The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High

Pathfinder

The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High

Pathfinder

The Official Student News Site of Parkway West High

Pathfinder

Love bites

No+matter+the+form+of+music+%E2%80%94++vinyls%2C+cassettes%2C+CDs+and+playlists+%E2%80%94+anti-love+songs+have+been+apparent+for+decades.+Whatever+the+genre+or+the+context+of+the+source+material%2C+when+artists+choose+to+be+open+about+the+realities+of+their+relationships%2C+it+leads+to+vulnerability+in+their+writing%2C+ultimately%2C+making+timeless+tracks.
Graphic by Mikalah Owens. Images from Parkwood Entertainment, Columbia Records, Arista Records, Dead Oceans and Universal Records
No matter the form of music — vinyls, cassettes, CDs and playlists — anti-love songs have been apparent for decades. Whatever the genre or the context of the source material, when artists choose to be open about the realities of their relationships, it leads to vulnerability in their writing, ultimately, making timeless tracks.

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, classic love songs — and way too many Taylor Swift songs — are plastered everywhere. For people in a relationship, the hallmark holiday is a sentimental day with a loved one. For those not in a relationship, Valentine’s Day is the epitome of an annoyed eye-roll. Even though love is one of the leading inspirations in music, heartbreak tends to make far more passionate art. Anti-love songs are like the rebellious cousins in the music family; they explore the messier side of relationships and continue to challenge the clichés of traditional love. Over the years, there have been some great anti-love songs that dive into the gritty realities of love, providing an alternative soundtrack for those navigating the complex dualities in relationships.

 

’80s

Warner Bros.

Purple Rain” – Prince & The Revolution

Album: “Purple Rain” (1984)

Genre: Pop

At some point in time, everyone goes through the end of a relationship, whether that be romantic or platonic. The separation oftentimes leaves behind feelings of heartache or confusion. “Purple Rain” by Prince embodies the difficult emotions surrounded by a breakup with a gorgeous musical progression and defenseless writing. The lyric, “I never meant to cause you any pain, I only wanted to see you laughing in the purple rain,” ultimately elevates the themes of love and pain. As much as Prince is loved as a singer and songwriter, the icon tends to be less known for his guitar talent; however, his aptitude with the guitar is what made “Purple Rain” such an iconic song. The beautiful guitar solo in the track is arguably one of the most signature moments in Prince’s career, expressing feelings of heartache and false hope all at once.

 

Rough Trade Records

I Know It’s Over” – The Smiths 

Album: “The Queen Is Dead” (1986) 

Genre: Alternative

Actor Zooey Deschanel helped elevate The Smiths into stardom amongst Gen Z in her famous scene with Joseph Gordon Levitt in “500 Days of Summer.” In the scene, Deschanel overhears Levitt’s character listening to “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out,” which leads her to tell him that she loves The Smiths. “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out,” is a beautiful song that rightfully stands out as The Smiths trademark song, but its popularity overshadows other songs that arguably are more devastating. Most notable is the song “I Know It’s Over.” The song gained most of its popularity after late singer Jeff Buckley covered it so well that people assumed that it was originally his work. Luckily for frontman Morrissey, most fans are able to ignore his arrogant personality and recognize how genius his lyrics are. In “I Know It’s Over,” Morrisey wrote, “It’s so easy to laugh, it’s so easy to hate. It takes strength to be gentle and kind” followed by, “she needs you, more than she loves you.” Morrisey’s writing in “I Know It’s Over” narrates the feelings of hopelessness and despair while showing that love is natural and real. Yet, in this situation, it is not enough to save the connection, and he has to accept that the relationship truly is over.

 

’90s

 

Epic Records

Black (MTV Unplugged)” – Pearl Jam 

Album: “MTV Unplugged (Live)” (1992)

Genre: Grunge/Rock

Each time Pearl Jam performs “Black,” new sentiment is evoked by the band. In past years, the alluring song has been dedicated to Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, who was a close friend of the band. In other performances, singer Eddie Vedder has been so overwhelmed by the setting of shows that uneasy emotions are released. The performance that allowed Vedder to express the most passion was off Pearl Jam’s famous MTV Unplugged acoustic album. In the live show, Vedder dug deep inside himself emotionally and vocally as he showcased his jaw-dropping range. “Black” is Vedder’s intense autobiographical story centered around the pain of holding on to the end of a relationship. Vedder sings, knowing that not only is a former partner permanently gone from his life, but that they will eventually be a “star in somebody else’s sky.” In the final line, Vedder sings with as much vehemence as a singer can emote. Vedder sings passionately and desperately, “We belong together” as he hits his personal rock bottom of despair and rage.

