Seven “Love Songs” That Are Probably (OK, Definitely) Inappropriate Mixtape Fodder

Feb 12th, 2009 // 26 Comments

Back in my school days, Valentine’s Day was a time for exchanging cheap perforated Valentines cards and inedible Necco hearts, and punishing the unpopular kids by “forgetting” to give them anything. (I was perhaps one of those unpopular kids.) If you were really lucky you got a mixtape from a girl, and I did get a few in my day, even if they were from girl-space-friends and not girlfriends. What was disturbing was the presence of “Every Breath You Take” on said mixtapes, given it’s the kind of love song that John Wayne Gacy might write. Even Sting himself says it’s a paean to controlling someone:



I woke up in the middle of the night with that line in my head, sat down at the piano and had written it in half an hour. The tune itself is generic, an aggregate of hundreds of others, but the words are interesting. It sounds like a comforting love song. I didn’t realise at the time how sinister it is. I think I was thinking of Big Brother, surveillance and control.

It got me thinking of other so-called “love songs” that are about as uncomfortably grody as pulling a wool sweater over a hairy, Vaselined chest.

7. Extreme, “More Than Words

If you could play this song or “Closer To Fine” on guitar in the early ’90s, you were pretty much getting to a base of some kind. Secret God Squad band Extreme ruled the mixtape roost during my high school years, but this song ain’t as innocent as it seems. Gary and Nuno have something on their minds, and words ain’t gonna cut it:

Saying I love you
Is not the words I want to hear from you
Its not that I want you
Not to say, but if you only knew
How easy it would be to show me how you feel
More than words is all you have to do to make it real
Then you wouldn’t have to say that you love me
‘Cause I’d already know

In a nutshell: “Okay, listen, babe. I get that you love me. You’ve said it a million times. I’m, uh, gonna need something a little more now, if you know what I’m saying.” This song is the “please, baby, please” argument given every night in thousands of Pontiac Grand Ams.

6. / 5. Ringo Starr, “You’re Sixteen” / Benny Mardones, “Into The Night”

Age-appropriateness is the problem here with both Ringo Starr and Benny Mardones, though I think it could be argued that Ringo might be singing from the perspective of a high-school guy. The video doesn’t help things, as a bearded, older Ringo gads about with a Shampoo-era Carrie Fisher. Mardones’ “Into The Night” (which Maura and I both adore) is more problematic, as Mardones is told by “them” to “leave her alone,” but he keeps after the 16-year-old anyway. That kind of behavior will land you in jail, Benny.

4. Winger, “Seventeen”

I’m including this song for the sake of completeness, even though it actually makes no bones about addressing its creepiness.

3. Rod Stewart, “Love Touch”

I actually put Rod Stewart’s Legal Eagles atrocity on a tape for a lady once, and I can’t imagine what she thought. The song itself is pretty standard semi-raunchiness, but the phrase “Love Touch” is just so wrong. Especially since Rod’s is probably covered in scented suntan oil.

2. Bob Carlisle, “Butterfly Kisses”

I hate that my cynical, shriveled heart makes me look askance at a “heartfelt” song like this one, but the verse about perfume and makeup and looking like her mama and being between a girl and a woman and spreading her wings… just no. The lyrical point of view starts to sound less like a dad and more like a covetous older lover as the song goes on.

1. Dan Hill, “Sometimes When We Touch”

The coup de grace of creepy, despite some people considering it “romantic” and “sweet.”

And sometimes when we touch
The honesty’s too much
And I have to close my eyes and hide
I wanna hold you til I die
Til we both break down and cry
I wanna hold you till the fear in me subsides

Making love to this hairy man-child is the last thing you’d ever want to do. First, he hides under the sheets. Then he won’t let go of you until he dies—or, at the very least, until you start crying. And the entire time he’s afraid, cowering under the covers. Thanks, but no thanks, Dan. You are the worst lay ever.

idolator

  1. Lucas Jensen

    [www.musicobsession.com] That’s Dan Hill, btw. That man would be under your covers, crying and holding you, scared to death.

  2. encyclopediablack

    @Lucas Jensen: So that’s what happened to Charles Manson’s younger brother. Interesting.

