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A Little(ish) Anti-Valentine's Playlist: PART 1

The first part of a deep dive into this specially sequenced curation of 69 songs chosen to fly in the face of Valentine's Day's lovesick festivities.

By Jack Anderson KeanePublished 3 years ago โ€ข 24 min read

Compiled in conjunction with Vocal's Anti-Valentine's Playlist challenge, this selection of songs I've cobbled together herein runs the gamut of genres, artists, decades, and levels of lyrical and thematic seriousness. All of them are specifically assembled for one shared goal: to act as the antithesis of whatever Valentine's Day was ostensibly created to celebrate.

If this otherwise annually dreary day every February is meant for love and romance and coupling (or, if you're polyamorous, throupling or quadroupling, by which point you're just showing off), then these songs are the other side of that coin, the dark underbelly of love that those without romantic partnerships can more readily relate to right now.

These are songs about bad romance (without actually featuring Lady Gaga). These are songs about love gone wrong; relationships soured into hatred; regret over missed opportunities; bad men, and evil women (without actually featuring 'Evil Woman' by Electric Light Orchestra, though it was in the running); songs of obsession and possession; stalkers and killers; the absurdity that love drives people into; even songs about the sort of commercialisation and commodification of love that fuels Valentine's Day as we know it.

But there are also songs about the virtues of being alone, about having broken free from relationships that weren't good for you, and about living life in ways that are satisfying for yourself, beyond the search or the need for another person, which need not define all that you are.

I've arranged the songs in a bespoke fashion that allows them to bleed together sonically and thematically, weaving in and out of various moods in a manner that feels organic, and not too jarring. Of course, you can also play it on Shuffle, and it still ought to work just fine, so please do whatever best floats your boat...

***

โ€ข Pink Floyd - ๐™Š๐™ฃ๐™š ๐™Š๐™› ๐™๐™๐™š๐™จ๐™š ๐˜ฟ๐™–๐™ฎ๐™จ

We start things off with Pink Floyd's opening track from their 1971 album, Meddle. A propulsively groovy, moody instrumental, it's built around a funky double-tracked bassline played by both regular bassist Roger Waters, and lead guitarist David Gilmour, set on a quarter-note triplet slapback delay that gives the song that constant driving pulsating movement. Only once is the song vocally punctuated, here by drummer Nick Mason's heavily distorted growl of "one of these days, I'm going to cut you into little pieces" - a line I'm using in the context of this playlist to establish a definitively un-romantic mood from hereon out.

โ€ข Arcade Fire - ๐™๐™š๐™–๐™™๐™ฎ ๐™๐™ค ๐™Ž๐™ฉ๐™–๐™ง๐™ฉ

The second song from Arcade Fire's third album, The Suburbs, which just so happened to be released on my 17th birthday, on August 2nd of 2010.

I used to own the album on CD, back in the days when I had to buy - by which I mean: I had to ask my mother for the money to buy - any piece of music I wanted to listen to recreationally on my own time, be it on CD or through the iTunes Store. Ad-free subscription-model music streaming services, like Spotify Premium and Apple Music and the like, did not yet exist; I wouldn't own a smartphone for another four years; I had only been given my own computer - my mother's old second-hand Toshiba laptop she fobbed off on me when she bought herself a brand new one - the previous year after I'd already finished school, and I was only just beginning to wrap my head around finding... ahem... certain sites that hosted illegitimate free downloads of MP3's I could import and play on my iPod, which I only did because I couldn't afford to buy everything I wanted to listen to back then. (The discographies of Nine Inch Nails, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and the soundtracks for The Social Network and Inception were among the things I distinctly remember seeking out.)

Anyway, with regards to the song itself, I chose it to not only double as the playlist officially getting "ready to start" (oh, aren't I just so clever?), but also because the lyrics can be read as being about the narrator's dejected rejection of an old flame trying to recast them anew as friends, except the narrator - now trapped in a soulless, corporate, grown-up job where the "businessmen drink my blood" - has moved past the point of pretending they still need the old flame in their lives in any capacity, and certainly past the point of serving that flame's ego or self-esteem. Hence their weary response to the query "Can we still be friends?" with the withering: "If I was scared, I would / And if I was bored, you know I would / And if I was yours... but I'm not."

