Sunday, February 8, 2009

Bad Love Songs, Part II: Songs That Are Often Mistaken for Love Songs

Given that most popular songs are about love in some form or another, it shouldn't be surprising that, when forced to select a song for a first dance or for some other place in a wedding, a couple defaults to a popular song that they think expresses their love. Unfortunately, popularity and a catchy melody do not always (or even usually) equal declarations of undying affection. In fact, in some cases, they might just mean the opposite of what a happy couple intends. To paraphrase Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride, "That song, I do not think it means what you think it means."

"My Heart Will Go On" - Back in the late 1990s, due to the immense success of Titanic, you couldn't get away from this song. As a result, it became a popular staple at weddings and proms. Unfortunately, unless you are in a very twisted relationship or unless one of the people in the relationship is dying, this song really has no business being any couple's love theme. Besides the fact that some of the lyrics don't make very much sense ("love was when I loved you" - huh?) and that you will be forced to endure Celine Dion for the duration of your relationship, the song is about how the narrator will survive even though the person she loves has shuffled off this mortal coil. While this sentiment might be true, I highly doubt that it is what most couples are going for when they select it as "their song." If so, they really need to rethink their relationship.

"I Will Always Love You" - In terms of lyrics and melody, this song, written by the awesome Dolly Parton, is far superior to "My Heart Will Go On." Most people tend to focus on the chorus, which is an expression of undying love. Sadly, these people also ignore the lyrics, which clearly show that the song is about a couple who are no longer together; despite the narrator's assertion that she "will always love" the person she is singing about, she is leaving him because she isn't what he needs. It is about the end of a relationship, which apparently has crashed and burned in a spectacular fashion. Unless you are planning on breaking up with your significant other or you are trying to express your affection for someone you have already broken up with, it is best to listen to this song alone.

"I Knew I Loved You Before I Met You" - I am embarrassed to admit that I used to like this song. The entire idea of love at first sight once seemed very appealing. However, the lyrics are more than a little disturbing when I take time to think about them. "I knew I loved you before I met you" - this could mean one of two things. One is that the song's narrator is crazy and is possibly stalking the girl he is singing to. The other is that the narrator is rather shallow. Either way, I want nothing to do with him.

"Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful" - Honestly, Oscar Hammerstein II (the lyricist for such classic shows like The Sound of Music and Oklahoma!), you should have known better. The song is from one of Rogers and Hammerstein's lesser-known works, Cinderella, and takes the idea of falling in love based on appearance and kicks it up a couple of notches. In it, the singer asks the question "Do I love you because you're beautiful or are you beautiful because I love you?" While there are some benign ways of thinking of this song, I immediately default to the interpretation of "Do I love you because you're beautiful and I'm shallow or are you only beautiful because I love you?" This is not a sentiment a girl wants to hear, even if it is sung to her in a moonlit garden.