Valentine's Day: Surprisingly Unromantic Love Songs
Love is in the air - and on the airwaves - for Valentine’s day, and for the next week love songs will be inescapable. We’ve taken some time out from enjoying the flood of gifts, cards and roses that we totally, definitely received to investigate the lyrics of some of the most popular romantic ballads. In the process, we realised that they don’t have much to do with love at all.
I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU?
Starting off with an iconic song, - Dolly Parton’s “I will always love you” is the first ballad to be debunked. Arguably made more famous by Whitney Houston’s blockbuster version, even The Bodyguard singer could be forgiven for thinking this was a confession of the heart.
As it turns out, love was never on Dolly’s mind; the country star penned the song as a peace-offering to mentor, and duet partner, Porter Wagoner. Porter did not take Dolly’s announcement that she was leaving to pursue her own musical career very well. After hearing the song, however, he agreed to let her go - on the condition that he could produce the now famous track.
I LOVE U2
Next up is U2’s “One”. We all know Bono is not shy to share his emotions but surprisingly the hit “One” is not really about The One or, in fact, any romantic partner at all. On the verge of splitting up over creative differences, U2 were writing songs for their next album, 1991’s “Achtung Baby”. However, when the first chords of the now famous track were played, the band suddenly had an outlet to explore the relationship between the band members. The song highlights that even with their differences they can come together as one.
GOD ONLY KNOWS
We all know that harmonising trio The Beach Boys are no stranger to a love song. With numerous romantic numbers filling their back catalogue, “God only knows” seems to be the top track for loved-up surf fans. While the admiration is real, the California boys aren’t serenading a special lady, more professing their gratitude to the fans of their music …because god only knows where they would be without them.
YOU LOOK WONDERFUL TONIGHT
Finally, there’s the classic wedding song – “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton. Although the lyrics can be mistaken as an ode to a beautiful woman, it was actually written as a complaint about how long it takes Eric’s wife to get ready for a party. Once you know the meaning behind the lyrics, you can hear the sarcasm screaming from each sickly syllable.
There are still plenty of songs out there that are genuinely about love, so don’t lose all hope. However, the next time you choose to serenade the one you love with your favourite ballad, it might be good to check the backstory first! (On that note, it’s probably best to avoid “Every breath you take” by The Police, too…)