Let’s just come out and say it: Valentine’s Day sucks! Even if you’re in relationship there’s a whole bunch of stress about wanting to make it special and find the right gift or make the appropriate romantic gesture. And that’s assuming you’re in a good relationship. Spare a thought for those poor souls who are trapped in misery and unable, for whatever reason, to leave. Spare a thought for all those poor souls who are being cheated on, wasting their lives and their loyalty on someone who doesn’t deserve the time of day. “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,” wrote Tennyson. But what the hell did he know? He was spared the indignity of waiting for a phone call by getting married before phones were invented, and clearly he never met your ex!
But let’s not be downhearted on this most cruel of days. There’s many a song about the awfulness of heartache, the soul-destroying sadness of unrequited love. But instead let’s celebrate freedom and dumping the useless bugger. Remember, love is just a chemical reaction, and you don’t need chemicals.
Here then, are ten songs to remind you that St. Valentine was beheaded, and that Cupid carried a bow and arrow!
1. Alanis Morissette “You Oughta Know”
That “You Oughta Know” was the lead single from one of the biggest selling albums of all time – 33 million and counting – is proof, if ever it were needed, that heartbreak is universal. And, boy, is this Canadian songstress pissed about it, pulling no punches when it comes to expressing her anger at being dumped. “It was a slap in the face. How quickly I was replaced. And are you thinking of me when you fuck her?” shes demands of her ex, who is rumored to have been either comedian David Coulier, hockey player Mike Peluso, actor Matt LeBlanc or musician Leslie Howe. Either way, Morissette isn’t telling, never naming names in songs or interviews.
2. Supersuckers “Pretty Fucked Up”
The self-proclaimed “greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world” recorded arguably their catchiest ditty on their sixth studio album back in 2003. It’s the kinda thing that could easily have got them some airplay and been a big hit if only they hadn’t called the record Motherfuckers Be Trippin’ and the song in question “Pretty Fucked Up.” Nonetheless, the tune perfectly captures the highs and lows of a break up. “I begged her forgiveness, I begged her to stay,” relates frontman Eddie Spaghetti, before declaring, “She used to be pretty, but now she’s just pretty fucked up.” A song for those times when you look back and think, “what the hell was I so upset about?’
3. Ne-Yo “So Sick”
Inevitably after a break up every damn song on the radio will remind you of your former significant other. And good luck turning it off! Chances are that you’ll hear them when you walk into a mall or when someone drives past with the windows down. American R&B/hip-hop artist Ne-Yo has been there too. “I’m so sick of love songs, so sad and slow. So why can’t I turn off the radio?” he laments on this number one hit from the 2005 album In My Own Words. 209 million views on YouTube suggest that he’s not alone.
4. Ramones “Glad To See You Go”
Ramones bassist Dee Dee Ramone had a famously turbulent relationship with his former girlfriend Connie Gripp, AKA Connie Ramone. The couple fought constantly and she once caught him cheating on her with Nancy Spungen (he really could pick ’em) and stabbed him in the ass with a broken bottle, leaving a permanent scar. After one of their last rows Connie stormed out, slamming the door as Dee Dee yelled “Glad to see you go!” And then he wrote this song about wanting to shoot her. Meanwhile Ramones guitarist Johnny Ramone “stole” their singer Joey’s girlfriend leading to a lifelong feud between the two. And who said romance was dead?
5. Gloria Gaynor “I Will Survive”
Let’s just say you know this one. Aside from being the biggest gay anthem of all time and a go-to for drunken karaoke nights, it’s also one of the biggest disco anthems ever, with in excess of 14 million copies sold worldwide. More than that, it’s the ultimate tune to play at full volume and blast away you sorrows. Not that we need to be quoting the lyrics at you. Gay or straight you know them word for word! Sing it loud and sing it proud! Preferably loud enough for your stupid ex to hear!
6. Bob Dylan “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”
It may seem like a strange concept, but not all break ups have to be acrimonious and end in bitterness. As evidenced on this tune from the 1963 album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, sometimes it’s just best to move on with no hard feelings. “I ain’t sayin’ you treated me unkind. You could have done better but I don’t mind. You just kinda wasted my precious time. But don’t think twice, it’s all right,” Bob croons gently, before packing his bags and making a run for it. Granted, he doesn’t bother saying goodbye, but the song is a goodbye – or a “fare thee well” – in itself. No restraining orders necessary.
7. Amy Winehouse “Tears Dry On Their Own”
The fourth single from her second and final studio album, “Tears Dry On Their Own” was also featured in the 2015 documentary, Amy, about her life and untimely death. It tells a remorseful tale of love gone wrong, but with the cautionary advice not to repeat the same mistakes and ultimately to be your own best friend. Sadly, it seems to be advice that she couldn’t follow, and she was plagued by unhappy or abuse relationships, once stating that her “whole marriage was based on doing drugs”. She died from alcohol poisoning on July 23, 2011 at just 27 years old. An unfortunate reminder that sometimes you’re better off alone.
8. Fleetwood Mac “Go Your Own Way”
Doubtless you’ve seen the meme that’s been doing the rounds recently. “Taylor Swift: Writes whiny songs about all of her ex boyfriends. Stevie Nicks: Made her ex play guitar while she sang songs about what an asshole he was.” And yes, she did, although this single from 1977’s Rumours album was written by said guitarist, Lindsey Buckingham, and aimed at Nicks who wrote “Dreams” for the same album as a response. By all accounts, every member of the band was going through an unpleasant breakup at the time, with conversations between Buckingham and Nicks often devolving into screaming matches. That must have been a fun working atmosphere!
9. Skunk Anansie “Twisted (Everyday Hurts)”
One of many songs of heartache from these massively underrated Brit rockers whose other lovelorn classics include “Because Of You,” “Weak,” “Brazen” and “Without You.” And while there’s nothing particularly uplifting about the lyrics (“everyday hurts a little more”) there’s something about its swagger that lets you know you’ll make it through this and be okay. Indeed, frontwoman Skin wrote an entire solo album, Fleshwounds, about having her heart broken but remains an inspiration to the black and LGBTQ communities in particular, and the rock community in general. Having an incredible voice doesn’t hurt.
10. Queens Of The Stoneage “Gonna Leave You”
Former Queens Of The Stoneage bassist and occasional singer Nick Oliveri know a thing or two about horrible relationships. So much so that in 2011 he was arrested after an argument with his then girlfriend turned into an alleged hostage situation that resulted in a two hour stand-off with an L.A. SWAT team. It’s unlikely that this tune from the 2002 masterpiece Songs For The Deaf was playing at the time of his arrest, but perhaps it should have been. “This is the end. No more pictures, we ain’t friends.” Elsewhere on the album he contributes vocals to “Another Love Song” (which is another break up song). Not surprisingly, his wedding tattoo has been covered by a dollar sign.