21 Songs About Pain, Hurting, and Suffering (2023)

Songs that are themed on pain, hurting, and suffering are types of music that usually reflect on regrets, heartbreaks, broken promises, disappointments, and depression. Although these emotions are often expressed through hurtful words, a lot more people opt to release these complex emotions through songs and music. The wide variety of music that centers on the universal feeling of pain continues to be as timeless as the emotions that they convey.

Here is a list of songs that would, in one way or another, give you comfort and solace during your depressing times.

21. “Hurt” by Johnny Cash

Album: American IV: The Man Comes Around | Style: Acoustic

This song is very much relatable to people suffering from depression, anxiety, anger, and addiction.  It speaks about the unflinching honesty regarding one’s empire of dirt which is too much for him to handle. The persona in the song conveys a deep sense of vulnerability because he regards self-inflicted pain as the only thing that is real. Despite the sad theme of this song, it’s ironic how one can still draw strength from it.

20. “Whiskey Lullaby” by Alison Krauss

Album: “Alison Krauss + Union Station Live” (2003) | Style: Country, Folk, Americana

Heartbreak and tragedy echo in this song as it touches on the topics of self-blame, betrayal, and regrets. There is an underlying notion that the personas in the song are lovers who both committed suicide after losing each other. This song is heart-wrenching as it tells the tale of two lovers dying in their sorrows and how whiskey had been their attempt to drown them out; yet, in the end, they’ve decided that only death would extinguish their sorrows.

19. “Life Ain’t Always Beautiful” by Gary Allan

Album: “Tough All Over” (2005) | Style: Country Ballad

You couldn’t agree more with the message of this song on how life could never be always beautiful. This song acknowledges the fact that life is indeed tough and full of hardships. Due to its unpredictable flow, everyone is deemed to have their own share of hurts, pains, and struggles. The raw sincerity in the song urges its listeners to push forward, overcome these hardships, and learn from them instead.

18. “What Hurts The Most” by Rascal Flatts

Album: “Me and My Gang” (2006) | Style: Country, Pop, Ballad

This song reflects on the anguish of lost love and missed opportunities. It captures the raw emotions of unfulfilled love and regret of not being able to express true feelings. Listeners could easily find solace in the emotional release of unrequited love’s bittersweet nature.

17. “Can’t Fight This Feeling” REO Speedwagon

Album: “Wheels Are Turnin'” (1984) | Style: Pop / Ballad

This is a quintessential ballad that revolves around the universal theme that love has an irresistible pull and grip once you finally feel its power. The song explores a person’s struggle to deny the feelings and the internal battle within himself as to whether to express those feelings or not. In totality, this song gets its listeners into a roller coaster ride of emotions.

16. “Victims Of Love” by Joe Lamont

Album: “Secrets You Keep” (1985) | Style: Rock, Pop, Ballad

This song is a typical reminder that not all true love stands the test of time or ends in a happily ever after. In fact, this song speaks of how love can be vulnerable and challenging at the same time. There is a lot of emotional turbulence brought up in this poem that captures the fragility of romantic relationships and how all of us could be victims of love.

15. “Love Hurts” by Nazareth

Album: “Hair of the Dog” (1975) | Style: Rock, Ballad

This heart-warming song illustrates how love can hurt as much as it can heal and how it can bring joy as much as sadness. It also highlights the disappointment of a person for believing that love is something to be over the moon with.  However, towards the end, he realizes that love is just something to make you despair. This song reflects the harsh reality of love.

14. “How Do You Heal A Broken Heart” by Chris Walker

Album: Zone | Style: Pop / Ballad

This song centers on the theme of unreciprocated love and an intense feeling of brokenheartedness. It speaks of how a person, after being left by the person he loves, wonders how he’ll fall in love again. The “broken heart” stressed in the song is a metaphor for the pain, struggle, and loss of great love.

13. “She’s Out Of My Life” by Michael Jackson

Album: “Off The Wall” | Style: Soft Rock

There are times when heartbreaks could be numbing that you come to the point when you do not anymore know whether to laugh or cry. There is so much self-reflection evoked in the song as MJ introspects and realizes how he ran out of time to fix the relationship. As you listen to the song, you could only hope to win love before she gets out of your life for good.

12. “Knife” by Rockwell

Album: “Somebody’s Watching Me” | Style: Pop / Soul

This song will cut your heart just like a knife as well. It speaks of the persona being deeply wounded because of someone who touched his heart so deeply suddenly disappearing.  This beautiful but very emotional song could make your tears flow as you remember your own losses.