  3. Clare

    DO. NOT. FRONT. on “Into the Night.” That song is AWESOME for creeping everyone the hell out at karaoke night.

  4. bcapirigi

    @Clare: It’s the only song my boyfriend will do at karaoke. I never liked that song very much until I realized how very intense the vocal freak-out is at the end.

  5. Kate Richardson

    Not that it’s as overtly awful as “Sometimes When We Touch,” but “I Found a Reason” by the Velvet Underground is NOT appropriate for mix tapes. And IIRC I definitely did it once in high school or at least advised my friend to do it at some point. I shudder at the thought.

    Also when you think you’re just giving someone a harmless compilation of your favorite Rilo Kiley songs you might not want to start it off with Glendora (“Would you fuck me? ‘Cause I’d fuck me”) because he’s for sure going to read into it.

  6. Lucas Jensen

    @Kate Richardson: I once put Pale Blue Eyes on a mixtape to a girl. Seems sweet, right? She had brown eyes.

  7. Lucas Jensen

    @Clare: Oh, I would never front on that song. I love it. Just saying it’s creepy.

  8. saturn

    REM’s “The One I Love” also not good.

  9. Michaelangelo Matos

    OOH YOU’RE GONNA GET A
    OOH YOU’RE GONNA GET A BIG LOOOOOVE TOUCH

  10. Lucas Jensen

    @Michaelangelo Matos: Yes! A big one, no less.

  11. Lucas Jensen

    @saturn: Agreed.

  12. T'Challa

    @Lucas Jensen: Bless you for reminding me of the twisted genius that is “Into the Night.” I’m spinning a Valentine’s Day party on Saturday night and that song is sooooo in the rotation now.

  13. T'Challa

    @Lucas Jensen: Bless you for reminding me of the twisted genius that is “Into the Night.” I’m spinning a Valentine’s Day party on Saturday night and that song is sooooo in the rotation now.

  14. Lucas Jensen

    @Maura Johnston: I have got to see that. It’s the kind of thing that shows up in Netflix’s Play It Now section.

  15. T'Challa

    “…And when I say BENNY…”

    Wow–that was the best “Behind the Music” in under 6 minutes ever.

  16. T'Challa

    “…And when I say BENNY…”

    Wow–that was the best “Behind the Music” in under 6 minutes ever.

  17. T'Challa

    @Maura Johnston: Thanks for the video btw! Amazing. We missed ALL of that in the Midwest–other than “Into the Night,” of course.

  18. T'Challa

    @Maura Johnston: Thanks for the video btw! Amazing. We missed ALL of that in the Midwest–other than “Into the Night,” of course.

  19. Anonymous

    @Lucas Jensen: Was she married? Because isn’t that song about marital infidelity?

    Has anyone else been to a wedding at which the bride and groom’s first dance was to “Butterfly Kisses,” or do I live in some super creepy alternate universe?

  20. Lucas Jensen

    @JZ13: It was 1994. I was 19. I didn’t pay attention to things like lyrics or eye color.

    I have never seen a first dance of “Butterfly Kisses”, but I have seen a father/daughter dance to that. That’s a weird bride/groom dance.

  21. scarletvirtue

    I’ve heard people using “100%” by Sonic Youth and “Call And Answer” by Barenaked Ladies for mixtapes and/or wedding first dances.

    It just makes me want to cry, those poor misguided people.

  22. Lucas Jensen

    @scarletvirtue (Namaste, bitches!): At least 100% kinda rips it.

  23. ds

    Many, many years ago I had a girl ask me to put “that song you were singing along to at the party” onto a mix CD to her.

    She said she liked the way I sang it, that it was sweet.

    That song was Orestes by A Perfect Circle.

    Yup, matricide. That one didn’t last a week.

  24. Anonymous

    Surely nothing tops Falco’s 1986 pan-European number one smash “Jeanny”, sung from an abductor’s point of view. “Sie werden dich nicht finden / Niemand wird dich finden, du bist bei mir!”

  25. Victoria

    I can definitely agree with you on Benny Mardones Into The Night and I do remember an interview where Sting even said that Every Breath You Take was twisted. However, I have to heartily disagree with you about Butterfly Kisses by Bob Carlisle. Get your mind out of the gutter already.

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