Anyone who’s ever lost a pet, a girlfriend, a job — or just had a really crap day — has their go-to Sad Song. You know, the one you put on repeat while you lie splayed on the kitchen floor, in the dark, slowly soaking the linoleum with your salty, salty tears. Now, a British scientist, Dr. Harry Witchel, has officially catalogued and ranked these songs according to their “tune trigger quotient” and announced his findings of the Saddest Songs Ever.
According to Dr. Witchel’s formula, which measures the listener’s heart rate, respitory response, and skin temperature, the all-time saddest song is… the Verve’s devastating 1997 dirge “The Drugs Don’t Work. (Though commonly misperceived as a song about recreational narcotics, it’s actually a tribute to singer Richard Ashcroft’s dying father. How’s that for sad?). The runners-up on this (admittedly very Anglocentric) list? Robbie Williams’ “Angels” and Elton John’s “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word.”
Americans undoubtedly have their own opinions; surely, many of us would choose from among the following: The Beatles’ “Yesterday,” Eric Clapton’s “Tears In Heaven,” Jeff Buckley’s version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” U2’s “With or Without You”, Roy Orbison’s “Crying,” R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts”… and, for whatever reason, every classic wedding song with which the newly married choose to start their lives together (why is that?): Sinead’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” the Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody,” Whitney’s “I Will Always Love You.”
Just by checking my iTunes playlist, I see I am something of aveil-of-tears afficianado; in my top plays: Elliott Smith (wellanything of his, really, but especially “Angeles” and “Fond Farewell toa Friend”), the Kinks’ “I Go to Sleep,” ” Antony & the Johnsons'”For Today I am a Boy,” Bloc Party’s “Tulips,” Bright Eyes’ “LandLocked Blues,” Cat Power’s “Where Is My Love,” Modest Mouse’s, “Bankrupton Selling,” Love’s “Always See Your Face,” Neil Young’s “Only Love CanBreak Your Heart” (and the St. Etienne cover too, for when I’m feelingEuro), Ratatat’s “Everest,” Skeeter Davis’ “The End of the World,”Beck’s “Lost Cause,” Sufjan Stevens’ “To Be Alone With You”… man. I’mstarting to think I might actually need some serious meds.
Still, I know I’m barely scratching the surface of Sad. There areartists, from Boyz II Men to Bette Midler, that I haven’t even touched(but for now, let’s just say the whole Smiths catalogue is implicitlyincluded). What’s your Sad Song playlist?