20 Love Songs We Never Want to Hear Again
Looking to craft the perfect Valentine’s mix for your beloved? Be sure to steer of clear these romantic cheddar bombs, all of which give love a bad name.
Chris de Burgh, "Lady In Red"
It's kind of fitting that this song was a hit in 1986, the height of the greed-is-good, conspicuous consumption Eighties; it's the ultimate trophy-wife ballad (barely edging out Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight"). The fake-glitz muzak sound is perfect for a cheaply sentimental song about a guy whose appreciation of the woman beside him seems to work in direct relation to how many other guys hit on her at a party. Then again, Google Image yourself some Chris de Burgh and you too may wonder why the Lady In Red was dancing with him at all.
Joe Cocker, "You Are So Beautiful"
Allegedly dashed off by Beach Boy Dennis Wilson and fifth Beatle Billy Preston at a party, this song makes you wonder what those two were huffing. A longstanding punchline for exaggerated sitcom courtship routines, it strings its clichés – "a guiding light in the night," "heaven's gift to me" – around a title refrain qualified by "to me," like the shameless singer is hedging his bet. Joe Cocker gives it his best spazzy Ray Charles croon. But we'll take the Cows' sludge-metal desecration any day.
Elton John, "Can You Feel the Love Tonight"
Erm, no, actually. Maybe if you're one of the animated big cats in The Lion King, the Disney film Sir Elton penned this cornball ballad for. "It's enough to make kings and vagabonds/believe the very best" he croons. If you say so, Reg. The rest of us believe this could be your all-time cheesiest moment.
Extreme, "More Than Words"
With their Rapunzel hair and chiseled cheekbones, you wouldn't kick Extreme out of bed for eating crackers. But you might kick them out of bed for being assholes. "More Than Words" packages metal-creep chauvinism in sensitive acoustic shrink-wrap. "'I love you' is not the words I want to hear from you," they sing. What is the words they want to hear? How about something along the lines of fuck me. Just don't say it with your mouth. Say it with your passive, wordless compliance.
One Direction, "Little Things"
On this acoustic valentine (written by Fiona Bevan and Ed Sheeran), the teen-pop gods congratulate themselves for loving you despite your manifest imperfections. Harry Stiles sings: "You never want/To know how much you weigh/You still have to squeeze into your jeans/But you're perfect to me." Well, not perfect perfect. More like, ya know, fat. Harry, your depth frightens us.
Dave Matthews Band, "Crash Into Me"
Dave Matthews has always had kind of had a sex-panther side, and there's nothing wrong with that. But his most popular love song obliterates the fine line between sexy and icky. The melody is pretty, the passion undeniable, the vocals fragile and hopeful. But when he sings, "hike up your skirt a little more and show your world to me," he suddenly flips from sweet singer-songwriter to pervy happy hour stalker. Hey ladies, on the way to the parking lot, don't forget your mace!
Phil Collins, "Groovy Kind of Love"
A hit for British Invasion band the Mindbenders in 1965, "Groovy Kind of Love" was a sweet, slight Brill Building pop ballad. Collins must've have thought he was adding seriousness and sophistication by replacing the original's buoyant innocence with a stolid delivery and weirdly lachrymose, painfully Eighties synths. But all he did was give a groovy little song a full-on grooviness enema.
Bad English, "When I See You Smile"
When Journey went on hiatus toward the end of the Eighties, keyboardist Jonathan Cain and guitarist Neil Schon formed Bad English with John Waite of the Babys on vocals -- and went on to achieve levels of cheesy terribleness their other band had barely approached. No blow-dried power ballad ever did it bigger, dumber, emptier or gloppier than "When I See You Smile," a love letter to a girl who never forgets to bring an umbrella along on dates ("And when the rain is falling, I don't feel it 'cause you're here with me now"). Waite's herniated vocals make Steve Perry sound like Al Green.
Celine Dion, "My Heart Will Go On"
Kate Winslet recently admitted that Celine Dion's monstrously popular theme song from Titanic makes her "feel like throwing up," and even Dion herself didn't want to record the song when she first heard it. Hearing that misty, leprechaun-tinged flute intro is sort of the polar opposite of hearing the opening chords "Satisfaction" or the snare hit that starts "Like A Rolling Stone" -- instant recognition followed by immediate terror.