Author: Michael Darling
Now let me be perfectly clear, I am a romantic at heart and think love is a many splendored thing. That being said, Valentine’s Day is a love-exploiting commercial holiday all but owned by Hallmark. So, my Valentine’s gift to you, dear readers, is a nice sloppy French kiss-off to Valentine’s Day in the form of eight awesome anti-love songs.
1. “Girlfriend in a Coma,” The Smiths. One of the Smiths’ greatest talents was their ability to set the music and lyrics of their songs at odds with each other. Lasting just over a minute, the song has a bouncy baroque pop feel. In the chorus, Morrissey asks if the title subject will pull through; but in one of the verses he mentions the times he could have killed her. Hmm, kinda makes you wonder how she wound up in that coma….
2. “Foundations,” Kate Nash. Nash wrote this song in the Morrissey/Marr style mentioned earlier. The music is an energetic piano number like something you might play at a dinner party. The lyrics, however, indicate that this is a dinner party out of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Nash and her beau exchange insults that end in her boyfriend being drunk, vomiting and passing out on the floor.
3. “A Fine Romance,” Billie Holiday. This song debuted in the Jerome Kerne/Dorothy Fields musical, Swing Time. The lyrics describe a dead relationship, but Holliday’s vocals keep things lively. The lyrics include some nice put-downs, such as, “You’re calmer than the seals in the Arctic Ocean / at least they flap their fins to express emotion.”
4. “It’s Money That I Love,” Randy Newman. This blues-rock song really could serve as the anthem for Hallmark, Russell-Stover, and other companies of their ilk, who feel their pocketbooks get a little heavier this time of year. The narrator makes it clear that money is all he’s in it for. Sure, he used to care about the poor and the starving children of Africa, but now he doesn’t worry anymore.
5. “Just One of Those Things,” Blossom Dearie. With the help of a funky bass, Dearie bids adieu to a lover after a brief affair, perhaps a one night stand. This cool Cole Porter composition was remixed by the Brazilian Girls on the Verve Remixed 3 album.6. “Love Like Anthrax,” The Gang of Four. The funk-punk pioneers specialized in social critique. On this track from their debut Entertainment, there are two vocalists, one of whom delivers a spoken-word treatise on why so many love songs exist. He says at the end that the band doesn’t think there is anything wrong with love, but “…what happens between two people shouldn’t be shrouded with mystery.”
7. “Instant Pleasure,” Rufus Wainwright. Songwriter Seth Swirsky’s original version of “Instant Pleasure” is a Beatlesesque pop song about a man looking for love, with poor results. Wainwright’s cover takes a more cynical approach and changes a few lyrics. He’s not looking for someone to love him, he’s just looking for sex whenever he wants it – a much different form of instant pleasure.
8. “This is Not A Love Song,” Public Image Ltd. Finally, we have Johnny Rotten’s post-Sex Pistols band with a dance track about greed. The title sums it up nicely.
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