Top 5 Songs in My Head, Walking Through Melbourne on Rosh Hashanah (by Claire)

“I forgot how quickly I start narrating stuff out loud to myself when left to my own devices.” –Message to a friend about my month in Melbourne

The other night I walked around for hours, too afraid to listen to my iPod based on my current dreamy state and nervousness about not looking the right way when I looked both ways.  I sang songs in my head, like I always do, except maybe at a more fevered pace. It was cold and I was hungry. I wondered, could a night have a Top 5 list? As I walked and shopped, ate and remembered, I came up with mine. Here’s what happened the other night, and what I was singing in my head.

“For the Young Sophisticate” by Frank Zappa

It was raining the first time I realized I had missed Rosh Hashanah. I slept until 1:30pm that day, a blessing when you work until 4:00am, but even all those precious zzs couldn’t help me shake the tired fog that surrounded me. That level of exhaustion veers in two directions: magical or depressing, but the depression is particular. It’s not real feelings and chemicals, even if you think it is. It’s little kid sadness—you’re so tired, you could cry over anything. A stubbed toe is a tragedy, a missed TV show is a reason to call it quits and crawl back into bed. As for the magical—well, sometimes you’re sitting at brunch and you wonder if you’re awake or dreaming.  Rain drops twinkle and wink. You wonder if you thought about it really hard, if maybe you could fly.

It was raining and I was walking to my third convenience store, trying to find the perfect Cadburys bar or a flavor of Tim Tams I hadn’t tried yet. I remembered it was Rosh Hashanah. No apples, no honey, no family dinner. I burst into tears. I conjured the song that had been looping through my mind for days. “Dear Heart, Dear Heart, tell me tell me what’s the reason,” I hummed. I turned it into a Zappa mash-up, I imagined his voice saying “Is that a REAL poncho or a SEARS poncho?” I smiled.

“Pablo Picasso,” Jonathan Richman

I went to a souvlaki joint. I ordered a souvlaki, and while I waited, I killed a cockroach on my table with a handful of receipts I’d found in my purse. I wondered why people always ask me twice if I want chili sauce. Did I stutter? I read “Love Goes to the Building on Fire” and I thought about Jonathan Richman. What does his music sound like now? Is he good live? I tried to figure out what my Top 5 Jonathan Richman songs are, but I got distracted by the phantom cockroaches that I kept imagining scuttling across the Formica.

“Dry the Rain,” The Beta Band

High Fidelity showed up on TV a few hours before I left the house. I caught it a minute before it started. It was a Rosh Hashanah miracle. It wasn’t the first time that I felt like Rob Gordon knew I was feeling down, and had arrived to pull me out of a funk, or give me permission to embrace it. And what better song to walk through the rain, in need of cheer and food and a good soundtrack, then the Beta Band’s “Dry the Rain”? Yes, I will be alright. You’re right, Rob Gordon, you’re right as usual.


“Stupid Thing” and “Freeway” by Aimee Mann

I keep coming home and listening to Joni Mitchell. I keep resting my forehead against the cool, calm of tried and true singer songwriters. Joni Mitchell, Aimee Mann, Carole King. I play a little Etta James as the day winds down, I play a little Joni Mitchell during my first late night espresso. I play Carole King when it’s raining really hard, but I only did that once because she kind of bores me, and listening to “Far Away” started to seem downright maudlin. And I listen to an entire Aimee Mann album every night, so the low buzz in my head when I’m not thinking is replaced for days by “Freeway” and “Stupid Thing.” Musical comfort food, Aimee Mann.


“Listen to Her Heart,” by Tom Petty

My friend Amy Berkowitz did a reading from her new book “Listen to Her Heart” a few months ago. There was a line in one of the poems about going to the drugstore when you’re lonely, buying hair ties. I’ve done that a hundred times. I love moments like that in poetry—when you see a bit of yourself that’s always been there, but you’ve never noticed. When I went to the pharmacy in Melbourne the other day, hair ties cost double. No thoughtless buying allowed when they cost double.

My boyfriend was working late, and every day I tried to bring him a treat. I went treat shopping after souvlaki. I flicked through racks of Tim Tams, I dawdled in a myriad of brightly colored candy aisles. At the grocery store, I bought a chocolate bar with raspberry jelly bean bits and honey comb laced throughout. It reminded me of the kind of candy bar a child would make, the first experiment that would’ve come out of Willy Wonka’s factory after Charlie took over. “All sweets together all at once!” I ate half of it on the way home.