11. “Broken Vow” by Josh Groban

Album: N/A (Single) | Style: Hip-hop, Rap, Trap

People who happened to have caught up on a marriage or relationship with a third party could easily see their situations in this song. It is about a broken vow made between a couple but unfortunately, one party cheats on the other and breaks all the faithfulness of love therein. This song is very depressing, but it is something that heartbroken people can find comfort from.

10. “Against All Odds” by Phil Collins

Album: Single | Style: Pop / Ballad

The song has a very personal touch of grief and pain for a relationship or partner that had been gone. In the song, the singer describes the woman as someone who knows him better than anyone else and someone whom he had shared his joys and pains with. He also evokes a great desire to wait for that special someone to return to his life although he admits that the waiting game is a risk he must dare to take against all odds.

9. “I’ll Never Love Again” by Lady Gaga

Album: A Star is Born Soundtrack | Style: Ballad, Pop, Drama

Loving someone with all your heart and mind and considering him a soulmate but losing him to something inevitable such as death is probably one of the most agonizing experiences of falling in love.  This song is a succinct statement of the persona’s desire to never fall in love again with someone else because she believes that there wouldn’t be anyone to replace his role. Many people who have gone through the same kind of pain would easily relate to the universal experience in the song. 

8. “First Cut Is The Deepest” by Sheryl Crow

Album: The Very Best of Sheryl Crow | Style: Folk Rock, Pop Rock, Acoustic

Indeed, the first heartbreak is the most painful This song vividly centers on this message. It also talks about the persona’s reluctance to fall in love again or be in a relationship again because of the pains she experienced with her first love. However, towards the end of the song, there is a ray of hope evoked as the lines “But I’ll try to love again” keeps repeating.

7. “Pain” by Three Days Grace

Album: One-X | Style: Alternative Rock, Post-Grunge, Nu-Metal

This song has an intense and aggressive tone as it talks about how a person becomes numb to the pains in life. But as the song transpires, it could be noted that the singer wished to feel pain rather than not feeling it at all because the numbness is making him feel inhuman. The song is a raw portrayal of the impact of pain on one’s mental and emotional state.

6. “Hurt” by Christina Aguilera

Album: Back to Basics | Style: Pop, Ballad

While listening to this song, a lot of your painful and regretful memories would probably come to mind. This song confronts a kind of pain that is due to an insurmountable feeling of regret for not being so good to a loved one. Generally, it reflects on the consequences of past actions with anguish, remorse, and self-doubt all bottled up in one blow.

5. “Someone Like You” by Adele

Album: 21 | Style: Pop, Soul, Ballad

This song is one of those masterpieces that vividly paint pictures through words. It paints an image of a woman who tried to get back to her former beloved only to get face to face with the bitter reality that he has already moved on with someone else. The honest portrayal of pain and regret coupled with obsessiveness resounded in everyone’s hearts.

4. “My Immortal” by Evanescence

Album: Fallen | Style: Alternative Rock / Ballad

If you have been left by someone but the memory of his presence still lingers in your whole being, this song is perfect for you. It is about feeling so empty and struggling to grasp on the extreme sadness and regret due to a broken relationship or maybe a death of a loved one. The lyrics of this song portray an incomparable connection to what seemed to be “immortal” memories.

3. “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinéad O’Connor

Album: I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got | Style: Pop, Alternative Rock, Ballad

Have you ever missed someone so much that you wish to travel back through time just to spend another lifetime with them simply because they are irreplaceable? This song is basically about these feelings of longing for someone who wouldn’t be back anymore. Upon this realization of absolute abandonment, the persona of the song acknowledges the important roles they played in her life. It brings out a lot of pain though because she knew that she no longer would have an opportunity to tell them that nothing can compare to what they are for her.

2. “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter

Album: Daniel Powter | Style: Pop Rock

The persona in the song is somehow telling its listeners who are having a bad day to snap out of it. The bad day in the song is a metaphor for the pains, struggles, and depression that people commonly feel when life gets out of hand. There is a convincing power in the song though that people under the blanket of depression should learn to acknowledge their worth in all aspects. 

1. “Let’s Hurt Tonight” by OneRepublic

Album: “Oh My My” | Style: Pop rock, alternative
Sometimes you wonder how much effort you are willing to put in the name of love and how willing are you to take risks and be hurt in the process of loving back. These questions are fostered in the overall message of this song as it talks about giving love another shot and encouraging everyone to love despite the risks that it might bring. The invitation to hurt tonight is an analogy to saying, “Let’s fall in love tonight”.

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