Three Deeply Romantic Songs You Totally Can't Play At Weddings
Thank Allah for the democratisation of media in the age of the 2.0 webs, amirite? Can you imagine how stark and empty and obfuscated things must have been back before your best friend's sister's friend's second-choice bridesmaid was able to "read" a Buzzfeed "article" cautioning against the use of I'll Be Watching You as the soundtrack to that cousin you don't like's first dance with her new husband you've only seen a picture of once accidentally on Facebook because it's like totally about how Sting was stalking his ex-wife? It is truly horrifying knowing that, for a good number of years between the release of Synchronicity and our society's revelation that a sponge-like awareness of trivia is in fact a valuable life skill, countless unironically white-bedecked unspoilt ladies of virtue and grace were carelessly, ignorantly appreciating the Police for purely aesthetic reasons, like lyrical fidelity, and received meaning, and it actually sounding nice. The harlots.
But you, person seeking entertainment on a music blog in 2017, need no heads up from me on matters as zeitgeisted as Gordon Sumner's tomeltuous (hah!) affair and revenue-inspiring separation anxiety. If I were Grant Denyer (I'm not; work with me here - it's a forced analogy - but I did go to a board game retreat with him once, and he's very nice, much bigger in the bust than you'd expect, and his mum is just lovely) and you were an entire family of four and I asked you to name a song you can't play at a wedding, you'd say I'll Be Watching You, at which point it'd be on you to decide whether to pass or play, and you'd be wise to pass, because you've already got the top answer (even though that's not actually the name of the song) and that's generally - though not always - a situation in which passing is advantageous. If the other family, god love them, the idiot family that were too slow to buzz on such an obvious gimme, read this article, however, they ... would still be boned because the list I give you here is unlikely to meet with popular acclaim.
Here are three songs that are actually deeply, genuinely, sincerely, beautifully romantic, and that you totally can't play at weddings.
CLOSER - NIN
Let's start with the obvious one. This is a song about fucking. You can tell because it includes the line: "I want to fuck you like an animal." There's very little ambiguity in this statement. You might reasonably wonder after which animal's methods Mr Reznor intends to model his night with you, but, particulars aside, the overarching theme of the encounter is laid out very plainly. You go'n get fucked.
I do not expect to surprise you with the claim that this is not wedding music. Maybe you've not considered, though, how thoroughly romantic this song is.
The Downward Spiral is an incredible album that explores someone's descent into depression. It talks about the vanishing of light, and hope, the retreat into the self, being internal to pain, of actually feeling your insides being broken, and of holding yourself responsible for all of it. If you have experienced depression you recognise all of this. In that decline Reznor is with someone. He tells her he's broken. He tells her he's soulless. He tells her he hates himself. He tells her that the act of someone as broken as him being with her is a desecration of something good; he has violated some law, it is something not to be allowed, something wrong. He makes himself vulnerable to her in his honesty. Tell me that that vulnerability is not the purest expression of love.
But he also tells her this: "You bring me closer to god." I have no faith, no faith in myself, but being with you fixes the broken pieces in me. Being with you restores my faith. "You make me perfect." You fill the gaps, you repair the damage. He's saying: You complete me. No matter what's wrong with me, no matter how much damage my depression is doing to me right now, being with you makes me alright. Tell me that that safety and that security and that respite are not the purpose of love.
"I want to fuck you like an animal" doesn't mean he's going to give her a bit of the old how's your father. He's not making rowr noises and pretending he has cat claws. Being with her is a matter of survival, and if he can just switch off his depressed, confused, self-sabotaging human brain and focus, without thinking himself wrong, on just feeling her, on just physically being there with her, then she can make it all better.
Tell me that that sincerity and that need is not the very experience of love.
THE DULL FLAME OF DESIRE - BJÖRK AND ANOHNI
Full disclosure: I am desperately in love with ANOHNI nee Antony Hegarty. In a world of small gods she is the avatar of heart-aching beauty, and she is partnered here with Björk, the alien, ethereal spirit of the air. So we're off to a good start.
When you love someone you love things about them. Little things, tiny things, very specific things, silly little things, things that are mundane and special, that don't mean anything and mean everything, things that for you are that person you love. Staring for your lifetime into the hued glass of a diamond, tracing every face with the tip of your finger, knowing every cut, every edge by touch, finding familiar the particular glint of every turn under every light, and smiling at each unique flash and sparkle that you alone notice, and know. And love.
When someone loves you, sometimes, when they look at you, they see those sparkles, and they want you. And you know every angle and twist of them that in that look they sparkle for you and you see that want. This song is about that. This song is about nothing more than you catching your lover's eye as they look at you and feeling a moment of shared want so palpable your heart stops. This song is about knowing every inch of someone so intimately that an imperceptible inclination of the eyes is an entire world to you, a promise in a moment of an eternity.
It's fucking hard to dance to, though, and it goes on a while, so you can't really play it at a wedding.
A MONSTER LIKE ME - MØRLAND AND DEBRAH SCARLETT
I said earlier in our discourse on animal fucking that love is an honesty that makes you vulnerable. In the words of philosopher and misanthrope Corey Taylor, "People = Shit", so the source of that vulnerability is frankly and scarily allowing someone you love to know precisely why you are a shit human being. That honesty is an essential prerequisite for intimacy, and intimacy is the communication of love, so at some point in every love you have to trust your love and your lover enough that, when you let them know you at your worst, they will want to stay, even though you love them so much that you know they shouldn't. I love you so completely that you should leave, and here's why, but please, please, don't; my heart will stop if you ever do. But you should. But don't.
Mørland and Debrah Scarlett represented Norway at the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest with oh my god how the christ did this song get to Eurovision the fuck is wrong with you Norway?! Eurovision is a big fun dancey camp celebration of gay pop. Monster Like Me is about what exactly do you expect a song called Monster Like Me is about? It's not about how fondly Elmo thinks of him. It's not product placement for an energy drink. He's not comparing himself to a magnificent black double-ender she picked up from The Tool Shed. When he was younger he fucking snapped and kicked the shit out of someone. I hope. I hope that's what he did. That's the best prognosis. The song is vague on the particulars. It could have been worse.
"My mind went blank. I lost control. I was just a little boy - I did not know."
It could have been worse. And she's just done something that's caused her to learn this awful truth. The awful truth about the man she loves. About the man she loves going into a black out rage and fucking someone up.
This is Eurovision
This is not.
But she's not leaving. It has hurt her to know this. A lot. But she doesn't tell him to go, and she doesn't say she's leaving. All she wants him to do is hold her until it stops hurting.
Love is many things, and one of those things is terrifying. Love is you agreeing to let a lot of very painful things happen to you. Love is you giving someone the ability to destroy you. But it is also being so absolutely with someone that you are the only people that are. And there is an ultimate security in that, a greater safety than can be experienced individually.
The video shows everything. We all drink from poisoned cups. But in drinking together, in drinking honestly, and deeply, and together, we stoically find a poise and a grace and a stability and a truth that drives instead to inelegance and facades those who drink alone in their solitary dishonesty. Being partners in a shared, understood, known darkness is the ugly, beautiful, so beautiful reality of absolute love.
But on the other hand, you don't want your wedding guests to think your husband is a violent rapist and that you're daydreaming about poisoning them all.