My Love-Hate Relationship with Love Songs


From the shy preteen who feels some unexplainable way when his math partner asks to borrow a pencil to the grandmother smoking on the nursing home porch and reminiscing about her wild days, the love song is universal. Ever since humankind developed a writing system to express ourselves, there have been millions of pieces–poems, stories, novels, songs–dedicated and written in the name of love. The first poem in text form, written in Sumerian circa 2000 BC, is called The Love Song of Shu-Sin, and it goes like this:


You have captivated me, let me stand tremblingly before you.

Bridegroom, I would be taken by you to the bedchamber,

You have captivated me, let me stand tremblingly before you.

Lion, I would be taken by you to the bedchamber.


It’s no All Too Well (10 Minute Version)(Taylor’s Version), but the sentiment is the same. From outlaw country to Southern rap, from Dolly Parton to Black Sabbath, the meaning retains even as the medium changes. They pain us, make us contemplate, pretend to be the main character as we watch raindrops slink down the bus window. And now it’s that time of year again—when love is in the air and on the airwaves. As per usual, the same kind of love songs inundate the radio year after year: ones about romantic love. 


Now, this isn’t to say there’s anything wrong with romantic love songs–in fact, I love love songs! I may have even written a couple over the years. No, you will not get to hear them, lest you catch me out on the porch with my guitar when it rains…anyway, I see romantic love as just one facet of love. But since it’s often treated as the most important kind, songs about all other types of love are underappreciated. This Valentine’s Day, if you want a little bit of diversity in your love songs, look no further:




Lovers Rock–TV Girl: Classic

She might want a kiss before the end of the song/Because love can burn like a cigarette and leave you alone with nothing

My favorite example of the classic romantic love song–yearning, burning, and with two faces. When you’re feeling good, the song is sweet as anything–a blissful serotonin haze to dissolve into. On the flipside, it can throw you into the ice-cold dark and leave you hollow in the blink of an eye. You know it’s a good love song when it plays and there’s always someone you think about. What more is there to say?


Hide– Rainbow Kitten Surprise: Closeted/Self-Acceptance

I’ve been praying for a signal, or a sign that you haven’t sent/Running from a place where they don’t make people like me…

 Hide as a piece is about two different types of love that intertwine with each other. The music video, about drag queens coming out to their families, mainly deals with self-acceptance–loving all the aspects of your own body and loving yourself the way you are. According to Ela Melo, the lyricist and lead singer, the song itself is a celebration of “reconciling who and what you love with the people you love.” She wrote this piece shortly after realizing she was gay, and years before she came out as transgender. It’s a song that begins with a quiet internal struggle over two chords. Over time, it piles gentle layers on the bassline, eventually ramping up the intensity until the crescendo: “you better hide your love. Don’t let it slip away.


(Music Video)


I Love My Country– Florida Georgia Line: Patriotic 

I love my country, I love my country/Six strings and fiddles, Whiskey from Kentucky…

Florida Georgia Line is exactly what most people who “hate country music” think of when someone brings up the genre. Personally, I have a soft spot for some country music. I admire Florida Georgia Line–not really for their music per se, but the fact that they release whatever they want with full confidence and you can tell they’re having fun with it. It’s not going to be preserved in the Library of Congress anytime soon, but it’s about as confident and nationalistic a love song as you can get.


Sweet Leaf– Black Sabbath: Plants

I love you, Oh, you know it/My life was empty, forever on a down/Till you took me, showed me around

After releasing two timeless metal classics focused on subjects such as Satan, science fiction, war, and death, Black Sabbath opened their third album, Master of Reality, with…a love song? Dedicated to…plants? A little known fact about Black Sabbath is that they have mastered the art of gardening, and they specialize in cultivating (very legal) plants. Before going to the studio to record this song, Ozzy Osbourne was tilling a patch of soil when the wind blew a dust cloud into his face. This is exactly the reason why the opening seconds of the song are a man coughing on smoke. It’s a love song dedicated to the simple joys one can discover in the English countryside.


Dear Mama–Tupac: Familial

For a woman it ain’t easy tryin’ to raise a man you always was committed/A poor single mother on welfare, tell me how you did it/There’s no way I can pay you back, but the plan is to show you that I understand: you are appreciated

A heartfelt ode to one’s mother and the power of familial love, by one of the most famous gangsta rappers of all time. It reads like poetry.


Wuthering Heights–Kate Bush: Fantastical

You had a temper like my jealousy/Too hot, too greedy/How could you leave me when I needed to possess you? I hated you, I loved you too…

Another love song about the joys of the English countryside, this time literary and positively Gothic. If ghosts and bleak British manors are your thing, then I urge you to dance to this song in an abandoned parlor as a vicious storm rages outside. Falling in love with your adopted sibling and haunting them for years after they die is completely optional. 


I– Kendrick Lamar: Self

A triumphant song about loving yourself despite your imperfections–despite everything. The swan song at the end of a masterful, experimental album examining trauma, race, and culture. 


Short Skirt; Long Jacket– Cake: Satirical

Do you want a girl with a mind like a diamond? A girl who knows what’s best? What about a girl with uninterrupted prosperity who uses a machete to cut through red tape, with fingernails that shine like justice and a voice that is dark like tinted glass? Is not having smooth liquidation or good dividends a dealbreaker for you? Have you set the stage at Citibank to meet a girl named Karen (who drives a white Crysler LaBaron) by letting her borrow your pen? No? That’s alright. Maybe you’ll meet a girl with a short skirt and a long jacket. 


I WHO BEND THE TALL GRASSES–Lingua Ignota: Terrifying

I have never loved him more than I do now, but I can’t do it again…I have to be the only one

I wrote about Lingua Ignota in a previous article, so of course she was bound to come back in this one. After all, almost all her songs are about powerful, nearly biblical love or hate, and this one viciously mixes the two. I’d call this an anti-love song, to be honest. It’s disturbing, grandiose, and vengefully splendid. As the narration gets more and more intense, you realize she wants this person she used to love only for herself, but not for reconciliation or recovery–she’s marked him for death. My soul left my body once I heard this performed live.


Bros– Wolf Alice: Platonic 

Shake your hair, have some fun/Forget our mothers and past lovers, forget everyone/Oh, I’m so lucky you’re my best friend, there’s no one, there’s no one who knows me like you do

They say blood is thicker than water or love is all you need, but where does all this leave friendship? Platonic love is often overlooked in the world of music, especially rock, but Wolf Alice holds onto the vibe like a promise. Dedicated to the innocence of childhood friendship.




Now, even if you’re alone this Valentines’ Day, you’ll have some bangers to listen to which cover the whole spectrum of love. And maybe that nervous preteen will hear a particularly good song and start talking to his math partner, or the jaded grandmother will write a best-selling romance novel based on her life. And maybe the author of this article will finish writing this and write a love song instead. And not the daring kinds covering the whole spectrum of love that he just wrote about and provided examples for. No–not one bit–if he were to write a love song right now, it’d be something mushy and standard while he strums the guitar and sinks further into denying that he actually enjoys love songs…


Nope. That’s a silly notion. Who even likes love songs, anyway?