Let’s be honest: breakups hurts.
But, as terrible as breakups are, for most of us, there is nothing that a bowl of ice cream and a playlist of our favorite sad songs can’t cure.
However, those who work in the music business have the creative outlet and, for the most part, the melodious voice to release the pain of a recent breakup with their music.
While it may be true that the breakups of our favorite singers usually involve exes that are just as popular, and that makes them the subject of every news headline, it doesn’t mean that their relationship struggles are any less painful just because of their celebrity status.
While not all professional singers have confirmed or denied that their breakup songs are about their personal relationships, these 21 songs provide us with enough clues to read between the lines and discover who the singer might be referring to.
1. The song “Sorry” by Justin Bieber, seemed to be a public apology to his ex-girlfriend Selena Gomez. It was suggested by the fans who followed their relationship that the song was about his bad behavior during their relationship.
2. The press well documented the abusive relationship between Rihanna and Chris Brown. And although RiRi rarely talks about it, when “Cold Case Love” premiered, it was she who said the song is about Brown.
3. Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears were the perfect pop couple of the early 90’s and 2000’s – that is, until their breakup, which inspired the former *NSYNC member to write the hit “Cry Me a River.” which was one of the tracks on his debut solo album.
4. This list would not be complete if we did not mention Taylor Swift, the queen of songs for exes. For example, after her relationship with fellow singer John Mayer ended, Swift premiered the song “Dear John.” Taylor Swift denies the song it’s about John Mayer.
5. Gwen Stefani and her bandmate in No Doubt, drummer Tony Kanal, were in a relationship for seven years. After their breakup, Gwen wrote the sad ballad “Don’t Speak.” There is no better revenge than to make your ex-boyfriend play backup for you while you sing the song multiple times, live in concert.
6. After Katy Perry had divorced comedian Russell Brand, she released the song “Wide Awake.” While she has never confirmed that the song is about him, the time frame makes it seem like too much of a coincidence.
7. Apparently, when Pink wrote the lyrics for her song “So What,” she was not on good terms with her husband, Carey Hart. However, they have since reconciled, and he even appeared in the video for the song.
8. “Love Will Remember” by Selena Gomez, includes an audio clip of a voice message from Justin Bieber, which makes it obvious that the song was about him.
9. Nick Jonas dated Miley Cyrus for two years before their breakup in 2007. The following year, Miley recorded the song “7 Things”, which suggested the list of things she hated and loved the most about her relationship with the Jonas brother.
10. But Nick did not remain silent. In 2012, he wrote and released the song “Wedding Bells” with his brothers. Around the same time, rumors surfaced that the song was about Miley’s engagement to Liam Hemsworth. Nick has since confirmed that the song is about her. At least he admitted it!
11. But “7 Things” isn’t the only song that Miley has dedicated to an ex. “Wrecking Ball” was supposedly inspired by her breakup with then fiance Liam Hemsworth. Evidently, the lyrics of this song had an effect on Liam, since now the couple is stronger and happier than ever.
12. Another one from Taylor Swift. There were rumors that her songs “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” and “All Too Well” were both written about her short relationship with actor Jake Gyllenhaal. The pair dated back in 2010.
13. Harry Styles also received “Swift Treatment” with the song “Out of the Woods.” Taylor wrote the lyrics “your necklace hanging from my neck” and “two paper airplanes, flying, flying,” which makes us think she is talking about the paper airplane earring that Harry gave to Taylor.
14. Joe Jonas dated Taylor in 2008, and after their relationship had ended abruptly, she wrote “Forever and Always,” chronicling suggesting the story of her failed romance.
15. But Taylor Swift received a shot of her own medicine on more than one occasion. Three years after “Dear John,” John Mayer released “Paper Doll,” which says “You’re like 22 girls in one, and no one knows what they want,” a likely reference to Taylor’s “22” song.
16. Harry Styles also fired back at Taylor using a song he recorded with his band One Direction. In the song, “Perfect,” the lyrics say, “And if you’re looking for someone to write your break-up songs about, baby I’m perfect.” That sums up Taylor’s endless breakup songs… perfectly.
17. “Much Better” by The Jonas Brothers was released just after Joe and Taylor Swift’s breakup. The song even refers to one of Taylor’s songs, “Teardrops on My Guitar.”
18. Big Sean’s hit “I Don’t F * ck With You” is said to be dedicated to Naya Rivera, after the actress canceled their engagement in 2014.
19. In 2014 there were rumors that Ed Sheeran’s “Don’t” was about his breakup with Ellie Goulding. She cheated on Ed with Nial Horan of One Direction, while they were all three staying at the same hotel! A year later, Sheeran confirmed that the song was about their unfortunate love triangle.
20. Ellie Goulding responded to Sheeran’s hit with her song “On My Mind.” The singer even mentions the same hotel and says that he only liked her tattoos. Goulding has denied that the song is about Ed Sheeran, but fans believe it is the opposite.
21. Kanye West has released a few breakup songs about his ex-girlfriend Amber Rose. In his songs “Runway” and “Hell of a Life,” he refers to the tumultuous relationship he had with Rose. In an interview, Amber said that the songs talk about things that happened while they were still together.