Top 5 Movie Soundtracks (by Claire)

Movies are where you start the life long process of hearing a song and wanting to hunt it down; soundtracks are the first space where you get a sense of music used to develop a theme and convey a style. I don’t remember much about seeing Matilda as a kid, but I know I hummed “Send Me on Way” by Rusted Root for years because of it. I’ve been exposed to incredible music through soundtracks where whole genres were split open, tracks were compiled to create mini-masterclasses on everything from bluegrass to ska, and powerful songs were lodged in my head.

Goodfellas (above: “Playboy,” by The Marvelettes)

Goodfellas is composed of giant swathes of music, each one precisely and impeccably used. Toe-tapping Motown girl groups show up in droves: The Crystals, The Chantals, The Shangri-Las, The Ronettes, and The Marvelettes. Classic boy bands are laced throughout the film’s first half: The Moonglows, The Harptones, The Cadillacs, and The Drifters. Table side shows and romantic moments feature slick 50s crooners: Johny Mathis, Bobby Vinton, Bobby Darren, Jack Jones. And that’s not the half of it, that’s not a quarter. If you talk about the music in Goodfellas with even the most devout fan, they won’t point to those bands. They’ll tell you the most pressing soundtrack moment was Henry Hill trying to outrun a plane and fate with a hodgepodge of solid rock unfurling in the background, his mounting paranoia reflected in the music’s impact on your now racing heart.

The first time I watched Goodfellas was with a group of people who had seen the movie about 100 times. They got together twice a year to watch it in full while swilling cheap wine and playing the Goodfellas drinking game. A guy I barely knew leaned over and told me “Goodfellas is a mini musical education.” Then he yelled out the names of the artists before each song played. He was obnoxious, and he was right. I can still hear him bellowing “THE SHANGRI-LAS!” moments before the first notes of “Leader of the Pack.”


Magnolia (above: “Save Me,” by Aimee Mann)

Magnolia introduced me to the mighty Aimee Mann. The soundtrack is composed almost entirely of Mann songs, including tracks that appeared on her previous album I’m With Stupid and on her later album (and one of my Top 10 albums ever) Bachelor No. 2, or, the Last Remains of the Dodo. The tone to the soundtrack is wistful and a little dark, a combination that’s best exemplified in the stand out track “Save Me.” The soundtrack also features a few lost SuperTramp gems (when Gym Class Heroes’ “Cupids Chokehold” exploded and none of my friends caught the reference, this album was my key to temporary smugness) and a killer cover of Harry Nilson’s oldies-radio-standard  “One” performed by Aimee Mann.


High Fidelity (above: “I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever)” by Stevie Wonder)

The soundtrack for High Fidelity was so powerful that when I read the book, long after having seen the movie, Stevie Wonder’s “I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever) immediately lodged itself in my brain as I finished the last page. It’s the song that wraps up the film and plays through the credits. High Fidelity boasts some of the only movie credits I’ve ever seen, and I owe that to Stevie Wonder, whose song holds you in the throes of the movie for a just a few minutes longer, even though all you’re watching are scrolling names. There’s so much good music here it’s hard to sift through it—there’s Lisa Bonet redeeming Peter Frampton with her cover of “Baby I Love Your Way,” there’s Rob’s record store mind manipulation accomplished through a well-timed Beta Band song, there’s the rich discovery that Jack Black is an amazing singer as he belts “Let’s Get It On.” There’s also the quiet loveliness of Dylan’s obscure “Most of the Time,” which I believe could sway a Dylan hater.


O Brother Where Art Thou (above: “I’ll Fly Away,” sung by Alison Kraus and Gillian Welch)

I had no idea I liked bluegrass and old school country music until I heard the O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack. Until then, in my ignorant mind, country music belonged to Shania Twain and Garth Brooks. It was twangy mediocre pop, full of ten gallon hats and bad politics, and I wasn’t having any of it. And if I had stuck with that, I would have missed so much. I would have missed Emmylou Harris and angel-voiced Alison Kraus, I would have missed Gillian Welch and Ralph Stanley. I would have missed everything with a banjo, every last thing. And all this music led me to Roseanne Cash, The Carter Family, Lucinda Williams, college Americana music classes, rowdy bluegrass shows at divey old theatres in my first college town. So thank you T-Bone Burnett for lifting me out of my musical ignorance. I’m sure it wasn’t the first time, or the last.


