It’s Valentine’s Day, and commercialism love is in the air. But sometimes that love is expressed through music that crosses the thin line between romance and total insanity. Here are my picks for the ten most disturbing love songs of all time.
10. Every Breath You Take – The Police
There’s not much to say that hasn’t already been said about Sting’s Ballad of the Stalker, but I had to include it on this list because it really is one of the most genuinely alarming songs to ever break the top 40.
Cringiest line: “Can’t you see, you belong to me
And how my poor heart aches, with every breath you take.”
I could definitely see that line written in blood at the scene of a murder-suicide.
9. You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me – Dusty Springfield
Giiiiiiirl, you have got to get yourself together. You are too thin and too blonde to be begging men to stay with you like this. This song, one of the most desperate pleas in music history, feels like it should end with the number to a suicide hotline.
Cringiest Line: “Don’t you see, that now you’ve gone and I’m left here on my own,
That I have to follow you and beg you to come home.”
No, what you have to do is call some friends, go out for oversized margaritas, post some passive-aggressive things on Facebook and then declare to everyone you talk to that you’re “so over it.” Following and begging should play no part in it.
8. Into the Night – Benny Mardones
Oh my. This song is basically To Catch a Predator set to music.
Cringiest Line: “She’s just sixteen years old, leave her alone, they say.
Separated by fools, who don’t what love is yet.”
Oh, those fools who make statutory rape laws. They just don’t know the beautiful love that can exist between minors and grown men in dimly lit alleys. There’s a lot to say about this song, but I don’t think anyone sums it up better than Youtube commenter jhohcable, who claims “This is the best song about nailing underage girls ever written. It is beautiful.”
7. Bed of Roses – Bon Jovi
Granted, I don’t know the situation that these two people have worked out, and maybe it works for them, but Bon Jovi mentions several other women in “Bed of Roses.” This seems like one of those romantic ballads that starts out sweet and ends with a drive down to the free clinic for a battery of tests.
Cringiest Line: “Now as you close your eyes, know I’ll be thinking about you.
While my mistress she calls me, to stand in her spotlight again.
Tonight, I won’t be alone, but you know that don’t mean I’m not lonely.”
Declarations of love should never wrap up with the casual mention that the declarer is about to go sleep with someone else. Also, I doubt very many women really want to be told that they’re being thought about during that.
6. Invisible – Clay Aiken
I chose most of these songs based on how it would feel to have the lyrics said to you in a conversation. This one, for example, would result in an instant restraining order.
Cringiest Line: “If I was invisible, then I could just watch you in your room.
If I was invincible, I’d make you mine tonight.”
Nope, not cool, Clay. I know it’s not the intended effect, but all I can think of when I hear this is Hollow Man, and I resent any song for making me relive that.
5. To Be With You – Mr. Big
I couldn’t embed the real video, so please enjoy this karaoke music video of this song from 1996.
Guys, here’s a tip: If you like a woman, and you really want to be with her, maybe you shouldn’t allude to how many men she’s been with when you tell her that you’d like to be next. Definitely don’t use the phrase, “waited on a line.” No woman wants to feel like the take-a-number system at a deli.
Cringiest Lyric: “Hold on little girl, show me what he’s done to you.
Stand up little girl, a broken heart can’t be that bad.”
Oh yeah, and don’t call women “little girl” when you address them. Unless they are, in fact, little girls, in which case see my response to Benny Mardones above.
4. Nothing Compares 2 U – Sinead O’ Connor
Oh man, remember when you broke up with your first boyfriend or girlfriend, and your friends tried to cheer you up but they couldn’t because how could you ever be happy again after the most amazing two months EVER and no one could possibly know how this feels and GET OUT OF MY ROOM, MOM! Well, that’s basically this song. They even went so far as to put the title in textese before that was even a thing. Very forward thinking.
Cringiest Line: “Went to the doctor and guess what he told me, guess what he told me,
He said girl you better try to have fun no matter what you do. But he’s a fool.”
You’re complaining to your doctor about this? Do you ever stop talking about it? Ugh, no wonder your friends have abandoned you to sing alone into a camera.
3. Sometimes When We Touch – Dan Hill
You know how everyone went through their “poetry phase”? When you just had so many feelings that you had to share with the world, so you filled a spiral notebook with poems that you promptly hid at the bottom of a drawer? This song feels like it was unearthed from some 8th grader’s poetry notebook. It’s so jam-packed with cliches and metaphors, and sometimes, as in the line below, they get out of hand.
Cringiest Lyric: “At times I think we’re drifters, still searching for a friend.
A brother or a sister, but then the passion flairs again.”
2. How Am I Supposed to Live Without You? – Michael Bolton
Let’s get one thing straight about the above video. He’s definitely singing this ballad from his ex-girlfriend’s apartment, and she is either not there or already murdered. Can you imagine anything worse than coming home to find your ex-boyfriend, Michael Bolton, sulking around your apartment? I mean, other than being murdered by your ex-boyfriend, Michael Bolton, while he sings this song, obviously.
Cringiest Lyric: “So tell me all about it, tell me ’bout the plans you’re making.
Tell me one thing more, before I go,
Tell me how am I supposed to live without you?”
UGH. This conversation is gonna be a doozy. “O.K., I get it, you’ve moved on. But hey, just one question before I head out…HOW WILL YOU FEEL WHEN I KILL MYSELF?” Pull yourself together, Michael Bolton. And give your ex her key back.
1. All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You – Heart
YIKES. Whenever people talk about the trash that gets played on the radio these days, I point out that this song, about a woman who picks up a hitchhiker and seduces him so she can have and raise his baby with her infertile husband, was played all the time in the early 90s. I must have heard this song hundreds of times before its meaning dawned on me at an age that I am in no way embarrassed to admit (25).
Cringiest Line: “And in the morning when he woke, all I left him was a note.
I told him I am the flower, you are the seed.
We walked in the garden, we planted a tree.
Don’t try to find me, please don’t you dare.
Just live in my memory, you’ll always be there.”
What a confusing experience for that young hitchhiker. A one-night stand followed by a note that looks like it was pulled from Dan Hill’s poetry notebook. A. How is he going to find you? You didn’t even exchange names. B. Why would he find you? You have some pretty serious psychological problems. Sperm banks definitely existed in 1990. C. Is he supposed to understand from this that you just tricked him into making a baby? Because that metaphor is confusing.
All right, those are my choices for the most disturbing love songs, but as someone has already pointed out to me, they’re not super current. (What, music after 2003? Are they still making that?) So please add your selections to the comments, I’d love to hear your favorite examples of love songs gone horribly awry.