It may be that you have a bah, humbug! or meh! attitude to Valentines Day. It may be you are single and fed up with the hullaballo. It may be that you simply cannot take another power ballad or naff soul song. It might just be that you’re a contrary sod like me. Anyhow, here are some songs that are cynical about love, explore its dark side or deal with its aftermath.
I Think I’m in Love (Spiritualized)
From Spriritualized’s classic Ladies and Gentlemen we are Floating in Space. A wonderfully cynical song about how self delusional we can be when we fall for somebody:
Think I’m in love / Probably Just Hungry
Think I’m your friend / probably just lonely
Think that I can fly / Probably just falling
And so it goes on, in spiritualized’s fantastic spaced out groove.
You’re So Vain (Carly Simon)
A song from somebody who has come out of the other side, and has no delusions at all about her former lover. Allegedly about Warren Beatty, this song drips with venom in a very satisfying fashion for those who have ever been left embittered after a love affair. Chapeau to Becky for suggesting this track.
When Love Breaks Down
Referencing a Prefab Sprout song might not be the coolest thing to do (unless eighties retro has come around again, I find it hard to give a sh!t about what’s trendy these days), but I’ve always had a soft spot for this band. It has a beautifully melancholy melody and lyrics; it’s perhaps not the best choice track to listen to if you’ve just broken up with somebody and don’t have plenty of tissues to hand. A moving account of how a couple can drift apart:
My love and I, we work well together but often we’re apart
Absence makes the heart lose weight, until love breaks down
Love Letter (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds)
This song is quite romantic in its own way, but get’s a place because Nick Cave is a lyricist of genius, and the song is in a suitably plaintive minor key. This one’s about a love letter to a love the singer fears is lost, and all the hopes bound up in it. Another tear jerker.
I press my lips against the cold white envelope, I press my lips against her name
Two hundred words, we live in hope, the sky hangs heavy with rain
A Fool in Love (Ike & Tina Turner)
How could a playlist like this not include a track from these two, with Ike infamously being a complete bastard towards Tina. The lyrics seem to say a lot about Tina’s plight:
He’s got me smiling when I should be ashamed
Got me laughing when my heart is in pain
And a Bang on the Ear (The Waterboys)
A little non PC perhaps (bang on the ear: domestic violence?). With a each verse, Mike Scott recounts past loves who messed with his heart, sometimes is a decidedly caustic fashion, and sends each of these ‘all of my love, with a bang on the ear’.
Deborah broke my heart, and I the loving fool
The home I made with Bella became a house of pain
We weathered it together, bound by a ball and chain
It started in Fife, and it ended up in tears
I am a rock (Simon and Garfunkel)
Running out of time now, some things are gonna get brief. This is the ultimate celebration of the solitary life:
And a rock feels no pain
And an island never cries
This song gave me a fair bit of solace as a lonely teenager, but who was I kidding?
Now It’s Time to Say Goodbye (Kitchens of Distinction)
This band is one of my all time faves, as well as being one of the most splendidly named outfits in the history of man. The overall sentiment is ‘sod you, I’m off’:
I’m looking forward to living alone
Now’s it’s time to say goodbye
I won’t hang around to be hurt by careless words
Calculating Bimbo (Belle & Sebastian)
Often dismissed as being fey, their lyrics are often distinctly barbed. The prettiness of this tune belies its lyrical spite:
You calculating bimbo
I wish you’d let the past go
Any more for any more?
I could go on for a veeeery long time(bitter and twisted, moi?), but it’s time to hand over to you; feel free to suggest further tracks by leaving a comment and / or adding to the collaborative Spotify playlist : Counter Valentines Playlist