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Break My Heart Again: Songs For Love Gone Wrong

Hallo once more, little earbuds. Miss Pink has actually been doing pretty well lately. I’m feeling healthy, and slowly but surely I’m getting through my huge backlog of projects and general stuff-to-do, such as catching up on emails with friends. In doing so, I discovered that one of my pals is going through some heartbreak right now. Of course I was sympathetic (because who hasn’t experienced that in some form or other?) but words just don’t feel like enough when it comes to matters of the heart. So In honor of my friend, today I’m bringing you another playlist: Top 5 Songs For Love Gone Wrong. Warning: Here there be F-bombs, so if adult language offends you, better skip this week’s post.

5.) Peaches – F**k The Pain Away

Who can resist Peaches and her electroclash-punk aesthetic? She tells it like it is, and even when her words are tongue-in-cheek, they leave a sting. What’s even better is this fan video of Miss Piggy singing “F**k The Pain Away,” because both Piggy and Peaches are total badasses.

4.) She Wants Revenge – True Romance

The name of this band alone should clue you in to the fact that a song titled “True Romance” might not be what it seems. “I know that you never loved me, I know that you never cared at all…” There are so many vengeful gems from She Wants Revenge, but this one takes the cake for love that’s gone sour.

3.) Dandy Warhols – We Used To Be Friends

Back before Veronica Mars was on the air I found myself in the most upsetting roommate situation of my life to date with someone whom I once considered a close friend. Since I tend to invest as much of my heart into my friendships as I do into romance, it was a very scarring moment in my personal history. Luckily, during this period I caught the Dandy Warhols performing this song on SNL, and instantly I had a theme for my pain. Just listening to this tune on repeat automatically made everything a bit better.

2.) Future Bible Heroes – I’m Lonely (And I Love It)

Even though this song is over a decade old, I miraculously discovered it on the same night that I was replying to the very friend who inspired this playlist. As much as I adore Stephin Merritt, I must admit that I haven’t explored his side projects as thoroughly as I have Magnetic Fields. Since previously I only had two Future Bible Heroes songs in my musical library, I’m delighted to have an entirely new catalogue to explore (small as it is, being a side project and all). As soon as I heard the plethora of electronic beats urging me to dance I was in love, but the beyond awesome lyrics take this song over the top. If there’s a more joyful song about heartbreak out there, I haven’t heard it. And I’ve heard a lot.

1.) Nine Inch Nails – You Know What You Are

As much as I’d love to end on a positive note like song #2, when it comes to pains of the heart, the guy I always turn to first is Trent Reznor. This entire list could have been populated with Nine Inch Nails, so extensive is his repertoire of anger and disappointment. What I really love about this particular song is how it takes pain and sadness and channels it all into pure unadulterated rage. In my personal experience, there is no song that can trump this one when it comes to the primal desire to scream “F*** YOU!!!” at whoever has lied to you, cheated on you, or let you down in your life.

There are obviously many, many more songs out there of every genre that cover this topic extremely well. J. Geils Band’s “Love Stinks” is always a classic choice, as is any version of Neil Young’s “Only Love Can Break Your Heart.” (My personal preference is the upbeat 90s cover by Saint Etienne, because nothing gives melancholy the middle finger quite like being peppy.) Then there’s the newer indie classic, Gotye’s ode to faded romance, “Somebody That I Used To Know.” The Kills provide great, crunchy tunes that always make me wanna take a road trip and stay in run-down motels, and their ditty “F**k The People” is excellent not just for heartache but any ol’ time you feel like you’re surrounded by stupidity. Along those same lines, Combichrist’s “What The F**k Is Wrong With You?” is an industrial/emb version of the same feeling. And who could forget Amy Winehouse (rest in peace), the gal who seemed to truly understand when life gets messed up, with her song, “Love Is A Losing Game?”

The list goes on and on, and will continue to grow every year, because heartbreak is universal. I take solace in all of the great music created to cope with such harsh and uncomfortable emotions. How about you? What’s the song that you keep in your back pocket, the tune that you know will be the first to beat on your eardrums when your heart gets chewed up and spit back out? The choices are out there, and as vast as the channels of the human heart. As it should be, because great art is one of the only benefits to great sorrow, or so this music lover believes.

