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10. No Doubt, "Don't Speak" (1996)
Originally a celebration of love between Gwen Stefani and Tony Kanal, "Don't Speak" was later rewritten to reflect their breakup. Through Stefani's remorse-laden voice, it reminds of us the times we want to shrink away from the harsh truth, and choose silence over angry words. — J.G.
9. The Magnetic Fields, "All My Little Words" (1999)
Writing a song is always an act of hope — you'll get your feelings across to someone in a way that matters. You'll create or reaffirm a connection. But after a breakup, all hope is lost, and not even a craftsman as crafty as Stephin Merritt can write anything to fix it. Meaning itself is annihilated, leaving just a pile of forlorn verbiage. I wish I could write songs this good, but then, what difference would it make? — P.S.
8. Jeff Buckley, "Lover, You Should've Come Over" (1994)
Jeff Buckley's more known for his epochal cover of "Hallelujah," but "Lover, You Should've Come Over" showcases the sophistication of his own songwriting. With chords more inspired by jazz than rock and a voice that sounds decades wearier than it has any right to, "Lover" is an elegiac ode to lost love from someone who seemed to know more about losing love than any of us. — A.H.
7. Pearl Jam, "Black" (1991)
Pearl Jam were always unapologetic classicists, and everything about this song, from the delicately filigreed guitar work to the relentless stomp of the drums, trumpets classic rock's disregard for subtlety. That said, bombast is also extremely cathartic (see also "November Rain"), and by the end of the song, Eddie Vedder's pain is palpable, and universal: "I know someday you'll have a beautiful life, I know you'll be a star in someone else's sky, but why can't it be mine?" — A.H.
6. Radiohead, "High and Dry"
"High and Dry" is about compromising your integrity for someone you love. Lyrics like "kill yourself to never ever stop" remind us of how badly you're willing to make sacrifices to keep your love close to you, while Thom Yorke's teetering-on-the-verge-of-madness voice invites you to recognize your own bad choices. — J.G.