Clueless (above: “Shake Some Action,” by Cracker)

The Clueless soundtrack (and movie) was my way of peeking into teenage life. It was the music pouring out of the poster covered bedroom of the big sister I didn’t have, and whose lip gloss I totally would have stolen. It’s chock full of deliciously 90s not-quite-classics by artists like the Beastie Boys, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and Coolio. Now I’m way out of my teens, and that imaginary big sister is probably a lawyer in Buffalo with unstealable lip gloss, but even after all this time the album still sounds fresh. A little dated, sure (remember 90s ska, guys?), but fun and defiant, like something you could listen to turned up loud in the car or turned up loud while crying over a boy. It gives me a flicker of adolescent nostalgia, but not the cringey kind I get from music I actually listened to as an adolescent.

Songs Named After Girls (By Claire)

When I started writing this post, I realized that the only song I ever had written about me definitely was not about me.

I was writing this blurb about a boy who I went on a date with in high school who played the guitar. He once sang me a song that he said he wrote for me called ‘The Girl with the Flower.” I was so touched because even though it didn’t have my name in it, it was about me and how sweet is that and….wait a minute, my adult mind said. When did he ever see you with a flower?

Then I got into the following argument with 15 year old Claire:

15 year old Claire: It was romantic! Like the girl with the harp! Or the girl with the…

Adult Claire: Please don’t start. We’re like two minutes away from you reciting a sonnet and I can’t right now. Didn’t that guy sing you that song the day he met you? Did any part of it have any mention related to you? Or was it a classic suave high school guy pick up line song?…did he rhyme girl with twirl?

15 year old Claire: Well…shit.

Adult Claire: …sorry. Gotta go pay for all those student loans you take out in two years! Oh-and-don’t-go-to-that-Dave-Matthews-Band-show-he’ll-forget-the-words-to-Crash-okaybyeee!

So here are some girl’s names songs by girls, not by girls, about real girls, about famous girls, about imaginary girls. No suave musical pick up lines or flowers allowed.

 

“Emmylou,” by First Aid Kit

I wish I knew more about the technical side of music, that I could say very fancy things about chord progressions and break down the neat musical tricks that make me replay a song hundreds of times. I’ve picked up some music jargon here and there from writing with Joshua and reading books, but this song gave me solid proof of my ignorance. Why? Because 30 listens in my whole reaction to it could still be summed up as “OMG SO PRETTY.” Yes. Wise.

But really…so pretty. The honeyed voices and the big eyed ethereal wood nymphs who are singing. The twinkling, layered sound. Even the video, resplendent and complete with hazy gypsy hipsters in gauzy garb, wandering a lush desert. So pretty, and tucked in all that pretty is the chorus: “I’ll be your Emmylou, I’ll be your June/You’ll be my Graham and my Johnny too/No I’m not asking much of you/Just sing little darling sing with me.” It’s a haunting little music nerd fantasy: Lets be in love, but more importantly, let’s be a legendary music love story and sing songs together! It’s the fantasy that follow Rob Gordon’s dream of popping up in prose and pictures in his imaginary musician girlfriend’s liner notes. If I had one iota of musical talent, I would use this logic constantly. I would coerce all sorts of people in my life into being in a band with me (“Let’s be musical best friends, like Richard Thompson and Loudon Wainwright III! Let’s be a family band, a la Carters and Partridges! Let’s be musical neighbors like Mr. Rogers and King Friday!”)

“Bertha,” by The Grateful Dead

Sometimes, a song is so upbeat and catchy that I’ll sing along for years without noticing that the message irks me. That’s the magic of music–I’ve never gotten a sentence stuck in my head. I don’t find myself accidentally repeating really sexist or obscene lines of prose because “Sorry guys, the wordplay is just so charming! Look how he slipped that slant rhyme in!”

