Music · Writing

Ode to the Love Song

I’m not gonna write you a love song. I’ll leave that to Sara Bareilles. But I am going to write a blog post about them.

Music is a powerful vessel of human emotion. It’s an illusive artwork which, when we experience it, makes us feel things. It maybe comes as no surprise then that arguably the strongest and most important emotion of Love, is and has been attached to music for centuries.

While the origin of this relationship remains unknown, love songs and serenades have been a part of almost every society’s culture and history. While Denis de Rougemount’s thesis of Love in the Western World speculates that love songs were generated from troubadours’ courtly love songs, the ubiquity of love songs through most histories presents a unique cultural phenomenon.

Simply put, as Steve Scott’s Love in the Western World suggests, “The song is new. The story is old”. The hope and promise of love is an eternal concept. And as such, some of these love songs have been sung and re-sung over the years.

Some are simple, like The Cure’s “I will always love you” in Love Song (or Adele’s cover of the song, for the younger crowd).

If that’s not proof enough, the ability of a love song to make people connect over generations can be seen in the classic Can’t Help Falling In Love, originally sung by The King, Elvis Presley.

A song touching the heart strings of many to this day, it’s popularity is clear in this cover by Twenty One Pilots.

And of course, is there any way of getting through a post about love without including the late, great Frank Sinatra and his life-long romance with love in his iconic Fly Me To The Moon.

Love songs have been re-imagined over the decades to include a variety of feelings and experiences which love has to offer. After all, not all love ends with Happily Ever After. Some of the best love songs of all time have been songs about the loss of that dream.

Narrowing down the pile of pain-riddled melodies about unrequited or lost love is no easy task. So I’ll rather choose to name three of my most poignant picks.

The intimate hero-ing of the piano in Labrinth’s Jealous, coupled with the raw emotion which his voice carries makes this a a truly piercing piece.

The vulnerable opening of the acoustic guitar, accompanied by the quietness of the piano keeps Ed Sheeran’s Happier authentic. But ultimately it’s Sheeran’s lingering lyrics which strike a chord.

Just because Wrabel’s 11 Blocks has a decent beat, doesn’t detract from it’s truly painful sentiment. It’s an enjoyable song sure, but when you pay special attention to the lyrics, the heartbreak is inescapable.

But not all breakup songs are mournful. Some people seem to love channeling their loss of love into giving the world great music.

As I said before, Frank Sinatra really got it. But so too does his modern counterpart, Michael Buble. With Buble’s Bond-esque cover of the famously brooding Cry Me A River and his springfully upbeat original of It’s a Beautiful Day, his different approaches still equate to the same thing. This guy clearly knows how to win a breakup.

When speaking of winning breakups, two ladies come to mind whose tear-jerking, heart throbbing romantic misfalls have led them to mainstream success; namely Adele and Taylor Swift.

T Swizzle’s famous We Are Never Getting Back Together is just one of the go-to’s for teenage heartbreak which made her multiple ex’s weep as her royalties poured in.

Adele also became feared in her triumphant ability to turn her tearful personal loss into fiery musical gain. Take Rolling in the Deep as an example of her defiance against ‘the scars of love’. I especially love the subtle flip off of “You’re gonna wish you never had met me” in the echoes of her chorus.

And I cannot leave without a quick shout out to the unquestionable staple of karaoke breakup songs from the original powerhouse Kelly Clarkson and her world famous Since You Been Gone.

Ultimately, we have to learn to appreciate the love song in all it’s many forms. Whether it be happy in, struggling with, or sorrowfully without, love is no simple matter. But love and music have made a great match. And as Shakespeare famously likened music to the food of love, it’s likely to continue to ‘play on’.


All images sourced from Google: No copyright. All videos sourced from YouTube. 


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