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10 Songs to Make Your Heart Bleed

A genre-crossing assemblage of tunes.

Editor’s note: As part of CMN’s ongoing music journalism program, we asked our team of music writers to come up with a list of songs around a theme. They definitely rose to the challenge. You can see all the lists by browsing our music section

This genre-crossing assemblage of music metaphorically takes you to yearning for love’s lust to falling apart on the bathroom floor.

1.) Kiss Quick – Matt Nathanson

This well-crafted aria tears at your heart-strings the moment this fire ballad takes off. Nathanson sings, almost in a whispery tone, in a male perspective about the quest for affection in anything; anyone.

Kiss Quick, I’ve got a line out the door, who all think they can save me / One by one they lay the world at my feet, one by one they drive me crazy.  

2.) Charlotte’s Wine – Corey Harper

This acoustic, stripped bare melody is a fabricated fairytale of a young girl who is devoured by both Hollywood’s culture of fame and a yearning to be loved. Charlotte’s vulnerable and savors a drink of wine — a toast to sensuality and supplementary toxic substances. Charlotte’s  vice is washed away conclusively because of her new sip of love.

Charlotte’s wine tastes just fine, I guess / Drinking from a bottle laying in her own bed / Who’s to say she’s not old enough yet / To make her dreams come to life again

3.) Let’s Stay Home Tonight – NeedtoBreathe

“Let’s Stay Home Tonight” is a sensual, clean love song. The guitar counter-line riff compliments the grit of the singer’s speech. It’s authentic to NeedtoBreathe’s Christian roots and documentation of maintaining an elementary, intoxicating love. Intermittently, a night in fulfills the needs and desires.

Baby, let’s stay home tonight, we can put a couple records on / We can build a fire alright, baby we can dance til dawn / Everything will be just fine, don’t even have to put clothes on / I can keep you warm inside / Baby, let’s stay home tonight

4.) Just for the Record – Lucie Silvas

The honest piano instrumentation details Silvas in love, but not meeting all of her partner’s needs and desires. If it sounds familiar, Ruston Kelly also cut this track on his debut, Dying Star.

And say it was all a cloud of smoke / And say it was nothing but a joke / Everything that you say about me is true / But, just for the record, I really loved you. 

5.) Take the World – Johnnyswim

Husband and wife duo, Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano, write a crisp, joyous analogy of not needing fairytales and cliches to achieve the want they want from their relationship. This lighthearted, electrifying ballad makes you want to be in love.

Cause they can write stories, they can sing songs / But they don’t make fairy takes, sweeter than ours / They can climb mountains, high into the sky / But they can’t take the world. 

6.) Cherry Wine – Hozier

“Cherry Wine” offers a glimpse of the dim, somber side of fondness, and details the male perspective of suffocating in an abusive relationship — at the hands of the female. The songs is the product of a graffiti-painted wall in an abandoned hotel and the echo of each word from the singer’s mouth.

The way she tells me I’m hers and she is mine / Open hand or closed fist would be fine / The blood is rare and sweet as cherry wine. 

7.) Jersey on the Wall – Tenille Townes

This stripped down, acoustic plea to God to answer all of life’s hardships illustrates a living room performance — and all of the feels that come with an initiate setting.

If I ever get to heaven / You know I got a long list of questions / Like, how do you make a snowflake? / Are you angry when the earth quakes? / How does the sky change in a minute? / How do you keep this big rock spinning? / Why can’t you stop a car from crashing.. Forgive me, I’m just asking. 

8.) Blackout – Ruston Kelly

“Blackout” is a mid-tempo, grit filled portrait of despair. Collective harmonies and cumulative heartbreak is sustained with booze and drugs. Ruston’s husky voice entices you to feel the pain he endured, without actually experiencing it.

And you know I ain’t doing too well / But I’ve found a few things that help / I black out in a bar / I get high in my car / I drive ’round in circles / ‘Till I’m seeing stars / I get so messed up to forget who you are / I dumb down my head so I can’t feel my heart pound / And I black out, black out. 

9.) When a Heart Breaks – Ben Rector

A slow, self-explanatory tale of heartbreak. The ebony and ivory, slow burning minor intro sets the scene of lying on the bathroom floor.

This isn’t easy / This isn’t clear / And you don’t need Jesus, ’til you’re here / And confusion and the doubts you have / Up and walk away, they walk away / When a heart breaks. 

10.) California, Missouri – Kassi Ashton

“California, Missouri” is driven from a place of an identity crisis. Who I am? What am I doing? What is my direction? This soulful tune characterizes the struggle of maturity and sense of direction but feeling stuck without motion. This instance, California, Missouri.

I was all in a hurry / And if I got past, that one spotlight,  I would get a head start on anything that hurt me  / Anywhere I go, don’t feel like you was that good or bad / I don’t know if I’m running away / I don’t know if I’m running towards you / I guess that’s what you get when you’re born and stuck in California / California, Missouri 

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

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