Valentine's Day is about to rear it's strawberry-flavoured chocolate-smeared face again, and as such it's time to reflect on the kinds of things that make us feel gooey inside in the direction of our significant other(s).
While others will be compiling lists of the most lovey-dovey saccharine vomit-onto-your-own-genitals bullshit, we know that it's only the sad songs that are truly the most romantic. Maybe it's because all love is essentially distracting folly which only ever ends in heartbreak or death.
Maybe it's because after this many pingers the only thing we can really feel any more is sadness. Maybe it’s because if you gaze long enough into the abyss, the abyss starts to look like a total babe.
Whatever the reason, here is a selection of sad songs sure to get you (and however many people you are currently boning) feeling the melanchorny vibes.
Depeche Mode – “Enjoy the Silence”
Once again proving that synthpop is the perennial aphrodisiac, Dave Gahan and the boys coughed up this dance floor classic in 1990. “All I Ever Wanted / All I Ever Needed / Is here in my arms", has to be one of the most direct and honest distillations of relationship codependency and low personal standards in modern pop music, but goths and weirdos the world over bloody love it. The chorus also includes the famous line "words are very / unnecessary", which while being one of the most annoying rhymes ever (and hence one of the strongest earworms) is also a handy way to look at things when you wake up next to someone whose name you can't remember.
This Mortal Coil – “Song To The Siren”
Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins handles the vocal on this underground hit for dreampop 4AD supergroup This Mortal Coil. This was originally a Tim Buckley composition, and apart from being the soundtrack to an entire generation of patchouli wafting neo-pagan postpunks compressing their own bed coils, is also notable for not being that other Buckley performed song “Hallelujah” - a song that has been completely ruined by every goatee sporting busker and hemp clad acoustic musician in the world ever (but has probably been single-handedly responsible for getting them laid too).
INXS – “Never Tear Us Apart”
Proving the Augie March theory that “Everyone loves a waltz”, Michael Hutchence and the Farris brothers released this song as the big single from what was to be their last great album Kick. Uber intense and rather creepy lyrics are nicely offset by the fact that anyone with eyes could tell that Michael Hutchence wasn't exactly the clingy monogamous type. Mixed messages combine here to result in a psychosexual jackpot. The video also includes an epic Kirk Pengilly saxophone solo shot in a Prague graveyard - easily the most gothic moment (autoerotic asphyxiation notwithstanding) of INXS’ sunny career.
Fleetwood Mac – “Everywhere”
Continuing our creepy stalker theme, this Christine McVie penned MOR synth number is right up there with Fleetwood Mac's catchiest hits. Lush layers of backing vocals wisp above a cunningly shifting chorus, with band holding back like crazy to produce a minimal yet hook packed pop arrangement. “I Wanna Be With You Everywhere” sounds more like a song written from the perspective of an STD than a paean to a loved one, but the lyrics are a direct mainline into the intoxicating unreasonableness of the start of a new relationship. On the surface this may not seem like a particularly sad tune, but let’s be honest here - she can't possibly be with this person everywhere. It's a concept that’s is fundamentally doomed to failure. In fact, the power of this song seems to come from the impossibility of the protagonist's desire. Nothing means anything, love is futile, everything is over, let's make out.
Silke Bischoff – “On The Other Side I'll See You Again”
As far as sexy sad songs go this one's an absolute killer. This ubiquitous goth club dance floor banger from German darkwave group Silke Bischoff features of the most cloyingly sung choruses of all time. It's all about transcending death and meeting up with a lover in the afterlife, following whatever romanticised misfortune you or your significant other has met with. No wonder the frilly candle-wielding types are all over this one, it’s perfect for a post meth binge cry wank comedown.
Scout Niblett – "Wolfie"
From her 2005 album Kidnapped By Neptune, Scout Niblett’s “Wolfie” is a heartbreakingly honest description of the all-encompassing vividness of love, delivered with her trademark heaviness and emotional intensity.
"We woke up late again and walked into town / My hand held yours / But who was prouder to be with the other / I think it was me"
The song is sad and hopeful and dejected and enchanted all at the same time, and poignantly evokes the experience of being separated from a loved one but still feeling them present in your life.
“And I'd have loved you forever / I know it to be true / Coz though we're not together / Love is never through / It doesn't die / It just goes on"
If this one doesn’t hit you in the guts you have clearly suffered a particularly nasty brand of disembowelment.
The SOS Band – "Just Be Good To Me"
Written by two dudes (Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis), this funk classic from 1983 was sung by SOS band vocalist Mary Davis from the perspective of a woman with a lover who has many others. Whether or not this is a sad song depends on your interpretation of the lyrics.
“People always talk about reputation / I don’t care about your other girls / Just be good to me / People always telling me / You’re a user / I don’t care what you do to them / Just be good to me”
Maybe she’s in denial and being treated like a doormat. Maybe she’s just having a fun time and is happy with things open and non-committal. In fact considering that is what she is explicitly saying in the song, let’s err on the side of narrative agency and say it’s a sweet funk tune about casual good times. Plus check out the size of the sweet Moog Liberation keytar in the video. That’s some heavy shit right there.