Messed Up Love Songs


Kristin Devine

Kristin is a geek, a libertarian, and a domestic goddess. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals and works with women around the world as a fertility counselor. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of

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61 Responses

  1. Avatar pillsy says:

    My favorite fucked up love song is probably the Afghan Whigs’ “What Jail is Like”.

    Also I’m a big fan of that Garbage song, which is not a garbage song.

    What can I say? I was a teenager in the ’90s.Report

    • Avatar atomickristin says:

      I’ve actually never heard that before, thanks, I really liked it.Report

      • Avatar pillsy says:


        The whole album is good. Probably my favorite junior year of high school.

        (In retrospect, I can see why the message that romantic relationships are horribly painful might appeal to a perpetually dateless 17 year old.)Report

  2. Avatar Silver Wolf says:

    Crystal Castles ft. Robert Smith – Not in loveReport

  3. Avatar KenB says:

    My favorites (probably a good thing I’m already married):

    I Hold Your Hand in Mine
    Skullcrusher MountainReport

  4. Avatar Em Carpenter says:

    I love this! All my favorite love songs are of the obsessed/crazy/toxic love variety so this is right up my alley. You even named a few of them- #1 Crush, Love the Way You Lie, Bad Romance.
    Also, Make Me Wanna Die by The Pretty Reckless
    A bunch of Fiona Apple
    Call Me a Dog by Temple of the Dog
    Sanctified by NIN
    Habits by Tove Lo
    I could go on but I won’t.
    Great piece Kristin!Report

  5. Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

    Then there is the “file a restraining order now!” genre. The classic example is, of course, The Police’s Every Breath You Take. But this is my favorite. It starts out as a classic “she done him wrong” song, until it comes out that the wrong was telling him to go away, But he won’t let that stop him! Disturblingly enough, I think this is meant to be romantic, not a giant red flag.


  6. Avatar Vikram Bath says:

    Gotta get my nine inch nails in.
    Reptile from the Downward Spiral

    And an earlier one. Sin from Pretty Hate Machine:

  7. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    There are only three types of love songs:
    1. Baby, I love you
    2. Baby, I love you and miss you
    3. Baby, I love you and want to get into your pantsReport

  8. I don’t like Bruce Springsteen much, but “The Fever” is pretty damned tough to beat.


  9. Avatar bookdragon says:

    Meatloaf has some amazing messed up love songs. Everyone knows “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”, but there’s “2 Out 3 Ain’t Bad” and far lesser know “Dead Ringer for Love” which has this wonderfully duet ending with this set of lyrics:

    “..You got the kind of mind that does less than think
    But since I’m feeling kinda lonely and my defenses are low
    Why don’t you give it a shot and get it ready to go
    I’m looking for anonymous and fleeting satisfaction
    And I want to tell my daddy I’ll be missing in action
    Ever since I can remember I’ve been hanging ’round this joint
    My daddy never noticed, now he’ll finally get the point
    You got me beggin’ on my knees, c’mon and throw the dog a bone
    A man he doesn’t live by rock ‘n roll and brew alone
    Baby baby Rock ‘n roll and brew, rock ‘n roll and brew
    They don’t mean a thing when I compare ’em next to you
    Rock ‘n roll and brew, rock ‘n roll and brew
    I know that you and I oh we got better things to do
    I don’t know who you are or what you do, or where you go when you’re not around
    I don’t know anything about you baby, but you’re everything
    I’m dreaming of I don’t know who you are, but you’re a real dead ringer for love
    A real dead ringer for love
    Dead ringer for love
    Dead ringer for love, dead ringer?”Report

    • Avatar atomickristin says:

      You are totally right and before I turned this into a mostly-female list I had him on there as a possibility. Thanks as always for reading/commenting!Report

  10. Avatar JoeSal says:

    Good stuff Kristin.

    Ain’t No Sunshine-Bill Withers
    Paint it Black-The Rolling Stones
    Sundown-Gordon Lightfoot
    Drops of Jupiter-Train
    The Valley Road-Bruce Hornsby and the Range
    Dark Nights-Dorothy
    Cold Cold Heart-Hank Williams
    Rose in Paradise-Waylon JenningsReport

    • If anybody’s bored, here’s a playlist that includes at least some of the songs that have already been mentioned here, but that also has Mazzy Star, Alicia Keys, Sam Cooke, UNKLE, Big Mama Thornton, and They Might Be Giants.Report

    • Avatar Pinky says:

      If you’ve got Paint It Black on your list, you should also have Black by Pearl Jam. But those are more heartbreak songs.

      Elvis Costello’s label asked him to do a light-mood love song to get back on the charts. This is what he wrote:


      • Avatar JoeSal says:

        “I know someday you’ll have a beautiful life
        I know you’ll be a star
        In somebody else’s sky”

        I avoid that song because I lived that part in color, it’s hard to hear it again.Report

        • Avatar Pinky says:

          “…but why, why can’t it be mine?”

          Yeah. I don’t care who you are, if you’re 14 or older, that line is a gut punch. The live version of that song, from On Two Legs, has one of my favorite guitar leads. The guitar, the vocals, everything about that song is coughing up blood by the end. The vocals aren’t even words by that point. There’s an acoustic live version that’s pretty good, too.Report

    • Avatar atomickristin says:

      Ah I love these, except for Dorothy, which I hadn’t heard before, and then listened to, and also love! Thank you!Report

  11. Avatar Murali says:

    Add to this list a lot of stuff from Halestorm for instance

    I’m pretty surprised that Alanis Morisette is not in this list

    • Avatar atomickristin says:

      I deliberately skipped Alanis. I had a list of obvious choices to sprinkle in and I decided she’d be better off used in a different application.

      Love me some Halestorm and I actually meant to include them and forgot to. Thank you!Report

  12. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    No “See How We Are?” by X


  13. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Or we can stick with poetry. Here is Having a Coke with You by Frank O’Hara:


  14. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side by the Magnetic Fields:


    • Avatar atomickristin says:

      This guy may be in for a surprise. Attractiveness doesn’t work the same for girls as it does for dudes. He may end up with a girlfriend at the end of it all.Report

  15. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Disco 2000 by Pulp:


    • Avatar atomickristin says:

      I read a lot of books from the late 1800’s to early 1900’s and people used to be quite mean to each other. It was largely codified into society (as the vinegar valentines prove)

      I sometimes wonder if we just were so lucky to live through a brief and shining period of history where people looked askance at freely criticizing one another, and the era of social media is just a return to form. Humans doing more of their human thing.Report

  16. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Babies by Pulp


  17. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Also the great Common People by Pulp


  18. Avatar Aaron David says:

    Ahem, Loverman by Nick Cave

    L is for LOVE, baby
    O is for O yes I do
    V is for VIRTUE, so I ain’t gonna hurt you
    E is for EVEN if you want me to
    R is for RENDER unto me, baby
    M is for that which is MINE
    A is for ANY old how, darling
    N is for ANY old time


  19. Avatar Marchmaine says:

    A love song for… a Road? Well, it is Lake Shore Drive.

    But isn’t the Anthem for Ironic Love songs: Song for Whoever
    {We were so young}

    I started make an Ironic Love Song list, but stopped when I realized it was mostly just Beautiful South songs. The again, given our demographics, maybe this is the Perfect messed-up love song for Valentines.Report

  20. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Mamacita by Outkast is spectacularly messed up.


  21. “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”, in which Dylan tries to tells a woman he’s leaving, except that she’s never paid him any attention before, so why should she start now?Report

  22. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    My favorite messed up love song is Read About Love by Richard Thompson