As the colorful decade of the 90s drew to a close, melancholic tunes took over the airwaves. Sung by some of the most iconic artists of the time, these somber songs became the soundtrack to the end of an era.

From heartbreak to loss and everything in between, these ballads captured the emotional turmoil of the human experience with haunting melodies and poignant lyrics that still resonate today. Let’s take a journey back in time and revisit some of the most memorable and melancholy tracks that defined the 90s.



“My Heart Will Go On” – Celine Dion

The immaculate notes and moving lyrics of a timeless classic evoke emotions that surpass the borders of time and genre. Dealing with the pain of separation, “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion flawlessly captures the essence of love lost, making it the perfect song for anyone looking to reflect on an ex-lover or mourn the end of a relationship.

With its powerful highs and subtle lows, this song delivers a punch that no other ballad can quite match, securing its place in the pantheon of 90s sad songs.


“Torn” – Natalie Imbruglia

Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn” encapsulates the emotions of a broken heart through its emotional yet upbeat instrumentals. The song’s introspective lyrics, accompanied with Imbruglia’s crystal-clear vocals creates a sense of longing and heartbreak that sticks with the listener long after the song’s end. “Torn” remains one of the most iconic sad songs of the 90s, striking a chord with anyone who has ever felt the sting of a lost love.


“Everybody Hurts” – R.E.M

This melancholic tune from R.E.M. is a must-listen for fans of 90s sad songs. With somber lyrics and a downtempo melody, “Everybody Hurts” is a cathartic anthem for anyone facing difficult times. The song’s emotional intensity is matched by lead singer Michael Stipe’s haunting vocal performance and the powerful orchestral arrangement.

From heartbreak to loneliness to despair, “Everybody Hurts” captures the full range of human suffering, making it a timeless classic for those seeking solace in music.


“I Will Always Love You” – Whitney Houston

This ballad holds a poignant place in the hearts of many. Sung by a legendary soulful vocalist, it’s a powerful expression of love and loss. The soaring vocals and stirring music add to its poignancy. This song expertly captures the pain of unrequited love and the heartache of watching someone you love let go.

The melancholic melody and haunting lyrics quickly became an anthem for those who have ever felt the sting of love’s departure. Even now, decades later, this song still tugs at the heartstrings in a way that few others can.


“Nothing Compares 2 U” – Sinead O’Connor

This heart-wrenching yet poignant and enthralling composition captures the essence of sorrow and longing with unadorned lyrics and a haunting melody.

The artist’s soulful delivery evokes a sense of raw emotion and vulnerability, resonating with listeners who have experienced the pain of loss or separation. This 90s ballad is a true classic in the genre of sad songs, leaving an indelible mark on the cultural landscape of the era.


“All I Wanna Do” – Sheryl Crow

This ballad, sung by the talented Sheryl Crow, explores the themes of heartbreak and loneliness. With its melancholic tune and poignant lyrics, “All I Wanna Do” takes listeners on an emotional journey of a woman yearning for love and connection.

Despite its upbeat sound, this song is guaranteed to tug at your heartstrings and leave you with a sense of wistful melancholy. A perfect choice for any 90s playlist focused on sad songs.


“Kiss From A Rose” – Seal

This standout track from Seal’s eponymous second album is an emotional powerhouse, conveying wistful longing and heartbreaking vulnerability with soaring vocals and lush instrumentation.

“Kiss From A Rose” boasts an irresistibly catchy chorus and an enigmatic, poetic quality that resonated deeply with listeners in the ’90s and remains a timeless classic today. Its haunting melody and melancholic lyrics make it a perfect fit for any playlist of vintage heartbreakers.


“Zombie” – The Cranberries

With its haunting melody and poignant lyrics, “Zombie” by The Cranberries is a quintessential 90s sad song. The intense emotions conveyed by lead singer Dolores O’Riordan, combined with the song’s powerful imagery and driving beat, create a sense of despair and longing that speak to the unique struggles and challenges of the era. This track remains a timeless anthem to loss and resilience that continues to resonate with audiences today.


“Ironic” – Alanis Morissette

This sorrowful and emotionally profound piece tells the story of a series of unfortunate events that take place in the narrator’s life. The intricate lyrics are written with a complex and intelligent level of depth, alluding to the idea that despite the many challenges faced, the universe has a way of balancing the scales.

