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by Dan Weiss

October 12, 2013

Love Songs with Low Self-Esteem

by Dan Weiss  |  October 12, 2013

The thing about pop is, no matter how real it gets, it will always be about histrionic mini-dramas in place of rationality. Case in point: If Bruno Mars' girlfriend dumps him because he won't get a job, he pleads that he'd take a grenade for her. Pop is all unreliable narrators and some serious head cases in regards to love; we'd all be in big trouble if we acted like this. So here's a playlist of pop songs that hint at their protagonists having codependent tendencies and some major separation anxiety, from PJ Harvey's "Oh My Lover," in which she begs to be shared with her man's mistress, to Lana Del Rey's famously destroyed "Video Games," where her love won't even notice her, to Dashboard Confessional's less subtle flipside "Again I Go Unnoticed," to the hopeless cuckold of The Killers' "Mr. Brightside."

Meanwhile, the bright falsetto and ballpark organ of R.E.M.'s "Tongue" disguises one of the darkest songs Michael Stipe's ever written, in which "ugly girls know their fate." On "Dancing on My Own," Robyn is helpless to watch him kiss someone else no matter how many cool moves she pulls, and on "Perfect World" Liz Phair simply wishes to be "cool, tall, vulnerable and luscious" so she can "be involved, be involved, be involved with you." Then there's the insanity of Weezer's "No One Else" ("when I'm away she never leaves the house") and Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino getting so lonely she pines for her cat to pick up half of the conversation on "Goodbye." On the opposite end, Amy Rigby's "Cynically Yours" just wants a man who doesn't suck, but chin up, here's her dating ad headline: "I'm more gullible than I've ever been!"

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