Well, here it is once again. The red cloud, invisible yet thick in the air, sticky, smelling like cotton-candy and strawberries and desperation. Sadness. Suicide.
I have what can only be described as a cynical outlook about this thing they call Valentine’s Day, which has arrived with all the sickliness of a Hallmark card covered in treacle. I am not entirely sure what caused my dislike of the occasion, although not receiving my first Valentine’s card until I was 19 years old probably didn’t help.
It’s a day where a lot of people - the single people mostly - are forgotten. A day where the bitter, the cynical, the romantically devastated are left cold, alone, with no-one thinking nor caring about them.
Don’t worry, I’m thinking about you. I care about you and I’m here to help.
So for those of you who may be feeling the blues because of all the reds, or for those of you who won’t actually be alone on Saint Val’s but are - like myself - refusing to get into the spirit of things because you see it for what it is: a money-making scam (if you love someone you don’t need a “special day” to show it), I have devised an anti-romance playlist for you musos to get your ears around. You can read the choices and the reason for their inclusion on this page, and you can even actually listento this as a digital mixtape on Mixcloud (link at the bottom). The wonders of modern technology!
Dim the lights, ignite the scented candles, empty the packet of fried potato snacks into the bowl, look longingly at the packet of condoms you have sitting on your bedside table (you won’t be using them tonight), pour yourself a large glass - the largest glass - of wine or vodka or absinthe or blueberry-flavoured anti-freeze or a combination of any or all of the above and get comfortable. The musical journey into the human condition starts here. Just remember: you have to go through it to get through it.
Get the evening started off right with this phenomenal cover version of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ 50’s classic. Is it about infidelity or unrequited love to the point of obsession? Only you can know the answer to that as you look at the place where your loved one is sitting / would be sitting if you had a loved one. Don’t worry about it; this is probably one of the best songs ever recorded and if Nina Simone singing at the top of her lungs “I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU ANYHOW AND I DON’T CARE IF YOU DON’T WANT ME, I’M YOURS RIGHT NOW!” doesn’t hit you in the pit of your stomach then you may be one of those people they talk about incessantly on the show Mindhunter.
Play this incredible piece of art from Mike Patton & Co. as a friendly reminder to yourself that things could be much worse: you could be setting yourself on fire because the person you love has left you. If you’re already alone then there’s no-one to leave you, is there? (**touches finger to temple like in that meme that all the cool kids talk about now**) And if you do have a partner, then this will act as a reminder that if they ever leave you, you’ll set fire to yourself and it will all be THEIR FAULT.
Time to kick things up a notch with this short, humorous little ditty about, well… you know. If this doesn’t kill any sexual tension in the room then perhaps you should have put that dead fish behind the radiator after all. We’re not here to have romantic fun, people.
“This is a sick and twisted drama!” sing the overexcited band members of this jaunty metal tune. I won’t post the rest of the lyrics here so as not to spoil the song, but suffice to say that if this doesn’t make you grateful that there aren’t any disembodied vaginas flying around bashing people’s heads in then you should have a word with yourself.
DEPECHE MODE - “I Feel Loved”
Actually a song about recovering from heroin addiction, but it’s got the word “loved” in the title so instead make the song about your terrible / wonderful love life like the selfish sod that you are.
BIG BLACK - “The Model”
Big Black’s infamous cover - from their album “Songs About Fucking” - of Kraftwerk’s 1978 hit is a good opportunity to refill your glass (if you haven’t already), refill the bowl of greasy salty savouries (if you haven’t already), and pop off to the toilet (if you haven’t already). Also encourage your partner to do the same assuming you have one there (and assuming they haven’t already).
Hollywood Brats - "Sick On You"
A timeless song from not-talked-about-enough proto-punk band The Hollywood Brats about hating someone so much you’ll throw-up on them if they don’t go away. We’ve all been there. I’ve personally been puked on nine times and that was just by family members.
Paul Williams - "She's Too Good To Me"
And also probably too tall for you, Paul. Anyway, musical genius Williams’ song about a dick who’s partner is, well, too good to him. He doesn’t deserve her and he knows it, and it’s eating him up inside like an aggressive bout of cancer brought on by too much chipotle sauce.
EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER - “Fanfare For The Common Man”
Yes, the full 9:38 version.
NAZ NOMAD & THE NIGHTMARES - “Nobody But Me”
Is this 80’s recorded psychedelic twist on the already psychedelic classic 60’s song by The Human Beinz about being able to do many difference dances or is it about masturbation? Pretty much nothing has been written about it so no-one really knows. P.S. Naz Nomad & The Nightmares is actually The Damned recording under an alias.
PETROL BASTARD - “Circuit Board Rammed Up My Arse”
If a song featuring pill-taking, drinking vodka from a mug, playing Double Dragon and having a circuit board rammed up the place where things like circuit boards don’t belong doesn’t completely ruin the romanticised nature of Saint Valentine’s Day then who knows what will. Even Sasha Grey didn’t try doing that.
Moby - "All That I Need Is To Be Loved (MV)"
Aaah Moby, Natalie Portman’s least favourite creepy uncle. Here’s a track from his earlier days before he hit the big time in ’99: All That I Need Is To Be Loved (MV). The clue is in the title. A heavy metal version would later appear on his '95 album Everything Is Wrong.
QUEEN - "The Show Must Go On"
It's about dying of AIDS.
JOHN WILLIAMS & THE LONDON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA - “The Imperial March”
That last track was probably a bit too depressing so liven things up a little with this rousing reminder of Space Nazis from those Star Wars films that they have now.
