28 January 2008

Isn't it Romantic

I recently listed to a This American Life podcast from earlier last year called The Break Up. Included in this awesome piece is a discussion on romantic songs. And the focus of that segment is a girl who, along with her then boyfriend, loved the song "Against the Odds" by Phil Collins (I think that is the right song). So, when the boyfriend broke up with her, she tracked down Phil Collins and wrote a song with him.

It got me thinking. With the approaching nightmare of Valentine's Day, it got me thinking of what makes a song romantic, what makes a love song work. Is this something subjective, that varies from person to person? Or is there an objective measurement of love songs?

So I pondered this, and came to the conclusion that it is pretty subjective. There are songs that you hear that you just know will be someone's wedding song ("Still the One" by Shania Twain, "Unanswered Prayers" by Garth Brooks, "Rock Whitcha" by Bobby Brown...), but to me, those songs often seem really cheesy and trite. There are ones for me which just stop me in my tracks, mainly for the lyrics, but I doubt others would deem them romantic.

I love "M&M's" by Blink (before they added the -182). When I was in college, I would listen to it over and over again. But I think it was made more special by the fact that a friend of mine put it on a mix tape he made me, as the last song, and then asked me had I listened to the tape all the way through (man, the brilliant conversation of college freshmen). I still wonder why he asked me that, but hearing that song brings me back to the bright spot in a really rough patch. I am going to play it right now.

There is a song from the Love Actually soundtrack called "Songbird," that stops me in my tracks every time. The voice is haunting, the melody gorgeous and the lyrics telling. It makes me long for something missing in my life, and would someone play it for me, I think I would melt.

Not to go on too much longer, but there is also one called "Ballad for my One True Love," by Mason Jennings. It is a bit folky, but we can all only wish for someone to write us a ballad like that.

So what makes a good love song? What makes it romantic? Opinions welcome.

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