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Sarcastic love?
June 21, 2012 9:02 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for love songs that are sarcastic or that involve weirdos/regular imperfect people in love. Less sappy love-you-forever talk, more witty, loving barbs.

We're talking the songs where the singer knows the person they're digging is a turd, or really not perfect, but they still dig them. The Moldy Peaches do this really well. The Weakerthans - The Reasons, John Prine & Iris DeMent - In Spite of Ourselves, and assorted Mountain Goats and Magnetic Fields songs are good (and different) examples, too.
posted by goosechasing to Media & Arts (68 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
 
Fairytale of New York
posted by The otter lady at 9:06 PM on June 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ludo - Love Me Dead
posted by sunset in snow country at 9:08 PM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is less of a love song and more of a "I can't believe she's still with him" song. But I'm a sucker for depressing stuff

Amanda Palmer - Delilah
posted by zombieApoc at 9:13 PM on June 21, 2012


By the Dropkick Murphys - The Dirty Glass.
posted by Gneisskate at 9:15 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dr. Frank from the Mr T Experience tends to write a lot of his love songs like that. Particularly stuff off of Love Is Dead and Revenge Is Sweet. Particularly You're the Only One, With My Looks And Your Brains, Who Needs Happiness, and maybe More than Toast.
posted by kendrak at 9:16 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think Randy Newman has one or two like this, but I can't for the life of me remember the titles.
posted by asnider at 9:20 PM on June 21, 2012


Home - Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros... "Do you remember that day you fell out of my window?"
posted by jschu at 9:25 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


My Funny Valentine is the classic in this vein.
posted by gingerest at 9:27 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


While everything Black Box Recorder ever did was dark and sarcastic, the only songs offhand where the couple still seemed to like each other at the end of the song were "May Queen" or "Goodnight Kiss" . (Close but not quite to your spec: "The Art of Driving," "The Facts of Life," and possibly, if your definition of love includes creepy, Turn of the Screw-type obsessions, "The Deverell Twins."

Also, on a completely different tip, Hays Carll's "Another Like You"
posted by Diablevert at 9:33 PM on June 21, 2012


If you're interested in older stuff, like swing jazz, Fats Waller has several songs that fit this general theme. Here's a few I found pretty quickly on YouTube.

It's a Sin to Tell a Lie
The Meanest Thing You Ever Did Was Kiss Me
What a Pretty Miss (with the excellent opening lyrics "Where have I been hiding all your life?")
Pent Up in a Penthouse

If you like any of that stuff, I can try to find some more or point to non-YouTube sources. He also has lots of sappy love stuff, meaner/sillier love stuff, and even things not involving love in any way.
posted by cardioid at 9:36 PM on June 21, 2012


Not sure if these are exactly what you're looking for, as they aren't really sarcastic, but:
the eels - Beautiful Freak (more in the weirdos in love vein)
Dragonette - Easy (more in the "turd" vein)
posted by witchstone at 9:43 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tom Lehrer - She's My Girl
posted by blurker at 9:49 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Weird Al's If That Isn't Love also looks like what you're after.

Sort of on the other side of the coin -- Weird Al's Since You've Been Gone and One More Minute.
posted by blurker at 9:57 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Tim Minchin You Grew on Me
or same guy... If I Didn't Have You
posted by Wink Ricketts at 9:57 PM on June 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


Morrissey - I Like You
posted by ohkay at 9:57 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love you in the strangest way by Timbuk3
posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:58 PM on June 21, 2012


Oh, and I'm surprised I forgot - Paul and Storm's Your Love Is (Love song with Metaphor).
posted by blurker at 10:00 PM on June 21, 2012


Anyone Else But You from the movie Juno. Or you might prefer the version by The Moldy Peaches that has a peculiar line about a turd near the end of the song.
posted by IndigoRain at 10:00 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Jackson - Johnny Cash and June Carter
Gravel - Ani Difranco
posted by lunasol at 10:02 PM on June 21, 2012


Huggin' and Chalkin'
posted by Confess, Fletch at 10:03 PM on June 21, 2012


Rufus Wainwright, Slideshow
posted by nicebookrack at 10:03 PM on June 21, 2012


Bowling For Soup has a very catchy one called Smoothie King.
posted by Night_owl at 10:04 PM on June 21, 2012


"The Next Time You Say Forever," Neko Case, for the line: "The next time you say forever, I will punch you in your face."
posted by stoneandstar at 10:10 PM on June 21, 2012


2 great ones by John Prine:

