We Hired Someone To Listen to Breakup Songs for 24 Hours. Here Were Her Favorites

The FinanceBuzz team wanted to find out which breakup songs actually help with healing.
Updated May 20, 2024
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A pair of hands holding up two pieces of a broken heart toward the setting sun.

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At FinanceBuzz, we understand the importance of moving on. While our main gig is personal finance, we realize your relationship with money is only one of the important relationships in your life, and the other ones can have a big impact on your finances.

A few months ago, we put out a job listing for a recently single person to listen to 24 hours’ worth of breakup songs and show our readers the best way to get over a breakup. After receiving more than 7,000 applications for the role (seriously), the results are in from our 2024 DJ of Heartache.

In this article

What we did

  • A few months ago, we put out a job listing for a recently single person to listen to 24 hours’ worth of breakup songs.
  • We wanted our expert to rate and review popular songs to figure out what actually helps people get over a breakup.
  • We offered our DJ of Heartache $1,000 for their time.
  • After receiving more than 7,000 applications, we selected a high school English teacher as our official DJ of Heartache.

Meet our DJ

After reviewing 7,300 applications, we selected Hope Shepard, of Stillwater, OK, as our DJ of Heartache. Hope is a 10th grade high school English teacher from Stillwater and a lifelong Oklahoman.

Image courtesy of Hope Shepard A close-up of a white woman with blonde hair. She's looking into the camera and smiling while holding a small poodle-mix dog that is licking her face.

To say Hope has a way with words is an understatement. Hope’s application stood out from the crowd thanks to its honesty, practicality, and some tugs at the heartstrings. After a recent breakup, Hope convinced us she was the right person for the job.

“I’m a high school English teacher, so I’m perfect for lyric analysis. After all, songs are just a form of poetry!”

Though breakups are never easy, Hope continued to show up for her students. If you can get 15- and 16-year-olds interested in Shakespeare, then you can do anything.

“My life experience plus my profession make me the best person for the job! Plus, teachers always need a little financial help paying the bills.”

We asked Hope to listen to a breakup song playlist for 24 hours, with hits spanning from Bonnie Raitt to Olivia Rodrigo.

Breakup songs: Which ones actually help you get over a breakup?

Along with listening to our playlist, we asked Hope to take note of three things:

  1. What kind of song is it? Happy? Sad? Angry?
  2. Is the song helpful or hurtful for getting over a breakup?
  3. Any listening notes, lyrical notes, or other thoughts she had while listening.

Using this data, we categorized breakup songs into four common themes:

  1. Songs that hit the spot when you’re angry
  2. Songs that make it OK to feel sad
  3. Songs that make you feel happy
  4. Songs to make you feel hopeful
A graphic showing whether breakup songs were helpful, hurtful, or neither, based on the category of song.

Overwhelmingly, most of the songs on our playlist were helpful in getting over a breakup, but some other interesting trends emerged. Specifically, sad songs were the most divisive — our expert said just 51% of those songs were helpful, while 33% of them were hurtful. Hopeful songs had the biggest impact on healing.

Along with her analysis, we asked Hope to share some of her favorite (and least favorite) songs in each category.

Songs that hit the spot when you’re angry

  1. Fall Out Boy – “Heartbreak Feels So Good”
  2. Olivia Rodrigo – ”good 4 u”
  3. GAYLE – ”abcdefu”
  4. Jazmine Sullivan – ”Bust Your Windows”
  5. The All-American Rejects – ”Gives You Hell”

Songs that make it OK to be sad

  1. Taylor Swift – ”You’re Losing Me”
  2. Noah Cyrus – ”July”
  3. gnash – ”i hate u, i love u” (feat. Olivia O’Brien)
  4. Lewis Capaldi – ”Leave Me Slowly”
  5. Queen – ”Love Of My Life”

Songs that make you feel happy

  1. Post Malone – ”Circles”
  2. Taylor Swift – ”We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”
  3. The Dip – ”Sure Don’t Miss You”
  4. Charli XCX – ”Used to Know Me”
  5. Ariana Grande – ”no tears left to cry”

Songs when you want to feel hopeful

  1. Flowers – ”Miley Cyrus”
  2. Billy Currington – ”It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To”
  3. Taylor Swift – ”I Forgot That You Existed”
  4. Whitney Houston – ”I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)”
  5. Ariana Grande, Zedd – ”Break Free”

A final Q&A with our DJ of Heartache

What did doing this assignment mean for you? What did you learn about yourself?

I was extremely grateful for this opportunity. I believe music can be so healing, and it was fun to discover new artists and songs that I hadn’t heard before.

What makes for a good breakup song? A bad breakup song?

A good breakup song helps you move on; a bad one has you stuck in the past. I didn’t like any of the ones where the singer was describing how much they still love and wanted to be with their ex. Moving on means realizing how much better your life is without them. In the words of the great Taylor Swift, “We are never ever ever getting back together!”

Did this assignment actually help you get over your ex? What did you do with the money?

The assignment was very helpful, both emotionally and practically! I enjoyed blasting the songs in my car as I worked through the playlist, and I was able to pay off some debt that my breakup left me with. Even that was helpful because it was one less tie that I had to my ex.

What advice do you have for someone who’s going through a breakup?

My faith is really important to me. I don’t know how I would’ve made it [through] without a hope in God and His love for me. I would also say that, as painful as it is in the middle of it, you will be able to look back and see how much better your life is on the other side of it all.

Don’t try to go through hard things alone; rely on those who love you. Go get some chocolate ice cream and heed the words of another one of my favorite artists, Mumford & Sons:

“There will come a time
You'll see, with no more tears
And love will not break your heart
But dismiss your fears
Get over your hill and see
What you find there
With grace in your heart
And flowers in your hair”

–Mumford & Sons

Anything else you want to add?

Thank you for everything, FinanceBuzz!

Hope’s quotes have been edited for brevity, clarity, and punctuation.

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