If you enjoy making playlists for a variety of different situations, then I suggest you check out this heartbreak mini-playlist by lesbian and bi artists! *cue tissues*
1. “Bad Habit” – Your Smith
Caroline Smith, aka Your Smith, sings about loving someone being a bad habit, just like “smoking too much,” “drinking on stage,” and “living rich on minimum wage.” The song “Bad Habit” starts like many romantic songs, she paints a picture of a happy couple on a summer’s day road trip, but we soon find that she’s just let us borrow her rose-tinted glasses. By the time her partner is anxiously tearing the labels from her drink at a bar, and they’re waiting to get home before having a serious conversation, we’re convinced they “loved each other most” when they “were runnin’ away.”
This song is about loving someone so much – and having so many reasons to stick around – but coming to terms with the incompatibilities. In particular, when you love someone a lot more than they love you in return. Your Smith is coming to terms with her “bad habit” of putting the looming breakup off “‘til another day.” She can’t stop loving her partner.
2. “Golden” – Becca Mancari
This song isn’t as much about an inevitable breakup as it is about the heartache of begging your partner to stay, or trying to get back together after a “break.” Becca repeats, throughout the song, “Oh darling, darling, won’t you see this thing through?” She can’t fight the urge to beg for the relationship to last because her partner is always turning “golden” right before her.
I first heard Becca Mancari when I stumbled upon Bermuda Triangle, a band she’s a part of with wives Jesse Lafser and Brittany Howard, and I couldn’t get enough. All three artists have balanced solo work with teaming up in various bands. Their voices are as impactful when united as they are when they shine alone, evident in Becca’s “Golden.”
Becca spoke to Redline Roots about her music background, “I grew up playing music, since I was pretty young, at least writing songs as a little kid. I had a little training when I was maybe twelve. But most of it has been gut learning and experiential learning.” About the Album that “Golden” is on, Good Woman, she said “Because I wasn’t trained as a musician, I feel like that’s kind of why it has so many different influences on it, and the record I wanted to make was just from the gut.”
3. “Rosey” – Bermuda Triangle
Speaking of Bermuda Triangle, this heartbreaking song is about leaving a wounded lover behind for your own sanity. It’s about “putting wildfires out with a bucket of rain” – acknowledging that there’s only so much one person can contribute to a relationship, to helping their partner, without losing themselves in the process. Without fighting a losing battle.
Bermuda triangle, a band that packs a punch with the limited singles available, performs a version of Jesse Lafser’s song “Rosey” with touching harmony. “Rosey” was originally released on Jesse’s 2015 album Raised On The Plains. According to NPR, it’s a “bereft” song about “accepting breakup,” but “Lafser’s looking toward the horizon,” by urging her almost-ex to move on, as she does.
Here’s the original:
4. “Love Me 4 Me” – Rina Sawayama
Rina is back at it again with the nostalgic pop princess vibes in “Love Me 4 Me.” She salutes her gay brothers who do drag from the get go, with the reference to Ru Paul’s Drag Race, “Babe, I’ve been telling you / If you can’t love yourself / How are you going to love somebody else?” Rina Sawayama has the sound of pop stars who are much-loved by the gay community: a bit of Britney Spears, a bit of Lady Gaga, but – mostly – Rina Sawayama.
“Love Me 4 Me” is about what the title suggests: Rina is choosing integrity over a partner who only wants her if she acts like somebody else. This heartbreak song isn’t about wallowing. It’s about how the aches and pains of leaving someone are necessary if they can’t love you.
Rina Sawayama released her debut album during a pandemic, at the age of 30. While she was supposed to be touring, she told NPR she was “making tempeh.” As for making her debut at an older age than many others, she said “I battle with the inner demons of ageism, like, everyday – which sounds really stipid…I mean, I’m turning 30 this year, and I just released my debut record. And for a pop act that’s also female, I don’t think that would have happened 10 years ago.”
5. “Relative Fiction” – Julien Baker
“Relative Fiction” is about a heartbreak of a different kind. It’s about breaking your own heart and preemptively breaking others’. It’s about breaking up with old thought patterns and the mythology we create about ourselves, which prevents growth. Humans are a mixture of “good” and “bad,” but we put so much pressure on ourselves to behave perfectly all the time.
Referencing her struggles with sobriety, Baker sings “‘cause if I didn’t have a mean bone in my body / I’d find some other way to cause you pain / I won’t bother telling you I’m sorry / for something that I’m gonna do again.” However, she ends it on self-acceptance: “I’m finished being good / Now I can finally be okay and not the way I / thought I should.”