This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.
Miley Cyrus and Mark Ronson at Z100 Studio on December 10, 2018 in New York City. (Photo: Getty Images)

Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus perform their collaboration “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart” for the first time together live on The Graham Norton Show (December 14) on BBC AMERICA at 11/10C.

It’s the first single off Mark’s forthcoming album Late Night Feelings, which, four years after he unleashed infectiously top-tapping dance mega-hit “Uptown Funk,” is full of “sad bangers,” according to a recent interview he gave the BBC.

Not sure what a “sad banger” is? Well, they’re the kind of melancholy dance tracks that let you wallow in grief and fling it away at the same time.

The ancient Greeks used tragedy to achieve catharsis like that; us more modern types have pop music. Below are ten tracks that will get you up on your feet, and leave you a hollowed-out husk on the dance floor when they’re finished.

10. “Crying on the Bathroom Floor” by MUNA (2017)

This track by the LA-based all-female trio is equal parts euphoric and devastating. Lead vocalist and lyricist Katie Gavin explained the track describes the “traumatic bond” formed in an abusive relationship, but its twinkly percussion and throbbing bass make it easy to miss the serious intent of its lyrics.

9. “Teardrops” by Womack & Womack (1988)

It doesn’t come catchier than this track by husband and wife duo Cecil and Linda Womack, so its crying-into-your-pillow theme can come as a surprise. It’s been remade numerous times, most notably by k.d.lang and Elton John for the latter’s 1993 Duets album, but none quite captured the plaintiveness of Linda’s vocals.

8. “Everything Now” by Arcade Fire (2017)

It makes sense that Montreal’s finest invoke ABBA in the title track from their fifth studio album: the Swedish pop maestros brought a melancholy to pop music that’s rarely been matched since. “Everything now!,” goes the jubilant chorus, but listen more carefully and the song transforms into a bitter take-down of narcissism and modern consumerism. But that keyboard! And those na-na-na-nahs! Surely another selfie wouldn’t hurt?

7. “Don’t Leave Me This Way” by The Communards (1986)

This track was part of a craze in the 1980s for taking old songs — the country classic “Always On My Mind” made famous by Elvis and Willie Nelson, for example, or The Supremes‘ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” — and adding a tonne of whirling synths, saxophones and orch hits despite their often sad and desperate themes.

6. “Supercut” by Lorde (2017)

Lorde’s sophomore effort explores the aftermath of a breakup, ending with this bittersweet banger that looks back at the best bits of the erstwhile relationship. “It’s just a supercut of us,” she sings, knowing deep down it doesn’t include all the bad times, and yet feeling grateful for the good times anyway. Sob.

5. “The Winner Takes It All” by ABBA

Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anna-Frid were making shimmeringly sad bangers like “Dancing Queen” before some people on our list were even born. This one takes the cake though: the cascading piano at the start is a clue, but by the time you get to the lyrics, you’re ear-deep in a devastating paean to the acrimonious end of a relationship. And if you can sit through Meryl Streep singing a pared-down version in the original Mamma Mia! without crying, then you are made of harder stuff than the rest of us.

4. “Chandelier” by Sia (2014)

On first listen, a lyric like “I’m going to live like tomorrow doesn’t exist” could sound joyous and triumphant, until you know this track is about an out-of-control alcoholic swinging from the eponymous ceiling light. “Help me, I’m holding on for dear life / Won’t look down, won’t open my eyes / Keep my glass full until morning light / ‘Cause I’m just holding on for tonight” carry on the lyrics, as the music reaches a sobering crescendo.

3. “Your Love” by Frankie Knuckles (1986)

The so-called “Godfather of House” got his moniker not just because of his prowess on the decks, but because he was capable of stuffing raw human emotion into uplifting dance music. This legendary track has been reworked numerous times, most famously when Source added Candi Staton‘s vocals for 1991 club hit “You Got the Love,” but none match the desolation of the original.

2. “Crying for No Reason” by Katy B (2014)

Picture the scene: it’s late at night, the early hours of the morning even, and someone is still on the dance floor mouthing along earnestly to the lyrics of this song. “Crying for no reason ’cause I buried it deep / I made promises I could not keep / ‘Cause I never faced all the pain I caused / Now the pain is hitting me full force.” Ouch. Someone call a cab.

1. “With Every Heartbeat” by Robyn (2005)

The drawn-out strings, the melancholy synth, all set against a pounding beat that suddenly lets up for a devastatingly beautiful bridge: for a little over four minutes, this track manages to turn heartbreak into sound. Robyn has been the undisputed queen of sad bangers ever since, with tracks like “Who’s that Girl,” “Be Mine!” and “Dancing on My Own.”

Do you have a favorite “sad banger”?

Read More
By Kat Sommers
Kat is a freelance writer for Anglophenia.