Wistful Songs of Emotional Conflict?
September 5, 2012 6:02 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for more songs similar to 10cc's "I'm not in love". Specifically, songs about attraction or falling in love but feeling conflicted over it or uncomfortable with it or questioning it. Difficulty: Must also be non-venomous, non-hostile, non-accusatory. So I am not looking for songs like "You give love a bad name" or Britney Spears "Toxic".

I did search and found this great previous discussion of love songs but that isn't really what I am looking for.

So hit me with your best shot. Bonus points for links to good video (2 pts!) or audio (1pt) of said songs.

posted by Michele in California to Media & Arts (55 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

Alternative to Love by Brendan Benson. I'm sad though the original version has been scrubbed off the internet. But this one is good too. "Maybe this time I won't budge, maybe I just need a little nudge.."
posted by bleep at 6:11 PM on September 5, 2012

I can think of a couple by Split Enz:

Message To My Girl
One Step Ahead
posted by dotgirl at 6:12 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Raffa and Rainer, Preventative Heartbreak. available on Lastfm.
posted by tulip-socks at 6:17 PM on September 5, 2012

I Ain't Missing You (John Waite)
Ridin' in My Car (NRBQ)
Romeo & Juliet (Dire Straits)
And one there's no video or even a decent recording of besides on the actual album: The Kind of Love You Never Recover From (Christine Lavin)
posted by headnsouth at 6:18 PM on September 5, 2012

Freak Me Out -- Weezer
posted by amarynth at 6:22 PM on September 5, 2012

The Things We Do For Love - another 10cc gem.
posted by dbiedny at 6:25 PM on September 5, 2012

Anna Begins by Counting Crows
posted by The Deej at 6:26 PM on September 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

I apologize sincerely for posting that ridiculous video. Without the visual comic relief, Romeo and Juliet will break your heart.
posted by headnsouth at 6:31 PM on September 5, 2012

Tina Turner, What's Love Got to Do with It.
posted by BibiRose at 6:44 PM on September 5, 2012

From my playlist 'anti-valentine':

Wondering, Good Charlotte

I'm not quite sure if Max Sharam will fit here, e.g. Falling Angels, Learning to let go. I can't find free audio of any of her stuff, but it sounds less accusatory than the lyrics read.

Amy Winehouse - Love is a losing game
posted by jacalata at 6:45 PM on September 5, 2012

This may not be super-helpful, but: Mne Nravitsya. (I like this translation better.)
posted by sleepingcbw at 6:48 PM on September 5, 2012

The One I Love REM
posted by Kloryne at 6:58 PM on September 5, 2012

The Magnetic Fields: Absolutely Cuckoo is about the heartache of someone falling in love with you, then discovering what you're really like and promptly falling out of love with you. The opening:
Don't fall in love with me yet
We only recently met
True I'm in love with you, but
You might decide I'm a nut
Give me a week or two to
Go absolutely cuckoo
Then when you see your error
Then you can flee in terror
posted by Elsa at 7:00 PM on September 5, 2012

Here We Go Again, The Isley Brothers
posted by fuse theorem at 7:09 PM on September 5, 2012

I came in to recommend One Step Ahead, but I'll second it instead.
posted by immlass at 7:10 PM on September 5, 2012

I would characterise REM's 'The One I Love' as downright hostile.

I'm very into Grant Hart's You're the Reflection of the Moon on the Water for the dalliances that are goodish, but ultimately not enough.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 7:15 PM on September 5, 2012

Yeah, you're right Trivia, I take it back.
posted by Kloryne at 7:28 PM on September 5, 2012

Genesis "In Too Deep"
posted by arcticseal at 7:32 PM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm actually having a really hard time finding something equal to the 10CC song. It's a pretty original sentiment for pop.

Maybe Maggie May by Rod Stewart? I think this topic is so interesting...
posted by Kloryne at 7:43 PM on September 5, 2012

My list:
posted by simulacra at 7:51 PM on September 5, 2012

The Postal Service — "Clark Gable"
posted by John Cohen at 8:04 PM on September 5, 2012

No one's mentioned "I Won't Say I'm In Love" from Disney's Hercules yet?
posted by capricorn at 8:09 PM on September 5, 2012

Gang of Four's "Anthrax"
is pretty hardcore - but in one channel, it simultaneously includes a spoken monolog about the nature of the love song:
"Love crops up quite a lot as something to sing about,
'cos most groups make most of their songs about falling in love,
or how happy they are to be in love.

You occasionally wonder why these groups do sing about it all the time. . .
it's because these groups think there's something very special about it.

Either that, or else it's because everybody else sings about it and always has.
You know, to burst into song you have to be inspired - -
And nothing inspires quite like love.

These groups and singers think that they appeal to everyone;
By singing about love because apparently everyone has or can love - -
Or so they would have you believe anyway....