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Acetaminophen, You See The Medicine

I finally made it out to the doctor yesterday to get my sickness taken care of. Unsurprisingly, my ailment is still a mystery. They took some blood (a lot of blood, actually) and they’re running some tests. Hopefully I’ll have an answer soon as to why my digestive system seems to hate me. Until then, I decided to cut the chatter short and bring you a Top 5 list, which I haven’t done in yons. Today’s musical medication: Top 5 Medicinal Songs. Listen twice daily for best results.

5.) Bon Jovi – Bad Medicine

I’ll admit that I’m not a huge Bon Jovi fan. Most of their songs are too “stadium rock” for my tastes. However, this song is pretty rad to blast in the car on a warm summer day with the windows down.

4.) Thompson Twins – Doctor! Doctor!

The Thompson Twins have so much more to offer than just a good song to make out to while sitting on a table above sixteen flaming candles. This is classic new wave awesomeness.

3.) Hooverphonic – Shake The Disease

I was torn between posting this version of Depeche Mode’s frustrated love song or the original. However, I was smitten the first time that I heard Hooverphonic’s excellent cover, so as much as I enjoy any and all things Depeche Mode, I had to give props where props are due. Plus trip-hop is so damn sexy!

2.) The White Stripes – Girl, You Have No Faith In Medicine

Arguably the best song on a really stellar album, this track reminds me why I was completely obsessed with The White Stripes for a good chunk of my twenties. And the lyrics are killer.

1.) Garbage – Medication

Garbage are undeniably fierce (I dare you to deny their ferocity!) so as soon as I decided to make this list I knew that this song would be my number one. It really is the perfect musical embodiment of how it feels to be sluggish and in a drug-induced haze, still sick and perhaps even worse off than before you took the pills that the doctor prescribed. One listen is all it takes to hear that Shirley Manson really gets it.

And that’s my Top 5 Medicinal Songs. Being sick really sucks. But great music makes everything just a bit better.

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A Valentine For Everyone, or, Why I Don’t Hate V-Day

Valentine’s Day: love it or hate it, every February 14th it comes around, staring you in the face like a hungry squirrel. Some people seem to genuinely enjoy a chance for public-sanctioned p.d.a. while others loathe this holiday like no other. Me, I’m okay with it. I inherited my grandfather’s sweet tooth (we both knew that a meal isn’t finished without dessert) so I’m naturally inclined to love a holiday built on the exchange of candy and flowers. By sheer coincidence, yes, roses are my favourite flower. And I look darn good wearing either red or pink. What’s not to like? I’ve never had a significant other during the month of February, but I don’t feel left out or judged because of that fact (at least not any more so than the rest of the year). Sure, I run into the “smug marrieds” (as Bridget Jones calls them) but in my experience, the smugger the married couple, the worse the actual relationship is. Most people I know just seem to utilize V-Day as a chance to reiterate how much they love their partner(s), and I say, go for it, the world can use more love. Not that I don’t understand those who abhor said day of love: it can be stressful whether in or out of a relationship. And yes, greeting cards definitely make a tidy profit during this time of year. But regardless of your feelings about social norms and Hallmark conspiracies, I would counter that there is some form of Valentine that works for all of us. Whether you take a huge stance like Eve Ensler and turn “valentine” into “vagina” and initiate a political movement for women’s rights, or if you dig Chaucer (the man credited for introducing romantic love into St. Valentine’s celebration) you, too, can feel the love today. And so I dedicate my first Top 5 playlist, 5 Songs for 5 Types of Love, to the martyred Saint Valentine, the inspiring Eve Ensler, and to you, dear reader. Happy V-Day.

