What Are Your Favorite “Breakup Songs?”

themes and variation breakup songs header

themes and variation breakup songs header

Whether facing the aftermath of a flash-in-the-pan fling or the desolation that follows the the ending of a lifetime’s truest love, there are certain songs worth turning to when in need of emotional catharsis. While it won’t necessarily heal all wounds, music can reinvigorate a sense of hopeful determination and remind us that we’re not alone.

From the somber to the wistful, the trite to the profound, there’s something remarkable about a really, really good breakup song.

To discuss the ballads of the broken hearted, Mahea and I sat down with Marcela Rada, an accomplished audio engineer, music producer, educator, and Soundfly Mentor. In turn, our conversation covered everything from the presence of emotion in an excellent mix to band dynamics and the tumultuous relationships that helped fuel one of rock and roll’s most important groups.

Check out the episode and then let us know what you look for in a great breakup song by adding to the episode’s community playlist at the bottom of this post.

Listen to Episode 38 in its entirety right here:

If you’d like to be among the first to hear each of our biweekly episodes, head over to:

Hit that subscribe button and please consider leaving us a 5-star review to help us spread the word and keep the lights on! It would mean a lot to us.

themes and variation guest panel

For anyone out there interested to work with Marcela Rada — to improve your production skills in the DAW, your ear for mixing and engineering, or to expand your horizons by making use of spatial, immersive audio — you can request Marcela for a four- or six-week Soundfly mentorship session here.

Episode 38 Highlights

1. Mahea on letting performers bring their own ideas to compositions.

Mahea: “My policy is always: Unless I play the instrument… even if I do play the instrument, even if I’m talking to a pianist, I’m not going to know more about how someone’s instrument should be played than they do, you know? Like I might have a vision in my head, but like, if you’re so locked into what you want, just learn to play the instrument at that point. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter who’s holding it.”

2. Carter on why “Hole in the Earth” from Saturday Night Wrist is an intriguing choice for the episode’s theme.

Carter: “Like it just seemed like, ‘I’m done with Deftones. We’re all done with each other,’ and you can hear that throughout the record. That’s why I love this song. And that’s why I wanted to pick this song for this theme is because I want to hear the context of like, ‘What does a breakup sound like in terms of like a complete work?’ And it’s there. Their music definitely has this kind of darkness to it, for sure, but it’s like very palpable on this record in particular.

3. Marcela on why the studio version of “Rootless Tree” lacks some of live version’s potency.

Marcela: “If I’m mixing something, I really have to feel it. And for me it’s like, ‘How can I get the message to come across?’ In the studio version, some people might disagree with me, but in my opinion, the mix just kind of took away from how powerful the message of the song is.”

Join Our Collaborative Playlist

Yes, it’s collaborative! As in: you can add tracks to the playlist that fit the theme!

Every other week, and with every new episode of Themes and Variation, we launch a new collaborative Spotify playlist that includes the songs mentioned in the episode and more, which you can add to and enjoy. Here’s this week’s collaborative Spotify playlist!

We’ll see you in a couple weeks with a new theme, new guests, and some new songs to break down. If you have any comments, questions, or theme suggestions, drops us a (bass) line at [email protected]!

film scoring course ad

Join our Mailing List

We offer creative courses, articles, podcast episodes, and one-on-one mentorship for curious musicians. Stay up to date!


The Top 15 Most Read Flypaper Articles From 2022

As we wrap up another packed year of blog, course, and podcast content here at Soundfly, here's a list of the Top 15 blog posts from 2022!


Our 2022 Soundfly Holiday Giveaway Gift Guide

Soundfly's giving out tons of free prizes right now as part of our massive Holiday Giveaway — all you have to do is subscribe to enter!


The Songs of the Year 2022

Episode 59 of Soundfly's podcast Themes and Variation is a celebration of "Songs of the Year 2022" featuring the Soundfly Team.