โ€ข The Rolling Stones - ๐™‹๐™–๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™ฉ ๐™„๐™ฉ, ๐˜ฝ๐™ก๐™–๐™˜๐™ 

Red's the colour of love (plus lust, anger, blood, and so on, but for our present purposes we'll stick with the love connotation), right?

And if you detest Valentine's Day because you're so not in the mood for love - so much so, you won't even watch the Wong Kar-wai movie of the same name! - then it follows that you'd rather not see red, or at least not in the lovey-dovey sort of way, right?

Ergo, it's only reasonable that you would therefore wish to... paint it all black!

Huh? Huh?!

I'll see myself out...

โ€ข David Bowie - ๐™‘๐™–๐™ก๐™š๐™ฃ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™šโ€™๐™จ ๐˜ฟ๐™–๐™ฎ

On his 24th album, recorded in complete secrecy between 2011 and 2013, David Bowie's long-awaited comeback The Next Day - which would sadly then prove, just a few short years later with the advent of 2016's Blackstar, to be the second-to-last studio album he'd ever record and release in his lifetime - saw him return to a more stripped down, meat-and-potatoes rock and roll sound, harkening back to the classic records of his 1970's era while not out-and-out trying to retread old ground. Before this, he had spent the last couple of decades dabbling in infusing his work with whatever genres of music were currently the most trendy, such as in the 90's when he tried his hand at the then-popular styles of techno and industrial. But with The Next Day, rather than trying to sound of a piece with whatever was dominating the charts in the early 2010's - which as I recall was predominantly a blurry blend of dubstep, EDM, rap, folk-pop, and Glee covers - Bowie chose to keep things simple. Guitars, bass, percussion, keys, et al; a solid, classic set-up that would allow his voice and his songwriting to speak for themselves.

On the surface, his song 'Valentine's Day' is a catchy, upbeat, jaunty rocker with a killer main guitar riff (plus eventual guitar solo), structured with those uniquely indefinable Bowie-esque chord progressions (that someone with keener knowledge of the nitty-gritty technical aspects of music theory would probably better know how to describe). But when you pay closer inspection to Bowie's lyrics, you hear that the song's rocking vibes belie the fact that the subject matter isn't actually about the eponymous day of love, but is rather the much darker story of a young man named Valentine divulging to the nameless narrator his plan to commit a school shooting. ("Valentine told me who's to go / Feelings he's treasured most of all / The teachers and the football star [...] He's got something to say / It's Valentine's Day.")

It's a distinctly anti-gun narrative Bowie weaves, and the way in which he sings "it's Valentine's Day" in the choruses is filled with a palpable aching sorrow that feels applicable to all of the countless, senseless mass shootings that took place with numbing regularity in America before COVID-19 struck. (If he hadn't already used the title for a song 16 years beforehand on his album Earthling, an equally valid alternate name for this song could have been 'I'm Afraid of Americans'.)

Unfortunately, as one might expect, the lyrics are rooted in reality, with Bowie's lightly fictionalised allusions to a mass shooting, related in some way to Valentine's Day, are indeed loosely based upon the real life Northern Illinois University shooting that took place on February 14th, 2008, which resulted in the deaths of six people, including the perpetrator.

There's no easy or elegant way to pivot from such a dark topic onto what remains of this playlist that we've only just begun, but that's what I'm going to attempt to do right now by the very action of lampshading its tonal trickiness, and hoping you'll continue on this journey with me.

โ€ข CHVRCHES - ๐™‡๐™ž๐™š๐™จ

In the same year as Bowie made his surprise reappearance on the music scene, Scottish synth-pop darlings CHVRCHES would release their debut album, The Bones of What You Believe, to great commercial and critical acclaim.

The first time I saw and heard them was shortly before they really blew up, during 2013's Reading + Leeds Festival, and the BBC's various televised highlights, where I had the good fortune to catch their stripped-down live rendition of 'The Mother We Share'. From that point forwards, it was basically love at first sight/sound... and I don't just mean that about lead singer Lauren Mayberry-- wait, no, this is an anti-love article! Dammit, Jack, stay on-brand!

