Songs That Make Us Cry

“Us” being the Tunefind by Songtradr team 😢

Music has a unique ability to evoke strong feelings and has the power to transport us to a different frame of mind. A song with melancholy lyrics that speaks to the human experience can strike an emotional chord. A haunting melody can create a sense of mood and atmosphere that intensifies the psychological impact of the song. When synced with visuals, music can amplify these responses and help to create a more immersive viewing experience.

There are countless examples of how sync music has been used to influence emotions in TV and movies. While acting and storytelling are certainly important factors in eliciting strong feelings, there’s another element that is often more subtle: music. Music can set the tone for a scene, evoke a specific sentiment, and even become a character in its own right. Tunefind reached out to our music-minded community at Songtradr and asked a simple question: 

What song makes you cry?

When a song is paired with a particularly poignant or dramatic moment in a movie or TV show, it can become linked to the story and the personal experiences we relate to on screen. This creates a powerful resonance that stays with viewers long after the credits roll. Tunefind focuses on our co-workers’ sad songs to see if they have received placement in equally sad movies and TV shows. A sad scene accompanied by a tear-jerking track? Read it and weep.


The Songs

Hurt by Johnny Cash

This song was originally written by Trent Reznor and released by Nine Inch Nails on their 1994 album, Downward Spiral. Johnny Cash covered the song in 2002 to commercial and critical acclaim. Reznor praised Cash’s interpretation of the song for its sincerity and meaning, saying, “that song isn’t mine anymore.

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Song To The Siren by This Mortal Coil

‘Song To The Siren’ was written by Tim Buckley, who often wrote music to words by Larry Beckett, a friend and former bandmate turned poet and academic. The track was covered by This Mortal Coil in 1983 and reached No. 6 in the Observer’s poll of all-time great covers.

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Riverside by Agnes Obel

‘Riverside’ was released on Obel’s debut studio album, Philharmonics, in 2010. Speaking with Songfacts, Agnes explained the meaning behind the song stating, “I wanted to write a song about how people can be transformed, and sometimes how when you meet other people who have been through this strange transformation, you can tell.”

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Without a Word by Birdy

‘Without A Word’ is the only track on Birdy’s eponymous debut album, released in 2011. The album consists otherwise of covers and while The Observer praised her covers of ‘Skinny Love’ and ‘Shelter’, they noted that ‘Without a Word’ suggested, “she might become even more than just a startling voice.”

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To Build A Home by The Cinematic Orchestra, featuring Patrick Watson

‘To Build A Home’ has an extensive sync history. The track has been the top TV song on Tunefind on 2 different occasions, in 2017 with a placement in Orange Is The New Black and in 2022 after receiving placement in This is Us. The single version is BRIT certified gold and currently boasts over 4 million Spotify streams.

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Starálfur by Sigur Rós

Sigur Rós is an Icelandic post-rock band from Reykjavík, Iceland. The band is known for their ethereal sound, frontman Jónsi’s falsetto vocals, and their use of bowed guitar. Released on the band’s second studio album, Ágætis byrjun, ‘Starálfur’ translates to “Staring Elf.” The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

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Into My Arms by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

‘Into My Arms’ was released as the first single from Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds’ tenth studio album, The Boatman’s Call. In the book Faith, Hope and Courage, Cave explains how he wrote the song while in rehab stating, “I was actually walking back from church through the fields, and the tune came into my head, and when I got back to the facility I sat down at the cranky old piano and wrote the melody and chords, then went up to the dormitory, sat on my bed and wrote those lyrics.”

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I Can Feel A Hot One by Manchester Orchestra

Lead singer Andy Hull has described the inspiration for the song as being split between his relationship with touring, his wife, God, and a dream he once had. Speaking to Denver’s Westworld, Hull explained, “I dreamed my wife was pregnant at the time and I lost her. But this life was inside her, and in some weird way I was able to celebrate that there was some new life coming with one ending.”

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If I Go, I’m Goin’ by Gregory Alan Isakov

Tunefind’s Top TV song in October 2018, ‘If I Go, I’m Goin’’ was released on Isakov’s self-released album, This Empty Northern Hemisphere in 2009. Folk singer Brandi Carlile provides backing vocals for the song. In a 2014 interview, Gregory explains the meaning behind the lyrics, saying, “We were trying to write a…story song about a woman, or about a guy who lost his wife and he was living in that house where she had died and he kinda goes crazy.”

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It’s no wonder that music is an integral part of the storytelling process in the entertainment industry. As Tunefind discovered, there’s a definite connection between sad songs and sad syncs. Check out the Tunefind by Songtradr official “Songs That Make Us Cry” playlist below for even more sad songs. Stay stocked with tissues and enjoy your sobbing session.

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