In “Bertha,” the singer had to jump out of Bertha’s window, outrun her in all kinds of situations…had to move, really had to move, one might say. The chorus is a peppy plea that she leave him alone. Whenever I read the lyrics, they rub me the wrong way. Just tell her what’s wrong! Why are you jumping out the window? What is your DEAL, Jerry Garcia?

The problem here is that “Crazy woman let me be!” narratives gross me out. I’m sure, just like men, there are lots of crazy women, and they should in fact let you be. But the “crazy woman” storyline is trotted out so often that I immediately wonder what Bertha’s side of the whole thing was. Like maybe she woke up heartbroken that instead of saying goodbye you jumped out her window. Female musicians of the world: This song is begging for a response song. Lets make it happen.

“Layla,” by Derek and the Dominos

I grew up loving that soft, slowed down Clapton Unplugged version that played all the way through the early 90s, then was picked up by soft rock stations and is, I’m sure, playing right this second if you turn your radio to Lite 101. By early high school, I’d been listening to Clapton for years, and most of it was in school nurses’ offices–the mecca of Lite Radio listeners– or at youth group dances (“You Look Wonderful Tonight” is a favorite of the young and Jewish).

Then, I heard this version, and was floored. Who was this howling, rage filled guitar maniac? Where was old Eric “Slow Jams” Clapton? And then come to find out that this whole song is notes on a scandal–an ode to Pattie Boyd, the wife of his good friend George Harrison. This is a great love song in the so-wrong-love-song genre—-raw, visceral, pleading. Was it weird when he played it Unplugged after he finally married, and consequently divorced, Pattie Boyd? Add that to the “Questions for Clapton” list  (Others include “Was it weird to do a duet of ‘My Favorite Mistake’ with Sheryl Crow, when the song could have more aptly been titled ‘Why Eric Clapton is the Worst’?” and “Can you reunite Cream again? Pretty please?”)

“Anna Ng,” by They Might Be Giants

Anna Ng is, apparently, about all sort of things—the 64 World fair, a prevalence of Ngs in the Manhattan phone book, a Pogo comic book about shooting through a globe rather than digging a hole to China. More than 20 years later, it’s a fun, bizarre joy to listen to, full of all sort of They Might Be Giants goodies. There’s the frenetic, jolting pace of the music, the odd telephone snippets that pop music artists retired in the 90s and recently revived, the bizarre tapestry of words and references. When we started this blog six months ago, I was listening to this song constantly. It was a segue into a bout of heavy They Might Be Giants listening, something I recommend if they’ve been off your musical menu for a while. After you listen to this song, go listen to Flood. No this song isn’t on it. But every other song you’ll want to hear immediately after hearing this song is on it, and then you can spend the next few weeks wading through wonderful, They Be Giants madness. Enjoy.

“Michelle,” by The Beatles

A classic girl’s name song–lovely, romantic, sounds a bit like it was thrown together on the spot (I feel certain that a Michelle stood off to the side as this song was penned, swooning), but most importantly, the first time you hear it you sort of wish your name was Michelle, or that someone had thought to put a song together featuring your name and your loveliness. I heard this for the first time in high school, when boys were beginning to try their hand at guitar playing and song writing. Every guy I knew had a song with a girl’s name for the title, and they all sounded like a mashup of Howie Day and Dave Matthews with a splash of pop punk thrown in. These were not magical musical times.

When I heard “Michelle”, I thought “Wow, how lucky would you be if your name was Michelle, and a boy liked you, and he played you this, and you didn’t have to hear him stumble through “Collide” again…” Very lofty thinking, but thinking that made sense for a girl whose name is most prominently featured in the song “Planet Claire” by the B52s (if a boy had figured out a way to play a romantic version of that on the guitar for me in high school, I probably would’ve had to marry him. I think that’s the law.)

**Every time I mentioned this week’s blog theme, someone would inevitably say “OH, like the Family Guy bit?” I felt like this clip needed to be in here somewhere. Here it is


Top 5 Album Openers

Claire: We’re wading through our record collections this month and taking a look at opening tracks, middle tracks, closing tracks, penultimate tracks, with, as always, some musical nostalgia and High Fidelity references thrown in. The idea for this month’s theme started with both of us rereading High Fidelity, as all good ideas do.

So what makes a good album opener? A giant musical blast, or a soft hand-held intro? A song that hints at a great album and delivers, or song that cons you into listening to something subpar? We landed on all of the above.