So yeah, anyway... 2013 was a big benchmark year for me in the music I was discovering. I was gaining a substantially increased confidence in finding music that was suited to my own tastes, without the need for my mother to also like or approve of it.* This was the year I will now always associate with providing me a cornucopia of exciting old and new music to dive headfirst into, from the likes of Suede, Biffy Clyro, Shearwater, London Grammar, John Grant, ร“lafur Arnalds, Talk Talk, SUUNS, Laura Mvula, HAIM, Foals, LCD Soundsystem, Queens of the Stone Age, Lucius, Fuck Buttons, Johnny Marr... and, of course, CHVRCHES.

The song choice herein of 'Lies' stems from the lyrics' story, chillingly told from the point of view of an abusive partner in a toxic relationship, about an emotionally controlling and abusive person revelling in the sadistic hold they have over their insignificant other. "Faster, faster / You won't go far" they taunt at song's start, going on to gloat how "I can sell you lies / You can't get enough", and that their manipulations are so good, they could "make a true believer of anyone".

Also, to be perfectly honest, this CHVRCHES song was picked because I'd originally had their song 'Gun' follow on immediately from 'Valentine's Day', which I then realised would have been in extremely poor taste, no matter how accidental the link in imagery between Bowie's and CHVRCHES' songs genuinely was on my part.

Soooooo... my apologies for a thing I didn't do, but almost did, yet still feel a modicum of mortification over.

*(In fact, us sharing any overlapping music interests from that point forward, up until her death in 2017, was to be to my direct detriment. It was through her exhausting repetition of replaying certain artists, and constantly singing along at the top of her lungs with her ear-grating, bag-of-smashed-cats, irredeemably tone-deaf voice, that she forever ruined a lot of music I once liked. And make no mistake, she did this because it annoyed me, and she enjoyed my suffering. (A prime example: the time we were out walking to the local shops, me pushing her in her wheelchair, while she was wearing her headphones and piercing the night's cold silent air with her screeching one-woman karaoke, along to some song by Queen that I've blocked the exact memory of, because I chose not have her ruin Freddie Mercury for me like Bryan Singer's Bohemian Rhapsody tried and failed to do, so that is that.) Henceforth alas, small and large swathes of music by Mumford & Sons, Imagine Dragons, Fun.,The Lumineers, Coldplay, Christopher Cross, and Adele - just to name a few - are evermore tarnished by my mother's unofficial caterwauling covers.)

โ€ข Alice DJ - ๐˜ฝ๐™š๐™ฉ๐™ฉ๐™š๐™ง ๐™Š๐™›๐™› ๐˜ผ๐™ก๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™š

You know those songs youโ€™ve heard a million times throughout your life, but youโ€™ve never known what itโ€™s called or who itโ€™s by, even though you can recognise it in a heartbeat the second you hear it?

Thatโ€™s what โ€˜Better Off Aloneโ€™ was to me, before I began putting this playlist together. Yet through sheer serendipity, I stumbled upon this trance/house club classic thatโ€™s right up there with Darudeโ€™s โ€˜Sandstormโ€™, Faithlessโ€™ โ€˜Insomniaโ€™, aaaaaaaaand...

โ€ข Haddaway - ๐™’๐™๐™–๐™ฉ ๐™„๐™จ ๐™‡๐™ค๐™ซ๐™š

I don't just like this song ironically, or for the meme of it, but because I've genuinely always loved it for as long as I can remember. As a kid of the 90's, I still retain a soft spot for much of the Eurodance and rave-type music of that era. Granted, I'm sure this is partially because of nostalgia, but also because I think a lot of that stuff was truly well-crafted, and unquestionably incredibly fun to listen to, and dance to, and - if you're Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan in A Night at the Roxbury - rhythmically bop your head to.

