14 of the Saddest Pop-Punk Songs Ever
So, summer’s over, Warped Tour’s dead, and the dark nights are closing in. Oh, and everyone’s headed back to the grind of work and / or school. Sad. Times.
A playlist of happy pop-punk tunes just isn’t gonna cut it at the moment, so we’ve compiled a list of the saddest songs ever to be formed out of three chords and some whiny vocals, so you can revel in misery, because that always makes you feel better when you’re down, doesn’t it?
Now, grab some tissues and let’s get going with this thing…
A rare slow and sombre cut from New Found Glory, Sticks & Stones track Sonny was written after the death of frontman Jordan Pundik’s grandfather. ‘An empty chair at all the tables’ he describes in the chorus – a sight we’ll all sadly see one day, if we haven’t already.
Before adding: ‘I’ll be seeing you when all my days boil down / For now we’ll say goodbye, we now it’s not the last time / I’ve lost the best part of my day, but it’s better where you’re going anyway.’
Jordan’s words are heartbreaking and horribly relatable, making it a song that’s helped many a New Found Glory fan process the death of a loved one.
In it, he tells the story of a guy (er, him) who’s so in love with a woman that he wants to ask her to marry him. But in what is essentially pop-punk’s answer to The Notebook, he goes to her house to declare his love, only for the neighbours to tell him she’s moved away. Livid.
‘Funny how it rained all day / I didn’t think much of it then, but it’s starting to all make sense,’ he sings after his gutting realisation. ‘Oh I can see now, that all of these clouds are following me in my desperate endeavour, to find my whoever, whoever she may be…’
(Cue one tear slowly rolling down Alex’s cheek as he stares through the window of a Boeing 747.)
In this incredibly brave and honest track, The Wonder Years’ Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell tells the story of his friend Mike Pelone, who passed away from a drug overdose, through lines like: ‘Buy fistfuls of pills to make sure you don’t hurt no more.’
If the ‘Twice a week, I pass by the church that held your funeral’ opener doesn’t kick your tear ducts into action, the thought of the singer lighting a candle for his late friend in every cathedral across Europe definitely will. ‘I hope you know you’re still my patron saint…’ he sings as we sad sigh (every time we hear it). It really is a touching tribute.
When A Day To Remember aren’t bringing musical breakdowns, they’re inducing emotional ones with songs like this from third album Homesick.
It starts with frontman Jeremy McKinnon telling the tale of a love that’s struggling, due to life on the road (‘If you can wait ’til I get home, then I swear to you, that we can make this last’), before VersaEmerge’s Sierra Kusterbeck arrives, playing the part of his perturbed partner.
‘You know you can’t give me what I need…’ she threatens. ‘And even though you mean so much to me, I can’t wait through everything…’
‘Is this really happening?’ cries Jeremy as the drums build. ‘I swear I’ll never be happy again… and don’t you dare say we can just be friends, I’m not some boy you can sway, we knew it’d happen eventually.’
Round it all out with the best ‘la la la’ section of any song you’ve ever heard and you’ve basically got a modern day re-telling of Romeo and Juliet. Sort of.
This Peace And The Panic track was written following the death of frontman Ben Barlow’s father, and sees him tell the extremely lovely story of his parents meeting, falling in love and starting a family together.
But as we know, it’s not a tale with a happy ending, and Ben bravely plays the full narrative out here, in the most matter-of-fact way possible.
‘Nothing could save him from the ambulance that day, he went away, the heart attack was sharp, didn’t feel no pain,’ he sings of the day his father died. ‘If you saw him now what would you say? I love you and I miss you, I owe you everything.’
It’s raw, honest, and so unbelievably sad. Especially when Ben turns to the words to his mum, singing: ‘Oh mother, mother please don’t cry, ’cause you know I miss him too, I didn’t even say goodbye.’
Tonight Alive specialised in sad songs on 2013’s The Other Side – an album with more heartbreak than a cardiologist’s waiting room.
As break-ups go, trying to get over someone who’s already moved on with someone new is pretty gnarly, and that’s what Don’t Wish is about.
‘I know it’s cold and lonely, but I’m not your one and only,’ sings Jenna McDougall. ‘I won’t be the one you call, when everyone is gone, and when you treat her wrong, don’t wish that she was me.’
It’s not all crying into Kleenex, though, since the song has its empowering moments, with lines like: ‘I’ve started to become accustomed to reminding you that we’re way past through, I don’t wanna do this honestly, do you?’ and ‘Now that I moved along, it’s clear we don’t belong, this is your last song.’
Fucking g’wan, Jenna!
On Pray For The Wicked’s closing number Dying In LA Brendon Urie sings about the perils of trying to make it in La La Land; a place where you’ll get spat out and fucked over.
