9 Epic Breakup Anthems (and the Celebs That Inspired Them!) From Gwen Stefani to Justin Timberlake
By Sophie Schillaci
Who doesn't love a good breakup anthem? (Especially when they're celebrity inspired.)
Gwen Stefani is the latest artist to channel her heartbreak into a powerful hit song, but she's hardly the first. From Justin Timberlake to Alanis Morissette, we're looking back at some of the most epic breakup songs and the stars responsible for them.
ARTIST: Gwen Stefani
SONG: "Used to Love You" (2015)
WHO WE THINK IT'S ABOUT: Gavin Rossdale
Gwen filed for divorce from her husband of nearly 12 years in August, citing irreconcilable differences. While the former couple has kept mum on the reason for their split, Gwen is pouring her heart out in the song that she admittedly wrote "recently."
KEY LYRICS: I don't know why I cry/ I think it's 'cause I remembered for the first time/ Since I hated you/ That I used to love you.
SONG: "Burn" (2004)
WHO WE THINK IT'S ABOUT: Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas
Usher and Chilli dated from 2001 to 2003, and it's been speculated that much of his candid Confessions album was written about her. The 37-year-old has written his fair share of heartbreak tunes over the years, but none twist the knife quite like this.
KEY LYRICS: When your feeling ain't the same and your body don't want to/ But you know gotta let it go 'cause the party ain't jumpin' like it used to/ Even though this might bruise you/ Let it burn/ Let it burn/ Gotta let it burn.
ARTIST: Alanis Morissette
SONG: "You Oughta Know" (1995)
WHO WE THINK IT'S ABOUT: Dave Coulier
Hell hath no fury like Alanis scorned! In perhaps one of the most scathing breakup anthems of all time, the singer calls out her ex for moving on with another woman. Alanis has kept mum on the song's subject, but Dave -- who dated the artist briefly in the '90s -- has said it's about him.
KEY LYRICS: And every time you speak her name/ Does she know how you told me you'd hold me/ Until you died, til you died/ But you're still alive.
ARTIST: Justin Timberlake
SONG: "Cry Me a River" (2002)
WHO WE THINK IT'S ABOUT: Britney Spears
They were pop music's "it" couple from 1999 to 2002 -- then it all came crashing down. Justin and Britney's breakup was sudden and shocking for fans, some of whom are still pining for a reunion. So what went wrong? Though he's never publicly admitted to penning the track about Britney, Justin skewered an ex-girlfriend on his 2002 debut album -- while enlisting a Britney lookalike to star in his "Cry Me a River" music video. Hmmm...
KEY LYRICS: You don't have to say/ What you did/ I already know/ I found out from him/ Now there's just no chance/ For you and me/ There'll never be/ And don't it make you sad about it.
ARTIST: Big Sean
SONG: "I Don't F*ck With You" (2014)
WHO WE THINK IT'S ABOUT: Naya Rivera
After a whirlwind courtship that began on Twitter, Sean and Naya became engaged in October 2013. The couple called off their engagement six months later, in April 2014, and by September, we had this catchy-as-hell jam. You do the math.
Fun fact: Naya did end up tying the knot with someone else, Ryan Dorsey, in July 2014 -- on what was rumored to have been her original wedding date with Sean.
KEY LYRICS: I heard you got a new man/ I see you takin' a pic/ Then you post it up/ Thinkin' that it's makin' me sick/ I see you calling/ I be makin' it quick/ Imma answer that sh*t like, 'I don't f*ck with you.'
(Warning: Explicit lyrics in the video below)
SONG: "So What" (2008)
WHO WE THINK IT'S ABOUT: Carey Hart
Not all breakup song stories have a sad ending! Pink released "So What" amid a separation from Carey, whom she wed in 2006. Even through their split, Carey still made time to film a cameo for Pink's music video about him. The two worked through their issues, rekindling their romance in 2010.
KEY LYRICS: I guess I just lost my husband/ I don't know where he went/ So I'm gonna drink my money/ I'm not gonna pay his rent.
SONG: "True Love" (2014)
WHO WE THINK IT'S ABOUT: Gwyneth Paltrow
Chris Martin co-wrote the song, which was released months after he and Gwyneth famously announced their "conscious uncoupling," about the pain of losing a lover. "True Love" isn't the first time Gwyneth has served as a muse for her ex -- several of the band's most poignant love songs, including "Fix You," are said to be about their relationship.
KEY LYRICS: For a second, I was in control/ I had it once, I lost it though/ And all along the fire below would rise/ And I wish you could have let me know/ What's really going on below/ I've lost you now, you let me go.
ARTIST: Taylor Swift
SONG: "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" (2012)
WHO WE THINK IT'S ABOUT: Jake Gyllenhaal
While Taylor prides herself on never revealing the identity of her songs' inspirations, much of her 2012 album, Red, is said to have been written about her on-again-off-again relationship with Jake. In a previous interview, Taylor revealed that her ex-beau compared listening to the album to "going through a photo album."
KEY LYRICS: I'm really gonna miss you picking fights/ And me falling for it screaming that I'm right/ And you would hide away and find your peace of mind/ With some indie record that's much cooler than mine.
ARTIST: No Doubt
SONG: "Ex-Girlfriend" (2000)
WHO WE THINK IT'S ABOUT: Gavin Rossdale
Bringing it full circle: Gwen, along with her bandmates, Tom Dumont and Tony Kanal, penned the hit single about her relationship with Gavin years before the pair wed. One line, "You say you're gonna burn before you mellow," is a reference to Gavin's lyrics from the Bush song, "Dead Meat." ("I'll burn before I mellow," he sings on the track.)
KEY LYRICS: I kinda always knew I'd end up your ex-girlfriend/ I hope I hold a special place with the rest of them/ And you know it makes me sick to be on that list/ But I should have thought of that before we kissed.
What’s your favorite breakup anthem? Hit the comments below with your picks!