Also, I am required by law to showcase one of the funniest memes I ever saw utilise 'What Is Love', which was this variation on the Staredad comic strip I came across on my Tumblr dashboard many years ago:

โ€ข Crystal Castles (feat. Robert Smith) - ๐™‰๐™ค๐™ฉ ๐™„๐™ฃ ๐™‡๐™ค๐™ซ๐™š

Canadian electronic band Crystal Castle's rousing synthwave and EDM-tinged cover of a song originally by Canadian new wave band Platinum Blonde, herein now sung by The Cure's Robert Smith as guest vocalist, it's safe to say 'Not In Love' has had a fair few cracks taken at getting it right over the years. Out of all of the versions that've been produced so far, though, I'm personally fondest of this iteration.

โ€ข Sigma - ๐™‰๐™ค๐™—๐™ค๐™™๐™ฎ ๐™๐™ค ๐™‡๐™ค๐™ซ๐™š

Thank heavens that Sigma took the initiative in expounding upon the best part of 'Bound 2', one of Kanye West's worst songs (in my opinion), and transformed it into a track built solely around Charlie Wilson's original epically soulful vocals, which were conversely covered in 'Nobody To Love' by singer Daniel Pearce. Separated from serving as a thankless sample that was the sole bright spark sandwiched in between Kanyeโ€™s terribly written mood-killing verses, and ported over into its own uplifting piano-driven drum-and-bass banger, 'Nobody To Love' is far and away the better song out of the two... in my wholly subjective opinion, of course.

โ€ข The Killers - ๐™ˆ๐™ง. ๐˜ฝ๐™ง๐™ž๐™œ๐™๐™ฉ๐™จ๐™ž๐™™๐™š

COMING OUT OF MY CAGE AND I'VE BEEN DOING JUST FINE-- sorry, sorry, I got a bit excited there. But hey, can you blame me? For so many fellow Killers fans in and around my age, who grew up listening to the band's debut album Hot Fuss (not to be confused with Hot Fuzz, though both are bloomin' amazing), those opening lyrics Brandon Flowers hollers distortedly through that megaphone-sounding filter are branded into our collective memories for all eternity.

As for its place on this playlist, well, what better song to tell a tale of an insecure man consumed by jealousy ("turning saints into the sea"), and paranoia over what he's only imagining his girlfriend is doing behind his back?

"Now they're going to bed / And my stomach is sick / And it's all in my head / But she's touching his chest now / He takes off her dress now / Let me go."

FUN(?) FACT: Did you know that The Killers' songs 'Leave The Bourbon On The Shelf', 'Midnight Show', and 'Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine' are all part of what's been dubbed their 'Murder Trilogy' of interconnected songs (or possibly a quadrilogy, if you include 'All These Things That I've Done' as the story's reflective epilogue)? Sequenced in that order, they form an overarching fictionalised, extremely loose retelling of the so-called "Preppy Killer" case where, in 1986, eighteen year-old Jennifer Levin was strangled to death in New York's Central Park by her boyfriend, Robert Chambers. The unvarnished details of the true story are a sick, sad, and sordid affair, one which requires a strong stomach.

โ€ข Razorlight - ๐™’๐™๐™ค ๐™‰๐™š๐™š๐™™๐™จ ๐™‡๐™ค๐™ซ๐™š

While it's clear that Johnny Borrell's whimsically sarcastic lyrics are fuelled by leading and rhetorical questions (i.e. "Who needs love?" [...] "Who needs joy?" [...] "Who needs somebody that can feel your pain?"), positioning the narrator's weary dismissal of love as ultimately being fruitless, and self-evidently in denial of their inevitable willing surrender to the overall positive qualities love brings... you can still suspend your disbelief for a few minutes, and read the song as being earnestly anti-love, at least just for the benefit of this playlist, eh?

โ€ข Jimmy Eat World - ๐™๐™๐™š ๐™ˆ๐™ž๐™™๐™™๐™ก๐™š

Veering away from darkness and despair, Jimmy Eat World's 'The Middle' marks the first (but not the last) instance of a song within this playlist extolling the value of being by yourself, without worrying what others may think, or fearing that you're somehow incomplete. As Jim Adkins and co.'s lyrics assure: "You know you're doing better on your own / So don't buy in / Live right now / Yeah, just be yourself / It doesn't matter if it's good enough / For someone else."

