Most men hate Valentine's Day, but we at Bullz-Eye actually love it, though for different reasons than you might suspect. The majority of us are either happily married or in long-term relationships (except for our fearless, terminally single leader), so Valentine's Day is a sweet reminder of how happy we are that we're no longer playing the dating game. (It's fun when you're young, guys, but trust us, you won't miss it.) But the real reason we love Valentine's Day is because it gives us an opportunity to make fun of songs that pretend to be heartfelt, but are really just sad. And we don't mean "Brian's Song" sad. We mean Milhouse Van Houten sad.
It all started with a Coldplay song. As we're tapping along with the drums, we put the lyrics under a microscope and thought, "Did he really just say that? That's pathetic!" From there, we began analyzing other songs that appeared to be sweet, honest confessions of love on the surface, but were just sorry cries for help in disguise or, worse, disturbing preludes to what a defense attorney would call "crimes of passion."
We broke down our subjects into three categories: stalker anthems, love songs for the spineless and murder ballads, the last of which are mostly minus the ballad. Our research uncovered dozens upon dozens of songs that fit one bill or another, but for the sake of time and space, we're whittling the list down to our favorites (all apologies to Elton John's "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word"). And, as a public service, we have provided musical antidotes for every song we dissect, in case anyone is overwhelmed with a case of the willies. Perhaps the most disturbing thing we uncovered is that one of the more sinister repeat offenders was -- Barenaked Ladies? You better believe it.
Songs that profess a more "dedicated" kind of love
There are certain songs that love you. Like, really, really love you. Wait for you at the elevator love you. Watch through your window as you sleep love you. Whether you love them back is irrelevant – you were made for them, and it's only a matter of time before you accept this to be true.
Song/Artist: "It's No Good," Depeche Mode
Incriminating Lyric: "The gods decree, you'll be right here by my side / Right next to me / You can run but you cannot hide."
Creep Factor: Low. Dave Gahan ranks just behind Jarvis Cocker on the list of least intimidating rock stars.
Musical Antidote: "You're No Good," Linda Ronstadt
Song/Artist: "The Old Apartment," Barenaked Ladies
Incriminating Lyric: "Broke into the old apartment / Tore the phone out of the wall / Only memories, fading memories / Fading into dull tableaux / I want them back."
Creep Factor: If we were talking about Queens of the Stone Age (more on them later), this would be another matter entirely. But in the case of Stephen Page and his merry mates, we're pretty sure the restraining order will be enough to keep him away, right?
Musical Antidote: "Get Out of This House," Shawn Colvin
Song/Artist: "Number One Crush," Garbage
Incriminating Lyric: "You will believe in me / And I will never be ignored."
Creep Factor: Admittedly, the lyric sheet reads like a diary entry written by Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction," but if you have a thing for sulky redheads in raccoon eye makeup – as many of us clearly did in the '90s – the song is really sort of adorable.
Musical Antidote: "Puppy Love," Paul Anka
Song/Artist: "Obsession," Animotion
Incriminating Lyric: "I will have you, yes I will have you / I will find a way, and I will have you / Like a butterfly, a wild butterfly / I will collect you and capture you."
Creep Factor: Too turned on to be creeped out. Keep in mind that one of the next lines is "Who do you want me to be to make you sleep with me?" so if we're just talking about casual sex, wouldn't you rather it be with someone who's a little nuts and willing to role play? You bet your ass you would.
Musical Antidote: "We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off," Jermaine Stewart
Song/Artist: "Open Your Heart," Madonna
Incriminating Lyric: "I've had to work much harder than this / For something I want, don't try to resist me."
Creep Factor: Medium high. If Madonna says she wants something, she won't stop until she gets it. But was there a man alive actually willing to deny True Blue-era Madonna any part of their body?
Musical Antidote: "Shut Up and Let Me Go," The Ting Tings
Song/Artist: "One Way or Another," Blondie
Incriminating Lyric: "I will drive past your house / And if the lights are all down / I'll see who's around."
Creep Factor: It wasn't all that high when the song was popular (seriously, who would have objected to Debbie Harry scoping out their house in the early '80s?), but it increases with each Blondie reunion tour.
Musical Antidote: "I Give Up," Heart
Song/Artist: "Every Breath You Take," The Police
Incriminating Lyric: "Every single day / Every word you say / Every game you play, every night you stay / I'll be watching you."
Creep Factor: Significant, but not freaky. Although it was written during the breakup of Sting's first marriage, he's said he was thinking of Big Brother when he wrote it – and lest you think he protests too much, remember that Sting recorded an album of lute music; no subject is too pretentious for him.
Musical Antidote: "Pussy Control," Prince
Song/Artist: "I Drove All Night," Cyndi Lauper
Incriminating Lyric: "I drove all night / Crept in your room / Woke you from your sleep / To make love to you / Is that all right?"
