Let’s be real, Idolafans: nothing exacerbates a broken heart like the prospect of another Valentine’s Day alone. If the ubiquity of hearts and flowers doesn’t get to you, the smell of chocolate and the constant reminder that everyone else is gettin’ some certainly will. It’s a painful thing to live through, and not something we recommend facing without the help of empathetic music journalists and their playlist-assembling abilities. We’re here for you.
So while you’re spending Valentine’s Eve at home, alone, with a heart-shaped box of candy and a wine-shaped box of comfort, crank up this very special selection of songs devoted to the the unlucky in love. We’ve programmed it for maximum tearsiness and ultimate single-person empowerment (ie., crying into a mirror while lip-syncing), from the bottom of our own broken hearts.
The undisputed empress of melancholy dance pop, Robyn can certainly sympathize with those of us dancing on our own this Valentine’s Day. Much like the songbird’s other hits “Dancing On My Own,” “The Girl & the Robot” (with Royksopp), and “With Every Heartbeat” (with Kleerup), this string-laden lament keeps a glittery ray of hope just behind the despair. Still, we wonder how permanently heartbroken Robyn gets out of bed in the morning.
Sally Shapiro featuring Electric Youth, “Starman”
In the midst of her usual swirling Italo beats, sensitive synth-Swede Sally cries “I want to know you, Mister Starman, I want to love you, Mister Starman” in a way that causes us some concern. Is she pining for an outer space lover or just really into old Jeff Bridges movies? For added drama, mix this tear-stained single with Shapiro’s disco ancestors Oh Romeo and their heartrending club hits “These Memories” and “(Try It) I’m in Love With a Married Man.”
Dragonette, “Pick Up the Phone” and Chromatics, “Cherry”
Dragonette’s Martina Sorbara and Chromatics’ Ruth Radelet both seem to be torn up over the same woman, a mysterious lass named Cherry who’s prone to vandalism, not answering the phone and being an all-around icy vamp. We think the lesson here would be to never fall in love with anyone named after fruit.
Frente!, “Bizarre Love Triangle”
These Aussie one-hit-wonders scored a mid-’90s smash with this gentle reading of New Order’s 1985 club classic, recasting the song’s tender lyricism in a surprisingly effective acoustic context. In our opinion, the song itself is impossible to ruin, no matter the version, and we can’t help getting tearsy whenever we hear it.
Liza Minnelli, “Losing My Mind”
Years before she would reach her career peak playing Lucille II on Arrested Development, the legendary Liza With A “Z” sent chills down our spines with this totally bonkers (yet strangely emotional) Pet Shop Boys collaboration. A cover of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies showstopper, “Losing My Mind” is a discofied ballad of desperate love and the frightening lengths of one woman’s obsession. And you can dance to it!
*NSYNC, “It’s Gonna Be Me”
In the waning days of N’Sync, a still-permed JT declared “Baby, when you finally get to love somebody, guess what (guess what), it’s gonna be me!” And you know what? We’re ready, Justin. We’ve been ready for a long, long time. Until you make good on your promise, we’ll be listening to this jam on a sick, sad loop, along with Enrique Iglesias‘ “Be With You,” Britney’s “From the Bottom of My Broken Heart” and Backstreet Boys’ “Quit Playing Games With My Heart.”
Vanbot, “Lost Without You”
Somehow, we’ve run out of misty Robyn jams that make us dance and cry at the same time. No worries, though, as the equally depressive Vanbot fill the void nicely with this forlorn stomper, pleading “And who would I be if you weren’t next to me?” Kleenex, please.
Abigail, “Constant Craving”
The k.d. lang original, a dusky ode to a life spent hungry for affection and acceptance, is an immortal classic, but Abigail’s relentless techno version adds a whole ‘nother layer of electrobeat lustiness and last-call longing. In other words, it’s more tragic than Valentine’s dinner reservations for one at the Olive Garden.
Ashlee Simpson, “Invisible”
The lyrics to Ashlee’s unfairly neglected 2006 single speak to the heart of anyone who’s loved from afar: “Go ahead, walk on by, you don’t know I’m alive.” Okay, so Ashlee was probably singing about her fans in the wake of the SNL lip-syncing performance scandal, but even a broken clock is right twice a day.
Brandy, “Sittin’ Up in My Room”
How many pop stars have been brave enough to declare, “I must confess, I’m a mess”? None, just Brandy! This New Jill Swing jam from the Waiting To Exhale soundtrack is a masterpiece of youthful romantic longing and perfectly describes how we spent
our teenage years our twenties last weekend.