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10 Alternative Love Songs


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As beautiful as 'Careless Whisper' is, there comes a time when even the most romantic day of the year needs a spruce up. 

A love song is obviously unique to everyone. My idea of a love song is probably vastly different to yours, but we can all be in agreement that there's always an indescribable feeling that washes over once the lovelorn lyrics kick in. 

Whether innately depressing or head over heels in love, there are a lot of musicians out there that don't specifically deal in love songs, but boy can they write them. 

In no particular order, here are ten alternative love songs that have been vastly overlooked. 

Nine Inch Nails - We're In This Together

When it comes to juxtaposition, Nine Inch Nails are the band to listen to. Set against the harsh, aggressive tones of pure industrial rock, Trent Reznor utilizes his vocal range effortlessly by shifting from soft whispers to violent screams within the track, releasing profound emotional attachment to a soul mate figure as a result.

Seemingly inspired by David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’, the lyrics describe two lovers fighting against an unstoppable force, and no matter what happens the two will stay together forever.

As Reznor has said of the song, ‘[his] voice breaking up was the one [he] needed to use, because it added a desperation that made the whole mood of the song feel right.’  

Eagles of Death Metal - I Want You So Hard (Boy's Bad News)

Sexy, raw, and sensual, Eagles of Death Metal have always known how to create catchy, pining odes to love with a minimal amount of effort – and chords. ‘I Want You So Hard (Boy’s Bad News)’ is one of their most obvious examples, and for good reason.

A bluesy lead guitar riff by Jesse Hughes alongside Josh Homme’s punchy rhythm, the track encapsulates the suave longing presented by Hughes combined with numerous forewarnings that he’s an irresponsible dude to be in a relationship with.

‘I Want You So Hard’ encapsulates the stereotypical Rockstar wannabe, womanizing playboys of L.A. (just think of 80s hair bands and you’ll get the idea), and Hughes does so with unashamed gusto.

The White Stripes - Fell In Love With a Girl

Pure White Stripes through and through, ‘Fell in Love with a Girl’ mixes your typical blues love song with the brashness of garage punk that figuratively – and almost unknowingly – describes the pace in which one can fall head over heels in love with someone.

Jack almost trips over his own tongue spouting the lyrics, whilst Meg keeps the fast pace perfectly on course; a metaphor for their relationship at the time and/or prior in a sense.

One can say a lot in a nearly two-minute song, and ‘Fell in Love with a Girl’ certainly does so whether you look at it from a fictional or non-fictional standpoint. Either way, it's about the pleasures and euphoria of falling ‘in love so fast and almost completely.’

Queens of the Stone Age - Make It Wit Chu

Performing an alluring, sultry tango that is completely stripped back from their usual distorted, desert rock, Queens of the Stone Age presents the intimate ‘Make It Wit Chu’ on their fifth record Era Vulgaris.

A funky, sedate song demonstrating innate lust in a relationship; an obvious sex song if you will, as frontman Josh Homme would proudly agree.

Unabashedly sincere compared to the material surrounding the track on the record, ‘Make It Wit Chu’ becomes less of a departure from the heavier rock, and more so an expansive experiment to their sound. Taken originally from Homme’s Desert Sessions in the late 90s, ‘Make it Wit Chu’ is one of the sexiest rock songs this side of the millennium.

Wolf Alice - Don't Delete The Kisses

Sometimes you’ve just got to accept and embrace the mushy, lovelorn aspect of your emotions when dealing with a crush, and that’s exactly what Ellie Rowsell does with Wolf Alice’s ‘Don’t Delete the Kisses’.

Steering clear of subtlety and outside pressures, Rowsell pens a realistic journey in the mind of someone falling in love and going on their first date, and it actually succeeding with no downfalls; a true Hollywood, feelgood ending.

Written and sung in a way that places us in Rowsell’s mind, herself and the band truly encapsulate those first-crush feelings of butterflies in the stomach and an overwhelming warmth of happiness. “I wanted to write a love song because I was feeling in love,” Rowsell says. “I find it hard sometimes to think with my feelings rather than my head, which is not good when it comes to love.”

R.E.M. - Nightswimming

Occasionally the best love songs are those that are explicitly love songs, and R.E.M.’s ‘Nightswimming’ is one of them. A beautiful insight into teenage love and romance, a nostalgic retrospect on Michael Stipe’s part regarding the secluded shorelines of America where teens felt free and able to create lasting memories without the looming presence of adults.

Night-time romances and ever-lasting relationships would unfold in these instances; where teens could find their true selves to which they can hold onto latter in life when the depressing realities of being an adult become overwhelming.

A simple ballad with a string arrangement provided by John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin), ‘Nightswimming’ is a stand-out track on one of R.E.M.’s most influential records, Automatic for the People.

Oasis - Talk Tonight

One of Noel Gallagher’s rare emotional moments, ‘Talk Tonight’ is a delicately vulnerable look into Gallagher’s psyche during a tumultuous era of Oasis’ career in 1994.

Not obviously a love song at first glance, Gallagher details a seemingly platonic relationship with a girl in San Francisco, after escaping from a band that was seemingly going nowhere at the time. A girl that took him in, calmed him down and got his head back into perspective regarding where his life was going in the band.

To hear a man who has a rather dysfunctional, outspoken image open up so defencelessly about a meaningful relationship is somewhat inspirational. Even more so with a bare, acoustic driven melody that allows an even more significant connection between listener and artist.

Hole - Heaven Tonight

On the surface, ‘Heaven Tonight’ is a dreamy, wistful alternative ballad. Detailing a simple story of a girl driving along the Pacific Coast (a reoccurring motif in Hole’s compositions) to see her boyfriend, the girl dies in an accident; a cataclysmic twist in what seems to be an innocent, blissful song about first love.

She both metaphorically and figuratively makes her way to ‘heaven tonight’, urging her boyfriend that he can move on without her, and she’ll be happy looking down on him, ('I can't believe that I can be happy / Someone will come again / I can't be happy / Oh, stop your crying / You can be happy / Got to heaven when you make me happy')

Often, it’s the tragically bittersweet love songs that hit a nerve, and ‘Heaven Tonight’ undoubtedly does just that. Courtney Love may have had her downfalls in the 90s (with and without the band behind her), but she can certainly write tragically beautiful lyrics.

Pearl Jam - Black

Described as a ‘fragile song’ by frontman Eddie Vedder, ‘Black’ is a personal account of the failing of an important relationship. It’s not a snarling ‘screw you’ break-up song, rather an emotive, caring piece about the hardships of moving on.

Vedder sings of hope mixed with despair that the person he was once in a relationship with will be able to find someone better for themselves, whilst drowning in the sorrow of not being able to be that person. (‘I know someday you’ll have a beautiful life / I know you’ll be a star in somebody else’s sky / But why can’t it be mine?’).

Confidently wearing his heart on his sleeve in both the studio and live performances of the song, ‘Black’ will forever be one of the greatest albeit depressing love songs in history.

Jeff Buckley - Last Goodbye

Similar to ‘Black’, ‘Last Goodbye’ signifies the ending of a meaningful relationship whether through break up or death. Jeff Buckley packs a punch in his instrumentation alone; his poetic observations and perspectives are poured into the track and seep through his renowned guitar riffs and melodies, creating a distinct feeling that will never be felt again.

It’s hard to listen to this song without feeling some veil of sadness due to the circumstances of Buckley’s passing, but I can imagine at the time of its release – along with the remaining songs on Grace – was euphoric and eye-opening.

Buckley’s ability to beautifully encapsulates his feelings regarding love and loss are astounding and are definitely felt the most in ‘Last Goodbye’.

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