The somber yet forward-moving tone coupled with its dynamic and poignant melody creates a juxtaposition of emotions that makes the track an alluringly cathartic listen.


“Losing My Religion” – R.E.M

“Losing My Religion” is a somber and introspective track from R.E.M. that represents the band’s sound at its most mature and philosophical. The song features melancholic themes of obsession, loss, and spiritual crisis as Michael Stipe delivers enigmatic and symbolic lyrics with his signature emotive style.

The mandolin-driven instrumentation and atmospheric textures add to the song’s immersive and contemplative mood, making it an essential entry in the canon of 90s melancholy.


“November Rain” – Guns N’ Roses

The wistful harmonies of “November Rain” by Guns N’ Roses are the perfect complement to a rainy day spent ruminating over lost love. Melancholic yet grandiose, this ballad’s soaring guitar solos and Axl Rose’s emotive vocals will transport listeners to the height of early ’90s grunge and the depths of heartbreak.


“Don’t Speak” – No Doubt

“Don’t Speak” is a 90s heartbreak anthem from No Doubt that captures the intense emotions of a breakup. Lead vocalist Gwen Stefani’s raw, anguished vocals, set against the backdrop of a melancholic melody and driving percussion, perfectly conveys the feeling of lost love. The song’s lyrics starkly confront the pain and confusion of a failed relationship, making it a quintessential 90s sad song that still resonates today.


“Wonderwall” – Oasis

With its familiar guitar strumming and Liam Gallagher’s distinct vocals, “Wonderwall” by Oasis epitomizes 90s sad songs. The lyrics explore the feelings of unrequited love, betrayal, and longing while delivering a melancholic yet catchy tune that captures the essence of the era’s alternative rock.

This classic track remains an enduring favorite of many and its continued popularity in pop culture makes it a staple of any discussion on the most memorable 90s anthems.


“Bitter Sweet Symphony” – The Verve

“Bitter Sweet Symphony” by The Verve is a classic 90s tune that embodies the era’s melancholic spirit. With its bittersweet lyrics and slow, dreamy melody, this song beautifully captures the confusion and disillusionment so many people felt at the time.

Its layered guitar riffs and orchestral strings add a sense of grandeur and drama to the mix, making it a perfect accompaniment to any introspective evening spent pondering life’s complexities. Of all the sad songs that came out of the 90s, “Bitter Sweet Symphony” remains one of the most evocative and haunting.


“Iris” – Goo Goo Dolls

“Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls is a legendary 90s track that’s widely recognized as one of the most heart-wrenching songs of its time. The band’s lead singer, John Rzeznik, sings about his desperate longing for someone he can’t be with, expressing raw, intense emotions that tug at listeners’ heartstrings.

The song’s melancholic melody and evocative lyrics strike a chord with anyone who’s ever experienced the pain of unrequited love or the agony of letting go. It’s the perfect pick for an emotional 90s playlist that captures the era’s bittersweet essence.


“One” – U2

In the realm of 90s melancholy, this song stands out as an iconicly contemplative masterpiece, weaving together evocative lyrics and brooding instrumentals.

With a sense of yearning that plucks at the heartstrings from start to finish, this song speaks to the deep ache of human emotions and the pain that accompanies letting go. It’s a somber yet cathartic listen that captures the essence of 90s sad songs and resonates with anyone who has ever felt the sting of loss.


“Un-Break My Heart” – Toni Braxton

“Un-Break My Heart” by Toni Braxton is a heart-rending ballad that captures the essence of the 90s with its melancholic lyrics and soulful melodies. The lyrics lament about the painful end of a relationship and the longing to turn back time and repair the broken pieces of a shattered heart.

Toni’s powerful vocals, coupled with the profound emotions that it evokes, make “Un-Break My Heart” a quintessential piece of the decade that continues to strike a chord with listeners to this day.


“Black” – Pearl Jam

“Black” by Pearl Jam is a dark, brooding song that perfectly captures the angsty spirit of the ’90s. The haunting guitar riffs and Eddie Vedder’s intense vocals combine to create a visceral listening experience that evokes feelings of loneliness and despair.

The lyrics are cryptic and open to interpretation, but seem to deal with themes of love lost and hopelessness. It’s a powerful song that still holds up today as a standout example of the grunge genre.”


