought you’re likely to experience after: “Everything I want I have.”
Lana Del Rey’s Born to Die is a melodramatic depiction of privileged millennial woes. Spin even pointed out some of the bullshit lyrics — “It was like James Dean / For sure / You’re so fresh to death / And sick ca-cancer” — which they categorized as “objectively ridiculous.” Del Rey’s most recent album Ultraviolence goes to show that not much has changed for the 29-year-old since. Del Rey is still “a sad tomato,” as Rolling Stone put it, and the album overall is a “crawl through doomed romance, incorrigible addictions, blown American dreams.”
Ghost Stories (2014) by ColdplaySad thought you’re likely to experience after: “What the f*ck, man.”
Ghost Stories is more likely to cause you to spiral down a hole of self-reflection rather than reflect on the songs’ meanings. The album is a pretty blank canvas, more like a soundtrack for your thoughts. But don’t think that means the songs don’t have meanings attached to them, especially since the album came after Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow’s split.
I Love You, Honeybear (2015) by Father John MistySad thought you’re likely to experience after: “Why?”
Father John Misty, ex-Fleet Floxes drummer, is a fascinating character. This comes through in his latest album, I Love You Honeybear, released earlier this week. The album is tirelessly cynical, which some might find comforting, though it does make for a pretty depressing album overall.