The 16 Best Sad Songs of 2021 to Play When You're Feeling Down

Not me still listening to "Drivers License" on repeat!

GIF ¦ sad songs 2021
(Image credit: Design by Morgan McMullen)

Nobody needs a reminder of how difficult 2020 was, and although society has gained a sense of normalcy this year (whatever that means), a lot of us are still feeling the effects of staying indoors for nearly a year and missing our friends and family. To help cope, we've created a running list of the best sad songs of 2021 to remind you that, yes, we are all going through it, and no, these feelings will not last forever. Listen to our favorite new sad songs, below, and let the jam/cry sesh commence.

"Here's To Moving On" - Dashboard Confessional

Surprise! Dashboard Confessional is releasing a new album, All The Truth That I Can Tell, on February 25, 2022. The first single, "Here's To Moving On," has the band's heartfelt lyrics all over it and a hint of hopefulness that we could all use right now. "Last year was kind of a rough year. I wrote a song about it. It's called 'Here's To Moving On' and it's out now," Chris Carrabba wrote on Instagram.


"Easy On Me" - Adele

Go easy on me, Adele! As we noted in our best love songs of 2021 roundup, the tearjerker is based on the singer's divorce. Grab a tissue box (or five) and prepare for Adele's full album, 30, which will be released on November 19.


"Wrecked" - Imagine Dragons

Imagine Dragons' "Wrecked," from the band's album Mercury – Act 1, was written after lead vocalist Dan Reynold's sister-in-law died of cancer. "I’ve watched my brother face something that no one should have to. But I’ve also seen his faith bring him hope in a future with her. I can only hope for the same," he said in a press release, per Billboard. "This song was my way of dealing with it all, as music has always been my refuge. No longer being a man of fervent faith, I can only hope that she hears it somewhere in a place where she is healed and no longer in pain. This song is my wish for an eternity with those that I love.”



Lil Nas X has been through a lot this year, but that hasn't stopped the 22-year-old from continuing to push boundaries and share his vulnerability with the world, especially in his latest single, "SUN GOES DOWN," from his upcoming debut album, Montero (out September 17). "Since ten, I've been feelin' lonely / Had friends but they was pickin' on me / Always thinkin', "Why my lips so big?" / Was I too dark? Can they sense my fears? / These gay thoughts would always haunt me."


"October Sky" - Yebba

Days before Yebba released her debut album, Dawn, the 26-year-old was featured on Drake's Certified Lover Boy in a solo interlude titled "Yebba's Heartbreak." That heartbreak continues on Yebba's masterful album—specifically in "October Sky," which explores the artist's loss and grief seemingly about losing her mother.


"You Will Be Found" - Ben Platt, Original Broadway Cast of Dear Evan Hansen, Laura Dreyfuss, Kristolyn Lloyd & Will Roland

While Dear Evan Hansen originally premiered on Broadway in 2016, the film was released in September and included the emotional yet uplifting "You Will Be Found" on its soundtrack. Listen to it when you're feeling sad and need some inspiration for a fresh start.


"Your Power" - Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish's "Your Power" pairs well with a glass of wine and a thunderstorm at the end of a bad day.


"Traitor" - Olivia Rodrigo

It's difficult to pick a favorite song off of Olivia Rodrigo's debut album, Sour, but "Traitor" makes the top of the list. This one will speak to your soul when you're reeling from an emotional betrayal from a significant other.


"You All Over Me" - Taylor Swift ft. Maren Morris

Leave it to Taylor Swift to create a perfect addition to her first re-recorded album, Fearless (Taylor's Version), that will bring you right back to 2008 as you're reminded of someone you can't seem to shake all of these years later. "Swore that I'd get out of here / But no amount of freedom gets you clean / I've still got you all over me."


"Medicine" - James Arthur

James Arthur always knows how to put us in our feels. At its core, his single "Medicine" from his album, It’ll All Make Sense in the End, is about holding on to the person who cares for us on our worst days—a necessary reminder when we're feeling down.


"Mean It" - H.E.R.

H.E.R.'s vulnerability always shine through her vocals—and "Mean It" is no exception. If you're going through a breakup, you'll want to play this one on repeat from the 24-year-old's brilliant album, Back of My Mind.


"Faith Healer" - Julien Baker

The power of Julien Baker is knowing she has a song that could be playing in the background of your life at any moment. "Faith Healer" is about vices and delves into Baker's relationship with her own. Here's what she told Apple Music about this one:

"I have an addictive personality and I understand it's easy for me to be an escapist with substances because I literally missed being high. That was a real feeling that I felt and a feeling that felt taboo to say outside of conversations with other people in recovery. The more that I looked at the space that was left by substance or compulsion that I've then just filled with something else, the more I realized that this is a recurring problem in my personality. And so many of the things that I thought about myself that were noble or ultimately just my pursuit of knowing God and the nature of God—that craving and obsession is trying to assuage the same pain that alcohol or any prescription medication is."


"Drivers License" - Olivia Rodrigo

I wish Olivia Rodrigo's "Drivers License" was around when my 16-year-old self would spend 90 percent of my life in the car talking, crying, and jamming with friends. The singer's single went viral on Tik Tok and even made its way to SNL before the release of her hit album, Sour. "And I know we weren't perfect but I've never felt this way for no one / And I just can't imagine how you could be so okay now that I'm gone / Guess you didn't mean what you wrote in that song about me / 'Cause you said forever, now I drive alone past your street."


"Right Where You Left Me" - Taylor Swift

While you may not feel sad as soon as you hit play on Taylor Swift's "Right Where You Left Me," a closer listen highlights how upsetting the lyrics truly are: a story of someone remaining stagnant after heartbreak, unable to move forward. "Friends break up, friends get married / Strangers get born, strangers get buried / Trends change, rumors fly through new skies / But I'm right where you left me."


"Gasoline" - HAIM & Taylor Swift

"I GET SAD," she screamed into her pillow as she worked from home for the 20th month in a row. HAIM & Taylor Swift, a.k.a. the fourth HAIM sister, teamed up for a remix of HAIM's melancholy "Gasoline," which pretty much sums up how we're all feeling right now.


"What Other People Say" - Sam Fischer & Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato always keeps it real in their lyrics, and "What Other People Say" is no different. In their duet with Sam Fischer, the artist reflects on their struggles with addiction and the evolution of their relationship with their family for the sake of pleasing others.


If you or a loved one are having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255, which offers free and confidential support.


GIF ¦ best love songs 2021

(Image credit: Design by Morgan McMullen)
Rachel Epstein

Rachel Epstein is a writer, editor, and content strategist based in New York City. Most recently, she was the Managing Editor at Coveteur, where she oversaw the site’s day-to-day editorial operations. Previously, she was an editor at Marie Claire, where she wrote and edited culture, politics, and lifestyle stories ranging from op-eds to profiles to ambitious packages. She also launched and managed the site’s virtual book club, #ReadWithMC. Offline, she’s likely watching a Heat game or finding a new coffee shop.