Heartbreak Music is Having a Self-Empowering Moment

From Miley Cyrus' "Flowers" to Shakira's new Bzrp session, heartbreak music is having a moment and smashing records along the way.

Heartbreak Music is Having a Self-Empowering Moment
Alejandra Arevalo
Alejandra Arevalo
January 26, 20235 min read
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The second week of 2023 has been monumental for music worldwide. Two of the biggest global artists, Miley Cyrus and Shakira, released new tracks and broke multiple records along the way. Miley's “Flowers”—the most-streamed song in a single week in Spotify’s history—is the biggest debut in her career. Shakira’s “Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53” with Argentinian producer Bizarrap obtained 148M+ YouTube views in its first week and 14.4M Spotify streams on the day of its release, making it the biggest debut of a Spanish-language song in Spotify’s history. The track’s popularity positioned Shakira as both the highest-ranked woman and also the highest-ranked Latin artist based on Chartmetric Artist Rank.

Beyond their shared groundbreaking success, the circumstances surrounding the songs are very similar. The tracks were released only two days apart and explore the theme of heartbreak. Both Miley and Shakira have made it evident that the songs are about their ex-husbands: Australian actor Liam Hemsworth and Spanish soccer player Gerard Piqué, respectively. “Flowers” was released on the same day as Hemsworth’s 33rd birthday, while “Vol. 53” explicitly names Piqué through wordplay. But this is just the beginning of the long list of Easter eggs both artists added to their songs alluding to their past relationships. Pair Miley and Shakira’s success with the recent popularity of SZA’s vengeful breakup hit “Kill Bill” and Taylor Swift’s Midnights album, and it’s clear that heartbreak music is having a moment.

Comparisons and Controversies Driving the Growth of Other Tracks and Artists

While Miley and Shakira’s tracks mention their failures with relationships, the lyrics emphasize self-love and self-empowerment. Miley sings about treating herself better than her partner ever could, while Shakira sings about appreciating her self-worth: “Women no longer cry, women cash in.”

Like many tracks at the top of the charts, both “Flowers” and “Vol. 53” have been compared to other popular tunes including “I Will Survive” and “Rata de Dos Patas,” respectively. These comparisons are bringing back earlier-released heartbreak songs and turning them into viral hits while also giving those artists a boost.

Gloria Gaynor, known for the 1978 hit “I Will Survive,” extended her support to Miley on social media after fans drew many comparisons between the sentiment of their tracks. Gaynor’s song talks about her thoughts about being incapable to live without her lover but eventually realizing she had the strength to keep moving on. “Your new song carries the torch of empowerment and encourages everyone to find strength in themselves to persevere and thrive. Well done Miley!” Gaynor wrote on TikTok next to a short clip from the “Flowers” music video. Gaynor’s video went viral, and in a matter of hours, her TikTok likes and follower count rose by thousands.

Similarly, Paquita La Del Barrio, known for her vengeful lyrics against men, took over Instagram to show her support for Shakira after comparisons between “Vol. 53” and her heartbreak song “Rata de Dos Patas” went viral. Paquita’s song includes multiple derogatory names to refer to a former lover, including “filthy rat” and “hellish hyena.” “I’m with you because I’m a woman,” Paquita said in her Instagram video. “I’m in Mexico but if you ever need anything and want to come, I’m here for you.”

Fans loved the message and many asked for a collaboration between the artists. “Can you imagine a song between Paquita, Shakira, and Karol G?” a fan wrote—adding Karol G to the mix since she is another Latin artist who recently released a successful heartbreak track. The unexpected crossover story between the Mexican and Colombian artists led to Paquita’s rise in popularity and has given renewed attention to her 2004 track.

Besides being compared to “I Will Survive,” Miley’s newest hit has been extensively compared to Bruno Mars’ 2012 heartbreak ballad, “When I Was Your Man,” due to the resemblance of the lyrics.

Mars’ song goes:

I should have bought you flowers
And held your hand
Should have gave you all my hours
When I had the chance
Take you to every party 'cause all you wanted to do was dance

While Miley’s song says:

I can buy myself flowers
Write my name in the sand
Talk to myself for hours
Say things you don't understand
I can take myself dancing
And I can hold my own hand
Yeah, I can love me better than you can

Indeed, listeners have been so intrigued by the lyrical similarity that the Genius page views for “When I Was Your Man” have skyrocketed since the “Flowers” release. While it is unclear whether Miley did take inspiration from Mars’ ballad, a mix of the two tracks is trending on TikTok and making the similarities very evident.

A by-product of Shakira’s latest success has been the rise of Venezuelan Latin Pop singer Briella. As soon as “Vol. 53” came out, the Developing artist went on social media to point out the melodic similarities between the choruses of Shakira’s track and her viral track “Solo Tú.” “I am not making this video with the intention of looking for problems,” Briella said on TikTok. “I am a lifelong fan of Shakira. I am a fan of Biza’s work. I am really in shock; I don’t know what to do.”

Released in June 2022, Briella’s track discusses a toxic romantic relationship and includes a line that says “solo tú, uh-uh, uh-uh, uh-uh-uh” which sounds extremely similar to Shakira’s “Pa' tipos como tú, uh, uh, uh, uh.”


Shakira plagio a Briella en el Bzrp session? Mi opinion sincera 😳🔥

♬ Shakira: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53 - Bizarrap & Shakira

Neither Shakira nor Bizarrap have acknowledged Briella’s claims, but that hasn’t stopped fans from analyzing and comparing the two tracks. The controversy has propelled Briella’s career, as her Chartmetric Engagement Rank, her Spotify follower count, and the streams of “Solo Tú” have grown exponentially.


Miley Cyrus' “Flowers” and Shakira's “Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53” demonstrate the healing power of heartbreak music. Both tracks—as well as multiple songs from which they draw inspiration—share a message of self-love and self-empowerment that is resonating with audiences across digital platforms. The social media interactions surrounding the tracks also show how one artist’s popularity can serve as a stepping stone for another, opening a new world of possibilities for collaboration and growth.

Listen to the Artists

Miley Cyrus

  • Chartmetric Artist Rank: 10
  • Genre: Pop
  • Hometown: Franklin, TN


  • Chartmetric Artist Rank: 2
  • Genre: Latin Pop
  • Hometown: Barranquilla, Colombia

Gloria Gaynor

  • Chartmetric Artist Rank: 2,138
  • Genre: Pop, R&B
  • Hometown: Newark, NJ

Paquita La Del Barrio

  • Chartmetric Artist Rank: 13,766
  • Genre: Ranchera, musical regional mexicana
  • Hometown: Alto Lucero, Mexico


  • Chartmetric Artist Rank: 9,174
  • Genre: Latin Pop
  • Hometown: Valencia, Venezuela