metalferguson
Maverick Records

You Oughta Know” – Alanis Morissette 

Album: “Jagged Little Pill” (1995)

Genre: Alternative 

In a time where men dominated the music scene, Alanis Morissette unexpectedly wrote one of the best alternative breakup anthems. Morissette’s ex-boyfriend happened to be actor Dave Coulier, who is best known as Uncle Joey from “Full House.” Morissette’s lyrics dug deep at Coulier as she stated, “I’m here to remind you of the mess you made when you went away.” Knowing that the song is a deep diss towards Coulier put an honest umbrage against his acting on “Full House” and made fans have mixed feelings toward Uncle Joey after their breakup. More current artists like Olivia Rodrigo and Tate McRae have tried capturing the same bitter sound that Morissette perfected, and both have failed. Only Morissette has been able to release relentless lyrics blended with offsetting vocal annunciation that made an ex publicly admit to his wrongdoings in their relationship after a diss track was released.

 

Warner Bros.

Silver Springs (Live)” – Fleetwood Mac 

Album: “The Dance” (1997) 

Genre: Rock 

There is not a performance that can capture the same look and sound of anguish the way that “Silver Springs (Live)” by Fleetwood Mac does. The song was originally a B-Track on the famous album “Rumours” and gained massive popularity after TikTok users got a hold of a performance from the live album, “The Dance.” In most cases, popular songs and trends on TikTok tend to fade out in a few weeks or months. That wasn’t the case with “Silver Springs (Live),” as singer Stevie Nicks’ powerful, yet personal performance engraved itself into iconic media due to the riveting chemistry between her and singer/guitarist Lindsey Buckingham. The relationship drama between Buckingham and Nicks helped make some of their best work with songs like “Go Your Own Way” and “Go Insane,” which are tracks led vocally by Buckingham and are subtle disses to Nicks. However, Nicks puts Buckingham’s attempts to ridicule her to rest with the live version of “Silver Springs.” In the emotional performance, Nicks looks Buckingham in the eye as she sings, “You’ll never get away from the sound of the woman that loves you. Time cast a spell on you, but you won’t forget me. I know I could’ve loved you, but you would not let me.” With lyrics that couldn’t have aged any better and the history of their relationship, this performance acts as the explosion of the Nicks/Buckingham love story.

Fleetwood Mac
Food Records

No Distance Left to Run” – Blur 

Album: “13” (1998)

Genre: Rock

Yep, the band who made the “Woo-hoo” song, known as  “Song 2,” also wrote one of the most underrated breakup songs of the ‘90s. The success of “Song 2” skyrocketed Blur into worldwide fame, but they were most loved in Britain and exploded into the Britpop scene along with Oasis and Elastica. Britpop caused a lot of drama in the ‘90s music scene, as Blur found themselves in a rivalry with Oasis as well as Blur frontman Damon Albarn’s complicated relationship with Justine Fleischmann of Elastica. Albarn wrote “No Distance Left to Run” about the remaining feelings after his breakup with Fleischmann. Originally, Blur gave people the impression that they couldn’t write emotionally, complex songs and that they were only able to make catchy songs like “Song 2.” However, Albarn challenged this misconception in “No Distance Left to Run” proving himself as a talented, underrated lyricist. The melancholic song is Albarn’s way of saying that he hopes Fleischmann “finds someone who makes [her] feel safe,” and that he won’t try and force his way back into her life anymore because he has “no distance left to run.” This was a metaphorical way of saying he has exhausted all of his options, and there is nothing else he can do. 

 

2000s

 

Arista Records

Complicated” – Avril Lavigne

Album: “Let Go” (2002)

Genre: Pop Punk

At just 16, Avril Lavigne wrote the most important song of her career: “Complicated.” Even though Lavigne isn’t the most talented singer or songwriter in the alternative scene, only her voice works with the hit. “Complicated” was Lavigne’s first single and music video to be released. The single caught the eye of the developing pop-punk scene in the 2000s and Lavigne’s edgy clothing style — a tank top with a long necktie — became a major clothing trend. Following the expectation in the pop-punk genre, Lavigne’s lyrics are simple. In “Complicated” Lavigne is questioning why things got all you know…complicated in her relationship. Even though at times the lyrics can come off as callow, it doesn’t really matter. The music that plays behind her flows effortlessly and helps support her voice. In the end, helping elevate “Complicated” into a huge success that continues to get radio play 20 years later. 

