Dancing on your own: the best sad-bangers and songs about loneliness

Sometimes being alone is good for us, sometimes being alone just gets us down. Here are some songs to soundtrack whatever type of loneliness you feel: nostalgic, angry, sad, drunk…

The Black Keys – ‘Lonely Boy’

The Black Keys’ hulking slab of blues-licked rock proves being lonely doesn’t have to be downbeat. With frontman Dan Auerbach yearning for his lover over raunchy guitar riffs, the megalithic ‘Lonely Boy’ absolutely bangs.

Loneliest lyric: “So you pulled my heart out and I don’t mind bleedin’/Any old time you keep me waitin'”

Akon – ‘Lonely’

You could barely leave the house in 2004 without hearing the Bobby Vinton-sampling sadbanger from Akon. Making an earworm out of being on his own, almost fifteen years on the chart-topper remains the first tune you think of when thinking of songs about being lonely.

Loneliest lyric: “Lonely I’m so lonely/I have nobody/To call my own”

The Police – ‘So Lonely’

This reggae-rock fusion shows us two sides of feeling alone: self-pitying sadness and angry frustration. As the fast-tempo, drum-heavy chorus kicks in, Sting’s whining vocals become an exasperated, shout-a-long cry against being ‘so lonely’.

Loneliest lyric: “So lonely/So lonely/So lonely/So lonely/So lonely/So lonely/So lonely/So lonely/So lonely/So lonely/So lonely/So lonely”

Tyler, The Creator – ‘911/ Mr. Lonely’

For this cut from Tyler’s fourth record ‘Flower Boy’ he teamed up with a trio of pals. Frank Ocean, Steve Lacy and Anna of the North all offer their vocals to a neo soul jam that sees the group ruminate on the struggles of romantic loneliness.

Loneliest lyric: “I’m the loneliest man alive/But I keep on dancin’ to throw ’em off/I’m gon’ run out of moves ’cause I can’t groove to the blues”

Pixies – ‘Cactus’

The Pixies turn loneliness into angry, suspense-ridden rock. Stomp your foot along to ‘Cactus’ if you feel your lonely fate is undeserved.

Loneliest lyric: I miss your soup and I miss your bread/And a letter in your writing doesn’t mean you’re not dead”

Green Day – ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’

A classic anthem of loneliness that we’ve been crying over in our bedrooms since we were teens. The band’s trademark tune makes us miss 2006 more than anything.

Loneliest lyric: My shadow’s the only one that walks beside me”

Robyn – ‘Dancing On My Own’

In the ultimate soundtrack for sad drunks, Robyn sings about watching an ex-flame kiss someone else over pounding synths and big drum beats. Perfect for when you want a good lonely boogie.

Loneliest lyric: “I’m not the girl you’re taking home/I keep dancing on my own”

The Beatles – ‘Eleanor Rigby’

This stripped-back ballad, composed of only vocals and strings is a Beatles’ classic about a life lived alone – and a funeral with no one there.

Loneliest lyrics: “Eleanor Rigby, died in the church/And was buried along with her name/Nobody came”

Tove Lo – ‘Habits (Stay High)’

Upbeat pop clashes with sad vocals in this song about looking for escapism to get over someone. The cheerful verse because an explosive chorus as Tove Lo’s loneliness reaches a head.

Loneliest lyric: “Can’t go home alone again/Need someone to numb the pain”

Mall Grab – ‘Alone’

Sometimes you don’t need words. ‘Alone’ is a techno-infused expression of loneliness that is dark and atmospheric with its offbeat percussion and background synths.

The Cure – ‘Pictures of You’

Robert Smith paints a vivid, visual picture of loneliness in ‘Pictures of You’, lyrically describing the tragedy of staring at photos of someone you miss. Its nostalgic, chiming guitar and heavy percussion soundtrack the singer’s lonely post-breakup endeavour, and it’s heart wrenching.

Loneliest lyric: “If only I’d thought of the right words/ I wouldn’t be breaking apart”

Words: Zoe Tidman