Creep Factor: This song would actually sound rather benign, if not for two things: One, the thought of Cyndi Lauper creeping into our room; and two, wondering if the batty astronaut lady was singing it as she drove from Houston to Orlando. Yeesh.
Musical Antidote: "Come Here Bitch," Webbie
Song/Artist: "I Will Possess Your Heart," Death Cab for Cutie
Incriminating Lyric: "You reject my advances and desperate pleas / I won't let you let me down so easily."
Creep Factor: Holy shit. Most of the time, Ben Gibbard sounds like a harmless nerd, but with this song, he let us know that he's just as capable of making us wonder if we should call the cops.
Musical Antidote: "Let's Be Friends," New Edition
Song/Artist: "Possession," Sarah McLachlan
Incriminating Lyric: "You speak to me in riddles and you speak to me in rhyme / My body aches to breathe your breath / Your words keep me alive"
Creep Factor: Off the charts. The song is from the point of view of a crazed fan, and soon after its release, one of McLachlan's crazed fans sued her for songwriting credit, claiming his letters served as the inspiration for the song. The fan committed suicide before the case went to court.
Musical Antidote: "You Don't Own Me," Lesley Gore
Songs with no backbone
They may sound like love songs, but in truth they are the pathetic pleas of an emasculated sap. There is no floor they won't crawl across, no insult they won't take, no demeaning act they won't commit in order to win someone's love. Poor bastards. They clearly have no idea why these people left them in the first place.
Song/Artist: "Breakaway," Tracey Ullman
Spineless Lyric: "Even though you treat me bad and many cruel words are spoken / You have got a spell on me that just can't be broken."
Wimp Factor: Substantial, but at least the singer knows that she can do better. Besides, if the idea of a 24-year-old Ullman dusting off an old Jackie DeShannon song and telling her man that she'd never break away from him, no, no, nono, no, isn't enough to make him change his ways, frankly, that's his loss.
Musical Antidote: "I Don't Want Your Love," Duran Duran
Song/Artist: "When You're in Love with a Beautiful Woman," Dr. Hook
Spineless Lyric: "When you're in love with a beautiful woman / It's hard … Everybody wants to take your baby home."
Wuss Factor: Uh, let's see – the song's protagonist has a girlfriend so hot that even his best friends can't stop making passes at her, and the only thing he can think to do is whimper "when you're in love with a beautiful woman, you go it alone"?
Musical Antidote: "Ho," Ludacris
Song/Artist: "Shiver," Coldplay
Spineless Lyric: "Did she want me to change? But I'd change for good / And I want you to know that you'll always get your way."
Wimp Factor: She's the shoes, he's the doormat. Neil Finn once sang that "She Will Have Her Way," but for crying out loud, at least he didn't promise her that in advance. Chris Martin, on the other hand, sounds like he just lost a fight to a Predator, which leads us to believe that this is the song that inspired the "You know how I know you're gay?" joke in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin."
Musical Antidote: "Shake Me," Cinderella
Song/Artist: "What If," Coldplay
Spineless Lyric: "What if you should decide, that you don't want me there by your side / That you don't want me there in your life."
Wimp Factor: Massive, and given the recent turmoil in Chris Martin's marriage to Gwyneth Paltrow, this song now has an added layer of awkward to go with the clingy. And sweet Jesus, is this clingy.
Musical Antidote: "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You," Led Zeppelin
Song/Artist: "If You Leave Me Now," Chicago
Spineless Lyric: "If you leave me now, you'll take away the biggest part of me / Oooooooh no, baby please don't go."
Wuss Factor: Impossible to overestimate. Chicago was never exactly a hard-rocking band, but "If You Leave Me Now" marks the spot where their wrists really started to go limp. Any woman who ever had her mind changed by this song wasn't worth convincing to stay.
Musical Antidote: "Get the Fuck Out," Skid Row
Song/Artist: "Just When I Needed You Most," Randy VanWarmer
Spineless Lyric: "You left in the rain / Without closing the door / I didn't stand in your way."
Wuss Factor: The only thing higher than this song's wuss factor were the odds against anyone named Randy VanWarmer ever scoring a hit record.
Musical Antidote: "Walk All Over You," AC/DC
Song/Artist: "All Out of Love," Air Supply
Spineless Lyric: "I want you to come back and carry me home / Away from this long, lonely night."
Wuss Factor: Are you kidding? The early '80s were the peak of the wuss-rock era, and nobody brought the vag like Air Supply. Shit, Barry Manilow could have kicked both of their asses with one ruffled sleeve tied behind his back.
