Ninety-nine percent of the immediate reaction to the news of Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris’ breakup was “Oh, now she’ll have to write an album about him!” If there was ever a definition of low-hanging fruit, it’s that. Sure, Swift has written about breakups before, but so has everyone. Below, a bunch of breakup albums by male artists who somehow haven’t spent their career dogged by the accusation that all they do is write about their exes.
Kanye West, 808s & Heartbreak
West reportedly made this Auto-Tune-drenched album after his breakup with Amber Rose. West managed to weather the storm and proceed with his career unburdened by the “bitter ex songwriter” tag.
Beck, Sea Change
Beck’s Sea Change, which chronicles his breakup with stylist Leigh Limon, is hailed as a modern breakup classic. Strangely, few people protested his 2015 Grammy win for Morning Phase by saying, “All he does is write about his breakups.”
Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks
Ugh, can you believe the guy who wrote “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” was still writing about his breakups 10 years later? Let’s have some artistic evolution here, please.
Frank Sinatra, In the Wee Small Hours
Recorded in the midst of Sinatra’s messy relationship with Ava Gardner and after two suicide attempts. Dark? You betcha. Considering his follow-up was called Songs for Swingin’ Lovers!, you might have expected some kind of public outcry that all Sinatra did was sing about his exes, but somehow that didn’t happen.
Willie Nelson, Phases and Stages
God, another whole album about divorce. And this is from the guy who’d already written “Crazy” for Patsy Cline and a song called “I Never Cared for You.” Jeez, get a new topic already, will you, Willie?
Elvis Costello, Blood and Chocolate
Elvis Costello had written “Alison” and probably a dozen or so other songs about breakups by the time Blood and Chocolate came out. The whole album is about his divorce! The whole thing! And then he did it again, in 2003, with North. He should really branch out.
Marvin Gaye, Here, My Dear
Literally an album Gaye wrote to spite his ex-wife, with lyrics griping about attorney’s fees. But for some reason, people remember Gaye as the artistic genius behind What’s Going On and dozens of amazing Motown singles instead of just some guy who wrote about his breakups. Weird. What’s up with that?