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The Top 11 Most Depressing Songs of All Time

by dsussman   January 29, 2009 at 10:00AM  |  Views: 847,220

5. “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want“ - The Smiths


Photo: Gemma Levine / Getty Images

Morrissey and his mates pretty much do tear-jerkin’ tracks better than any other band in the history of music. I could have thrown a number of wrist-slicing tunes on here, but this gem off of the band’s Hatful of Hollow compilation LP has always had a lil place in my meat-eating heart.

For a song that has very few lyrics and only runs around one minute and fifty seconds, it packs a serious punch. This song is a prime example of how easily Morrissey can wrap you up in his own little world and spoon-feed you infinite sadness with no questions asked.

4. “Perfect Day” - Lou Reed


Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Even though most of the “Perfect Day” lyrics seem to show Reed's romanticized attitude towards his own addictions, the song could really be interpreted a number of ways. I choose to think that the song is completely cynical and that the lyrics mean the opposite of what they really are. Either way, Lou’s epic Transformer lullaby could have a dramatic effect on even the coldest of eardrums. Lou has always had a special way of building you up and bringing you down all at the same time.

3. “Hallelujah” – Jeff Buckley Version


Photo: Bob Berg/Getty Images

I’ve always found the original Leonard Cohen version of this song to be actually somewhat uplifting. On the other hand, Jeff Buckley’s 1994 take on the monumental track has a whole different feeling to it. Right when he starts up his breathy vibrato, it’s impossible not to become emotionally attached to the song with every fiber of your being. It seems in recent years that the cover has even become more emotional for listeners due to the fact that Jeff suddenly passed away back in 1997.

RIP Jeff.

2. “Hurt” – Johnny Cash Version

I can absolutely guarantee that there isn’t a single human being alive that can hold back the tears while watching this 2002 music video. Even if you don’t really know Johnny’s music that well, you’ll still somehow find yourself emotionally attached to every note and word of this Nine Inch Nails cover.

The Trent Reznor version definitely has its moments of darkness and depression, but the images of a visibly ailing Cash looking back on his legendary career makes for some serious drama that’s impossible to deny. Let the waterworks fly!

1. “Taps”

When thinking of a song that instantly depresses, "Taps" has to be the most powerful composition that comes to mind.

Whenever the song  is sounded by the U.S. military during flag ceremonies and funerals there is never a dry eye in the house. Each time the classic bugle call begins, an instant feeling of a chapter in someone’s life coming to a close emerges and easily brings on pain, love and nostalgia:

The dual connection of "Taps" with death and with extinguishing lights is reinforced by the modern expression, "lights out," often used as a slang expression for actual death, or more often for symbolic "death," such as a sports team's loss in a game or tournament.