“Tears In Heaven” – Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” is arguably one of the most heartbreaking songs of the 90s. Written about the loss of his four-year-old son, the lyrics poetically capture the emotion and pain of a grieving parent. The somber melody and poignant lyrics will undoubtedly strike a chord with anyone who has lost a loved one.


“What’s Up?” – 4 Non Blondes.

“What’s Up?” by 4 Non Blondes is a poignant and moving song that captures the essence of the 90s. Its intense and raw emotional quality conveys the complexities of the human experience, with honest and thought-provoking lyrics that speak to the heart.

The song’s powerful message of hope and resilience is delivered with energy and passion, making it an enduring classic that will resonate with generations to come.


“The Sign” – Ace of Base

The Swedish pop group Ace of Base’s 90s hit “The Sign” is melancholic in its lyrical content. The song speaks directly to a lover, asking them if they have eyes to see that their love is rotting away. The heart-wrenching vocals and the melancholic tune may have served to amplify the sadness of those listening to it, making the emotion even more palpable.


“I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” – Aerosmith

Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” is a heart-wrenching ballad that perfectly captures the overwhelming emotions of love and fear of losing someone. The poignant lyrics, combined with Steven Tyler’s soulful delivery, make for a powerful and emotional experience that will affect even the most stoic listener.

This song is a powerful reminder of the fragility of love and the importance of cherishing those we love while we still have them.


“Creep” – Radiohead

This track, suffused with internal tension and sorrow, speaks of an aching desire to be validated. The lyrics depict the narrator’s feelings of inadequacy in contrast to others and their frenzied desperation to undo or escape from the image they present to the world.

The sorrowful instrumental backing and diffident vocals wrap around you, drawing you into their melancholic embrace. “Creep” resonates with those who have ever struggled with self-doubt, making it a classic in the 90s sad songs genre.


“Linger” – The Cranberries

With a haunting melody and heartfelt lyrics, this ballad from Jewel’s debut album “Pieces of You” captures the emotional turmoil of a relationship on the brink of collapse. “You Were Meant for Me” features acoustic guitar and delicate vocals that weave together bittersweet memories and unfulfilled dreams, creating a poignant and introspective mood.

This 90s sad song is a beautiful example of the era’s confessional singer-songwriter style, exploring themes of love, loss, and self-discovery with raw vulnerability and poetic flair.


“Lovefool” – The Cardigans

“Lovefool” is a heart-wrenching track that speaks to the pain and frustration of being in love with someone who doesn’t reciprocate those feelings. The lyrics are simple, yet poignant, painting a vivid picture of the emotional turmoil that can come with unrequited love.

The song’s upbeat melody and infectious chorus are contrasted by its melancholy vibe, making it an iconic example of the ’90s sad songs genre.”


“Save Tonight” – Eagle-Eye Cherry

“Save Tonight” is a timeless classic by Eagle-Eye Cherry that captures the bittersweet emotions of a love that is coming to an end. The song’s upbeat acoustic and percussion elements contrast with its melancholic lyrics, creating a dynamic and memorable listening experience.

With its emotional depth and catchy melody, “Save Tonight” is the perfect embodiment of the emotional complexity that defined 90s sad songs.


“Hold My Hand” – Hootie & The Blowfish

“Hold My Hand” by Hootie & The Blowfish is a melancholic masterpiece that imbues both sadness and comfort. The track’s emotive lyrics, which convey a sense of longing, complementing a harmonious melody that rises and falls in intensity, making it perfect for when you’re feeling down. The song reflects on the hardships of past relationships and the sadness that comes with the realization of their end.

While listening to “Hold My Hand,” the listener is left to ponder the artist’s emotions and becomes introspective, contemplating the intricacies of relationships and the pain of loss.


“I’m Your Angel” – R. Kelly & Celine Dion

One of the most heart-wrenching ballads of the era, this tune delivers an emotional punch that’ll leave you reeling. With soaring vocals and moving lyrics, it’s a song about loss, love, and redemption that’s sure to hit you where it hurts.

Whether you’re dealing with a breakup, missing someone special, or simply need a good cry, this track is sure to tug at your heartstrings and leave you feeling all the feels. So grab a box of tissues, crank up the volume, and get ready to feel the pain that only a true 90s sad song can deliver.


