By the time you read this, it’ll be a day or two after Valentine’s Day. You’ll have spent it either with some significant other, for better or for worse, or you’ll have spent it either rejoicing or mourning your singledom in some way or another.
Romantic love is often glorified in our society to the point that we must have it, that we are greatly flawed if we cannot find some sort of counterpart to complete us.
However, I think our culture has a way of showing this sense of the importance of romantic love at its purest, the love song.
Yes, those love songs.
Yes, a lot of them are really bad.
Why? Execution. Let’s dissect this in what is possibly the worst love song I’ve ever encountered: “You’re Beautiful,” by James Blunt.
Besides the fact that James Blunt has made a living shilling out fake love over pop ballads that make Coldplay look macho, James Blunt has managed to write perhaps his most well-known song on the premise of unattainable love.
You meet a girl on the subway, she’s with another man, yet you can’t stop thinking about how beautiful she is.
Why do so many people like this song again?
“You’re Beautiful,” perhaps because of its simplicity, is why I cannot stand it; it dumbs down that feeling of love to mere attraction, nothing more, nothing less. For such a wimpy song, it’s needlessly, inaccurately carnal.
I don’t mean to only attack James Blunt, but there are plenty of love songs like this that dumb down one of the most complex and intense emotions of the human experience.
Much of the pop canon does this, or simply makes sappy, overwrought (downright) crap (listen to B101 for an hour, you’ll see what I mean. If you need to force yourself to do this, go see your doctor on a busy day).
Sadly, most of the good songs about love are about the endings of it.
The few that are cool yet capture the ecstasy and joy of romance are ones for the ages.
Case in point, “Heroes” by David Bowie. Bowie wrote this song while recording in Berlin, and seeing a couple showing their love to the whole world by attempting to make love against the Berlin Wall.
They were shot at, yet didn’t run away until a few shots were fired, and this inspired Bowie.
This idea that love can beat anything, can beat something like the isolation and tension of something as all-encompassing as the Cold War, that’s just freaking awesome.
While I could go on and on about why good love songs are that way, I can only leave you with a list of ones I particularly like, and wish to leave you to your own experience with them as you (il)legally download them from the intertubes.
The Avett Brothers – “I And Love And You”
Mute Math – “Noticed”
Copeland – “Don’t Slow Down”
My Morning Jacket – “It Beats 4 U”
Over the Rhine – “Drunkard’s Prayer”
The Police – “Next to You”
The Beatles – honestly, too many to choose just one.
John Wood is a fourth year student at West Chester University majoring in Communication Studies. He can be reached at JW632840@wcupa.edu.