Avril Lavigne

 

RCA Records

Since U Been Gone” – Kelly Clarkson 

Album: “Breakaway” (2004)

Genre: Pop 

Thanks to the iconic acapella scene in “Pitch Perfect,” people didn’t forget about singer-songwriter Kelly Clarkson’s breakout song, “Since U Been Gone.” Frequent watchers of “American Idol” knew that the singer was going to be huge after she won the first season of the hit show. It has been 20 years since the breakout song was released, and the hit is just as catchy and is still arguably one of the best, if not the best, pop song of the 2000s. “Since U Been Gone” pulled a rare trick in the pop music industry, as the lyrics are “stuck in my head” worthy but avoid being labeled as “annoyingly catchy” — which is what a lot of songs fell victim to in the 2000s. What helped make “Since U Been Gone” so popular is that its catchiness caught the attention of people in all genres. The music and lyrics were angsty enough to please the alternative scene and Clarkson’s vocals and stage presence made her a certified pop diva.

 

LaFace Records

Who Knew” – P!nk 

Album: “I’m Not Dead” (2006)

Genre: Pop

Even though one of P!nk’s most applauded songs is “So What,” which is about her breakup with Carey Hart, the song in her discography that addresses heartbreak the best is the crucially underrated “Who Knew” off of her 2006 album: “I’m Not Dead.” The singer shared that the song was written after she lost a close friend to a heroin overdose when they were just teenagers. With P!nk’s compelling vocals, partnered with evocative lyrics, the singer creates a sense of vulnerability with her audience. By allowing herself to not only be completely open with her emotions in her writing, P!nk also captures the stage of anger in grief perfectly. At its core, “Who Knew” captures the raw pain experienced when faced with the sudden absence of a loved one.

 

Universal Records

Tears Dry On Their Own” – Amy Winehouse 

Album: “Back To Black” (2006) 

Genre: Jazz/Pop

The lasting legacy of the 2006 album, “Back To Black” by the irreplaceable Amy Winehouse perfectly embodies the pain of someone struggling to be loved by someone who doesn’t appreciate their worth. The album is based off Winehouse’s relationship with Blake Fielder-Civil, which ultimately put the infamous singer on a path to self-destruction with substance abuse. There is not a song that falls short on “Back To Black,” but one that often goes unnoticed is “Tears Dry on Their Own.” The track is less cynical than “Me and Mr. Jones” and “You Know I’m No Good” but is one of Winehouse’s most prideful hits. “Tears Dry on Their Own” was written after Fielder-Civil left Winehouse for a different girl, leaving Winehouse in a distressing situation. “Tears Dry on Their Own” was Winehouse’s way of admitting that she’s despondent about the breakup, but that she will get through it because she deserves better. Unfortunately, Winehouse found herself back in a relationship with Fielder-Civil and even married him. Expectedly, Fielder-Civil pushed Winehouse even deeper into addiction and helped destroy Winehouse’s career before it could even kick off. Sadly, Winehouse passed away from alcohol poisoning only five years after “Back To Black” was released.

 

Island Records

Thnk Fr Th Mmrs” – Fall Out Boy 

Album: “Infinity on High” (2007)

Genre: Pop Punk

Credited as Taylor Swift’s favorite lyricist, there are few songwriters who are able to be as petty as Pete Wentz. After coming from the Chicago punk scene, Wentz quickly made Fall Out Boy synonymous with guyliner, MySpace profiles and snarky breakup songs in the early 2000s. Through the plethora of anti-love songs that Fall Out Boy owns, the one that remains timeless is “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs.” The title spells out “Thanks For The Memories” before being disemvoweled, which was a facetious nod to the band’s record label, who had asked them to shorten their song titles. “Thnks Fr The Mmrs” quickly became a hit in the 2000s due to the band’s ability to blend conspicuous, and at times, unserious lyrics, with a catchy, enriching music structure. Wentz had achieved talent in writing early on in his career and despite “Thanks for the memories, even though they weren’t so great” being one of his most elementary lines, it helped the lyricist perfect his style of antagonistic writing. To help gain listeners for “Thnks Fr The Mmrs,” Fall Out Boy used clever marketing and got Kim Kardashian involved in the music video, which pushed the song out to more than the band’s “emo” audience.

