10 Greatest Love Songs (That Aren't Actually Love Songs)

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Ian Johnson
Feel free to disregard Al Green's inclusion on this list. You're going to do just fine with any Al Green song on your Valentine's Day mix.
In case you haven't set foot in a grocery store in the past week only to be assaulted by a red and pink barrage to the eyes, let us clue you in: Valentine's Day is on the way. You've no doubt began prepping (or you've at least convinced yourself that waiting until the last minute is a good idea): ordering flowers, picking out snazzy duds, and getting a special sexytime iTunes playlist ready.

But wait one minute, before you drag that mp3 into that immaculately arranged mix. It's easy to be fooled by smooth grooves and sexy beats, so we've went and selected a couple of offenders, songs that trick you into thinking they're love songs. They're not, and we've got 'em, the Top 10 Love Songs (That Aren't Actually Love Songs).

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Tammy Wynette, "Stand By Your Man" [1975]

Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man" is a wrecking ball, heavier than the bleakest grindcore record Relapse is about to put out, more crushing than that guy Skrillex is about to sign to OWSLA, and as sexually nihilistic as Lil Wayne's "Love Me." Not that you'd notice at first. The lilting, twangy Telecaster, warm piano, swelling pedal steel, and Wynette's melted butter-on-a-brass plate voice go out of the way to obscure the point, sweetening the ultimately bitter point that she manages to sneak in there at the very beginning: "Sometimes it's hard to be a woman." You're just going to have to put up with your man's lying, lowdown dirty shit for your whole life.

"And he'll have good times/doing things that you don't understand/but if you love him/you'll forgive/even though he's hard to understand/and if you love him/oh, be proud of him/cause after all he's just a man," Wynette sings, just before she sends her voice into the stratosphere, belting out the classic chorus, "Stand by your man/give him an arm to cling to/and something warm to come to/when nights are cold and lonely."

"Something warm?" Oh, Tammy! It's a sentiment so rooted in tragedy it should be unbearable to listen to, but just like The Crystals "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)" or Antony & The Johnsons' "Fistful of Love," it's too gorgeous to turn away. In the end, maybe Wynette gets the last laugh: That "he's just a man" dismissal, so grotesque in its submission (or sarcasm?), hits harder than any kick to the soft stuff. -- Jason P. Woodbury

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Lionel Richie, "Hello" [1984]

Lionel Richie is known for little else other than having an afro, a mustache, siring Nicole Richie, and singing "Hello." If you were skimming the R&B radio stations in the Valley (so many of them, I know) you might tune into this song, think "Oh, cute," and go about your day. But as this video clearly illustrates, there's a lot going on in this song that isn't so kosher.

Richie plays a teacher who follows a blind pottery student around, watching her from the shadows as she eats lunch, talks with her friends, and does Jazzercize. He even goes so far as to call her on the phone and breathe into the receiver like Brian Peppers. In the end, turns out the girl was just as creepy as her professor, and she made a bust of his cranium in his honor. Weeeird.

In Richie's defense, he hated the video, created by "Beat It" director Bob Giraldi. Claiming the story had zero relationship to the song, Giraldi responded to the Motown legend, "You're not creating the story, I am." When Richie said the bust looked nothing like him, Giraldi reminded him, "Uh duh, the chick was blind, 'ya doofus." What a dick.

In high school, I did the whole unrequited love lap so many times that I can tell you all about how much "love" I felt for girls I never expressed it to. I followed plenty of chicks through the hallway, hoping they'd turn around. But instead of softly saying, "Hello? Is it me you're looking for?" they said, "Whaddya want?"

Joey Comeau said it best -- unrequited love is a waste of time. Walk it off. Go find someone worth your time. And stop being so damn creepy about it. -- Troy Farah

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1 comments
Gary Waterman
Gary Waterman

Toy Soldiers by Martika. Sounds like a love song but the message is basically, no matter how hard you try, no matter what you do, you will fail!

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