Uh, I Interrupted Every Couple in IKEA to Ask What “Their Song” Is
Every relationship is a weird, insular world with its private codes. I wanted to peer inside all of them.
All photos by the author
If you’re shacked up with another human being, there’s a relatively high chance you've got a song together*. "Your" song. Perhaps it’s the song that was playing when you first locked eyes over a game of ‘Dirty Pint’ in the kitchen of your student halls. Maybe it was the cheesy banger that came on shuffle at a really inopportune moment while you were trying to give them the silent treatment for saying your new haircut made you look “like a more ginger Tintin”. Or maybe you’re one of those creepy couples who deliberately decided on it at the beginning of your courtship (if you’re one of those couples, you probably use words like “courtship”). Whatever the reason, whatever your song, every time you hear it your mind immediately goes back to that moment and person. Which will really fucking suck if you ever break up, which you will do, because entropy.
But anyway: I'm genuinely interested in what these songs are for different couples. I want to peer into their weird, insular little worlds with their various private codes and memories, kind of like a David Attenborough figure, but for humans who like Drake. And what better place to find some totally chill and non-stressed out couples with time to chat than in the hallowed showrooms of Sweden’s finest export, IKEA? On that note, I headed down to the Croydon branch of the blue-and-yellow-mecca on a balmy Saturday afternoon to pester a few of them into sharing intimate details about their relationship history with me while they were just trying to have an argument about some bookshelves.
Emma and Dan, both 31
Noisey: So what’s 'your' song?
Emma to Dan: Are we gonna say the same song, that’s the question.
Dan: I was gonna say “Drive” by Oh Wonder.
Emma: Good, me too.
And why’s that?
Emma: We stayed up until, like, 2AM one night when we were first dating and he played it for me and I really liked it.
Dan: Well yeah, later than 2AM though.
I dunno, 2AM is pretty damn late. How often would you say you listen to it?
Dan: Probably a fair bit; it comes on on Spotify quite a lot.
Emma: Yeah, mainly when we’re in the kitchen cooking and stuff.
Gavin and Akvile, 40 and 36
Noisey: Hey guys, what’s "your" song?
Gavin: I’m not sure we’d say the same one but… “There She Goes” by The La’s.
Akvile: Oh, good, I thought you were going to say *whispers incoherently to Gavin and laughs*
Not gonna share? Okay then. Do you listen to "There She Goes" much?
Gavin: Not really to be honest.
So how come it’s your song?
Akvile: *sighs* It’s his choice.
Gavin: I always used to play it in my head when we were dating. Like, she’d arrive and I’d be like ‘there she goes’ and then later on I told her and it sort of became our song.
Ah, sweet. So what brings you to IKEA today?
Gavin: We’re shopping for a new mattress. Cos every time we listen to that song we wear out the springs, haha.
Oh. You did know the song is about heroin, right? Lol.
James and Alex, 32 and 29
Noisey: Hey, what are you doing in IKEA?
James: Well I just moved into a new flat and my boyfriend hasn’t seen it yet, so I’m buying stuff to make it nice before he gets home.
Ah, cute. Do you both have a song? Like, a couple song?
James: I’m not sure if I have one with him, but we definitely have a song.
Alex: I think I know what you’re thinking of.
Wait… Who’s this?
James: Alex is my brother.
Oh! So what’s the couple song?
James: Yeah, that’s what I was gonna say! “Promiscuous” by Nelly Furtado featuring Timbaland.
Excellent choice. What’s the deal?
James: Well, we were on a family holiday with our parents and sister. I think when I was about 21. And this song had just come out and we were all in the car driving round and it came on the radio and we all just started singing along.
Alex: Yeah it was.
James and Rashida, 33 and 25
Noisey: Hi, just going to stop you thinking about duvets for a second to ask if you have a song? Like, "your song"?
James: I don’t really think we have one song.
Rashida: I think it changes. At the moment it’s Drake’s “God’s Plan”.
Yes, the 6 God. Why’s that?
Rashida: Well we kind of take the piss out of it a bit.
Understandable. Have you seen the video played backwards where it looks like he’s stealing from everyone?
James: I’ve not seen the video actually.
Rashida: Well it’s basically Drake going around handing stuff out to people, so I guess yeah if it’s played backwards it would look like he’s just taking things off people.
Sam and Lucy, 29 and 25
Noisey: Hey, so what’s your ‘couple’ song?
Both [in unison]: It’s “Send Me on My Way” by Rusted Root.
Oh, I don’t know it.
Lucy: It’s the one at the end of the film Matilda.
Ah, yeah that’s a tune. I used to watch that film like once a week when I was a kid. How often do you listen to it together?
Sam: Probably quite a lot actually.
Lucy: We’ve just moved because we just got back from travelling and we listened to it all the time in the camper van.
That is very sweet and straight. Enjoy your IKEA experience.
Antony and Amy, 26 and 25
Noisey: Hello, it looks like you might be deep in conversation about this sofa, but can I ask you what ‘your song’ is?
Antony: Ooh that’s tricky.
Amy: The The? Or maybe LCD Soundsystem?
Antony: Yeah go with that one. The The.
Amy: “This is the Day” by The The.
Amy: Well, if we got married that might be our first dance.
Antony: Yeah, we just sort of discovered it at the same time last year.
Why are you visiting IKEA today?
Amy: Well we’re actually moving house today, so we’re shopping for some new things!
Wow, an IKEA trip and a house move all in one day! Well, good luck!
Serri and Matt, 24 and 26
Noisey: Hi, what’s ‘your song’?
Matt: That depends whether you want the silly one or the serious one...
Serri: Well the silly one is “Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia.
Matt: And the serious one is “Bones” by Cash+David.
I’m most intrigued by Natalie Imbruglia... what’s the story?
Serri: We just used to listen to it a lot in uni.
Matt: Yeah that’s where we met and for some reason we played it all the time!
Why are you at IKEA Croydon today?
Serri: The meatballs mainly. That’s the first thing we did.
Dominic and Rochelle, both 25
Noisey: Hey, what's 'your song'?
Rochelle: Oh, you know what, I’m not sure we have one. What was our first dance?
Dominic: I can’t remember!
Rochelle: Me neither! It was a song by the gospel singer Cece Winans.
Dominic: Can’t remember which one though.
So you’re married? That's serious.
Dominic: Yeah, we’ve been married three and a half years.
And what are you looking for today?
Rochelle: We’re shopping for stuff for the kids.
You have kids?!
Dominic: Yeah, but they’re not with us!
Probably for the best, I can’t think of a more stressful situation than IKEA with multiple young children.
Jasmine and Raph, 19 and 18 (who didn’t want us to take a picture, so here’s one of me having an intimate moment with my IKEA hotdog instead)
Noisey: Hi, you camera-shy lovebirds. What’s "your song," then?
Jasmine: I’d say “Teenage Fever”.
More Drake! Somebody else said “God’s Plan”. Why’s that your song?
Jasmine: I dunno, it just really reminded me of him.
Raph: I sent it to her I think.
Makes sense, I mean you are literally teenagers. How long have you been together?
Raph: About a year.
And what are you doing in IKEA?
Raph: Buying stuff. Duh.
Jasmine: Some candles and a mirror.
*well, no, it turns out. There are a lot of boring couples in Croydon IKEA who don’t have a song and should probably just break up tbh.
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This article originally appeared on Noisey UK.