But these groups seem to go along with what, the belief
that love is deep in everyone's personality.
I don't think we're saying there's anything wrong with love;
we just don't think that what goes on between two people
should be shrouded with mystery."
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 8:16 PM on September 5, 2012

Me and Mrs. Jones, we got a thing going on...we both know that it's wrong...

2nding Romeo and Juliet and Headnsouth comment that it's a heart breaker. ("Julie, I'd do the stars with you anytime." I don't think I could fully trust someone who didn't tear up a bit at that line.)

BTW, I wouldn't describe 10cc's I'm Not in Love as a song of "wistful, emotional conflict". I've always thought that the singer is absolutely, totally, crazy about the girl, but didn't want to let on because he preferred to act cool/wouldn't want to give her the upper hand/whatever. To me, the song reeks of "protesting too much".
posted by she's not there at 8:21 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Joan Armatrading, All the way from America. Wish there were better A/V available online.
posted by vers at 8:23 PM on September 5, 2012

Two German recommendations:

Matthias Reim - "Ich bin nicht verliebt" (in English: 'I'm not in love') has the same title as the 10cc song but different lyrics. It's basically about a person falling in love but trying to deny it. Lyrics.

Lotto & Pape - "Liebe ist wie Malaria" (English: 'Love is like malaria') could be read as a conflicted song about falling in love. Lyrics.
posted by jedicus at 8:23 PM on September 5, 2012

Also, Bowie, Heroes.
posted by vers at 8:25 PM on September 5, 2012

Although the good people teenagers of Songmeanings can't make head or tail of it, I think Regina Spektor's The Calculation has a wistful, head-vs.-heart conflict.
posted by lily_bart at 8:25 PM on September 5, 2012

Also by The Magnetic Fields If There's Such a Thing as Love
posted by entropyiswinning at 8:34 PM on September 5, 2012

Neko Case, "Hold On, Hold On" is my tune of choice for this mood.

Compared to some I've been around
But I really tried so hard
That echo chorus lied to me with its
"Hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on"

posted by cmyk at 9:02 PM on September 5, 2012

@ she's not there: The title was a stab at conveying what mood I am looking for, not necessarily intended to nail the exact mood of the song that inspired the question. I think it does fit my broader description of being about attraction or falling in love but not comfortable with it (if you pull out that one of three negative descriptors).

Re foreign language songs (especially with English subtitles): They are very welcome. I can count to ten in Russian and might know ten other Russian words, and I know a smattering of German and French. I am thinking songs from other cultures might be an interesting addition to a playlist intended to escape and evade that seemingly oh-so-American "Ten things I hate about you" vibe.

I will note that I expect it to take some time for me to listen, view, and read lyrics. Please be patient with what may be a serious delay on favoriting and best answering.

And while I am here, I will toss out a long time favorite of mine (I can't believe I didn't think if it earlier) Love Bites by Def Leppard from their Hysteria album. (Links to favorite videos of this are welcome. I grabbed this one because it gives the lyrics, which has value but isn't necessarily the most evocative type of video.)
posted by Michele in California at 9:26 PM on September 5, 2012

Wanda Davis - Save Me
Alice Clark - I Keep it Hid

These might be too accusatory for you:

The Miracles - You Really Got a Hold On Me.
Solomon Burke - Got to Get You Off of My Mind
posted by hydrophonic at 9:49 PM on September 5, 2012

Here's a few from my 'Not in love' playlist. It's a tough niche, and I'm afraid most of my selections veer toward post-breakup weariness and/or cynicism, as opposed to the 'fear of falling in love' of that great 10cc song.

Jane Child - Don't wanna fall in love
Pet Shop Boys - Rent
Matthew Sweet - You Don't Love Me
Hank Williams - A Mansion on the Hill
Nelly Furtado - Say It Right
America - She's Gonna Let You Down
Everything But the Girl - The Heart Remains a Child
Leon Russell (covering a song George Jones made popular) - She Thinks I Still Care
posted by Bron at 9:56 PM on September 5, 2012

Maybe "I Love You Goodbye" by Thomas Dolby.
posted by Occula at 10:09 PM on September 5, 2012

Paul Westerberg--Dyslexic Heart.
Crush by Jennifer Paige--sounds like it'd be dippy, but it's about not wanting to make more of this than it is.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:10 PM on September 5, 2012

Dido - Never Want to Say it's Love, It Comes and It Goes, several of her other songs.
posted by jacalata at 10:38 PM on September 5, 2012

Oh, I forgot Eagle-Eye Cherry's "Falling In Love Again." As in, he isn't so thrilled about it.

