Column, Arts

Stitzel: Love Songs Are for Single People

A quick Google search for “Valentine’s Day songs” comes up with playlists of cheesy Motown hits, classic rom-com soundtracks, and a few too many slow songs reminiscent of embarrassing middle school dances. I’m looking at you, Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect.” 

If you add “for single people” to the end of that Google search, the song choices are limited mostly to breakup anthems, self-love songs, and a lot more Taylor Swift. If songs aren’t about romantic love, they’re about the absence of it.

While iconic love—or anti-love—songs have the ability to perfectly capture how we feel about a person, not all of us are going to have Heath Ledger singing Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes off You” to us from the football stadium bleachers this Valentine’s Day. But we don’t have to cry about it, either.

Music for single people doesn’t have to be about being single. Spotify doesn’t have to suggest playlists called “Lonely Mix” and “Empowering Breakup Mix” when I search for “Single Mix” using its algorithm. Not only is it a little insulting, but it also insinuates that single people are defined by a lack of love in their lives.

Since Spotify’s AI can’t seem to get it right, I made my own playlist. The songs are about love and breakups, but also everything in between. They’ll resonate whether you’re heartbroken, happy, confused, or so single you forgot Valentine’s Day was this week.

The first track on the playlist, David Bowie’s “Modern Love,” is not only catchy, but it’s the ultimate song for people who know exactly why they’re single. Greta Gerwig’s carefree dance through the streets of New York in Frances Ha to this song perfectly captures the feeling of knowing who you are without being defined by others.

“I know when to go out / I know when to stay in,” Bowie sings. “Get things done.”

Next, Mitski creates a sobering yet lighthearted track about knowing when love is over with “That’s Our Lamp.” Although it’s a song about realizing someone doesn’t love you anymore, at least Mitski is honest with herself. “February Seven” by The Avett Brothers follows, and while the lyrics are brutally honest, they also promise a fresh start after heartbreak.

“I went on the search for something real / Traded what I know for how I feel,” they sing.

Being single isn’t about being alone. As these songs demonstrate, it’s about being honest with yourself when no one else will be. But occasionally, it’s okay to let yourself be a little delusional. “Something to Talk About” by Bonnie Raitt and “Adult Diversion” by Alvvays are proof that making up romantic situations in your head is fine if you do it to a country or indie-pop song.

Delusional or not, it’s also healthy to let yourself be a romantic. “I Will” by The Beatles and “Lovers Rock” by TV Girl put the “hopeless” in “hopeless romantic,” with sweet, sweeping instrumentals and yearning lyrics to match.

“For if I ever saw you / I didn’t catch your name / But it never really mattered / I will always feel the same,” The Beatles sing.

Breaking away from the traditional breakup song, Amy Winehouse’s “Tears Dry On Their Own” and “There’s Your Trouble” by The Chicks are two sides of the same coin. Winehouse sings powerfully about the regret and growth that follows a breakup, while The Chicks’ song is a track about unrequited love, disguised as a breakup anthem.

“I don’t understand, why do I stress the man? / When there’s so many bigger things at hand,” Winehouse sings.

Next is Hozier’s “Someone New,” a hopeful but bittersweet song about loving something in every person you meet. Does it sound like the mindset of a desperate single person? Maybe, but we can all find hope in loving the little things, single or not. Hozier’s melody creeps along, inviting the listener to identify with his lyrics.

Unfortunately, loving everyone isn’t always sustainable, and U2’s “Tryin’ to Throw Your Arms Around the World” is a sad but hopeful track reminding the listener to slow down. You don’t have to do everything, especially if you’re doing it alone. Despite the melancholy, eerie sound of the track, it has a pretty simple message.

“And a woman needs a man / Like a fish needs a bicycle,” U2 sings.

For those who aren’t convinced by this playlist that single life is for them, Swift’s “How You Get The Girl” serves as an instruction manual for anyone looking for love. Rounding out the playlist is “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield, a classic rom-com soundtrack choice that’s not actually about romantic love at all, but rather the possibilities to love yourself. 

While you don’t need to literally feel the rain on your skin to appreciate the openness life has to offer, it’s true that “no one else can feel it for you,” single, taken, or in between. 

February 11, 2024

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