โ€ข The Verve - ๐™‡๐™ค๐™ซ๐™š ๐™„๐™จ ๐™‰๐™ค๐™ž๐™จ๐™š

The Verve sure know a thing or two about breakups. Lead singer/songwriter for the band, Richard Ashcroft, first broke the band apart rather briefly after the release of their second album, A Northern Soul, in 1995; shortly thereafter in 1996, the band was resurrected to record what would become their mega-hit third album, 1997's Urban Hymns, before the band broke up for the second time a little under two years later; then the band was re-resurrected for their 2008 fourth album, Forth - (holy shit, I just got the pun of that title right as I was writing these very words this very moment!) - before old tensions within the band flared up again, and they broke up for the third and seemingly final time in 2009.

Couple that knowledge with 'Love Is Noise's assertion that "love is noise / love is pain / love is these blues that I'm singing again", and this song more than earns its place in this here list.

โ€ข Editors - ๐™”๐™ค๐™ช ๐˜ฟ๐™ค๐™ฃโ€™๐™ฉ ๐™†๐™ฃ๐™ค๐™ฌ ๐™‡๐™ค๐™ซ๐™š

After their first two albums, The Back Room and An End Has A Start, had established Editors' distinctive style with Tom Smith's attention-grabbingly deep voice, and Chris Urbanowicz's high-octane, highly processed electric guitar (which he apparently found the sound of by jokingly turning on all of his effects pedals at once), the band took a big swing with their third album, 2009's In This Light and On This Evening, veering sharply away from guitar-heavy rock, and into industrial electronic synth-pop. This saw them skewing more towards the feel of Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, or Brad Fiedel's Terminator soundtracks, rather than their initial R.E.M., Joy Division, and Echo And The Bunnymen influences. It was a divisively make-or-break album for their fanbase to digest, akin to Radiohead following up OK Computer with Kid A, and using that dramatic change in genres to sift the casual fans from the ride-or-die devotees who'd stick around through anything.

Me? I'm a ride-or-die all the way, babyyyyyy!

โ€ข Keane - ๐™๐™๐™š ๐™‡๐™ค๐™ซ๐™š๐™ง๐™จ ๐˜ผ๐™ง๐™š ๐™‡๐™ค๐™จ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ

First of all: me and Keane? No relation.

Second of all: I have fond memories associated with this song, and the rest of the Perfect Symmetry album it appears on.

Back in October of 2008, my secondary school arranged for my week of work experience to be at one of my favourite local haunts - the nearby Borders bookshop (which in the months to come find itself a permanent casualty of the 2008 recession, RIP). Now, during my five days there getting shown the ropes of the joint, a selection of the latest chart-topping albums of the time were played on a constant loop every day over the shop loudspeakers. So while I was stocking the bookshelves, or making all the books neat and flush, or helping the other staff with promotional displays, or whatever else I had to do on the shop floor, there were always these specific albums that were played in their entirety, back to back, though not necessarily in this order, including:

โ€ข Coldplay's Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends

โ€ข Katy Perry's One of the Boys

โ€ข Kings of Leon's Only By The Night (I think?)

โ€ข Oasis' Dig Out Your Soul (I think?)

โ€ข The Script's The Script (I think?)

and

โ€ข Keane's Perfect Symmetry (without a doubt).

Luckily for me, by that point I was already a keen fan of Keane - which, with my surname, I kind of had to be - so being able to listen to the album basically every day for free was not a chore in the slightest, especially when I was thinking about just how much they'd changed up their sound since their early piano-and-drums Hopes And Fears days.

Having to listen to all of Katy Perry's first album over and over again, though? Ooh boy, I was not a fan of that, let me tell you...

โ€ข Yes - ๐™Š๐™ฌ๐™ฃ๐™š๐™ง ๐™ค๐™› ๐™– ๐™‡๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™š๐™ก๐™ฎ ๐™ƒ๐™š๐™–๐™ง๐™ฉ

FUN FACT: Before I became properly acquainted with this song via Todd In The Shadows' One Hit Wonderland episode regarding The Buggles' 'Video Killed The Radio Star' - linked to Yes and 'Owner Of A Lonely Heart' by way of prolific producer Trevor Horn - I didn't actually know it was a real song, as I'd only ever previously heard it by way of a joke in The Simpsons episode, The DeBarted, where Homer sings to the tune of the original song: "Driver of a loaner car / Much better than a driver of my normal car."

