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What is Valentine’s Day if not the most metal of holidays? Sure, it’s supposedly a celebration of love and Saint Valentine, but there were at least eleven Saints named Valentine, and at least seven of those died as martyrs. And what is the heart if not the most metal of organs? It’s a fist-sized chunk of muscle full of blood; what’s more metal than that? And it’s the anniversary of the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre, which saw seven members of Chicago’s North Side Gang lined up against a wall and executed, most likely at the direction of Al Capone.
So, in that spirit, I’ve collected a…unique list of rock, metal, punk, and alternative love songs, some in the more classical sense, others not quite so much. Love songs are great and all, but there are a zillion classic love songs, and I wanted to shout out some of the stranger songs about love. So, without further ado, here are 10 of the best, strangest, funniest, and hardest rocking love songs.
Closer is probably NIN’s most well known single, and it’s an unsettling, creeping, slow burn, like a bitter worm burrowing into your brain. The song accumulates parts, slowly assembling itself into a steadily building climax, piece by piece, ominously rising, falling, and cutting into your attention. Though many will only recognize the song for Reznor’s “I wanna fuck you like an animal,” it’s much more than that. Reznor’s lyrics, against the almost uncomfortable music, paint a picture of someone tortured by themselves, seeking escape in the primal expression of sex, clinging to shreds of transformation, fleeting feelings of being someone other than yourself. It’s not a classic love song, but I think it fits the bill.
If you’ve never listened to The Vandals before, they’re a punk band with a sense of humor, and I can’t overstate that last bit enough; like, 90% of their songs are big jokes, but it’s great. My Girlfriend’s Dead makes the list as a tale of heartbreak, love lost, and irreverence. It’s a punchy, light, darkly humorous, and delightfully catchy track, and you’ll find yourself singing “so I tell them all, my girlfriend’s dead” under your breath at the most inopportune times.
Okay, I know this isn’t any of the genres I said before, but, if picking this song is wrong, I don’t wanna be right. I love The Lonely Island; Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone are hilarious, and Justin Timberlake’s contribution to this track can’t be understated. I almost don’t want to talk about the actual content of the song, just in case you haven’t heard it before…hmm, okay, if you haven’t heard it before, stop reading now, go listen to it, and come back to read the rest.
Okay, are they gone? Cool, so yeah, it’s not exactly your typical love song, but, if a song about two friends fucking each other’s moms for Mother’s Day isn’t a love song, I don’t know what is. I had to include this one; it’s just too funny not to.
Fortress is another atypical love song on the list, but it’s definitely a love song. From their most recent album, Villains, Fortress is a song about life, feelings, broken hearts, and refuge, seemingly written for frontman Josh Homme’s children, telling them they’ll always be safe under his wing. It’s not about romantic love, but I think familial love is just as, if not more, powerful, so it’s going on the list.
You remember The Darkness, right? They blew up in the early 2000s with back to back hits I Believe in a Thing Called Love and Growing On Me, a lighthearted throwback to over the top hair metal, complete with flowing locks, skin tight jumpsuits, and impressive guitar solos. Get Your Hands off My Woman features all of the above, plus lyrics that would be more at home thirty years ago, but possessive, angry, jealous love is still a kind of love, and I think this hammy, over the top track belongs on this list.
This is a love song. I don’t care what you say. Fat Bottomed Girls is an ode to butts, a love letter to that ass, a poem in honor of the booty. The power of a big ol’ booty can’t be overstated, and Queen gives remarkable rear ends their due, rightly acknowledging the world-turning power of fat fannies. Bow down before the booty and rock out to this one.
Bro love is love too, and this (appropriately bouncy) track sings the praises of male friendship and its importance. If you’re looking for a punk rock friendship anthem (with “Oi’s!” included), this is the song for you. Platonic love deserves songs too, and this one goes out to the ones who always have your back.
All right, fine, I’ll include a “regular” love song…sort of. Punk Rock Girl is a goofy, rambling, and tender tale of punk rock romance, and it won’t get out of my head. It’s not the most complicated, complex, deep, or hardest song, but it’s a bop, and it’s fun as hell. Just enjoy it for what it is.
This song’s certainly about love, (I mean, it’s in the name), but this one’s more about all the toxic relationships people too often mistake for love, the possessive, jealous, fawning, unequal relationships you see on lazy tv shows. It makes the list because, in its decrying of “fake” love, it’s singing the praises of “real” love, of partnerships built on mutual trust, appreciation, respect, and healthy communication.
Is Heart-Shaped Box a love song? Is it about Courtney Love’s vagina? Is it about anything? Like almost any Nirvana song, it really depends on who you ask, but most people agree Cobain wrote it, at least in part, about his relationship with Love, with the song’s name taken from a literal heart-shaped box Love gave Cobain early in their relationship. If nothing else, “I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black” seems a delightfully macabre way of saying ‘I love you.’ However you choose to interpret the lyrics, I think it counts as a love song, and, regardless, it’s a great song, somehow sad, sweet, sarcastic, and sincere all at the same time.