Why are so many songs about love?
February 11, 2021
We are in love with love.
Life supplies us with a smorgasbord of themes and problems to dwell on artistically. There is the hero’s journey, the struggle to find oneself, the longing to broaden horizons. Sure, there is more to life than love. Much more. There is travel, spirituality, self-improvement and financial security. I am someone who can neatly tuck these items into a shut and stickered planner. But then, there is love.
This burning hot, dark looming storm cloud, this bursting and cursed, this month-long, this forever thing called love that tramples down the rest of it all, the burning feelings of “Candy” and “If Beale Street Could Talk.” The narrative arcs of love in movies — and I dare you to name a film without one — are what makes young girls squeal and kick seats in the movie theater. In high school days, it was Avril Lavigne’s and Taylor Swift’s heartbreak lung bursters that blasted through our car radios and circulated with the warm air into our melted McDonald’s ice cream. It was love that caused us to nearly tear the pages of “Pride and Prejudice” and “Eleanor and Park” in voracious attention to the fabricated love stories of strangers. Love, heartbreak, longing and sex have brought countless pens to paper magnetically, and rightfully so. Isn’t art derivative of love, after all?
As a fact, most of the songs that exist are about love in some way. A study on the “psychology of music” determined about 67% of lyrics in every song, every decade since the ‘60s, were somehow about love. Close seconds were money, partying and depression. Let’s dissect this week’s Billboard Top Pop Songs, which are either focused on love or have at least one reference to it:
- “Drivers License” by Olivia Rodrigo: Disney star Olivia Rodrigo mourns a lost love while driving through her ex’s neighborhood.
- “Mood” by 24kGoldn feat. Iann Dior: Iann Dior wants to know why his girlfriend is always in a bad mood.
- “Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd: Abel can’t sleep without someone’s touch.
- “34 + 35” by Ariana Grande: = 69
- “Levitating” by Dua Lipa featuring DaBaby: Dua Lipa wants her sugar baby to dance with her under the moonlight.
- “Positions” by Ariana Grande: Grande reflects on gender roles in her relationship.
- “Holy” by Justin Bieber featuring Chance the Rapper: A biblical ballad for Bieber’s boo.
- “Good Days” by SZA: SZA ruminates on an ex-lover who has her bummed out, but she believes in good days to come.
Why is love, in all its beauty and ugliness, such an attractive topic to swoon over through our AirPods, car radios and the speakers at Campus Pantry? According to my calculations as buzz’s love expert, here are three reasons to hypothesize love’s prevalence in pop music.
Love is painful
Cause an artist emotional pain, and watch what valiant masterpieces unravel. For every song written about the upsides of love, two are written about the downsides, and, sometimes, they are more fun to listen to. Pain = art, which is a universal law. Nothing hits quite like heartbreak, which is why I think many artists gravitate to their music as an emotional outlet for the many losses that inevitably accompany the topic at hand. For the sensitive like me, heartbreak can cause a loss of appetite and an overall disinterest in many aspects of life. And nothing serves as a therapeutic outlet like tearfully blasting Adele until the unit next door complains. Songs about heartbreak work as a healing mechanism for the artist and the listener.
Love is universal
Romantic love, or eros, is just one of eight types of love. There is philia, affectionate love. There is pragma, enduring love. There is storge, familiar love. There is ludus, playful love. There is mania, obsessive love. There is philautia, self-love. And there is agape, selfless love. Love is a force that disintegrates boundaries of age, gender, location and status. Love will always be part of the human experience in some form or another. The human tendency to love and crave love is undeniable and inescapable.
Love is powerful
If it is not yet clear, love is the driving force beneath great works of art, touching cinema and moving literature. It is a force to be reckoned with and a force of creation — the Taj Mahal was created out of a great emperor’s love for his partner. For some of us, love is the reason we are here today. Love will always be and has always been the driving force for most of what we do as humans — and our music is a microcosm of that.
Buzz’s Timeless Love & Heartbreak Playlist:
- “My Girl” by The Temptations
- “Love My Way” by The Psychedelic Furs
- “Do You Love Her Now” by Jai Paul
- “Something’s Got a Hold On Me” by Etta James
- “Heart of Glass” by Blondie
- “Everywhere” by Fleetwood Mac
- “Alewife” by Clairo
- “Raspberry Beret” by Prince
- “Who Shot Cupid?” by Juice WRLD
- “cowboy like me” by Taylor Swift
- “When You Sleep” by My Bloody Valentine
- “Love Galore” by SZA
- “How’s It Going To Be” by Third Eye Blind
- “Thinkin Bout You” by Frank Ocean
- “Boy, I’m Just A Loser For Your Love” by Good Morning
- “Cherry Wine” by Hozier
- “Vas” by jagger film
- “I Melt With You” by Modern English
- “The Middle” by wet
- “Killing Me Softly With His Song” by Fugees