Top 10 Anti-Love Songs
As this list of the Top 10 Anti-Love Songs proves, Valentine’s Day is either a day to celebrate your significant other, or it’s your worst nightmare, if your relationship situation is not what you’d like it to be. The following songs are sympathetic to the latter scenario, whether they deal with scorned lovers, terrible breakups or anyone simply unlucky in love.
From: ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’ (1963)
This oft-covered song is a folk classic – and it’s also an early example of that classic biting Bob Dylan wit, making it one of our Top 10 Anti-Love Songs. Throughout the tune, the title phrase is interpreted as passive-aggressive, resigned and sad. By the end, however, Dylan delivers the phrase with more than a little bitterness: “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.” Hell hath no fury like a bard scorned.
From: ‘Outlandos d'Amour’ (1978)
Look up the phrase “self-pitying” in the dictionary, and chances are the protagonist of this reggae-tinged song from the Police will be pictured. Need (melodramatic) proof? How about lyrics such as, “In this theatre that I call my soul / I always play the starring role / So lonely”? Or how about Sting’s anguished vamping on the titular phrase near the end of the tune? Either way, one (obvious) thing’s for sure: There’s no love present in the world of "So Lonely."
From: ‘Son of Schmilsson’ (1972)
Harry Nilsson remains one of the most influential singer-songwriters around, and it’s easy to see why, judging by "You’re Breaking My Heart." The anger is palpable in this throes-of-a-breakup song, judging by the jarring profanity and descriptions of a violent breakup (e.g., broken glasses). As with other Nilsson tunes, however, this ire is delivered cheerfully, with rollicking piano and almost whimsical instrumentation setting a deceptively sweet tone.
From: ‘Up Your Alley’ (1988)
A Billboard Top 10 hit, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts' "I Hate Myself For Loving You" oozes with self-loathing. See, the main character is ticked because although her man is a flaky cheater, she “can’t break free from the things” he does. Even better are the song’s roaring arena riffs, splashy hand claps and wicked contributions from ex-Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor, which combine for a bubblegum-rock gem.
From: ‘Van Halen II’ (1979)
Made famous by Linda Ronstadt in 1975, "You’re No Good" turned into a hard rock creeper in the hands of Van Halen. The first track on Van Halen II, this cover smolders with stoner riffs, ominous harmonies and David Lee Roth squeals. While it’s inarguable that the person discussed is a dud as a date, Van Halen’s sleazy version clearly wants to make sure listeners realize just how bad this person truly is.
From: ‘Love Stinks’ (1980)
J. Geils and company are pragmatic about romance. After all, it just “stinks,” not anything more serious, and it’s ended up that way because the protagonist is pining after a lady who doesn’t even love him back. That approach meshes well with the song’s loopy organ, pub-drunk harmonies and rather cartoonish intonations of the song’s title, “Love stinks.” In the end, Geils isn’t heartbroken; he’s merely shrugging his shoulders.
From: ‘Pump’ (1989)
Steven Tyler spends this sprawling Aerosmith song trying desperately to shake off the dogged memory of an ex. “Girl, before I met you, I was F-I-N-E, fine / But your love made me a prisoner, yeah, my heart’s been doing time,” he moans in the second verse, which is tame when compared to the pleading chorus: “Tell me what it takes to let you go / Tell me how the pain’s supposed to go.” "What It Takes" hits the mark musically as well, between its bluesy bar-band swagger, sorrow-wobbled solo and tiny dab of pop glitz – making it one of our Top 10 Anti-Love Songs.
From: ‘Rumours’ (1977)
The Lindsey Buckingham-Stevie Nicks romantic drama was well in progress by the time Fleetwood Mac's Rumours came out. One of the best (if not the most enduring) documents of that saga is this Buckingham-penned tune, "Go Your Own Way." The song’s lyrics capture the bittersweet push-pull of a relationship that’s not quite balanced – a situation made all the more poignant (and complicated) by the fact that the doomed pair are bandmates.
From: ‘Hysteria’ (1987)
Def Leppard’s only Billboard singles chart-topper is an emotionally conflicted power ballad. On the one hand, the song describes irresistible magnetism: “I don't wanna touch you too much baby / 'Cause making love to you might drive me crazy.” But if you read between the lines, "Love Bites" is actually a fatal attraction: “Watch out, love bites / Yes it does / It will be hell.” Mutt Lange’s gigantic production only magnifies the song’s drama, from Joe Elliott’s tortured vocal turn to the gargantuan guitars.
From: ‘Hair Of The Dog’ (1975)
Love shouldn’t be painful, right? Wrong, say Nazareth in this monstrous 1975 hit, which tops our list of the Top 10 Anti-Love Songs. Love is a total bitch: It hurts, it scars, it burns, it’s a lie. Heck, it’s even a rain-filled cloud. Frontman Dan McCafferty underscores the emotion’s putrid nature with his agony-twisted vocals, while the song’s understated guitar noodling and drumming get out of his way – as if intuitively understanding that this catharsis is something McCafferty needs to achieve on his own.