Entering any shop in February means that, inevitably, you will stroll through aisles filled with chocolate hearts, pink plushies and red roses. You will peruse pastel cards filled with sappy sayings and read the labels of cookie decorating kits. “Those sayings are cheesy and gross,” you think to yourself. “I bet those cookies taste like chalk.”
Despite all of your rational reasons to disregard such a silly holiday, you cannot prevent a dark sense of forlornness from creeping in. You think about them— the unrequited love, the ex everybody expects you to move on from because it’s “been three years already,” the failed two-week situationship whom you religiously avoid because it’s awkward even though you both agreed not to make it awkward — and you contemplate whether or not it’s physically possible to drown yourself in your own tears. Luckily, you have these six songs to help alleviate your Valentine’s Day-induced melancholia.
“I Don’t Smoke” — Mitski
Distorted instrumentals blare against Mitski’s mournful voice, creating the quintessential ode to toxic love. Discordant and unsettling, “I Don’t Smoke” revolves around a willingness to suffer abuse in order to receive affection. Mitski stoically sings, “If your hands need to break more than trinkets in your room / You can lean on my arm as you break my heart.” Her voice grows progressively more fervent before disappearing altogether, indicating her waning spirit. The song encapsulates the sheer intensity and anguish of a ruinous yet addictive relationship. It concludes with only a long note of harsh strings, a testament to the emotional wreckage of the relationship’s aftermath.
“Fade into You” — Mazzy Star
Sweet yet sorrowful, Mazzy Star’s “Fade into You” embodies craving intimacy with someone who simply can not reciprocate. Lead singer Hope Sandoval softly croons, “I look to you and I see nothing.” The song’s gentle acoustics and soothing repetition emit tender emptiness. The saccharine quality of “Fade into You” captures a sense of admiration, yet it is juxtaposed against a heartbreaking hollowness. The song conveys how loving it is to intently observe someone, and how devastating it is to not be seen in return.
“Evil Woman” — Electric Light Orchestra
At some points in your healing journey, you can temporarily convince yourself that you’re perfectly fine and that things totally played out the way you wanted. “Evil Woman” represents moments like these, and it also serves as the perfect interlude for this otherwise dismal playlist. Upbeat and triumphant, Jeff Lynne reflects on the wrongdoings of a past lover and rejoices in her current struggles. Against a harmonious blend of piano, percussion and strings, he jeers, “Ha, ha, woman, it’s a crying shame/ But you ain’t got nobody else to blame.”
“Violence)” — Dijon
In this velvety, nostalgic song, Dijon wistfully reflects on his relationship while simultaneously imploring his lover not to leave him. He considers the simple yet profoundly meaningful moments he has shared with Violet, the song’s subject — sipping coffee, 7-Eleven runs, snapping photographs while driving. Dijon sentimentally clings to these memories, despite sensing their bond has begun to disintegrate. He commences with “Summer was lush/ Winter is bony and rough, here,” a recognition that her love has withered away. Dijon captures the simple bliss of romance and the frantic fear of being left behind.
“Twist – Piano Version” — Dizzy
Despite the song’s somewhat violent imagery, “Twist” manages to translate as both sadly melodic and strangely tranquil (Piano Version is mandated for a maximum tear-inducing effect). Vocalist Katie Munshaw’s feathery voice pacifies, happily cohabiting with the song’s soothing instrumentals. Munshaw highlights her lover’s agonizing hold over her, singing in the song’s chorus,“You’re the ventriloquist/ And you give me a twist.” Love tends to subject its victims to a vulnerable, subordinate position, and “Twist” exemplifies this.
“Landslide” — Fleetwood Mac
Acoustic guitars gently strum in “Landside,” Fleetwood Mac’s weary response to the challenge of adjusting to significant life changes. Stevie Nicks soulfully ruminates, “And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills/ ‘Til the landslide brought me down.” Nicks uses a mass of sliding rocks as a symbol for the overwhelming experience of the world crashing down on her. The landslide erases her reflection, representing her uncertainty around her own identity. Whether you’re newly single, perpetually lonely or stuck in a rocky relationship, you might be able to relate to the self-doubt and confusion prevalent in “Landslide.”