1.) Love for your family: Sister Sledge – We Are Family

Disco? Really? And not just that, but overplayed disco? Yes, dear reader. Though this song can easily be thrown into the “Sweet cheezus, no more!” bin along with “Macarena” and Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration,” I would ask you to give it one more listen. This song has real meaning, and the lyrics talk about having faith in yourself and love for your family. Keep in mind that when I say family I mean your family, be it the one that you were born into or the one that you’ve made for yourself. This is a love song to the people who love and support you no matter what, and hopefully everyone has at least one person like that in their lives. Personally this song always brings to mind the opening of The Birdcage, and I especially love this song in the context of drag queens. Some classics are just that for a reason.

2.) Love for yourself: Madonna – Vogue

I knew exactly where to look when I was searching for a song about loving yourself and taking shit from no one: Madonna. My mother once said that Madonna is the female version of Elvis, and that analogy has always stuck with me. I do love The King, but had Elvis survived into old age, how successful would he have been? We can’t be sure, but something tells me he wouldn’t have had half the staying power of Madge. She’s an artist I can listen to in pretty much any mood, at any time, because she has such a wide variety of songs. Perhaps, dear reader, you feel that Madonna reminds you of too many middle school slumber parties, and that she is no longer relevant. Maybe you think, as I used to, that “Vogue” is simply too overplayed. Well, take another listen. This song is not only quintessential Madonna, it’s quintessential badass. How many other artists are willing to stop singing about their own broken hearts, their family issues, or their bling long enough to proclaim, “You’re a superstar, yes that’s what you are.” Madonna goes through the media fire and emerges victorious in order that we might have an anthem. And of all Madonna songs, this is the anthem of anthems. Listen to her words, let them soak into your bones. (On my last listen with my younger sister we both began vogueing while in a compact car going 70 mph down the highway, which is quite a feat! That is the power of Madonna.)

3.) New Love: Class Actress – Let Me Take You Out

A funny thing happened as I was browsing the internet one night: somehow I came across this delightfully dreamy song called “Let Me Take You Out” by Elizabeth Harper. I bought it and then proceeded to listen to it on repeat, loving its bouncy pep and sweet lyrics. Fast forward to watching The Vampire Diaries one night and lo, it’s that same song! But it says it’s by “Class Actress,” who the heck is that? It turns out that Class Actress is Elizabeth Harper, just with some extra electronics thrown in. So I found the EP “Journal of Ardency,” and that has been one of my best musical purchases of 2010. It’s 80s-tinged and dancey and dark and so, so excellent. I can’t recommend those five songs enough. But for now, start with this little jewel. This is a daydream of a song that calls to mind the nervous excitement of a crush combined with the mellow ease of watching an entire city flash by from a cab window.

4.) True Love: KaiserCartel – Favorite Song

This song, and in fact this darling couple (Courtney Kaiser and Benjamin Cartel) sound like an idealized version of NYC, like the Brooklyn you see in quirky indie films, not the dirty, over-crowded reality that is Times Square. Their album “March Forth” is excellent folksy listening on those days when you have the windows down and you’re reading a book while a cool breeze sends shivers down your spine, yet it also warms you up during the long cold winter months. This song in particular is effortless, the perfect song for the matching bookend in your life, whoever or whatever that might be. Those who are prone to wooing, take note: this song is nearly guaranteed to melt hearts. Learn it on guitar or piano, warble it softly off-key, or better yet, hold up a boombox Lloyd Dobler -style and pipe it into your beloved’s window. No need to thank me, just name your first shared pet “Miss Pink” and we’ll call it even.

5.) Overall Song o’ the Day: OutKast – Happy Valentine’s Day

This song pretty much speaks for itself. It’s got a great beat, and the lyrics play both sides of the fence, moving from “Love will rule supreme!” to “F**k that Valentine’s Day!” by the end. It’s got something for everyone, and that’s what I’ve been trying to get at all along: no one wants to be excluded, which seems to be the main problem with Valentine’s Day. Other holidays fall victim to that as well (I’m lookin’ at you, Christmas!) but if we can disregard the social pressures to mate and reproduce, I think that deep down few, if any, would have real issues with a day set aside to honor love in all its forms. And if André 3000 is Cupid, I’m on board with making “every day the fourteenth.”

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