(Also, yes - pun unintended - I know the keyboard player in the music video for 'Video Killed The Radio Star' is a pre-fame Hans Zimmer, don't worry.)

โ€ข Philip Bailey & Phil Collins - ๐™€๐™–๐™จ๐™ฎ ๐™‡๐™ค๐™ซ๐™š๐™ง

Respective erstwhile solo members of Earth, Wind & Fire, and Genesis join forces for a catchy-as-hell 80's pop classic, in a song that can either be read as about a disgruntled man shirked by a cheating girlfriend ("She will play around and leave you / Leave you and deceive you"), or about an overly controlling man projecting his own failings and insecurities onto the woman he neglects to see as being her own person ("She's the kind of girl you dream of / Dream of keeping hold of" [...] "You're the one who wants to hold her / Hold her and control her").

Either way, it absolutely slaps.

โ€ข Billy Idol - ๐˜ฟ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™˜๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™’๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ ๐™ˆ๐™ฎ๐™จ๐™š๐™ก๐™›

If you're not feeling in the Whitney Houston mood of wanting to dance with somebody, then Billy Idol's got you covered with the fist-pumping solo alternative, where instead of choosing to wallow in self-pity, you can choose to dance your cares away, and dance like nobody's watching, because literally nobody is.

(Also, don't take the phrase "fist-pumping solo" out of context, please and thank you.)

โ€ข LCD Soundsystem - ๐™ฉ๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™š

Similarly to The Verve, LCD Soundsystem likewise has experience with big band breakups, albeit in a far more amicable fashion, and so far only the once. In 2011, they announced that they were disbanding after touring for their third and (at the time) final album, This Is Happening, culminating in their gigantic 4 hour-long Madison Square Garden farewell show, chronicled in Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern's excellent rockumentary, Shut Up and Play The Hits, whose poster billed it as "The Very Loud Ending of LCD Soundsystem".

(On a related tangent: did you know that the group of camera operators capturing the entirety of the concert included the likes of Spike Jonze, and Reed Morano, who was also the film's director of photography? And did you also know that among the gargantuan crowd of fans seen jostling and dancing to the music, you can briefly spot Donald Glover, and more clearly spot Aziz Ansari when he does some major crowd-surfing? Well, if you didn't know, now you do, so that's all good then.)

But as it turned out, this was not to be the end of LCD Soundsystem, in spite of how adamant lead singer and lyricist James Murphy was sure it was going to be.

After a few years spent on a various non-LCD ventures, including working with David Bowie on his final two albums, Murphy eventually came to the realisation - with a little encouraging nudge in the right direction from Bowie himself - that he needed to pull a Blues Brothers, and get the band back together. And so it was that in December of 2015, the reformed band released 'Christmas Will Break Your Heart' - their first single in five years - before their full length fourth album, American Dream, emerged in September of 2017.

The sixth track on the album, 'tonite' (intentionally stylised in all-lowercase, by the way, which will later become a recurring theme among contemporary songs further down this list), is bursting at the seams with Murphy's trademark wittily verbose ruminations on everything from music trends ("Everybody's singing the same song / It goes 'tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight'"), to the cynicism of the music industry machine ("we're frankly thankful for the market psychology you're hipping us to"), old record store hipsters of the 'Losing My Edge' variety ("And what is it you do again? / 'Oh, I'm a reminder / The hobbled veteran of the disk-shop inquisition'"), to musings on ageing, death, and obsolescence ("truth be told we all have the same end"; "life is finite / but shit, it feels like forever"; "you're getting older / I promise you this, you're getting older"; "You hate the idea that you're wasting your youth / That you stood in the background until you got older"). But at the core of the song, Murphy's ultimate message is that pop songs' YOLO/FOMO insistence that you're wasting your young years, and missing out on something more exciting by not living just for tonight on a "no day but today" Rent-type philosophy, is "all lies / it's all lies".