I love this thread. Have been checking out the songs all night instead of doing useful things.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:38 PM on September 5, 2012

These occur to me, but I haven't listened to all of them recently so I might be misremembering their mood:

"It Ought To Be Easier" by Lyle Lovett
"I Hate Myself For Loving You" by Joan Jett.
"You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go" by Madeleine Peyroux.
"I Love You Goodbye", "Close but No Cigar", and others from Thomas Dolby album; I don't know if "Europa"/"Eastern Bloc" quite fits.
posted by hattifattener at 10:43 PM on September 5, 2012

Okay, more:
Modern Love by Matt Nathanson
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:43 PM on September 5, 2012

Perhaps The Crying Game? Or is that too sentimental? It seems to contain a cynical stab by combining "crying" with the word "game" implying a certain inevitability.

There are probably a ton of Dylan songs -- well, a dozen or so -- that would fit this even if he does lean toward cynical/hostile in many more, as in say Love Sick (which is far more conflicted than, say, Like a Rolling Stone!). Perhaps Is Your Love in Vain? or Most Likely You Go Your Way And I'll Go Mine. Anyway, there seems a sense of conflicted impermanence in most of his love songs.
posted by dhartung at 11:20 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's not so wistful, but Ida Maria's 'I like you so much better when we're naked' and Kate Nash's 'Pumpkin Soup' are joyous songs about not being 'in love' but wanting someone all the same.
posted by Neale at 11:42 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ani DiFranco - She Says

she says forget what you have to do
pretend there is nothing
outside this room
and like an idea she came to me
but she came too late
or maybe too soon
I said please try not to love me
close your eyes, I'm turning on the light
you know I have no vacancy
and it's awfully cold outside tonight

posted by Eumachia L F at 2:48 AM on September 6, 2012

There's the song Feeling Called Love by Pulp:

So what do I do? I've got a slightly sick feeling in my stomach
Like I'm standing on top of a very high building oh yeah.
All the stuff they tell you about in the movies
but this isn't chocolate boxes and roses.
It's dirtier than that, like some small animal that only comes out at night.


What is this feeling called love.
Why me. Why you. Why here. And why now.
It doesn't make no sense no. It's not convenient no.
It doesn't fit my plans but I got that taste in my mouth again oh.

posted by NoiselessPenguin at 4:15 AM on September 6, 2012

Pretty much everything by Lyle Lovett.
posted by tommasz at 6:05 AM on September 6, 2012

"Crying Game" is great. I love the movie by the same name. The ending, with the most perfect unrequitted and unrequittable love, is awesome. I had no idea there was an old mainstream song by that name. I plan to also check out the Boy George version and follow that thread down the youtube rabbit hole.

And now for a more fun, upbeat almost celebration of this kind of conflict:
Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Not exactly wistful, but fits just fine with my search for an alternative to the "Ten things I hate about you" vibe for experiencing and expressing such conflict.
posted by Michele in California at 8:22 AM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Steel Mind - Bad Passion ZYX Records (Germany) 1983
posted by wcfields at 8:35 AM on September 6, 2012

Twin Shadow - Run My Heart
posted by the foreground at 11:13 AM on September 6, 2012

Tom Waits- Hope that I don't fall in love with you

"Now it's closing time, the music's fading out
Last call for drinks, I'll have another stout
I turn around to look at you, you're nowhere to be found
I search the place for your lost face, guess I'll have another round
And I think that I just fell in love with you"
posted by ets960 at 11:54 AM on September 6, 2012

At work at the moment, and unable to pick out a video, but "If I Loved You" from Carousel is what I'd call the prototype for this type of song.
posted by in278s at 11:56 AM on September 6, 2012

Buddy Miller - Oh Fait Pitie D'Amour (Love Have Mercy On Me)
posted by essexjan at 2:33 PM on September 6, 2012

Gayngs - The Last Prom on Earth

Their entire album is specifically inspired (at least sonically) by "I'm Not In Love." Yes, that is Bon Iver's Justin Vernon rapping at the end there.
posted by pizza party at 7:33 PM on September 6, 2012

Thanks for the mental nudge, in278s -- and for the most lush, intense version, let me present the great opera singer, Renata Tibaldi:
If I Loved You
posted by Rash at 5:27 AM on September 8, 2012

I am having significant technical difficulties in downloading and viewing videos, so have gotten through precious few of these. Thus "serious delays" are turning into Ridiculous Delays, which made me decide to pop in, mark a couple of best answers (Crying Game, In Too Deep), and mark this resolved. If you get a "best answer" six months from now, it's not because I am neurotic. I am just Android impaired.

Thanks for playing!
posted by Michele in California at 6:56 AM on September 14, 2012

I really dropped the ball here. As a belated apology, I am best answering everyone (and also favoriting the previously best answered answers).

Sorry for taking so long. Y'all did me lots of good.

Hugs, kisses and that sort of thing.
posted by Michele in California at 2:56 PM on June 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

« Older Getting tired of mandatory OCD   |   Asking Questions about Money and Working Hours... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.