There is nothing greater than a good sad banger. A tune that can make you both dance and cry is something spectacular, resurfacing memories of a past relationship while you’re grooving at a party or those feelings you squashed as you belt out the lyrics. It’s music at its peak; stuff that mends the holes in our hearts but also makes us feel good about it. It appeals to both our highs and our lows and boy, does it make you feel something.
The art of the sad banger is nothing new; artists have been churning out goodies for decades. Combining heartbeat-like synths with a melancholic story or emotion, some of our favourite pop hits ever made have been a good old sad banger. Here are 10 of our personal faves.
1. ‘The Story Of Us’ – Taylor Swift (2011)
Taylor Swift is undoubtedly one of the reigning queens of sad bangers and has certainly created many throughout her lengthy career. With her knack for lyrical matter that you swear she stole from your own personal diary and those catchy as hell tunes, we’ve all been crying and dancing to T Swizz for years. ‘The Story Of Us’ just might be her greatest though. With its booming chorus and kickdrum excitement, Swift makes a heartbreaking movie about a relationship gone wrong (and what it’s like to run into that person later on). “But you held your pride like you should’ve held me.” Ouch. That’s definitely a line to get us overthinking in the club.
2. ‘One Last Time’ – Ariana Grande (2015)
The early Ari hit still goes just as hard as it did when it dropped in 2015, and still makes us weep the same. Rarely Grande will whip out a sad banger and when she does, it’s absolute gold. There aren’t many things Grande can’t do; she can sing incredible high notes and make possibly the best pop ballads out of anyone, so when she surprises us with a good old dancing cry sesh, we’re oh-so grateful. This tune sees Grande admitting to being unfaithful in a previous relationship but just wishing she could spend one more night with her ex-lover as a final goodbye, and a dance-pop EDM beat covers it all. “And I know that you got everything, but I got nothing here without you.” Incredible.
3. ‘Supercut’ – Lorde (2017)
Sharing the throne with Taylor Swift is Lorde, our very own artist who has made sad bangers bow down at her feet. Lorde perfectly makes us feel something, whatever it is, and she so artistically blends that feeling into both her lyrics and her sound. We might be biased, but she’s one of the best to ever do it. ‘Supercut’ is no different. While there are many sad bops from her discography to choose from, this tune just hits hard. Reflecting on a past relationship, Lorde only focuses on the positive parts and creates an idealised version of it in her head. But it’s all just a supercut of the best moments compiled together and not real at all. And while you’re chewing on the relatability of all that, you can’t help but move to that infectious EDM beat. “In my head, I do everything right. When you call, I’ll forgive and not fight.” Who’s cutting onions?
4. ‘If I Can’t Have You’ – Shawn Mendes (2019)
It didn’t take long for Shawn Mendes to become one of the biggest pop stars of the moment and his effortless way of switching between slow tunes and bops might be the reason why. ‘If I Can’t Have You’ perfectly contrasts the sense of yearning for someone with a dancefloor beat. The track could’ve easily been a slow song, one that you could listen to alone in your bed as you pine after the one you love. But there lies the beauty of a sad banger. Mendes hit the nail on the head amazingly with this one. “Everything means nothing if I can’t have you.” Time to dance!
5. ‘Circles’ – Post Malone (2019)
Whether we like it or not, Post Malone always makes us feel something. Typically, he likes his melodies to sound as emotional as his lyrics but occasionally he’ll whip up a juxtaposition. Snuggled between his sad ballads and angry rants sits ‘Circles’, a fantastic banger that follows a bouncy beat and heartbreaking lyrics. Post details a rocky relationship and his inner struggle of wanting to end it, but him and his lover are simply just running in circles and neither one will make the first move. It’s a jump from his past heartbreak hits, but that’s just what makes it so good. “Seasons change and our love went cold. Feed the flame ’cause we can’t let go. Run away, but we’re running in circles.” Woohoo, turn it up!
6. ‘Rain On Me’ – Lady Gaga ft. Ariana Grande (2020)
A master at this old sad banger game, Lady Gaga has been successfully masking her insecurities, troubles and heartbreak under bops throughout her entire career. In fact, she’s so good at it that you don’t even know the real meaning of her song until you actually think about it a little deeper. ‘Rain On Me’ is that song. A huge, upbeat track that sounds larger than life sees Gaga and Grande detail the pain they’ve suffered in their life and how they’re trying to push through it all. Gaga even uses the rain metaphor to expose her alcohol addiction. While the track generally has an uplifting message of moving on from your struggles, the pain from both artists still comes through clearly. “It’s coming down on me. Water like misery.” Us too, girls. Us too.
7. ‘Supalonely’ – BENEE (2019)
Our very own BENEE has successfully helped to make sad bangers the new norm. With her distinct bubbly musical style and pensive lyrics, she’s become a catalyst for a new generation of sad pop music. The viral TikTok hit ‘Supalonely’ is probably the best example in this entire list, perfectly showcasing how sad lyrical matter can be paired with a bopping beat. When asked what the song meant to her, BENEE herself said it just made fun of feeling sad. “It kind of makes me feel good in a very weird way.” That’s it! That line should’ve been this entire article. “I’m a sad girl in this big world, it’s a mad world.” Amen.
8. ‘Easy’ – Troye Sivan (2020)
With his last album Bloom in 2018, Troye Sivan compiled a bunch of hits that didn’t really have a lot to complain about. The star was in love and he was happy about it, who could blame him? But with his latest EP In A Dream, the world he built for himself is crumbling down around him. ‘Easy’ matches the upbeat tunes of Bloom but the lyrical matter isn’t so happy-in-love anymore. Trying to restitch his broken relationship back together, Sivan touches on his love struggles and even tiptoes around the idea of infidelity. But the beat goes hard, so there’s that. “This house is on fire, woo!” might be the greatest sad bop line ever.
9. ‘Bad At Love’ – Halsey (2017)
Anything that can get crowds to collectively chant that they’re bad at love deserves a spot on this list. Halsey has a talent for making anything sound poetic and emotional, and her lyrics are often too melancholic for their upbeat counterparts. There were plenty to choose from, but ‘Bad At Love’ deserves its respect. Over its catchy tune, Halsey rattles off all her faults and deepest insecurities, and we all sing along like it’s nothing. The star reflects on her past relationships and admits she was the fault for most of them, then makes a sing-along chorus for everyone to join in. “Lookin’ at my history I’m bad at love.” Ooh, ooh.
10. ‘Youngblood’ – 5 Seconds of Summer (2018)
You’d think it couldn’t get any sadder than pop punk, but 5SOS proved us all wrong and changed their entire sound (with their third album Youngblood) and threw multiple sad bangers our way. Experimenting with synths and familiar indie-pop sounds, the band reestablished themselves in the music world and learned to make art from their heartbreak, more specifically frontman Luke’s heartbreak. ‘Youngblood’ is not only a huge tune, but it’s a huge sad tune. With its stadium feel and ability to literally take you to another dimension (not a fact), the band get the most candid we ever saw at the time and detail the toxic push and pulls in a relationship. “You used to call me baby, now you’re calling me by name.” That one gets us every single time.