Tunes that are terrible at being romantic
By Caroline Ho, Arts Editor
No perfect Valentine’s Day date would be complete without the perfect romantic soundtrack. However, not all love songs are good love songs. You probably shouldn’t include any of the following on your Valentine’s Day mixtape (or Spotify playlist, or whatever kids do nowadays).
Every Breath You Take – The Police (1983)
Anyone who includes this track on a list of genuinely romantic songs needs either a good slap in the face or a restraining order. Sting himself, frontman of the Police, has explicitly acknowledged that “Every Breath You Take” is not a love song, but one about jealousy and an unhealthy obsession. It was written around the time Sting very publicly left his wife to start dating her best friend.
Lest the new wave smoothness mislead you into thinking this tune is harmless, lyrics like “Oh, can’t you see you belong to me?” should make it apparent that watching someone’s every action isn’t endearing, it’s downright creepy.
You’re Beautiful – James Blunt (2005)
At first listen, this song might sound like it has all the ingredients of a romantic ballad—a gentle acoustic guitar, a soulful male singer with a slightly raspy voice, and massive popularity when it came out. But along with topping music singles charts, it also tops a lot of lists of terrible love songs, and for good reasons.
Even beyond the absurdity that is the music video—which features Blunt in a snowfall, slowly stripping away layers of clothing and eventually jumping off a cliff—any song that starts with the line “My life is brilliant” is going to have a hard time being taken seriously. Believing in love at first sight is one thing, but seeing someone once, being convinced that they’re the most gorgeous being ever, and being in melodious agony about the impossibility of your imagined relationship is something else entirely. Also, it would be nice if there were more to attraction than just being beautiful.
Gotta Be Somebody – Nickelback (2008)
Because what everyone needs on their Valentine’s playlist is an anthem to the forever alone. It’s hard to find a song that more adequately describes—with those generic yet oddly relatable lyrics that only Nickelback can pull off, no less—that sense of incompleteness when you’re looking for “the one.”
It’s not such a bad Valentine’s song if you’re dedicating it to your beloved who you really do feel you’ve been waiting for your whole life, but it also reverberates with the desperate hopelessness of waiting forever for that hypothetical true love. If nothing else, at least Chad Kroeger is looking for a partner with whom he can empathize, and not just someone beautiful.
Love Story – Taylor Swift (2008)
There are two potential problems here: Western culture’s obsession with Romeo and Juliet, and Taylor Swift’s obsession with writing about her exes. “Love Story” dodges the latter but exemplifies the former. We probably shouldn’t be glorifying the idea of meeting as young teenagers, getting married a couple of days later, and then dying in a tragic double suicide miscommunication mess.
Maybe it’s simply too hard to imagine country star sweetheart Swift as a parental-authority-defying youth. In any case, the Shakespearean classic in pop song form doesn’t make a very convincing love story.
I Hate Everything About You – Three Days Grace (2003)
Okay, this isn’t even remotely a love song—even though Adam Gontier sings “Why do I love you?” in the chorus. However, it does very well encapsulate all the negativity and resentment that can accumulate without realization in an unhealthy relationship. Admittedly, this is only getting mentioned on this list because it would be hilarious to include on a Valentine’s Day playlist.