JOSHUA’s List:

“Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” by Arcade Fire, on Funeral

This song has the softest opening of any of the songs on this list, but like the album it begins, it swells to a grand and exhilarating scale. It positively exudes the childhood wonder that permeates this album: It’s like Win Butler dropped acid and mentally regressed to age 6 and wrote an album about it. The instrumentation of the song reflects that idea, with wide open, repetitive piano chords and simple, bass drum heavy drumming. This song made me listen to everything Arcade Fire ever wrote.

“Dog Days Are Over” by Florence + the Machine, on Lungs

I once told my brother Daniel I’d love to cover this song…if I only had a harp. It’s so infectious. I think it’s the clapping that causes this song to just stick in your head for months after you hear it. And Florence’s voice…Jeebos. Unfortunately, it has a level of promise that the rest of the album just doesn’t quite live up to. And the album is pretty damn good too, but this is a masterpiece, hands down. Just try to get it out of your head. Good luck. Side note: Florence Welch sings about horses all the fucking time.

“The Boy in the Bubble” by Paul Simon, on Graceland

A perfect way to start what I think is one of the most perfect albums ever written. How Simon makes accordion so appealing, I’ll never know. And that bass! Oh man, I have dreams of being the bassist for this album like three times a week. The lyrical phrasing and timing of this song is great, too: it’s never quite on the beat, but either just behind it or just ahead of it. The song signals what’s to come in the album and glib and ironic ideas of what’s to come in America from 1986 on. And lasers! Bizzow!

“Testify” by Rage Against the Machine, on Battle of Los Angeles

I don’t think you can talk about album openers without talking about Rage Against the Machine. Every album they had opened with an insanely “up” song and this is no exception. And it’s tight. Tight like the whole album is, much more so than their other albums. It’s like the album was designed to be listened to start to finish each time, each song building on the intensity and message of the previous. It may not have been as caustic as the previous albums, but I think it’s their best, and this is the best way to open that album.

“Don’t Carry It All” by The Decemberists, on The King Is Dead

This is my favorite album opener on the list, hands down. Those of you familiar with the Decemberists know that their previous albums were all steeped in the tradition of British folk revival; that is, it sounded like their music was plucked out of a galley of a whaling ship in 1860. This is decidedly different: Big, open major chords, harmonica, beautiful mandolin and backing vocals. It’s the Decemberists’ take on classic Americana. It’s exactly what they sing about: A “turning of the season.” Let’s raise a glass!

Honorable Mentions:

“Bat Out of Hell” by Meat Loaf, on Bat Out of Hell: Almost all of his songs are about losing his virginity, except this one, in where he beefs it on a motorcycle. Bad. Ass.

“1816, the Year Without a Summer” by Rasputina, on Oh Perilous World: Sets the stage for historical epic as commentary on the Iraq war. But this song, as Melora Creager is oft to say at performances, is a song about the weather.

“Psycho Killer” by Talking Heads, on Stop Making Sense: God, this was so close to making the top list. It’s amazing. The guitar work is impeccable.

CLAIRE’s List

“Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On),” by the Talking Heads, on Remain in Light

I owned “Remain in Light” for years before I listened to the whole album because I could not get past this song. Funky, bizarre, like if Brian Eno and Parliament Funkadelic made a new wave love child. It’s rare to have an album start to with a burst like this, but as you can see from Joshua’s Honorary Mentions, the Talking Heads excel at this: “Burning Down the House” was a track one, as was “And She Was” which, though not as rowdy or bizarre, begins with a jolting “Hey!”

If, like me, you spend part of your week writing about albums, and the bulk of it reading stuff about the War on Women, don’t be surprised when the line “…And I’m a government man” gets stuck in your head. And the reoccuring dream where Rick Santorum dances to “Born Under Punches”? Occupational hazard.

“Box of Rain,” by the Grateful Dead, on American Beauty

The first time I ever listened to the Grateful Dead by myself, outside of my parents’ cars or stereo, was when I was fifteen and suddenly obsessed with “American Beauty.” It’s not a creative first Dead album, but I fell into that deep musical love with it, the kind where you listen to an album on repeat for a whole year with very few pauses for other music. This was the song I replayed the most. Beautiful, gentle, and one of the very few times where Robert Hunter’s odd-quasi-poetic lyrics got under my skin.

