Well, it’s Valentine’s Day, and all of us musicians are really sappy types, so we certainly can’t ignore it. After all, musicians carry the exceptionally heavy responsibility of setting the mood for all romantic evenings. You know how it works: you dim the lights, crack a bottle of wine and get all doe-eyed in a way you never could without the music egging you on.
But for every “Maybe I’m Amazed” or “Tiny Dancer” that explores the depths of romantic hyperbole, there are 10 songs that smack the world across the face with the least loving lyrics imaginable. Here are five of the worst crimes against romance ever committed to audiotape:
5. Every Breath You Take – The Police
Alright, sure, we all love Sting, with his lute and his Tantric mysticisms. But if my little darling whispered the lyrics to this stalker’s anthem into my ear in the dark watches of the night, I might respond with a restraining order:
“Every breath you take and every move you make / Every bond you break
Every step you take, I'll be watching you.”
This isn’t a love song—it’s the theme music to a cheap horror flick.
4. Eternal Flame –The Bangles
Even if you haven’t seen Jason Bateman creeping it up to this song in The Sweetest Thing, you know that fire is a bad euphemism for love. The Bangles 1989 hit single hits the same creepy, obsessive pitfalls as Sting did:
“I believe it’s meant to be, darling / I watch you when you’re sleeping/ You belong with me—do you feel the same? / Or is this burning an eternal flame?”
I’ve got to be honest, girls, I don’t think that burning is an eternal flame—I think it’s a medical problem.
3. I’m in Love with a Stripper – T-Pain
Even if I could forgive his gratuitous auto-tuning and platinum grill, T-Pain crosses the line with his homage to the ladies of the pole. I mean, I know a lot of girls must fall for lyrics that praise their “big #@! Hips,” but T-Pain says right in the song that he loves strippers, because they know he won’t pay. That’s right: T-Pain won’t pay for his dances. And the worst part:
“Yeah, she turnin’ tricks on me / she don’t even know me.”
Because nothing says love like anonymous sex with a stripper you won’t pay.
2. Every Rose Has Its Thorn – Poison
When I began this list, I promised myself that I would avoid mentioning hair metal ballads. They’re all candidates for this list, frankly. Yet it was this 1988 effort from Poison, that seems to be included on every love songs compilation from the monster ballads era, that really took the cake:
“We both lie silently still / in the dead of the night / Although we both lie close together / We feel miles apart inside.”
Frontman Bret Michaels goes on, in his nasal whine, about how love has ups and downs and everything about her cuts like a knife. This is really romantic stuff, especially at the end when she finds someone new and says that he (Michaels) never meant that much to her, anyhow.
Put down your lipsticks and face it, boys. This one is definitely for Feb. 15—or never.
1. One Less Lonely Girl – Justin Bieber
This song would have made this list no matter who recorded it, I think. With that being said, this song really sets my teeth on edge:
“How many bags you packed, just to take him back / tell me that / how many either-ors / but no more / if you let me inside of your world / there’s gonna be one less lonely girl.”
Here’s my question: how many 15-year-olds date women who live with their boyfriends? How many pubescent boys have a laundry list of mistakes made by grown men and women?
And if dinky candy-pop with lyrics worthy of “Puppy Love” don’t irk you, maybe you’ll find it as galling as I did that Justin Bieber has already seen fit to release his autobiography and a film about his life and times.
I feel like I have to say it: this kid is in too much of a hurry, and we all know from the Supremes that you can’t hurry love–or trust your love life to someone who can’t buy cigarettes.
Well, that’s it, gang. That’s my list. But to prove that I’m not a cynical curmudgeon crying out for the demise of romance, here’s me, in the flesh, singing one of the world’s great and memorable love songs, “Love is All Around,” by The Troggs.
Happy Valentine’s Day!