Neta Bar is a business administration sophomore and opinion columnist for Mustang News. Her views reflected in this piece don’t necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.
Indiscriminate in nature, music is an art that fits into our lives in an eclectic variety of ways. We use it to define ourselves, connect with others, scream along to in the car and silently process our feelings. As this cruel world would have it, one of the most universally cathartic experiences with music is one brought on by vehement, grueling heartbreak.
Breakup music comes in all shapes and sizes and what might scratch the itch of one person may not satisfy the need of another. Each individual has their own rock bottom discography –– the music that, if your Spotify followers were to notice you indulging in, they would be inclined to send you a quick text with something along the lines of: “Hey, I see you listening to (insert down bad music of choice here)… you good?”
The story that can be told by one’s heartbroken music preference is one that speaks volumes, not just to the type of emotional turmoil they’re experiencing, but also the way in which they are both subconsciously and knowingly handling the event.
So… what kind of down bad are you?
Let’s cut to the chase: if you’re crying to Olivia Rodrigo, you have not felt real pain. You’re either sixteen years of age or perpetually stuck at this angsty emotional stage of life. Not to say that the music itself is depthless –– those wistful lyrics are clearly written from experience.
The experience in question, however, is comparable to the concept of heartbreak that would be portrayed in a Disney+ original. There’s no shame in this more juvenile encounter with the breakup blues; in fact, if anything, you’re better off –– dare I say it, good 4 u.
If you have Harry Styles on shuffle after a breakup, just like Mr. Styles himself, you are the problem and fail to realize it. You are absolutely, unquestionably certain that you’ll never love again and are struggling immensely with this new reality you’ve convinced yourself of.
You have full on paragraphs –– essays, really –– written in the Notes app, with content ranging from unsent texts to heartbroken musings. As a Harry enjoyer, your breakup was probably long-winded and confusing. You now spend your Harry Styles listening hours trying to make sense of where it all went wrong.
If you listen to SZA after a breakup, when asked about your ex, you, without missing a beat and with a completely stone cold facial expression, inquire: “who?”
To you, the relationship, the breakup and the person themselves never existed. At least, that’s what you like to tell yourself. As a defense mechanism, your levels of petty are at maximum capacity and, to the outside world, you seem like you are doing better than fine –– thriving, even. Deep down, in a way that you resent with passion, your ego is bruised but you would sooner die than admit it.
If you’re listening to Drake when you’re sad in an unironic way, it is almost respectable in a sense. Sure, you may lack complexity, but you are without a doubt genuinely feeling your emotions.
You can’t have too much credit though, as you’re on Tinder days after the breakup, more so searching for an ounce of validation than any real rebound on the app. When chatting with your matches, the conversation consistently pivots to your previous failed relationship and then ends shortly thereafter. You embody a raging victim complex and all your Spotify followers know it.
If you’re heartbroken and listening to Taylor Swift, simply put, you don’t want to get better. You revel in the sadness, almost enjoying it. Deep down, you actively seek heartbreak so that you can enjoy this music to the fullest extent.
Romantic fulfillment is not something you ever expect nor hope to experience. You have never gotten over anything that’s happened to you to the point where it’s almost poetic. Upon getting their heart broken, I imagine the typical Swiftie gazing out of their car window with a forlorn look on their face (bonus points if raindrops are hitting the glass) and deep down, they’re enjoying every second of it.
There is only one correct way to listen to Frank Ocean whilst heartbroken: under the covers in a dark room with AirPods on full volume. The Frank Ocean listener is a devastated one, deep down hoping (read: waiting) to get back with the one that got away. The breakup was probably amicable, but that doesn’t make you any less heartbroken. In fact, it may actually make things even worse.
You’re subconsciously counting down the days to text them on their birthday, turning down rebounds just in case of a potential change of heart and go about your life and most everything you do with your ex in mind. In sum, if you’re listening to Frank Ocean after a breakup –– keep your head up, champ.
This crowd is slightly different from the Olivia Rodrigo listeners in that it’s possible you did genuinely experience heartbreak, you just have no idea how to process nor handle these emotions. So you’ve turned to none other than Dua Lipa.
You’re either hurt so bad that you’re practically manic or genuinely healthily processing the breakup. Unless it happens to be the latter, you’ve blocked them on everything immediately and yet, contradictorily, you make an alternative Instagram account to follow said ex. What’s more, you’d keep track of their follower count and track down any potential love interests they’re newly following –– the most appropriate and rational course of action, of course.