While 99 per cent of Panic! fans won’t be able to relate to such a predicament, the sadness in this song is all in its sound. Featuring Brendon’s soothing vocals, delicate strings, and even the birds outside his home studio cheeping at the end, it’s easily the most affecting piece of music he’s ever composed.
We challenge you not to feel moved by it.
They say you never forget your first love, and that’s what makes this American Idiot stand-out track such a heartbreaker. They’ll always pop into your mind from time to time, reflected here with the lyrics: ‘Now I wonder how Whatsername has been’ and ‘Did she ever marry old whatshisface?’ And sometimes they’ll even come to you in your sleep (‘Thought I ran into you down on the street, then it turned out to only be a dream’).
The real kicker of the song is in the final lyric, though, which reminds us that even though we think about these people – who we shared happy times with, and whom once meant very much to us – we’ve actually forgotten many of the details about them, because they are now, of course, perfect strangers.
‘And in the darkest night, if my memory serves me right, I’ll never turn back time, forgetting you but not the time…’
Yep, that’ll do it.
Simple Plan weren’t taken particularly seriously back in the day (something they didn’t help with their ridiculous album titles), but they sure knew how to sum up the feelings of a struggling teenager in song.
‘Do you wanna be somebody else? Are you sick of feeling so left out? Are you desperate to find something more before your life is over? Are you stuck inside a world you hate?’ Pierre Bouvier wrote here, speaking to everyone who felt exactly that.
‘You don’t know what it’s like,’ he continued in the chorus, ‘to be hurt, to feel lost, to be left out in the dark, to be kicked when you’re down, to feel like you’ve been pushed around, to be on the edge of breaking down when no-one’s there to save you… No you don’t know what it’s like, welcome to my life.’
It’s upsetting that anyone would ever feel that way. And obviously plenty of people do, around the world, daily.
One in four families in the UK are headed by a single parent, which is why Stay Together For The Kids will tug on the heart strings of many.
The Take Off Your Pants And Jacket track was primarily written by former guitarist Tom DeLonge about the effect his parents’ divorce had on him.
‘Their anger hurts my ears, been running strong for seven years,’ he wrote. ‘Rather than fix the problems they never solve them, it makes no sense at all / I see them every day, we get along, so why can’t they? / If this is what he wants, and this is what she wants, then why is there so much pain?’
Upon its release in 2002, it made for a rare serious moment, and a truly heartfelt track from the trio.
When Joel Madden and co. started picking up fans with their 2002 self-titled debut, those fans really connected with the band. So much so, that they’d send them letters, pouring their hearts out about how they were struggling with depression, and feeling suicidal.
Having suffered with his own mental health, Joel Madden, wrote Hold On for them. The message was simple, but important: ‘Hold on, if you feel like letting go / Hold on, it gets better than you know’.
While the song is affecting, the video is straight-up devastating, since it features people talking about their loved ones who died by suicide. Just don’t even watch it.
From the album A Lesson In Romantics, Miserable At Best really was a song for the hopelessly head over heels.
Delivered via some wistful piano playing, and beautiful dual vocals courtesy of co-vocalist Jason Lancaster, and current vocalist Derek Sanders, it’s sung from the perspective of a guy who’s fallen hard for a girl who’s into someone else (‘Let’s not pretend like you’re alone tonight / I know he’s there…’).
His feelings for her are summed up best in what is, perhaps, the sappiest (but loveliest) pop-punk lyric ever written… are you ready for it? Go on then…
‘I can live without you, but without you I’ll be miserable at best…’
Good lord, we need a cuddle now.
Another piano ballad break-up story, which practically guarantees tears. This song from the Michigan pop-punks sings of how ‘the lovers that leave us will always hold a place’.
Unfortunately, here, the lover seems to have left because her boyfriend slept with someone else. He’s messed things up for himself, and now he’s struggling to move on.
‘Between you and I she could never compare to you,’ sings frontman / pianist David Ryan Strauchman. ‘Between you and I still keep your pictures underneath my bed, where she gives herself to me, where I give myself to you.’
It’s a sad reminder of how easily people can fuck up in relationships, and how shit the consequences of that can be.
Lucky People might sound downtrodden, but lyrically it’s a happy song. A sweet ode to Waterparks singer/guitarist Awsten Knight’s girlfriend, about how lucky they are to be together (‘let’s be lucky people you and me’).
‘Let’s keep each other safe from the world,’ the frontman sings, before the cute chorus comes in with: ‘Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas to the one I call my missus, I’m leaving you love notes in the kitchen that say it all’. It’s more ‘aw’ than Awsten’s birth certificate.
Anyway, the regretful thing about it is that Awsten and his girlfriend split before the album – 2018’s Entertainment – even came out, which somehow makes the song 10 times sadder. Sigh.
Words: Jennyfer J. Walker
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