Valentine's Day is coming up! That means chocolates, hearts, and sappy love songs. But wait, nobody wants their date to end in awkwardness. So I am here with seven songs you should avoid playing to your sweetheart this Valentine's Day. You'll thank me later!
"Every Breath You Take" by The Police
What it's about: Control
"I woke up in the middle of the night with that line in my head," Sting recalled, "I didn't realize at the time how sinister it is. I think I was thinking of Big Brother, surveillance and control."
While this song is beautiful and has become a signature song for Sting and The Police--the song is not about gently watching over a loved one. It's about obsessing over someone and desiring control over them. Possessiveness is not cute or romantic. Even Sting will tell you that. While you can definitely still acknowledge the strange, ethereal beauty that is present in this song--this is probably one you should skip on Valentine's Day.
"Crash Into Me" by Dave Matthews Band
What it's about: Voyeurism
Yes the song is pretty. Yes it's sung in an achingly longing way. No it is not romantic. It's sung from the point of view of a peeping tom watching a woman undress.
"I watch you there from the window and I stare
You wear nothing, but you wear it so well"
"This song is about the worship of women," Dave Matthews confirmed, "but this is a little bit of a crazy man. He's the kind of man you'd call the police on."
I mean, if you think that's romantic, you do you (unless you're the voyeur, then you should probably stop that.) I, for one, would prefer not to have someone serenade me with a song about how much they enjoy oggling me when I'm in a vulnerable state.
"Got To Get You Into My Life" by The Beatles
What it's about: Marijuana
"Okay, now you're just reaching," you're probably thinking. But I am not. Paul McCartney confirmed it himself:
"It's not to a person...It's actually an ode to pot. Like someone else might write an ode to chocolate or a good claret."
To be fair, the lyrics are vague enough that you wouldn't really know that unless you read that explanation from Paul McCartney. But now that you know...Don't play it for your lover!
"Lips of An Angel" by Hinder
What it's about: Infidelity
Ah yes, what gets one in the mood for romance more than a song about how your man wishes his side piece was the girl he was really with? If you pay attention to the lyrics, it's pretty clear that's what this song is about.
My girl's in the next room
Sometimes I wish she was you
I suppose if you're the side piece in question, maybe this song is romantic? But, come on, is that really the kind of guy you want to be with?
Though some interpretations of the song insist it's about longing for something out of reach, and not an ode to infidelity. If that's the way you wish to interpret it, then go ahead. But the lines "Girl, you make it hard to be faithful with the lips of an angel" may draw you out of that daydream pretty quick.
"Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" by Green Day
What it's about: A breakup
Listening to the lyrics alone, it can be easy to see this as a sweet, romantic ballad. But what's up with that title? This song was never intended to be a love song. Billie Joe Armstrong has confirmed many times that it was about a breakup he'd had. He wrote the song in 1993--a whole four years before it appeared on album--after a bad breakup that left him feeling suicidal. The song speaks to the nostalgia of a failed relationship, wanting to cherish the good times had together. But there's definitely a very clear, underlying resentment.
Since its release, the song has become a staple of proms, graduations, and farewells; despite the original intent of being an angry song. However, Armstrong is a good sport about people misinterpreting it this way:
"The people that you grew up and braved the trials of high school with will always hold a special place. Through all the BS of high school you hope that your friends had the time of their life, and that's what the song is talking about".
Still, dedicating it to your loved one may send off mixed signals. It's best to avoid it this Valentine's Day.
"Because of You" by Kelly Clarkson
What it's about: Trauma
You're probably wondering how in the world anyone could think this song is romantic. Believe me, I'm with you on that. But I feel it needs to be addressed, because I've heard it played as a slow dance song at too many dances in my day. Every time it was used this way, it infuriated me. I was about ten or eleven when this song came out, and even then I could tell that it was not a happy song. But for some unknown reason I have met way too many people who think it is.
I watched you die
I heard you cry every night in your sleep
Oh yeah, so romantic and jovial. Seriously, people, lyrics are important.
Furthermore, Clarkson wrote the lyrics of the song originally at the age of sixteen, as means of processing the pain of her parents' divorce and her eroding relationship with her father. She has stated outright that this song is the most depressing thing she's ever written.
Again, everyone will have different interpretations of art. But it's also important not to completely discredit the artists' intention. Especially when it deals with something as life-altering as this.
"Layla" by Derek and the Dominos
What it's about: Being Eric Clapton and being in love with George Harrison's wife
The title takes its name from a 12th-century Persian poem, called The Story of Layla and Majnun. It tells the story of a young man who falls in love with a woman (named Layla, obviously), who is married off to a man she does not love--which results in Majnun losing his sanity.
The story of this old tale was recounted to Clapton by a friend of his, and it struck a chord with him. He felt himself to be Majnun, having to watch in horror as the woman he loved was married to someone else. The woman in question was Pattie Boyd. Her husband was Clapton's good friend, George Harrison.
Beyond "Layla", Eric Clapton swooped in and attempted to court Pattie Boyd while she was still married to Harrison. Boyd began courting Clapton, and she and Clapton married soon after she and Harrison divorced in 1977. But don't worry, no hard feelings were had between Harrison and Clapton. In fact, by all accounts, he seemed happy for the couple.
But knowing that backstory, it's hard to read this song as anything other than a longing to go behind a friend's back and date their wife.