Fall Out Boy

 

2010s

 

Dirty Hit Records

Somebody Else” – The 1975

Album: “I like it when you sleep, for you are beautiful yet so unaware of it” (2016)

Genre: Alternative

After spending more than 20 years as a band, in 2016, The 1975 mastered the craft of making songs that are easy to cry or dance to — or possibly both, depending on the mood — by having a unique sound mixed with cheeky lyrics. It was the release of “Somebody Else” off of the band’s sophomore album that finally broke the British band into mainstream music. The song’s usage of synth and guitar and singer Matty Healy’s agitated lyrics welcomed it to be one of the most applauded songs of the 2010s. “Somebody Else” explores the narrative of an individual who tries to understand their contradictory opinions of their past partner who gets into a new relationship. The track best emotes the feelings of confusion, anger and jealousy. Healy’s lyrics and visceral musical construction on “Somebody Else” help make the track a staple piece of the band’s discography. Since 2016, The 1975 have released dozens more breakup songs — and even their fair share of love songs — but “Somebody Else” remains their most streamed and adored song by fans.

 

Parkwood Entertainment

Don’t Hurt Yourself” – Beyoncé (feat. Jack White)

Album: “Lemonade” (2016)

Genre: Pop

Beyoncé and Jack White are both iconic and immensely talented artists in their own respective genres. Beyoncé is known for being “Queen Bey” in R&B, while White dominates the garage rock scene with The White Stripes and his solo work. Honestly, mixing them together sounds like brushing your teeth after drinking lemonade, a mistake. Yet, the duo proved that they actually worked really well together on Beyoncé’s album, “Lemonade,” which was based on her finding out that her husband Jay-Z had been unfaithful. The whole album was filled with instant classics like “Formation” and “Hold Up,” which were about healing from pain and moving toward empowerment. Beyoncé’s powerful voice on the track “Don’t Hurt Yourself” sounds like she is yelling at Jay-Z to the point where the track makes it sound like the listener is in the middle of a fight between the singer and rapper. In the underrated song Beyoncé spits, “When you lie to me, you lie to yourself. When you hurt me, you hurt yourself.” Surprisingly, it’s actually White who wrote the lyrics and was able to capture “female rage” perfectly. Especially in the closing line, “If you try this sh*t again, you gonna lose your wife” – which is nothing short of a classic closing line.

 

2020s

 

Dead Oceans

Kyoto” – Phoebe Bridgers

Album: “Punisher” (2020)

Genre: Alternative

Alternative singer Phoebe Bridgers gained massive popularity for her talent in writing sorrowing ballads, but Bridgers wanted to avoid being a one-trick pony and was looking for change in her music. While writing her sophomore album, “Punisher,” Bridgers reflected on her complicated relationship with her father on the song, “Kyoto.” Instead of recording the song into a somber track, Bridgers turned “Kyoto” into an alternative hit. Even though the music on “Kyoto” is more harsh than her past work, Bridgers’ writing is still emotionally barring. Bridgers reflects on her father’s addiction issues and his subtle attempts to be in her and her brother’s lives in the lyrics, “With my little brother, he said you called on his birthday. You were off by like ten days, but you get a few points for trying,” and “I don’t forgive you… I wanted to see the world through your eyes until it happened.” It is important to recognize that not all songs that are about heartbreak deal with romantic breakups, since some relationship issues with parents carry defining baggage as well. “Kyoto” opened up many more creative possibilities for Bridgers and allowed her to be even more vulnerable with her writing and audience in her later work.

View Comments (4)
Donate to Pathfinder
$190
$800
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Parkway West High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Mikalah Owens, Staff Writer
Pronouns: she/her Grade: 12 Years on staff: 2 What is your favorite piece of literature? “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” by Peter Hedges. Who is your hero? That’s tough. I wanna say Henry Rollins since he’s gone through so much trauma and has overcome that and grown as a person; that’s really inspiring. Realistically, probably my Uncle. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? I don’t know… probably fries or something.
Donate to Pathfinder
$190
$800
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (4)

Please use your own name and keep your comments respectful!
All Pathfinder Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • E

    Emily EarlyFeb 14, 2024 at 9:22 am

    so incredible mikalah! your music reviews never fail to amaze me 🙂

    Reply
  • L

    Lauren HolcombFeb 14, 2024 at 9:02 am

    i would like to put morrissey and matty healy in a cage and force them to fight to the death. great article btw

    Reply
  • W

    Will GonsiorFeb 14, 2024 at 8:58 am

    ALL FIVE HORIZONS REVOLVED AROUND

    THIS ARTICLE

    so so so so so good

    Reply
  • A

    AvaFeb 14, 2024 at 8:53 am

    Mikalah this is so well written. I’m so proud of you. I will def be listening to all of these songs td. Luv ya!! 🤗

    Reply