“I Want It That Way” – Backstreet Boys

This emotional ballad from the Backstreet Boys is a classic tearjerker of the 90s, showcasing their signature harmonies and soulful vocals. With haunting lyrics and a moving melody, “I Want It That Way” is a timeless tribute to lost love and the pain of longing. The track’s emotional depth and universal themes resonate with listeners to this day, making it a standout in the decade’s canon of sad songs.


“Truly Madly Deeply” – Savage Garden

“Truly Madly Deeply” by Savage Garden is a heart-wrenching love ballad that strikes all the right chords of raw emotions. With its powerful lyrics and soaring melody, this song captures the essence of what it means to be hopelessly in love.

It’s a 90s classic that’s perfect for anyone who’s ever been swept away by the passion of an experience. The song’s heartrending beauty is guaranteed to tug at the heartstrings of anyone who has ever felt the pangs of a broken heart.


“All By Myself” – Celine Dion

As I reminisce about the melancholy music of the 90s, one tune that unfailingly tugs at my heartstrings is a soulful ballad about heartbreak and loneliness. Alas, the velvety voice of its striking vocalist reflects a sense of agony and melancholy that truly speaks to the soul.

The profound lyrics and poignant melody of “All By Myself” certainly evoke poignant emotions and one can’t help but feel a sense of empathy for the narrator’s plight.

“I’ll Be Missing You” – Puff Daddy & Faith Evans

“When You’re Gone” is a melancholic ballad by Bryan Adams and Melanie C that portrays the sad feeling of a lover when their soulmate is away from their sight. This track exposes the emotional pain that one feels when being separated from someone they love.

The song’s somber tones and moving lyrics will engulf the listeners in a sea of emotion, and the intensity of the vocal performance will leave an indelible memory in the listener’s heart.


“I’ll Be” – Edwin McCain

“I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain is a poignant love ballad that captures the melancholy of longing for someone who has left your life. The heart-wrenching lyrics express the depth of emotion and the desire to hold onto a love that seems impossible to let go.

The song’s soulful melody and McCain’s powerful vocals make it a perfect anthem for anyone who has experienced heartbreak or loss. This 90s classic is a must-listen for anyone in search of a poignant and powerful love song that speaks straight to the heart.


“Angel” – Sarah McLachlan

Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel” is a poignant and evocative ballad that is sure to bring tears to any listener’s eyes. With its stirring orchestral arrangement and McLachlan’s emotive vocals, the song perfectly encapsulates the feelings of sadness, longing, and loss that were so prevalent in many 90s pop ballads.

Whether you’re feeling heartbroken and alone or simply in need of some emotional catharsis, “Angel” is a must-listen for any fan of 90s sad songs.


“I Believe I Can Fly” – R. Kelly

“I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly is a sentimental song that encourages the listener to believe in themselves and their dreams. It’s a soulful ballad with a powerful message and a hopeful tone.

This single, released in 1996, lingers with feelings of nostalgia and will transport you back in time with its emotive musicality. Its uplifting lyrics make it a poignant addition to the collection of ’90s sad songs that celebrate the struggles and aspirations of individuals battling through difficult times.


“How Do I Live” – LeAnn Rimes

“How Do I Live” by LeAnn Rimes was the quintessential 90s sad song. With its heartwarming chorus and powerful belting, it struck a chord with young and old alike. The song encapsulates the pain of love and longing as Rimes delivers a poignant performance, blending raw emotion with heartfelt lyrics.

With its soaring notes and broad appeal, “How Do I Live” remains a staple of 90s playlists and a testament to the era’s emotional depth in music.


“Stay” – Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories

“Stay” by Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories is an iconic 90s tune that hits you right in the feels. This melancholic masterpiece captures the bittersweet essence of heartbreak and longing, resonating with many folks back in the day.

Lisa’s delicate vocals, accompanied by the gentle strumming of the acoustic guitar, create a raw and emotionally charged experience. It’s like you’re sitting in a dimly lit café, sipping your coffee, reminiscing about lost love.


“My All” – Mariah Carey

The 90s gave us a plethora of sad songs but Mariah Carey’s “My All” definitely tops the list. With soaring vocals and emotive lyrics, this heart-wrenching ballad speaks of lost love and the longing to have it back.

The song’s raw emotions and Carey’s impeccable vocal range give it a quintessentially 90s vibe: angsty and melancholy yet undeniably beautiful. Those looking for a good cry can find solace in “My All,” a definitive sad song of the era.