In Spite of Ourselves (lyrics)
Big Old Goofy World (lyrics)
posted by Miko at 10:12 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Caribou -- She's the One
Or try
The Offspring -- Self-Esteem
Or try
The Beatles -- Girl
posted by grobstein at 10:26 PM on June 21, 2012


My Life Would Suck Without You - Kelly Clarkson
He's Sure The Boy I Love - The Crystals
posted by SisterHavana at 10:31 PM on June 21, 2012


Burial - Etched Headplate
Heart - There's The Girl
Saltillo - A Hair on the Head of John the Baptist
posted by peeet at 10:38 PM on June 21, 2012


Ballad of Tom Jones - Space and Cerys from Catatonia.
posted by poissonrouge at 10:55 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


You mentioned The Magnetic Fields, so you probably know about Andrew in Drag?
posted by book 'em dano at 10:55 PM on June 21, 2012


If You Could See Her Through My Eyes from Cabaret? Kind of dark (and racist and horrible -- but that was the point), but might fit the description.
posted by trip and a half at 11:24 PM on June 21, 2012


Antony and the Johnsons - Cripple and the Starfish
Antony and the Johnsons - Fistful of Love
Mark Eitzel - In Your Life
Mark Eitzel - Free of Harm
Mark Eitzel - Southend-on-Sea
Aimee Mann - Observatory
Joni Mitchell - Carey
Joni Mitchell - You Turn Me On, I'm A Radio
XTC - Mayor of Simpleton
posted by mykescipark at 11:28 PM on June 21, 2012


Maybe too parodic, but how about Heathan Dan's "I Like" (from Dr. Demento circa 1981)?
posted by tapir-whorf at 11:31 PM on June 21, 2012


It's more sappy than sarcastic, but Kansas - Still the One has a little bit of imperfection in there.
posted by snorkmaiden at 11:35 PM on June 21, 2012


On a lighter note, these might qualify:

Thanks for the Memories

Let's Call the Whole Thing Off
posted by trip and a half at 11:44 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Moldy Peaches - "Anyone Else But You"

Sebadoh - "Truly Great Thing"
posted by easy, lucky, free at 11:47 PM on June 21, 2012


Also the Eels - "Ugly Love"


And if she finds me so repulsive
She wouldn't be the first to retch
Well, I decided one day long ago
I was never gonna be the greatest catch
And if she cares about the car I drive
Then she can get in hers
The moment I arrive

'Cause my kind of love is an ugly love
But it's real and it lasts a long, long time

posted by easy, lucky, free at 11:49 PM on June 21, 2012


A Good Year for the Roses.
posted by trip and a half at 11:55 PM on June 21, 2012


Truckstop Honeymoon - at least "Far Side of the Bed" and "Waffle House Booth", but probably a bunch of others at least sort of fit the bill.
posted by brennen at 12:07 AM on June 22, 2012


I'll Never Tell from Once More With Feeling
posted by CarolynG at 12:18 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


10cc's "I'm Not In Love" is the apotheosis of this style.
posted by rhizome at 12:23 AM on June 22, 2012


Beautiful South - "Don't Marry Her"
posted by crocomancer at 1:05 AM on June 22, 2012


Pelle Carlberg - I Love You, You Imbecile
posted by Yma at 1:08 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Regina Spektor - Your Honor
posted by Scattercat at 1:40 AM on June 22, 2012


Adam Sandler - Crazy Love
posted by alchemist at 1:47 AM on June 22, 2012


Bruce Springsteen - Nebraska. Music starts at 0:55. If you're looking for a light witty song, that isn't it. But if you're looking for a love song (of sorts) about a terribly flawed person, then that's your song, because it's a song about a twenty-something year-old guy who went on a killing spree with his teenage girlfriend, and it's sung from his perspective.
posted by colfax at 1:58 AM on June 22, 2012


Also, old folk music and blues is full of love songs that aren't quite love songs (although, fair warning: people die frequently in these songs too).

From the Anthology of American Folk Music:

Mississippi John Hurt - Frankie
Richard Rabbit Brown - James Alley Blues. Key line: "Sometimes I think you too sweet to die. And another time I think, you oughta be buried alive."
G.B. Grayson - Ommie Wise

Others:

Leadbelly - Irene, Yellow Gal
Jelly Roll Morton - I Hate a Man like You
Robert Johnson - 32-20 Blues
posted by colfax at 2:44 AM on June 22, 2012


Pretty much everything by Tom Waits.
posted by geek anachronism at 2:47 AM on June 22, 2012


I'll Do The Driving by Fountains of Wayne (Opening verse: "She knows nothing at all about nothing | The moment I saw her was something I found alarming | That certain nothing behind her eyes")
posted by Sweetie Darling at 3:34 AM on June 22, 2012


How about the Go-Betweens? Love Goes On maybe?
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 4:18 AM on June 22, 2012


Bowling for Soup's song "Smoothie King" would fit the bill.

