Day 4: Evolution of Love Songs: Empty Words
February 4, 2018
People seem to have been serenading one another with love songs since, well, forever. They are a true romantic staple during candlelit dinners (on February 14, especially) and in all the classic romantic comedies. Yet the same sense of constancy cannot be said for meaningful lyrics.
Without a doubt, love songs are still written profusely by today’s musicians, but they lack the same emotion and sappiness that once characterized them so famously, as evident through a trip down musical memory lane.
Arguably, one of the most iconic love songs of all time is “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” by Elvis Presley in 1961. The lyrics, over a slow beat, are incredibly sentimental, notably when he sings, “Take my hand, take my whole life too. For I can’t help falling in love with you.” It expresses someone giving themselves up for who they love.
Fast-forward a decade, and 1970 brought people “Your Song” by Elton John. When he sings, “I don’t have much money but boy, if I did, I’d buy a big house where we both could live… I hope you don’t mind, that I put down in words how wonderful life is while you’re in the world,” the message of John’s verses is clear and, again, wholeheartedly sentimental.
Cyndi Lauper released “Time After Time” a decade later, in 1983. It became an explosively popular song that remains widely known (and sung) among people of all ages. Famously, she sings, “If you’re lost you can look–and you will find me, time after time. If you fall I will catch you–I’ll be waiting, time after time. “ Lauper sings the idea of a love you can rely on, and fall back upon whenever and wherever.
Later,1992 brought one of the most iconic songs of all time: Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” Its sentiments need little explanation. “And I wish you joy and happiness, but above all this I wish you love. And I… will always love you,” is just a snippet of the famously romantic lyrics. It is the simplicity of Houston’s portrayal of romance that landed this song a place as a classic love song.
The pinnacle of the evolution of love songs took place in the early 2000s. Songs such as “Fallin’” by Alicia Keys, “Crazy in Love” by Beyonce, “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol and just about every song by Adele emerged, wooing lovers and hopeless romantics.
Yet, as music continues to evolve, “love” songs seem to be written with progressively more empty, less sentimental lyrics.
“Paris” by the Chainsmokers is intended to be a song that encompasses modern love, yet the lyrics begin with, “We were staying in Paris, to get away from your parents… If we go down then we go down together. We’ll get away with everything, let’s show them we are better.” These words are far from sappy and sentimental, and vague, lacking the straightforwardness of love songs from the past decades.
“Love Me Like You Do,” released by Ellie Goulding in 2015, lacks lyrics that tell a love story- the majority of the song is simply repetition of its title- and there is nothing romantic about that.
The “love” songs created now are far from loving. Music shapes those who listen to it and it is imperative that songs promoting the true values of love remain remembered and revived today.