So you hated Valentine’s Day (a lot of people did). Maybe our song list for the lovebirds made you want to hurl. In the aftermath of the day of lovers, the pervading scent of wilting flowers, the desks littered with cards and boxes of chocolate, the army of bodies coupled off in twos, the interminable traffic—these things can be a huge nuisance, to be sure. What’s worse, however, is when your vehement V-day dislike springs from a much deeper well of emotion than mere irritation. In other words: you’re bitter!
Maybe your heart’s been broken fairly recently, or the fact that you’ve been single since birth has finally caught up to you; maybe you’re just “j-j-jaded,” to quote the song by Aerosmith. Whichever the case may be, we’ve got a cathartic collection of tunes that will let you wallow and whine to your heart’s content. (Un)happy listening!
“YOU OUGHTA KNOW” by Alanis Morissette (1995)
Taylor Swift was the most recent songstress to join the writing-about-exes trend with her song “Forever & Always” (somewhere, Joe Jonas is rolling his eyes). But it was Alanis Morissette who first made hating a hit, with her scathing, accusatory track about a lover who has jilted her. “You Oughta Know” is raw and unapologetic: with lyrics like “Every time I scratch my nails down someone else’s back, I hope you feel it,” how can you not recognize Alanis as the bitterest of them all?
“NOTHING COMPARES 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor (1990)
Controversial chanteuse Sinead O’Connor made headlines all throughout the ‘90s for her views on religion—at one point even tearing up a photo of Pope John Paul II in a notorious Saturday Night Live performance. But scandals aside, the Irish singer also set records with her internationally acclaimed cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U.” The song is an ode to a former flame—pained and haunting, it’s guaranteed to trigger memories of the one who got away.
“SMILE” by Nat King Cole (1954)
Composed by Charlie Chaplin for his very last feature film Modern Times, “Smile” bids its downcast listeners to “fake it ‘til you make it,” as the saying goes. On the original recording of the track, Nat King Cole’s soulful voice mourns, “Smile/though your heart is aching/smile/even though it’s breaking”—a reminder for those of us who wear our (broken) hearts on our sleeves.
“MR. BRIGHTSIDE” by The Killers (2004)
Who knew jealousy could make you jump and jive? The Killers’ first-ever release, “Mr. Brightside” is about a man who sees the woman he loves with another—a somber subject in contrast with the song’s upbeat, dance-rock sound. The track skyrocketed to the top of the charts, exposing the little-known band (and their angsty anthem) to legions of adoring fans. Misery does love company, after all.
“I CAN’T MAKE YOU LOVE ME” by Bonnie Raitt (1991)
This pensive ballad will tug at the heartstrings of anyone who has experienced unrequited love. Raitt’s voice is sorrowfully exquisite, as if she has already resigned herself to the fact that she is in a one-sided relationship. When she sings, “I will lay down my heart/and I’ll feel the power/but you won’t/no, you won’t,” it’s an instant trigger for waterworks!
“CREEP” by Radiohead (1992)
There’s always that one person you thought you could never have because you felt unworthy of them—and that’s exactly what “Creep” is about. This debut single by alternative rock gods Radiohead grew to such immense popularity that the band stopped performing it for several years out of sheer indignation, as crowds would show up solely to hear the track. Relive your years of growing up grunge as you listen to this sentimental “stalker song.”
“TAKE A BOW” by Rihanna (2008)
Rihanna’s music video for “Take a Bow” taught us an important lesson: cheaters never win. The clip shows her catching a duplicitous boyfriend, setting fire to his clothes, and throwing him out on the street—to the glee of girl-power advocates everywhere. The song definitely brings out the spiteful soul sister in all of us.
“WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND” by Justin Timberlake (2007)
Dumped darlings made this JT track their mantra after figuring out it wasn’t just another club song. Taking the principle of karma as its subject, “What Goes Around Comes Around” is a warning to the unfaithful partner—what wrong you do will come back to haunt you. It’s a winning concept, especially for those who have been left for the “other woman” (plus, you can never go wrong with a Timbaland cameo).
“YESTERDAY” by The Beatles (1965)
Depressing and engaging at the same time, “Yesterday” speaks of the days of yore, when loving somebody was simple. Hearts swell and heads nod in agreement as Paul McCartney croons, “Yesterday/love was such an easy game to play/now I need a place to hide away.” We feel you, Paul!
“ALL BY MYSELF” by Celine Dion (1996)
If you’re single (and hating it), the title of this Celine Dion classic pretty much sums up your Valentine’s Day. The best thing to do would be to pull a Bridget Jones—slide into your jammies, reach for that pint of ice cream, and put this power ballad on repeat. V-Day is over and done with, anyway!
(Top photo courtesy of Maverick Records)