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The Love Songs That Make You Feel Sick

Sep 4, 2008
A good love song involves meaningful lyrics, quality craftsmanship and the ability to provoke an emotional reaction. For every decent love song, there are countless others that rely on weak lyrics and cliches in an attempt to become a big-seller as the number one wedding song of that year.

Just by reading the lyrics of a bad love song, you can begin to despise it before you even hear the music. An example of this is the increasingly annoying and upsettingly popular James Blunt hit - You're Beautiful. Sentimental, emotionless and sickening, Blunt's voice pierces the listener's brain like shards of glass.

'You're beautiful, you're beautiful, you're beautiful, it's true.'

The repetition of the title suggests that Blunt lacks any imagination or ability to construct meaningful lyrics. To end the couplet (?) with it's true again emphasises the complete lack of meaning in the song and removes any sense of feeling or emotion in what he is singing. Feeling and believability are paramount in the success of a love song, although record sales suggests Blunt's song is more successful than I give it credit.

Almost twenty years earlier, Chris De Burgh was setting the precedent for cheesy love songs when James Blunt was still in short trousers. The lyrics themselves aren't anywhere near the standard of James Blunt, and the meaning behind them has been clearly explained by De Burgh as about his wife. However, as with so many popular love songs, the lyrics become unbearable the more you hear them.

'The lady in red, the lady in red, the lady in red, my lady in red. I love you.'

The song isn't grossly unpleasant, but there is something extremely irritating about the climax when De Burgh repeats the title before cleverly changing the lyric to 'my lady in red' before speaking the final line 'i love you'. So many people's favourite, Lady in Red is too saccharine to be considered a great love song.

De Burgh and Blunt may be the most popular choice for many bride and groom's first dance all over the world, but Bryan Adams monopolised that market for years. From the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves soundtrack, (Everything I Do) I Do It For You was the number one single in the UK for 16 weeks, USA for 7 weeks, Australia for 11 weeks and numerous other countries too many to mention.

The premise of the song is simple. Adams is singing to a loved one, telling them that he does everything for them - linked to the relationship of the film's characters, Robin Hood and Maid Marian. The song was unpopular with the film company and they even wanted to remove it from the official soundtrack, although it was eventually played over the closing credits. The film grossed over 150 million dollars at the box office, and the song became a global smash.

'There's no love, like your love. And no other, could give more love
There's nowhere, unless you're there. All the time, all the way.'

Again, as with De Burgh, the lyrics are reasonable but the extent to which radio stations, TV shows and DJs played the song killed any chance it had of being considered a good song. Now, whenever the opening bars of the song are heard, the listener's memories will recollect pre-teen school discos, sentimental television shows and Kevin Costner - as well as other things that should be left in the 1990s forever.

When we listen to love songs, we want to feel some sort of emotional connection with the material, the singer and the meaning behind the lyrics. With so many love songs that go on to sell into the millions, the lyrics become diluted and lost as the song loses its identity. Maybe this is the argument for Bryan Adams and Chris De Burgh but there really is no excuse for James Blunt.
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