14 Alternative Valentine's Day Songs
Roses are red, violets are blue, we've got appropriate love songs for... well, everyone actually.
Valentine's Day: a day to be with your loved one. A day to contemplate solitude, for better or worse. A day to incur the wrath of a mining-gear-clad psychopath, as he spoils your party somewhat by embarking on a horrifyingly gory killing spree. Still, whatever you've got planned for 14 February, one thing's for sure: you'll be needing tunes.
That's where your dear ol' pal The Skinny comes in. We've compiled this list of songs to soundtrack the romance, the loneliness, or indeed the harrowing screams of bloody victims – hey, it's your weekend; we're not here to judge. So grab a heart-shaped cushion, tear open a box of Milk Tray and soak in the silky sounds: a collection of love songs for all occasions.
1. I love you, but the internet
The Thermals – My Heart Went Cold
Portland-based indie-punkas The Thermals get things going with this offering from forthcoming seventh album We Disappear, which investigates the way our IRL relationships slowly disintegrate while we increasingly immerse ourselves in the digital sphere. “I know I can repair but I don’t know where to start,” ponders Hutch Harris while the band build to a melodious storm, presumably desperate to delete his Facebook profile while also fighting his FOMO instincts. Just put your phone down, mate.
2. It's sad when you're lonely and it's a dystopian cyberpunk future and you're a robot sex worker
Tubeway Army – Are ‘Friends’ Electric?
Gary Numan claimed that his signature song had no discernible hook-line, making it somewhat impressive that it managed to cling onto the number one spot in the UK singles charts for four weeks back in 1979. It’s even more of a feat when you consider that its protagonist is an android prostitute, bleakly weighing up its options in the face of a cold, empty existence. Presumably there is no robo-Tinder in Tubeway Army’s chilling vision of a lonely future.
3. Shove it up your arse then
Hinds – I Will Send Your Flowers Back
“What a fucked up mess,” Hinds sigh on this cut from recent debut album Leave Me Alone, as a relationship disintegrates rather spectacularly into a horrible mess. “Instead of move on, I’ll search for your soul / It doesn’t mean I’m happy to go away.” Still, at least they sound cheery about it, and by the titular mantra at the song’s close, they seem to have found some sort of resolution. Even if it simply amounts to a polite ‘we’re done here. Bugger off now.’
4. I'm hanging out with my ex. What could go wrong?
Diet Cig – Sleep Talk
Tricky times for Alex Luciano. She’s only home for the holidays and she wasn’t expecting to have such a nice time with her ex. Or that her ex might have moved on. Or that she might end up pondering the scariness of the L-word. Still, plenty of room for a dizzy pop psychodrama, confirming that relationships in your 20s are no less horrendously awkward than they were as a teenager. Hooray.
5. We are terrible people: let’s date
Pavement – Spit on a Stranger
There’s a certain sweetness in mutual recognition of your flaws. On this cut from Pavement’s divisive final album Terror Twilight, Stephen Malkmus seems a bit of a git as he describes himself and his prospective other half as “two bitter strangers”, but he also manages to melt hearts with a deft, wry couplet like “Honey, I’m a prize and you’re a catch / And we’re a perfect match.” Words, eh?
6. Stay away from my boo
Loretta Lynn – Fist City
Wot, fisticuffs? Yep, Loretta’s in fighting mood, and she duly trash-talks a rival for her true love’s affections with remarkable enthusiasm. Essentially a musical adaptation of the sort of barney you used to guiltily tune into Jerry Springer for, it’s a rousing piece of pop from the tragic country queen. Frankly, you wouldn’t wanna mess with her.
7. I have an idea – let's get married
Descendents – Marriage
Milo Auckerman: punk legend. Biochemist. And… closet romantic? It certainly sounds that way, as this classic from Descendents’ 1982 debut Milo Goes To College finds him cooing “I want you to be my wife / And be with me the rest of your life”. Admittedly, Marriage came from the pen of guitarist Frank Navetta and drummer Bill Stevenson, but it’s a rare moment of endearing sweetness from an album more famous for lines like “Parents / Why won’t they shut up?” and “I don’t wanna smell your muff”. The charmers.
8. My ex keeps calling but I'm not bothered
Hüsker Dü – Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely
One of Grant Hart’s finest moments, distressingly tucked away on one of the Hüskers' worst albums (1986’s Candy Apple Grey). Here we find him cheerfully expressing his lack of interest in an ex’s ongoing troubles, and over a pretty breezy tune to boot. Who says break-up songs have to be miserable?
9. I am up for sexytimes
The Stooges – I Wanna Be Your Dog
Iggy Pop manages to make the canine experience sound particularly depraved on this lurching slice of proto-sludge. Our hero growls, the band rumble menacingly, and meanwhile a piano bangs away, jackhammer-like in the background. Who knows exactly what sort of debased fun the Popmeister has planned, but it sounds plenty exciting if you’re a fan of comparing coital rapture to the exploits of man’s best friend. Look away, Lassie, it’s past your bedtime.
10. This 'being on your own' thing is shite
Eels – It’s A Motherfucker
Never the cheeriest of soul, here Mark Oliver Everett guides us through the downside of solitude with sighing resignation. “I won’t ever be the same,” he insists, pining for lost love while attempting to casually dismiss the situation… still, the same album (2000’s Daisies of the Galaxy) also saw him singing, “Goddam right, it’s a beautiful day,” so maybe it’s not all doom and gloom. Can we call that a Valentine’s Day miracle? May as well.
11. I love you, God
Leonard Cohen – If It Be Your Will
With Leonard Cohen's finest disgusting sex song (the inescapable Hallelujah) now irretrievably co-opted by the ‘sad scenes in popular movies’ crowd, in much the same misguided fashion as the BBC’s use of hummable heroin anthem Perfect Day for a Children In Need campaign, we turn to If It Be Your Will. Shout-out to the big guy in heaven – Lenny’s got your back, sho’ nuff.
12. Well, I think we can safely say that this is over
Crystal Castles feat. Robert Smith – Not In Love
King of mope-pop Robert Smith teams up with the finest sang-froid merchants that electro-pop has to offer, and the results are predictably icy. Yet another tale of a relationship falling apart here, which is perhaps not what love’s arrows are supposed to be aiming for on this most lovey-dovey of days. Still, is there even a remote chance of reconciliation? “We were lovers,” they say. “Now we can’t be friends.” Well, that seems pretty final.
13. Tactics + prophylatics = tru luv
A Tribe Called Quest – Bonita Applebum
Lacing your ballads with references to what we believe the kids still call ‘rubber johnnies’: it’s probably not the smoothest move. Still, A Tribe Called Quest somehow managed to get away with it on one of their most enduring hits, even thoughtfully remembering to declare that they hope the object of their affections actually likes rap songs. Our hearts! They melt!
14. It'll be alright, honest
Daniel Johnston – True Love Will Find You In The End
With all these tales of love gone awry, probably best to end on an uplifting note. Effectively Daniel Johnston’s theme song, True Love… finds the troubled genius offering a heartfelt promise that we’d all do well to heed. If you can listen to his plaintive insistence and hear his fragile voice cracking defiantly on the high notes without choking back a tear or two, you have no heart. NO HEART, WE SAY. Now excuse us, it’s all gone a bit dusty in here...