“Miss You,” by The Rolling Stones, on Some Girls

Is it weird that I’m always embarassed to write about the Rolling Stones? Is it because every time I play the “What band does everyone like that you don’t?” game with people, The Rolling Stones always come up? (Top 5 answers to that question: Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, The Ramones, The Who, Radiohead) Anyway, great opening to a great album—tense, sonically interesting (shuffling from oohs to aahs, singing to lyrics, and a nice showcase of Jagger’s weird and limited range) (none of those sound like compliments, but really, it’s a good song. Jagger is okay too.), and a solid introduction to the feel of the album overall.

“6’1″,” by Liz Phair, on Exile in Guyville

The irony of the placement here is not lost on me. This was Phair’s first album, so who knew what to expect. But when the guitar starts, and then her funny flat-ish voice throws out a catchy balance of anger and snark and imagery—you want to sit down and listen to the whole record. Even now, when Phair has since sold out and sold back in, has made good albums and not so good albums, when we all know what’s up with her and have for a while, this song has that “I want to know this girl, and I want to hear what she says next” quality.

“Cooksferry Queen,” by Richard Thompson, on Mock Tudor

What can I say? I like a tense opener. Listen to the first few bars of “Miss You” and “Cooksferry Queen” and you’ll understand. This song builds—in speed, in lyrical content, in Thompson’s voice, which goes from smooth and steady to gruff and growling. And it has the classic Thompson song story— Boy named James/Mulvaeney/Insert-British-sounding-name-here meets redheaded/curlyheaded/pigheaded girl, goes on a heady adventure with his ill-fated love, encounters danger/far flung small town locales/psychedelic imagery.  

Honorable Mentions:

“Welcome to the Working Week,” Elvis Costello on My Aim is True: I listened to this song so many times at a long ago terrible job that it will always remind me of crying while eating a sandwich. For all you pop-music-lovers or terrible-job-havers (or anyone looking for a good, upbeat sandwich cry), this is a great song. Enjoy.

“Blue Bird,” Bonnie Raitt on Bonnie Raitt: A happy, lovely opening to a sometimes happy, always lovely self-titled freshman album by Bonnie Raitt.

“Icky Thump,” by the White Stripes on Icky Thump: I completely forgot about this album. These things happen. Welcome to the honorable mentions category, White Stripes.

Top 5 Worst Love Songs

Claire: Welcome to Week 2 of our February love song extravaganza. We’ve done Top 5 Love Songs, had our first ever guest post with Top 5 Alternative Love Songs, and now it’s time for my personal favorite, Top 5 Worst Love Songs (or what not to woo anyone with, ever). Get ready for a few more weeks of love, lust, loss, Lionel Richie, and other musical goodies brought to you by the letter L.

CLAIRE’s List:

“She’s a Lady” by Tom Jones

An upbeat, misogynistic number by America’s most revered lounge lizard (Wayne Newton, it’s over. You heard it here first.), Tom Jones. This, like much of Jones’ body of work, sounds like it was written for the soundtrack of an early 80s romantic comedy. Here’s the scene: Hot chick in day-glo shoulder pads enters the restaurant in slo-mo (and you know that restaurant has a salad bar and oddly placed palm tree like plants, cause shit is CLASSY). Jaws drop, weirdly tan guy in a suit (read: Tom Jones) who’s watching her enter leans back approvingly and nods (That’ll do, shoulder pads. That’ll do.)

Lets take a look at a couple choice moments from this song:

  • She’s never in the way” and “I can leave her on her own, know that she’s okay alone, and there’s no messin’” : These lines sound like they should be followed with a chorus of “She’s a toddler”
  • And I don’t abuse her!”: He says this twice, guys. Congratulations?
  • Woah woah woah” and “Na na na”: You get ONE. One sound. Get it together, Jones.

“Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” by Starship

Mannequin is a touching love story about a man who can’t handle relationships with humans so he gets it on with a mannequin and nobody thinks that’s weird. It features Hollywood power players “That-guy-who-did-not-deserve-Molly-Ringwald-in-Pretty-in-Pink” and “That-lady-from-SATC-who-said- ‘Lawrence of My Labia’-and-ruined-both-the-movies-and-Arabia-for -me, forever.” Damnit Kim Cattrell. This is the creepy theme song for their “man meets and marries doll” love story. I first heard it at the “Delocated Variety Hour” show a few weeks ago with Ben Gibbard singing into a voice modulater while watching Jon Glaser go to town on a mannequin. So it was pretty magical.

