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Shot Through The Heart: Breakup Songs

We've all been here.
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We've all been here.

Alfred Lord Tennyson once said, " 'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." Whatever. Those wise words your mom tells you can be annoying when you're going through a bad breakup. We've all been there: For the first few days -- even weeks -- you revel in your self-pity, anger and anguish like a piglet in mud. And you listen to music the whole time.

In this, the second edition of Alt.Latino, we give you a list of our favorite songs to listen to during a breakup. They're not all sad, either: From a fierce Spanish rap to a ballad about letting go from the Dominican Republic and a Colombian singer's daydream, we've assembled an awesome list of songs to play as you ride the train to Splitsville.

Today's theme song is "No. 114" by Mexico's Rey Pila. For more about the band, click here. Please leave your thoughts on breakups, breakup music and this episode of Alt.Latino in the comments section below.

Below, you'll find the full versions of the songs featured on this week's show.

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Con los Ojos de Engana

Here's a song leading up to a breakup. In "Con los Ojos de Engana" ("Lying Eyes"), Spanish rapper Mala Rodriguez is her usual confrontational self. She tells her man to be honest with her: "If you're going to lie to me / Look at me with a liar's eyes / If you're going to kill me / Look at me with a killer's eyes." Check out how she slips into a rough, gravelly flamenco voice while lying on a bed of killer beats.

Si Te Vas

Here's another breakup song that's not sad. In "Si Te Vas" ("If You Leave"), Shakira issues her lover a stern warning: If you decide to go now, don't even think about coming back, because I won't be here anymore. Point taken. This is one of Shakira's early songs, and a reminder (or lesson, for those who were introduced to a softer, English-speaking Shakira) of just how hard this Colombian native can rock.

You can hear this song on YouTube.


For some reason, Aterciopelados has a deep catalog of breakup songs. In "Estaca," the Colombian group's lead singer, Andrea Echeverri, sounds genuinely angry. She sings: "Goodbye / I hope you do well in life / I hope a car runs you over / You get struck by lightning / And hit by a train." No hard feelings.

You can hear this song on YouTube.

La Ingrata

In this song, Cafe Tacvba stays true to its Northern Mexican roots by playing a traditional polka style -- without losing its ska edge. "La Ingrata" ("The Ingrate") is about a woman who doesn't appreciate the awesome loving she's been getting.


Spanish band Marlango's "Vete" ("Leave") is a real tearjerker. The sound of lead singer Leonor Watling's sweet voice reprimanding someone for selfishly hurting her after she gave him everything is heartbreaking. A tragic piano melody + violins = let the crying begin.

Te Vas en Silencio

The Dominican Republic's Sociedad Tabu explores feelings of relief and sadness about walking away from a relationship that was out of control. "Te Vas en Silencio" ("You Leave Quietly") is reminiscent of Pearl Jam; the dense guitars capture the difficult emotions of having to break free from a damaging love.

Por Que

Up-and-coming Argentine band La Cosa Mostra's "Por Que" ("Why") is the perfect song for coming to terms with a breakup. The acoustic guitar work is lovely, and the lyrics, written by singer Paula Maffia, beautifully weave feelings of love and hurt: "You deserve punishment / You deserve my deepest respect / But you do NOT deserve my attention."

Jasmine Garsd
Jasmine Garsd is an Argentine-American journalist living in New York. She is currently NPR's Criminal Justice correspondent and the host of The Last Cup. She started her career as the co-host of Alt.Latino, an NPR show about Latin music. Throughout her reporting career she's focused extensively on women's issues and immigrant communities in America. She's currently writing a book of stories about women she's met throughout her travels.
Felix Contreras
Felix Contreras is co-creator and co-host of Alt.Latino, NPR's pioneering radio show and podcast celebrating Latin music and culture since 2010.