The downbeat: 5 of the best love (and it’s complicated) songs

Musical Notes with Couples Sitting, Hugging, and Standing on each Note
(Cassie Wang
• The Student Life)

The month of February brings with it the inescapable theme of love. But within this infatuation, love’s intricacies and realities shouldn’t be ignored; after all, the experiences of yearning, heartbreak, confusion, nerves and sensuality are intertwined with love. Here are, in my opinion, the top five songs to match any emotion you’re feeling this tender and wistful month.

1) A classic love song: “I Wanna Be Yours” by Arctic Monkeys

Arctic Monkeys draws on their classic, late night, rock-influenced sound for their romantic, slow song “I Wanna Be Yours.” With a smooth, smoky tone and Alex Turner’s vulnerable and crooning vocals, “I Wanna Be Yours” is the perfect mix of nervous and authentic, raw and complex. 

The lyrics are simple, heartfelt and only masked slightly in metaphor. Turner sings, “You call the shots, babe / I just wanna be yours,” but admits to having difficulty expressing his emotions, singing, “Secrets I have held in my heart / Are harder to hide than I thought.” 

2) A song for heartbreak and nostalgia: “Without U” by Corbin

There’s something haunting about “Without U,” which features Corbin’s mature and anguished voice moaning about all the times he and his girl “fell apart.” Corbin — who went by Spooky Black when “Without U” was released — appears torn between trying to move on with his broken heart or living in his dreams, where he’s with the girl he loves.

When “Without U” was released, Corbin was 16. There’s something about teen angst that captures heartbreak especially well, maybe because it still feels fresh. To most 16-year-olds, it usually is. 

The instrumental has a smooth, calm feel, and the world seems to melt away to allow the song to fade in and out. It’s reminiscent of the way love slowly overtakes all of people’s thoughts without them even fully realizing it.

The lyrics bounce between snapshots of Corbin’s memories with his lost lover and his current state of emotions. There is a definitive nostalgia to his words; he sings, “Don’t you know you’re so sexy / The way you move your body up and down / I wanna tell you how beautiful you are / But you’re nowhere to be found.” In two lines, the listener is hurled from floating in a beautiful love scene to crashing back to reality to find Corbin reminiscing, alone. 

3) A song for a crush (the possibility of love): “X&Y” by Erick the Architect

One third of the New York-based rap group Flatbush Zombies, Erick the Architect, also known as Erick Arc Elliot, makes independent projects that are equally thoughtful and trippy. 

X&Y” is the third song off Erick the Architect’s first Bandcamp-released album, but although it represents his older work, it is in no way less mature than his current music. 

The lyrics are so poetic they stand on their own as Erick proclaims intimate feelings for a woman in his life. Each line perfectly represents the feeling of wanting to do everything just to make someone happier. He talks about the early stages of trying to impress someone, and he raps, “You on a space shuttle cause you wanna see the stars / So I take it from the sky and bring it right to where you are.” 

“X&Y” also gets to the root of what liking someone is about, focusing on emotions and feelings as opposed to superficial qualities. Erick describes the person he likes as: “Independent, elegant, dignified, intelligent / The person in this world that could knock me out my element.” 

4) A song for sex: “All the Time” by Jeremih (feat. Lil Wayne and Natasha Mosley)

Atmospheric, intense and sensual, “All the Time” incorporates the best elements of any noteworthy, sexual song. Although the song is fairly explicit, it doesn’t feel shocking, but instead, raw. 

The song begins with soft and distorted female vocals, which add a feminine energy to the otherwise male-heavy narrative. The singing is consistent, slow and in no rush. The song feels like a slow yearning, the unfolding of an intenseness which comes with sex — whether with a partner or just on your own. 

The Lil Wayne feature adds a more edgy (and somewhat comedic) layer to an otherwise soft and serious song. Lil Wayne lightens the mood with a sexual pun, rapping, “If it’s sweet then I’mma eat it ’til I get sugar diabetes.” Then it’s back to “Early in the mornings when I think about you,” and turns serious (and sexy) again. 

5) A song for the complexities and hardships of real relationships: “It’s Strange” by Louis The Child (feat. K.Flay)

This wavy electronic song from Louis The Child offers a surprisingly large amount of introspection. It is filled with seemingly simple but surprisingly deep lyrics narrating getting close to someone. 

The airy, happy instrumental is fluid and dreamlike, almost as if it is a thought train from someone laying in bed late at night thinking back on their day. 

The opening line goes, “Heart been so cold that I don’t feel at all / Scarred up inside, so I built all these walls,” tackling the fear of getting close to someone. But the lyrics and the sounds grow more intimate as the song progresses, and later, K.Flay sings “It’s strange / But I don’t need space from you,” and at the peak of the song even proclaims “Opened me up, I let down my defense.” 

The lines that seal this song as the best song for complicated relationships, situations and life challenges are these sweet and raw lyrics: “I could be faded with somebody new / I rather be sober at home, just us two.” 

Ella Boyd SC ’21 is one of TSL’s music columnists. Besides writing, she enjoys making music, poetry and art.

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