The chorus:
"Love songs suck and fairy tales aren't true
And happy ending Hollywood is not for me and you
So add it up and break it down
It's not that hard to figure out
You're crazy and I'm crazy about you"
posted by wolfdreams01 at 5:44 AM on June 22, 2012


You're the Reason Our Kids are Ugly, by Delbert McClinton and Kasey Jones.

Meat and Potatoes, by Belle and Sebastian.

Stacked Deck, by Etta James.
posted by Bourbonesque at 5:58 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Teenage Dirtbag by Weezer is basically about a dirtbag being in love with another dirtbag, so it might qualify.
posted by MinusCelsius at 6:09 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


How about a Medical Love Song (<<youtube)?
posted by dozo at 6:31 AM on June 22, 2012


the Dropkick Murphys - The Dirty Glass.

The Dirty Glass isn't about a person, but a bar in Quincy.
posted by zamboni at 6:49 AM on June 22, 2012


I always think of "One Week" by Barenaked Ladies this way.
Also, your question made me think of a Sondheim song from the musical "Follies," called "Love Will See Us Through," but that's not quite what you're looking for because it's about a marriage that is obviously deemed ("I may burn the toast," "Okay. I may be a rotten host," "You may." "But no matter what goes wrong... Love will see us through 'til something better comes along.")
posted by chickenmagazine at 7:54 AM on June 22, 2012


*doomed
posted by chickenmagazine at 7:54 AM on June 22, 2012


I came here to suggest "Love me Dead" by Ludo but I was beat to it. Love love love that song. And the video for that track is pretty entertaining in a "WTF" kind of way.
posted by gwenlister at 8:33 AM on June 22, 2012


And oh man, I forgot Misguided Angel.
posted by mykescipark at 8:48 AM on June 22, 2012


Yeah , John Prine and Iris DeMent singing "In Spite of Ourselves" is what you want. Seriously.
posted by purenitrous at 9:56 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Prince's cover of Creep.
posted by empath at 9:59 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll flip it the other way, the song from the Sci-fan to the girl he loves.
(Be My) Doctor Who Girl, by Mitch Benn
posted by ewan at 10:32 AM on June 22, 2012


If you need additional persuasion to check out Eels, try My Beloved Monster

I feel like there has to be something from The Real Tuesday Weld or the Wrens that fits, but most of the stuff I'm coming up with probably skews a little too bitter.
posted by EvaDestruction at 10:51 AM on June 22, 2012


Music to Hold Hands To by The Lucksmiths?
posted by Perodicticus potto at 12:22 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm a Hog for You
Anti Love Song
Dont Miss You At All
I Hope I Don't Fall in Love with You
posted by Confess, Fletch at 4:44 PM on June 22, 2012


Less witty, more depressing, but still awesome, is The Magnetic Fields' Papa Was A Rodeo
posted by Grandysaur at 7:21 PM on June 22, 2012


Rhett Miller - "Four-Eyed Girl"

This is more ruefully realistic about both parties than it is one person about the other, but: Greg Brown - "Who Woulda Thunk It?"
posted by Lexica at 7:26 PM on June 22, 2012


That describes most songs by The National, e.g. Wasp Nest (Your eyes are broken bottles and I’m afraid to ask / In all your wrath and cutting beauty / You’re poison in a pretty glass) and Start A War (You were always weird but I never had to hold you by the edges like I do now / Walk away now, and you're gonna start a war).

Also Ani Difranco, e.g. As Is (I've got no illusions about you, and guess what, I never did / When I said I'll take it, I meant as is) and Gravel (You were never a good lay / And you were never a good friend / But oh, what can I say? I adore you).

And maybe Anna Begins, by Counting Crows:
Every time she sneezes I believe it's love and oh lord, I'm not ready for this sort of thing
She's talking in her sleep, it's keeping me awake, and Anna begins to toss and turn
And every word is nonsense but I understand and oh lord, I'm not ready for this sort of thing
posted by désoeuvrée at 2:05 AM on June 23, 2012


Ivor Cutler. I can't provide a thorough overview of his work but I know it's exactly that sort of tone.
posted by solarion at 6:19 PM on June 23, 2012


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