โ€ข Nirvana - ๐˜ผ๐™—๐™ค๐™ช๐™ฉ ๐˜ผ ๐™‚๐™ž๐™ง๐™ก

According to Chuck Crisafulli's book, Nirvana: Verse Chorus Verse - The Stories Behind Every Song (titled elsewhere simply as Nirvana: The Stories Behind Every Song), 'About A Girl' - a track from their 1989 pre-megastardom debut album, Bleach - was a Beatles-inspired track Kurt Cobain wrote as a response to Tracy Marander, his then-girlfriend, when she asked him "if he might not have anything to say about her or their relationship in a song".

As Crisafulli writes:

"At one point, Cobain might have put some sweeter sentiments into the song, but by the time he wrote 'About A Girl', he and Marander were pulling apart. The result is a small pop gem, perfectly capturing the rage, hurt, and residual tenderness of a fractured, failing romance, and packing it all into verses and choruses that are unstoppably catchy."

A big sticking point in their relationship, as Cobain's investment into writing and recording with the band ever increased, was his reticence about the financial aspects of maintaining their status as a couple, particularly with paying rent. Quoth Crisafulli:

"[Cobain] sometimes responded to her entreaties to find employment by casually offering to move out, and live in his car. He summed up the situation with the song's line: 'I can't see you every night for free.'"

Interestingly, when I look online for the song's lyrics, most entries omit the "for" from "every night for free". I don't know whose mistake this might be - Crisafulli's, or the Internet's - but I for one now can't help but hear Kurt say "FOR free" whenever I listen to the song, whether or not that's actually what he's singing.

(Bonus Trivia: aside from being the inspiration for this song, Marander was also the one who took the photograph that would become Bleach's album cover art.)

โ€ข Buzzcocks - ๐™€๐™ซ๐™š๐™ง๐™ฎ๐™—๐™ค๐™™๐™ฎโ€™๐™จ ๐™ƒ๐™–๐™ฅ๐™ฅ๐™ฎ ๐™‰๐™ค๐™ฌ๐™–๐™™๐™–๐™ฎ๐™จ

A song for when you feel like everybody but you is happy being with their romantic partners, and you begrudgingly detest them for it, even though you know it's exhausting and unrealistic to see things that way. ("I was so tired of being upset / Always wanting something I never could get / Life's an illusion, love is a dream / But I don't know what it is.")

โ€ข Bon Jovi - ๐™”๐™ค๐™ช ๐™‚๐™ž๐™ซ๐™š ๐™‡๐™ค๐™ซ๐™š ๐˜ผ ๐˜ฝ๐™–๐™™ ๐™‰๐™–๐™ข๐™š

I think this pretty much speaks for itself, title-wise.

Anyway, we've got to get on to the big sing-along parts that rival Bon Jovi's equally crowd-pleasing sing-along parts in 'Livin' On A Prayer' and 'It's My Life'.

So come on, altogether now:

SHOT THROUGH THE HEART! AND YOU'RE TOO LATE! YOU GIVE LOOOOOOOVE A BAD NAME!

โ€ข Samuel L. Jackson - ๐™Ž๐™ฉ๐™–๐™˜๐™ ๐™ค๐™ก๐™š๐™š

Taken from the soundtrack to the trashy-but-enthralling Craig Brewer drama, Black Snake Moan, which is nowadays a film mostly forgotten save for this one GIF-worthy moment that's endured far beyond the film's release...

...'Stackolee' is one of the four songs performed live and diegetically within the movie by Samuel L. Jackson, in character as the majestically named Lazarus Redd, a god-fearing blues-playing farmer holding the scantily clad Christina Ricci's troubled nymphomaniac Rae captive in his house with a chain, in an effort to save her soul. (It's... it's a long story, man. Watch the film and see for yourself. I don't know how well, if at all, it holds up today, but it's for damn sure unforgettable.)

This blisteringly awesome song that Jackson sings (and plays electric guitar on!) for a raucous, adoring crowd, is a gritty blues tale of love gone cold, boozy bar fights, and cold-blooded murder.

