The World’s Best Breakup Song

There’s this song I discovered because I’m listening to the radio more often lately. It’s called “Let It Go” (no, not THAT one) by James Bay, and it’s incredibly sad, as a breakup song is expected to be. But the angle it comes from is remarkably unique, considering the way the genre usually plays out.

Here’s the music video, and I highly recommend you listen to the song, but I’ll also post the lyrics in full below the fold and explain why this is the world’s best breakup song:

Lyrics from Google Play:

From walking home and talking loads
To seeing shows in evening clothes with you
From nervous touch and getting drunk
To staying up and waking up with you

But now we’re sleeping at the edge
Holding something we don’t need
All this delusion in our heads
Is gonna bring us to our knees

[Chorus] So come on let it go
Just let it be
Why don’t you be you
And I’ll be me

Everything’s that’s broke
Leave it to the breeze
Why don’t you be you
And I’ll be me[x2]

From throwing clothes across the floor
To teeth and claws and slamming doors at you
If this is all we’re living for
Why are we doing it, doing it, doing it anymore

I used to recognize myself
It’s funny how reflections change
When we’re becoming something else
I think it’s time to walk away


Trying to fit your hand inside of mine
When we know it just don’t belong
There’s no force on earth
Could make me feel right, no

Trying to push this problem up the hill
When it’s just too heavy to hold
Think now’s the time to let it slide

So come on let it go
Just let it be
Why don’t you be you
And I’ll be me

Everything’s that’s broke
Leave it to the breeze
Let the ashes fall
Forget about me

Come on let it go
Just let it be
Why don’t you be you
And I’ll be me

And I’ll be me

[I’m forgiving the line about delusion and focusing on the message of the song.]

So, undoubtedly a sad song. But the thing that makes it so remarkable is that, unlike many other breakup/unrequited love songs I’ve heard, it doesn’t place blame or harbor resentment.

This is probably the most honest approach I’ve seen in a breakup song. It tells a story of falling in love and suddenly finding that the relationship is toxic and not knowing how that happened. It tells a story of a toxic relationship changing the people in them, such that they don’t recognize themselves any more.

It tells a story of needing to acknowledge when something that was once beautiful is tearing your life apart, is tearing you apart. Sometimes, no amount of work you put into a relationship will make it beautiful again, and it’ll only cause more hurt to try. When you realize that, sometimes the best thing to do is let it be.

This song doesn’t attack the significant other and it doesn’t self-deprecate, which are the common themes I’ve seen in the past. Part of the reason this song resonates with me so strongly is the repeated line, “Why don’t you be you, and I’ll be me.” It recognizes that some people are destructive with one another, or don’t click for whatever reason. You can walk away and work on being yourself, and let the other person grow and heal and be themselves.

A romantic relationship isn’t your whole life, or at least I’m of the opinion that it shouldn’t be. And if it’s doing nothing but causing you pain and making you into a person you don’t want to be, it might be best to walk away.

Thank you, James Bay, for writing a song that takes an honest and equal approach to the reality of breakups and toxic relationships. This one hits me hard in the feels and I love it to bits.

The World’s Best Breakup Song

2 thoughts on “The World’s Best Breakup Song

  1. 1

    A single, short line from Jackson Browne’s “Tender Is The Night” sums up most break-up arguments:

    “You win. I win. We lose.”

    “The Breakup Song” by the Greg Kihn Band is a song of remorse that doesn’t lay blame…which makes me suspect the speaker is the one at fault and knows it.

    1. 1.1

      Oh my god, I don’t know why but I hate that song you linked. Lol, I understand what you mean though, there are other breakup songs that don’t lay blame. I just have a history of listening to kind of “emo” music which is riddled with it.

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