Each decade brings with it an abundance of music; some that elevates us to workout for three hours, and others we use for wallowing, comfort, solace or just to ugly cry because we need it.
A couple weeks back we threw out a rundown of those tear-jerking songs from the ‘90s that still hit us hard, and well, now it’s time to follow suit with the ‘00s in mind.
There are some key differences between decades (clearly…), and whether you were an introspective feeler only when your significant other was around, a full-on boaster of the sap, or a closest listener, there were some unforgettable sad songs that came to fruition from 2000 to 2010.
Below, our list of 10 nostalgic tracks that still may choke you up.
R. Kelly – “I Wish” (2000)
Clocking in over 31 million views on YouTube, R. Kelly’s early ‘00s hit rivals Diddy’s “I’ll Be Missing You,” even their videos have similarities. As the song evolves, R. Kelly goes from singing about lost friends that passed on, as well as his mother, to talking about how he “needs answers,” to how sometimes he wishes to trade in his success, to how the church is calling him—the song is nearly six minutes of R. Kelly’s insight, proclamations and openness of being a better man. It almost makes you forget he was accused of all this.
Johnny Cash – “Hurt” (2002)
A ‘00s sob list would not be complete without the iconic Johnny Cash. As soon as you hit play on this song, an immediate shiver coils your spirit; his rendition of the NIN song is simply heartbreaking. Speaking of heartbreaking: him passing nearly four months after June Carter Cash may have been due to complications with his diabetes, but there’s also that widely voiced “he died of a broken heart” contention, and somehow that just makes sense. It’s good to see his beloved 107-acre farm in Bon Aqua, Tennessee, which he said was a “great place for pottering,” and that he could “think, write, compose, study, rest and reflect in peace,” has recently been revamped. The property still has bullet holes in the wall from when he taught his daughter how to shoot a pistol, and Cash’s acquired general store has been remodelled into the Storytellers Museum. Everything from a homemade video of Cash celebrating, to paintings, to personal letters are now on display to the public.
Sia – “Breathe Me” (2004)
It’s surprising how many people forget that Sia was around well before she had pop hits like “Elastic Heart” and “Chandelier,” but she did, and this track is one to remember. Taken from her 2004 album Colour the Small One, the lyrics speak for themselves and Sia’s vocals convey such fragile insecurity. It’s also a song that opens up a necessary conversation on dark thoughts and the need to unfold the pain of someone in desperate need of support.
3 Doors Down – “Here Without You” (2003)
The 3 Doors Down crew, led by Brad Arnold, gave us this popularized tune of the ‘00s. “Here Without You” came in at number five on the Billboard Hot 100, and Arnold sings about missing that special someone and the loneliness felt. The song is about his ex-wife although he “didn’t write it for her” but she was “the main inspiration for the thought process, ” according to an interview.He actually thought of it as more of a happy song rather than a downer because the lyrics mention how she is still in his dreams. Guess it’s all comes down to interpretation, but still a weep-worthy remembrance piece worth noting.
Lifehouse “Hanging By A Moment” (2000)
Ah, rewind to the time when Lifehouse was making this kind of music, and this was their breakout track. I always wonder why people comment on how many views a song has on YouTube, and note when they can’t believe the clicks are so low, but I’m becoming one of those people right now and seriously questioning the view count of just over 5 million on this sucker. Then again: does YouTube now define popularity, especially from earlier days? Maybe, or maybe it’s cause the ones who remember the songs during their original run actually have the CD or vinyl to listen to? Whatever the case may be, here we had an easy listening track that touched on love and seemingly an undertone of fear—stepping into that territory when you’re hoping you don’t end getting burned. ‘Cause sometimes when you get burned, that sadness can get ugly real quick.
Coldplay – “The Scientist” (2002)
And then there’s Coldplay, who put Lifehouse to shame, boasting over 200 million views, and a bevy of really solemn comments. The video for the song follows Chris Martin as he winds back to him and his girlfriend’s soon-to-be car wreck. The video was directed by Jamie Thraves (who directed Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me”), and originally wasn’t going to feature Martin, but he wanted to be part of it and wanted to learn how to sing the song backwards. Thraves told MTV: “He got a tape of the song recorded backward and he listened to it over and over….what we learned later on is about the problems with phonetics, because you have to be careful with the lip movement so that when you end on a sound your mouth is formed in the right way.” Martin ended up performing the song in “backward gibberish” and when the film went through edits, the video ran backwards and the vocals were pushed forward. Clearly Thraves dug the back-to-forward style because a DVD later came out on the band, which had another version of the song where it played backwards while the video ran forward. It was a sad song in either direction.
Usher – “Burn” (2004)
Before Usher was developing Justin Bieber, he had his own slew of sad songs, mainly about cheating, breaking up, cheating, not loving someone anymore, cheating, and then calling it quits for real, a.k.a. “Burn.” The song was taken from his album, Confessions, which also housed other anthems like “Confessions, Part 1” and of course, because it’s Usher, “Confessions, Part II,” and don’t forget his “Confessions” interlude. He had a lot to say. The album got nominated for a Grammy and a Juno, but he didn’t take home either prize. His 2001 hit, “U Got It Bad,” is another strong contender for this rundown.
Imogen Heap – “Hide and Seek” (2005)
The O.C. helped garner extended popularity for a song that was already righteously powerful to begin with. If you have no idea what I’m referring to, this will give you a quick fix. The single was certified gold by the RIAA. Imogen Heap was also one half of Frou Frou and gave us this free-falling track, which was a centre piece in Zach Braff’s Garden State.
Amy Winehouse – “Back to Black” (2006)
Amy Winehouse was a strong songwriter and could execute heart-wrenching lyrics that were filled with attitude, etched on swallowing tempos, and “Back to Black” is no exception. You can feel the tears and the despair in her voice as she talks about being left for another woman. The volatile relationship she had with her ex-boyfriend, Blake Fielder-Civil, was oft reported, and perhaps because of her own artistic rawness, this song is relatable for anyone in a similar situation. When you’re in it, you often can’t explain why, and you become hollow inside, seemingly used to the destructive cycle. And that can hurt hard.
Hinder – “Lips of an Angel” (2005)
Hinder’s mid-2000s song had that push-pull effect: the conflict between the one you have and the one you want. It’s hard to deny that the chorus blatantly expresses this conflict too. The platinum-selling rockers had some brief growing pains when Austin Winkler left the band to enter rehab three years back, but eventually it was Marshal Dutton, who came to the rescue and helped with production, writing and eventually filled the lead vocalist role.