And yes, Jackson does indeed drop a chef's-kiss worthy "motherfucker" or two, which in terms of selling you on this song's appeal, I believe this is what we in the business call a slam dunk...

โ€ข Gorillaz - ๐™๐™š๐™š๐™ก ๐™‚๐™ค๐™ค๐™™ ๐™„๐™ฃ๐™˜.

'Stackolee' ends with Samuel L. Jackson's fantastic cackle, and Gorillaz immediately chases that up with 'Feel Good Inc.'s deranged, maniacal laughter, sampled from recordings of guest rappers De La Soul, leading the listener into that iconic bass line that carries you on a groove on through the rest of the song.

How it relates to this playlist's theme, however? Uuuuuuum... because the phrase "Feel Good Inc" is a bitingly sarcastic way of suggesting that the very notion of feeling good has been corporatised into something soulless and mass-marketable, without any personality or individuality, and thus it's kind of analogous to what Valentine's Day is?

Yeah, that'll do. Totally intended that meaning from the start, definitely didn't just pull that interpretation straight out of my bumhole at the last minute, nope, no sir-ee.

And now, for the last song I'll be covering here in Part One, let us finish off with...

โ€ข The Lonely Island - ๐™๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™š๐™จ๐™ฉ ๐™‚๐™ž๐™ง๐™ก (๐˜ฝ๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™‡๐™–๐™™๐™š๐™ฃ ๐™Ž๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™œ)

By this juncture in the playlist, we need a serious injection of pure, uncut silliness, so what better way to administer that than with this brilliantly absurd, lewd, hysterical track from The Lonely Island's exceedingly fantastic rockumentary parody, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (whose unfairly unsuccessful run at the 2016 box office remains one of the greatest travesties in modern cinematic history).

To delve into the reasons why precisely this song is called what it's called would, like with any joke worth hearing, ruin the whole gag if you were told it secondhand by someone nowhere near as skilled at comedy. So suffice it to say that the reason I've concocted to justify the inclusion of this song is that it provides a very big tick in the Pro column in favour of singledom, because at least you're not finding yourself having to indulge the crazy weird sex fantasies of someone you find attractive, but whose kinks are... shall we say... a bit much for your tastes.

To be fair, though, the preposterous comedic kink detailed in 'Bid Laden Song' is infinitely more healthy, and astronomically less harmful than whatever the actual fuck Armie Hammer has inflicted on god-knows-how-many people over the years with what we currently know of his unbridled capacity for sadism and cruelty.

So hey, I guess his (alleged) crimes really put things into perspective with what one could honestly consider "weird" or "crazy" about anyone's individual kinks, when held in comparison to the kind of grotesque horrors he's (allegedly) into.

Anyway, fuck Smarmy Spanner, and while we're at it, fuck Marilyn Manson too.

(New Radicals, where you at?! If you can reunite for Joe Biden's inauguration, then please can you reconvene to follow through on your old 'You Get What You Give' promise to go to Manson's mansion and kick his ass in? Thx.)

โ€ขโ€ขโ€ข

Tune in next time for the second instalment of this preposterously long list-turned-article miniseries, where we'll find:

โ€ข The song that puts paid to the idea of "the One"!

(In a romantic sense, not in a Matrix or Jet Li sense.)

โ€ข A surprisingly large amount of Muppets!

โ€ข The breaking of my self-imposed playlist rule to have each song be by a different artist! Who will be the artist who makes me break my one rule, as if I were some mixtape-making AU Batman?!

โ€ข Another (considerably less controversial) artist whose ass the New Radicals promised to come and kick!

โ€ข More songs what have swears in them!

โ€ข More songs of death and murder and such!

โ€ข More on-the-nose titles!

โ€ข More on-the-nose lyrics!

โ€ข And even more grammatically taxing run-on sentences, extraneously detailed personal anecdotes, and sporadically interesting obscure music trivia than you could ever need or want!

See you in Part 2...

playlist

About the Creator

Jack Anderson Keane

An idiot pretending not to be an idiot.

You can also find me on Twitter (for memes), Instagram (for the pictures), Letterboxd (for film reviews), Medium (for a Vocal alternative), Goodreads (for book reviews), and Spotify (for my music).

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