Valentine’s Day is a time of love, of romance, of grand sweeping gestures and of candy hearts that taste a little cardboard-y and make your teeth hurt if you eat more than like three of them. It’s a time of showing that special someone in your life just how much you care about them, how much you respect them and value them as a lover, a friend, and a human being worthy of certain base-level considerations.
Or not. Plenty of love songs over the years—some of which will undoubtedly receive some circulation this Valentine’s Day, for the wool they’ve pulled over the eyes of some gullible pop listeners—are at their core pretty rotten in their declarations, treating the object of their affection with condescension and mild distaste, if not outright scorn.
So when you’re loading your boombox with mp3s to play outside of your intended’s window, maybe try to avoid putting these 25 songs on the playlist. Otherwise, you might be standing out there all day, and the weather’s pretty terrible for that at this time of year.
25. NE-YO, “LET ME LOVE YOU (UNTIL YOU LEARN TO LOVE YOURSELF)”
For all hisYear of the Gentleman posturing, Ne-Yo has a mild, though largely harmless, misogynistic streak running through many of his hits, whether he’s laughing at his girl for how cute she is angry (“When You’re Mad”) or acting super-duper-impressed at her ability to pay her own bills on time (“Miss Independent”). Perhaps worst of all is “Let Me Love You,” whose long parenthetical is demonstrative of Ne-Yo’s tendency to view women as the weaker sex, in desperate need of the healing power of his love. “How can you understand something that you never had? / Ooh baby if you let me, I can help you out with all of that.” Would that be on a freelance basis, Ne-Yo, or do you demand benefits and such for that?
24. BACKSTREET BOYS, “AS LONG AS YOU LOVE ME”
One of those “Hey, I don’t care if everyone else thinks you suck, I think you’re okay!” love songs that sounds sweet at first, but more insulting every time you hear it. This one is kind of an extreme example, though, as oblique references to the girl’s shady past raise some disturbing questions: “It doesn’t even matter if you’re on the run,” “I don’t care who are, where you’re from, what you did.” What is this girl, a serial killer? Just in witness protection? Is shacking up with a world-famous boy band such a great idea, then?
23. MEAT LOAF, “TWO OUT OF THREE AIN’T BAD”
Of course, the most famously insulting lyric in this one comes in the chorus: “I want you, I need you, but there ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you / Don’t be sad, ‘coz two out of three ain’t bad.” But don’t sleep on the verses, either, where Sir Loaf coldly explains “You can cry all night / But that’ll never change the way I feel,” before asking her not to kick him out because “The snow is really piling up outside.” Well, next time, wait until the weather calms down before dropping the emotional hammer, Meat.
22. MR. BIG, “TO BE WITH YOU”
Aside from the highly patronizing opening lines (“Hold on, little girl / Show me what he’s done to you”—what, are you gonna have to go give him a noogie or something?), Mr. Big do their girl no favors by complaining of the “line of greens and blues” they’ve had to wait on before getting a crack at her. We don’t know what that means, and frankly, we don’t want to know.
21. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, “THUNDER ROAD”
Arguable as a love song, but one that certainly entertains romantic notions, as Bruce starts things off on a nice note, talking of his intended Mary dancing “like a vision” as the radio plays. He kills the mood a little, though, by telling her “You ain’t a beauty, but hey, you’re all right / And that’s all right with me”—gee thanks—and then, after inviting her to his car, saying “The door’s open, but the ride ain’t free.” Gas money, we hope.
For more love songs of questionable decency, including Nickelback and the Queen of Soul, click NEXT.