Valentine's Day, Hipster style
Valentine’s Day is the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of Hallmark holidays. Some prefer the smooth layer of chocolate, while others dive in for a delectable rush of peanut butter, but there are always the naysayers who can’t handle any strain of the sugar rush. Here we are on Feb. 14 witnessing another round of the annual faceoff between the loved and the lovelorn. Whether you’re forever fallen or forever alone, one thing’s for sure: somebody has probably written a song about it.
I make mix CDs more often than I make bad jokes, and Valentine’s Day is a perfect occasion for these personalized collections. Since the beginning of the tape-deck, personal mixes have been used to relay the feelings that awkward kids doodle in the margins of their notebooks. On the other hand, the infamous breakup tape has been played in everything from the headphones of 13-year-olds to the unashamed honesty of recent films like High Fidelity and (500) Days of Summer.
So today, on the umpteenth celebration of Saint Valentine, I present my latest creation: a brief look at both the gushing and the crushing sides of songs about love.
Side A: I Am In A Dire Need Of A Shovel. I Dig You.
1. Daft Punk, “Digital Love”
Let’s face it, nobody carts around a cassette collection and a Walkman anymore. Kicking off a tape with a song that references the fact that you’re not kickin’ it old school is the definition of cool. Not to mention the killer electronic vibes these Tron stars dish out.
2. Alkaline Trio, “Nose Over Tail (Acoustic)”
“Cracked my head open on your kitchen floor / To prove to you that I have brains.” As weird and off-putting as the first line of this stripped-down punk number may seem, it’s an adequate summary of what love is: a perpetual boxing match between the heart and the brain. Play it smart, kids!
3. Big Star, “Thirteen”
Fun fact: Big Star is most known for writing the theme song of That 70’s Show. Yeah, that one. This song, even though it’s a tad juvenile, hits the point of Valentine’s Day: Everyone likes to show they care — even if they resort to flaunting teddy bears that your five-year-old self would love.
Side B: (500) Days of Bummer
1. Radiohead, “Fake Plastic Trees”
After writing a song about being a creep, Radiohead moved onto a new form of audio rejection letter wrought with plasticine metaphors. If my career of English courses can only conclude one thing, it’s that Thom Yorke isn’t a fan of commercializing the raw feelings that his career builds on, even if they’re negatively charged.
2. Skee-Lo: “I Wish”
Years before Jay-Z scored with Beyonce, a humble Skee-Lo had simple — yet unobtainable — ambitions to get with the girl of his dreams. The result is one of the definitive alternative hip-hop songs of the ‘90s. I guess his career was a bit ahead of his time.
3. Brand New: “Mix Tape”
“This is the first song for your mixtape / And it’s short just like your temper.” Not everyone’s sold on the idea of using a playlist to start something great. So here’s to Jesse Lacey and everyone else for whom Feb. 14 is just another day to say “grow up.”