For some people, Valentine's Day is a time for romance, grand gestures and celebrating love with the person who reciprocates yours.

And for some people, it's not.

That's because heartbreak doesn't care about the date on the calendar, and it strikes without prejudice. And while nothing can necessarily make it a pleasant experience, we can all take solace in the fact that it's universal — one with which plenty of rockers have grappled.

From the mournful to the mirthful, here are 20 Heartbreak Songs to Get You Through Valentine's Day.

The Babys, "Broken Heart"

From: Broken Heart (1977)

John Waite's portrayal of a heartbreaker with expensive taste is less than charitable: "She wants the best in life / Sugar daddies with agin' wives / She's expensive, everything she does." But the premise of "Broken Heart" — that Waite can empathize with another heartbroken man because he's suffered at the hands of the same woman — is novel, and the song's glam-rock strut is anything but a downer.

 

Bee Gees, "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart"

From: Trafalgar (1971)

The world has yet to find a definitive answer to the question posed on this soft-rock classic. But for the brothers Gibb, scoring their first No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 definitely helped dull the pain.

 

Bonnie Tyler, "It's a Heartache"

From: Natural Force (1978)

Bonnie Tyler scored her first charting single in the United States with this anguished country-rock anthem, which peaked at No. 3 on the Hot 100. She recorded the song shortly after having vocal cord nodules surgically removed, resulting in her signature husky voice — turning potential heartache into a blessing.

 

Cinderella, "Heartbreak Station"

From: Heartbreak Station (1990)

Cinderella continued moving further away from glam metal and into bluesy hard rock territory on their third album, Heartbreak Station. The title track is a rootsy lament full of jangling acoustic guitars and piano, made all the more poignant by Tom Keifer's oft-overlooked lower vocal register.

 

Def Leppard, "Bringin' on the Heartbreak"

From: High 'n' Dry (1981)

"Bringin' on the Heartbreak" failed to chart on either side of the pond when Def Leppard released it as the second single off High 'n' Dry, but its moody dynamics, masterful guitar-and-vocal harmonies and monstrous pop hooks foreshadowed the band's evolution into multiplatinum superstars and pro balladeers.

 

Eagles, "Heartache Tonight"

From: The Long Run (1979)

Glenn Frey and J.D. Souther cooked up the verses to Eagles' final chart-topping hit during a jam session, then tapped Bob Seger for the chorus. "No heavy lyrics — the song is more of a romp — and that's what it was intended to be," Frey said. Heartache never sounded so fun.

 

Elmore James, "Bleeding Heart"

From: "It Hurts Me Too" B-side (1965)

With his fleet-fingered guitar work and anguished howl, Elmore James bleeds passion on this 1965 blues staple. "Bleeding Heart" enjoyed a second life when Jimi Hendrix, who frequently cited James as an influence, covered it live and on record — a moving tribute from one master bluesman to another.

 

Elton John, "Breaking Hearts (Ain't What It Used to Be)"

From: Breaking Hearts (1984)

The fifth and final single off Elton John's 18th album failed to graze the Billboard Hot 100, but it's one of the album's most poignant moments — a remorseful piano ballad about the perils of toying with other people's hearts and getting what's coming to you in the end.

 

Elvis Presley, "Heartbreak Hotel"

From: Single (1956)

Urban legend states that Nashville steel guitar player Tommy Durden wrote "Heartbreak Hotel" after reading a newspaper story about a man who jumped out of a hotel window to his death and left behind a note that said, "I walk a lonely street." The truth is much thornier, but this much is certain: "Heartbreak Hotel" revolutionized rock 'n' roll and turned Elvis Presley into a superstar — and a world-class heartbreaker himself.

 

Frank Zappa, "Broken Hearts Are for Assholes"

From: Sheik Yerbouti (1979)

What? Just because your heart's broken doesn't mean you have to wallow in it!

 

Harry Nilsson, "You're Breakin' My Heart"

From: Son of Schmilsson (1972)

Harry Nilsson became the Poet Laureate of jilted lovers everywhere with this hilariously blunt kissoff song, saying what countless others have thought: "You're breakin' my heart / You're tearing it apart so fuck you."

 

Led Zeppelin, "Heartbreaker"

From: Led Zeppelin II (1969)

One of the most beloved and volcanic riffs in a catalog full of them, "Heartbreaker" is an archetypal hard rock anthem. Robert Plant's misery is palpable when he wails, "It's the way you call me by another guy's name when I try to make love to you."

 

Neil Young, "Only Love Can Break Your Heart"

From: After the Gold Rush (1970)

Neil Young allegedly wrote "Only Love Can Break Your Heart," his first Top 40 solo hit, about his ex-bandmate Graham Nash's breakup with Joni Mitchell — a poignant reminder that in the throes of heartache, your true friends will have your back.

 

Pat Benatar, "Heartbreaker"

From: In the Heat of the Night (1979)

Pat Benatar knows a heartbreaker when she sees one, but she's not about to let anybody walk all over her. Instead, she reads them the riot act on this furious rocker, capped by an operatic high note and a scorching guitar solo by Neil Giraldo.

 

Patty Smyth, "Heartache Heard Round the World"

From: Never Enough (1987)

Patty Smyth and Scandal were "shootin' at the walls of heartache" on their Top 10 single "The Warrior." Three years later, heartache returned with a vengeance on "Heartache Heard Round the World," off Smyth's solo debut Never Enough. It's unclear how Smyth's desire to be a "rock 'n' roll girl" correlates to said heartache, but at least the song is catchy.

 

The Psychedelic Furs, "Heartbreak Beat"

From: Midnight to Midnight (1987)

You could nurse your heartbreak in an empty dive bar, but this Top 40 single from the English new wavers makes a convincing case for exorcising your sorrow on the dance floor instead.

 

Tom Petty, "Only a Broken Heart"

From: Wildflowers (1994)

Heartbroken yet hopeful, remorseful yet resolute, this gorgeous Wildflowers track finds Tom Petty wearing his Beatles infatuation on his sleeve, with a tender, George Harrison-esque vocal performance and a lovely bridge that evokes "If I Fell."

 

Vixen, "Edge of a Broken Heart"

From: Vixen (1988)

Vixen's time in the sun was short, but they left an indelible mark with this Richard Marx-penned pop-metal hit, which peaked at No. 26 and pushed their self-titled debut album to gold status.

 

White Lion, "Broken Heart"

From: Broken Heart (1985) / Mane Attraction (1991)

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." Not always great advice for a failed relationship, but a potentially good strategy for releasing music, and one that White Lion followed with their debut single, which first appeared on 1985's Broken Heart and later on 1991's Mane Attraction. Sadly, it charted neither time, so persistence doesn't always pay off.

 

Winger, "Headed for a Heartbreak"

From: Winger (1988)

Melodramatic and propulsive, this delightfully cheesy ballad earned Winger their first Top 20 hit on the Hot 100. One can only hope and pray Kip Winger didn't write this song about the protagonist of "Seventeen."

The Best Love Song From More Than 100 Rock Acts

Here's rock at its most romantic, listed alphabetically.

Gallery Credit: UCR Staff

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