Musical Antidote: "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love," Van Halen
Song/Artist: "Lost Without Your Love," Bread
Spineless Lyric: "Since you left I hardly make it through the day / My tears get in the way / And I need you back to stay."
Wuss Factor: Of all the mellow gold bands who hit it big in the '70s and '80s, Bread may have been the mellowest (they could have beaten Air Supply in a slapfight, but it would have been close), and this song ranks among their most simpering. Hasn't been made part of a post-breakup mix by any self-respecting male since 1983.
Musical Antidote: "I Just Want Some Skank," Circle Jerks
Song/Artist: "These Things Take Time," The Smiths
Spineless Lyric: "I know that I'm the most inept that ever stepped…Vivid and in your prime, you will leave me behind."
Wimp Factor: Picture Morrissey playing poker with Bread, Air Supply and Chicago. "I'll see your self-pity, and raise you self-loathing," he says. The other three, knowing they're outmatched, fold (quite literally, in the case of the first two bands). Ten years later, Morrissey finally met his match in the form of what everyone predicted would be a one-hit wonder band named after a Talking Heads song.
Musical Antidote: "Time's Up," Living Colour
Song/Artist: "Creep," Radiohead
Spineless Lyric: "I wish I was special, you're so fucking special / But I'm a creep, I'm a weirdo / What the hell am I doing here? I don't belong here."
Wimp Factor: Put it this way: our own Jason Thompson lays the blame for all things emo at this song's feet. The godfather of emo? That's some big-time wimpiness, right there.
Musical Antidote: "Happy," Ned's Atomic Dustbin
Songs with malicious intent
The protagonists in these songs -- oh, who are we kidding, there are no protagonists. There are only perps and victims. Have some pepper spray on hand before hitting 'play.'
Song/Artist: "You Can't Quit Me, Baby," Queens of the Stone Age
Potentially Violent Lyric: "Followed you home, crawled in your window / This life is a trip when you're psycho in love."
Fear Factor: Given that our narrator appears to only be cutting himself (a later lyric is "I slashed and I cut, I bled in the sink"), we're actually more concerned for his safety than that of his beloved. The song gets a double word score, though, for quoting a line from the previously mentioned "Creep." That line would be "I want you to notice when I'm not around," for those keeping score at home.
Musical Antidote: "I'll Set You Free," The Bangles
Song/Artist: "Don't Leave Me Now," Pink Floyd
Potentially Violent Lyric: "Don't leave me now / How could you go? / When you know I need you to beat to a pulp on a Saturday night."
Fear Factor: They looked like English professors and dabbled in prog, but the Floyd always boasted a nasty undercurrent to their work – unlike, say, Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Of course, Roger Waters was probably thinking of David Gilmour when he wrote these lyrics, which changes "Don't Leave Me Now" from "disturbingly threatening plea" to "fight that would have been more interesting than the band's music."
Musical Antidote: Anything by Randy Vanwarmer
Song/Artist: "Straw Hat and Old Dirty Hank," Barenaked Ladies
Potentially Violent Lyric: "I know your address, I ring the bell / I bring you flowers and a .22 with shells."
Fear Factor: Yikes. The restraining order was clearly not enough. Stephen Page has never been shy about addressing complicated relationships in his songs – BNL's album Maybe You Should Drive is practically one big breakup song – but this story of a farmer obsessed with a pop singer is one of the most upbeat murder ballads you'll ever hear.
Musical Antidote: "She Wants to Dance with Me," Rick Astley
Song/Artist: "Possum Kingdom," Toadies
Potentially Violent Lyric: "I'm not gonna lie / I'll not be a gentleman / Behind the boathouse, I'll show you my dark secret."
Fear Factor: Palpable. The early-to-mid '90s were full of bands who tried to sound scary and maladjusted, but Toadies were one of the few who managed to pull it off with this thinly veiled prelude to a homicide.
Musical Antidote: "Bridge Over Troubled Water," Simon & Garfunkel
Song/Artist: "Diane," Husker Du
Potentially Violent Lyric: "Hey little girl, wanna go for a ride? / There's room in my wagon, it's parked right outside / We could cruise down Robert Street all night long / But I think I'll just rape you and kill you instead."
Fear Factor: It reminds us of the urban legend about the guy who woke up in a bathtub full of ice with a message written in lipstick on the mirror: Diane, call 911 or you will die.
Musical Antidote: "Diane," Material Issue
Song/Artist: "Object," Ween
Potentially Violent Lyric: "You're just a piece of meat, and I am the butcher / I love you better, love you forever / You're just an object to me."
Fear Factor: We'd tell you how terrifying we find this song, but Dean and Gene Ween have already cut out our tongues. Mmnnnnnnthhthwnndsdlmmdmd….
Musical Antidote: "Object of My Desire," Starpoint