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A Pretentious List of the Ten Greatest Love Songs

by Scarecrow von Steuben (talk)

Perhaps this was not a very good idea for a 'Shroom article. I came up with it and compiled most of the songs shortly after I was approached to do an article. Last year I forgot to turn mine in so I didn't get it included, and I was certain that this year would be different! Of course, here it is, over a week since the deadline, and I'm only just now turning it in, so maybe it won't be accepted after all. (Editor's note: The section was submitted late for the Holiday Issue, so it was included in the January issue instead.) If it is, though- ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you, A Pretentious List of The Ten Greatest Love Songs You Won't Find On Most List Of The Ten Greatest Love Songs.

10. Blur - Yuko and Hiro
This is one of my favorite Blur songs. It's one of their most underrated, too. It tells a sad little story about two overworked Japanese co-workers who fall in love but can never see each other because of how much work they have to do... well, okay, when you write it out like that it sounds incredibly dumb. But when you're listening to Damon Albarn sing about it over a slow drum machine and off-key synths, it's pretty powerful, because Damon Albarn is great.

9. Frank Ocean - Pyramids
I'm still trying to get into Frank Ocean's critically acclaimed debut Channel ORANGE. Most of the songs on it haven't really grabbed me yet, but this one sure did. It's ten minutes long and uses pharaoahs as a metaphor for modern-day pimps, and also there's something about falling in love with a stripper. Better than it sounds.

8. Daft Punk - Digital Love
Everybody loves Daft Punk, right? This song actually has very little lyrical content, with just one verse sung at the very beginning of the song and a few lines repeated at the end. Still, it's a great song. You've probably heard it, because it is Daft Punk, and if you don't like Daft Punk, what sort of person are you?

7. Burial - Near Dark
There are only two lines in this song, pitch shifted and sampled from some anonymous R-n-B song (Wikipedia is of no help to me in identifying it). These vocals are combined with lo-fi drums, subtle washes of synth, and not much else, but it all comes together just right to be one of my favorite songs of all time. The singer is saying "I can't take my eyes off you" but if you listen to it sideways it sounds sort of like "I can't see my asshole" (as Youtube commentors have been quick to point out on the video for the song) so that should provide some enjoyment for the more cynical among you.

6. REM - You Are The Everything
This song has some of my favorite lyrics of all time. They are incredibly corny, but they're still really powerful, and the fact is, everybody needs some corniness in their life. The vocals rarely stop at all throughout the song (only once, to be exact), so it gives the impression that Stipe is letting everything out at once without any filter or worrying about what it sounds like or what people will say about it.

5. Thom Yorke - Atoms for Peace
This is probably one of the most upbeat songs that's ever come out of Radiohead or its members. It's actually supposed to be from the perspective of Yorke's wife (according to an interview I read a while ago and half-remember) telling him to get himself together. But the lyrics are vague enough that it could really be for or from anybody. The vocal delivery is rather angsty, of course, this being Thom Yorke, but the melody is beautiful and that bouncy, happy little keyboard loop gives the song a certain energy and joy.

4. Arcade Fire - Crown of Love
And on the flipside of "Atoms for Peace" is "Crown of Love," an incredibly bleak and violent song that uses cancer and eyeball mutilation as metaphors for unrequited love. But this all fits in perfectly with the themes of the album it's on, Funeral, which is a loose concept album about kids and teenagers dealing with death. It's not particularly angry or loud, just exhausted and bitter-sounding... and thus manages to convey the helplessness and anger of being a teenager while still maintaining a degree of subtlety and intelligence (Korn and Limp Bizkit, take notes). There are also some pretty thinly-veiled references to masturbation in there, too, for those of you who are still reading this mostly because of the "I can't see my asshole" thing from #7.

3. Bon Iver - Calgary
I like this song a lot, and it's going to be hard to write about it without lapsing into Pitchfork-ey pretentiousness. But here I go: This is a really beautiful song. It has no chorus and no repetition of lyrics, simply a series of verses that slowly build up into the uplifting climax. This song may not be your thing if you're not into weird metaphors and falsetto vocals. There, I'm quitting while I'm ahead.

2. Smashing Pumpkins - Luna
This is the last song on Siamese Dream and a personal favorite. It starts off acoustic and eventually grows and builds into the sort of big, unashamedly romantic ballad that the Pumpkins did so well. I really don't know how else to describe this song, it's great and you should listen to it.

1. Sufjan Stevens - Casimir Pulaski Day
Cancer is so often used to pull heartstrings in cheesy movies and tv shows that it's almost surprising to find a powerful, realistic depiction of the illness in art or entertainment. But this song pulls it off. The narrator's girlfriend has cancer, and then she dies. That's basically the whole song, right there, and it sounds incredibly glurgey written out like that. But "Casimir Pulaski Day" succeeds because it includes the little details, the things that anybody who's lost a friend or family member to a drawn-out terminal disease can identify with- the prayers for recovery, the moment when it hits you that it's really going to happen even after you thought you had dealt with your grief already, the misdirected anger at God, the weird sort of quiet that settles over the house- and some of unique things that make the listener feel like these people are real and have their own quirks and interests. It is a very sad song and if you listen to it you will probably be sad too. Unless you're the guy who listened to "Crown of Love" and "Near Dark" because of the masturbation and misheard references to assholes, respectively, in which case you will probably think this song is gay.

So that's my list. I wrote it after several days of very little sleep so that's my excuse if it sucks.