“Every Breath You Take,” by The Police

A love song that says “Stalking is neat!” and “Sting is gonna getcha!” Come on everyone. Stop playing this at your wedding, stop using it on shows and in movies when characters finally fall in love, just stop it. No. Listen to the lyrics just one time and you’ll know that a song about a heartbroken dude who is watching you sleep and breathe is not romantic. It’s scary as hell…just like Sting.

“I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” by Meatloaf

Full disclosure: Much to my parents’ chagrin, I loved this song when I was a kid. But that was just because the video is awesome and it’s live action Beauty and the Beast and explosions! Explosions! Anyway. Basically, Meatloaf will do anything for love, but he won’t do a bunch of stuff that nobody would want him to do anyway. I swear at one point it quotes graffiti I read on a bathroom wall in high school, (“Some days I just pray to the god of sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll”). And I know Meat Loaf came first, but trust me: Fourteen year old boys with sharpies were writing similar sentiments in bathroom stalls way before the early ‘00s. They were also saying earnest, hormone-addled things like “But I’ll never forgive myself if we don’t go all the way, tonight” since cave-boy first invited cave-girl to come over and make out in his basement. Meatloaf, you’re too old for this. Do all the stuff you said you would do and leave it at that.

“I Want it that Way” by the Backstreet Boys

In 1998, the Backstreet Boys decided that they were so important that they no longer had to use sentence structures or themes or any basic songwriting staples. They weren’t excelling on these points before, and they were making Scrooge McDuck levels of cash, so at a band meeting one day, the awkwardly old one said “Hey guys, lets just say words and dance.” And the non-threatening to girls one said “Why don’t the rest of you have to have ponytails? It’s 1998. This is not a thing anymore” And the one in the hat said “We can just say the words ‘heart’ and ‘you’ a lot so preteen girls get confused and think a) we’re singing to them and b) we’re super deep?” And really Christian guy and Nick Carter agreed, and it was so. Here’s a link to the lyrics. Enjoy.

JOSHUA’s List:

“Crash Into Me” by Dave Matthews Band

This is one of those songs that falls under straight up creepy, akin to “Every Breath You Take.” It’s masked, however, by a very beautiful and relatively hard to play chord progression and Matthews signature wilting voice. But he’s essentially talking about stalking the girl he’s in love with and admitting to having wet dreams about her! What did you think “come into you / in a boy’s dream” meant? Maybe if he had spelled it “cum” or “skeet” we all wouldn’t have been suckered into thinking this is song is pretty and sexy. I actually like that. The next time a pretty woman asks me to play this song (it’s always the really pretty ones who like this song [often blond]) I’m totally replacing “come” with “skeet” and we’ll see if that changes how she hears the song. Or if she slaps me in the face.

“Baby, I Love Your Way” by Peter Frampton

Oh man, this is a boring song. He talks about different types of light for like 6 verses then follows each up with a very nonsensical chorus. To what way does he refer? The way she does what? Because, Mr. Frampton, the way you’ve done this song is boring, straight down to the chord progression. And Rob Gordon was wrong, even Lisa Bonet couldn’t save this one.

“I Just Called To Say I Love You” by Stevie Wonder

Speaking of High Fidelity, the boys in the shop had it right with this one. No one wants this song…which is basically a calendar. He boldly takes us through each holiday month by month and reminds us, in a precursor to Rebecca Black, that January is followed by February and March is after that. And the worst part? Stevie Wonder is a musical genius and  yet this song sounds like it was knocked up in ten minutes on a Casio keyboard with multiple MIDI sounds and a drum machine and a robot voice. Talk about phoning it in, Li’l Stevie.

“Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton

All I want to say about this song is it would far more interesting if he had answered truthfully and said, “No, honey, you look like you’ve gained a bit of weight.”

“Your Kiss is On My List” by Hall and Oates

Oh, Hall and Oates. Does anyone really want to get a love song sung to them b a creepy dude with a 70’s pornstar mustache?  Or does this answer that question?