LAIBACH - “Jesus Christ Superstar”
“Every time I look at you I don’t understand…” Is it a song about Jesus from Judas’ perspective as written by Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice and then covered here by Slovenian industrial group Laibach, or is it about your failed previous / current / imaginary relationship? I won’t spoil the answer here!
As we all know, lying is the bedrock on which any horrible relationship is built upon.
Haddaway - "What Is Love (12" Mix)"
What is love? It’s a question as old as the question mark. Is the song about a person with a broken heart or is it about BDSM gone wrong? “Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more.” He just hadd-a-way with words didn’t he?
Dr. Alban - "It's My Life"
No-one’s quite sure what Dr. Alban is a doctor of exactly, but it certainly isn’t Couple Psychotherapy.
RICHARD HARRIS - "Macarthur Park"
A lightly-crooned track from everyone’s favourite Dumbledore, featuring sweet green icing, cakes being left out in the rain and a section that sounds very much like the Pearl & Dean theme song “Asteroid.” Macarthur Park is possibly one of the greatest sad-love songs ever written and if you don’t personally connect with it then the act of loving is not for you. Play this to remind yourself (and, if you are not alone, your loved one) that every romance has the possibility of failure and as such, you should do your best not to take things for granted and leave your cake out in the rain or something.
THE POLICE - "So Lonely"
Well, admit it: you kind of are, aren't you?
THE CHASERS - "Inspiration"
A crunchy, tasty treat from Britain circa 1966. It could be a love song, it could be a song about a psychotic killer whose muse is a lady he is fixated about, but whatever it’s about, it’s about time you topped up your glass for the final push towards pure blind drunkenness.
CHRIS ISAAK - "Wicked Game"
Because that’s what it is, that’s all anything is. It’s just a wicked game. This isn’t a romantic song, don’t let your thick friends fool you into believing such lies. “Why are you crying?” Says your lover, if they exist. “Because this song is about me,” you say back. “And because you won’t do that weird sex thing I want to try.”
Fudge Tunnel - "Hate Song"
Love is a beach, and hate the waves that erode the shore.
Ism - "Herpes Simplex II"
Punk songs about herpes are actually pretty rare, unlike real cases of herpes which are more common than you think, particularly in your circle of friends. If your partner has got the herpes and you haven’t, then that’s usually a clear sign that they’re shagging one of your friends, or that they’ve not been paying enough money for sex.
Lorn - "Weigh Me Down"
Darkwave, paranoia, despair, depression, bleak, words. Words… and music. If you’ve ever felt suffocated or trapped in a relationship then this is the happy song for you!
Tiny Tim - "What Might Have Been"
A track about missed opportunities and possibly unrequited love from the eternal troubadour himself. Bugger, maybe you should have bought that Valentine’s Day card after all…
Nah, they probably would have shuddered in disgust, burnt it and then washed their hands in bleach anyway.
YELLO - "Oh Yeah"
Don’t let those 80’s films fool you, this is not a sexy song (although it is an entertaining one).
Type O Negative - "Unsuccessfully Coping With The Natural Beauty Of Infidelity"
“I know you’re fucking someone else!” shouts Peter Steele (RIP). Did you know? Is that how it ended? Or are you looking at your partner right now, wondering? Perhaps you’ve not yet had the opportunity to be cheated on. Well that’s just sad.
GYÖRGY LIGETI - “Requiem For Soprano, Two Mixed Choirs & Orchestra”
If your resolve is unusually steadfast and blood has started to stream towards your pink parts then this should kill the flow dead. If you’re not sure what music this is then cast your minds back to the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Remember that weird music - sounding like someone slowly electrocuting a Welsh choir - that played when the apes saw the monolith for the first time, and when the astronauts on the moon approached the monolith, and when Dave went through the stargate and things got trippy as balls? Yeah, that music. Unless you or your significant other has a fetish for black blocks or travelling through wormholes this should pretty much end the night. Except there’s one last song to go…
ULTRAVIOLENCE - "Hardcore Motherfucker"
Not many songs can be simultaneously sexy-as-hell and as-cold-as-a-refrigerated-cat but Hardcore Motherfucker could very well be the sexiest/least sexiest of them all, depending on your point of view. Either way, when the beat kicks in you should be jumping up and down trying to do your best pogo-stick impression. If this track doesn’t get you feeling sick and out of breath by the end of its nine minute running time then you’ve not drunk enough tonight. The last three minutes of the song has a strong melancholic tang so this should give you plenty of time to look at all the furniture you’ve just broken. Don’t worry though, it’s Valentine’s Day! Lots of things get broken on Valentine’s Day!
Rebekah Del Rio - "Llorando (Crying)"
It’s getting quiet now. The last two-plus hours a distant blur. The room is darkening. All of your romantic failures, all of them, haunting you, blotting out the light. The memories swarm, lovers distant. The one that broke your heart. The one that got away. The one that never was to begin with. Even if you’re not familiar with the original Roy Orbinson song or cannot understand Spanish, you can hear it all in Del Rio’s voice. Llorando. Try not to, it’ll probably make you look even uglier.
So after all that, what have we learnt? Well, other than that I have “utterly shit taste in music” - my wife - what I think we have learnt is that, as a wise man once said: “Someone left their cake out in the rain.” But I don’t think love has to be such a negative thing. I mean, look at your record collection: you take care of it. You nurture it. You wouldn’t cheat on it. You love it, don’t you? Don’t you? And you know what?
It loves you right back, baby.
- Mark Anthony Finch
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