I got nudged into thinking about unrequited love in popular song again lately, and have finally remembered to post what I realised ages ago: Disco 2000 fits my criteria for a top song on that particular subject exactly. I’m amazed I didn’t think of it before. In fact, Jarvis Cocker’s lyrics often venture into that territory; even when he writes about love or lust requited, it always seems to be unsatisfying. Underwear is another superb example. Most recently, Fuckingsong on his – appropriately, perhaps – disappointing new album also hits the mark.
It’s been six months now since my last post on the subject – so, here’s the challenge again. What other songs meet these criteria? There must be more suggestions…
Firstly, the scenario is about a specific third person, and often gives specific details of events: they are really love triangle songs, sung from the perspective of the person who has come off worst. And thirdly, they have a directness and specificness: they do not adorn themselves with metaphor, allusion or innuendo; rather, they say what happened, and tell it straight.
Tricky, isn’t it? It’s a good formula though – provided you want to write lots of songs only I want to listen to.
I may just edit this post with more suggestions as they occur. Tears for Affairs by Camera Obscura just popped into my head.
This Is How It Feels by the Inspiral Carpets is a love-triangle song, but although it’s about cheating, it’s the cheater who ends up feeling dreadful, while the victim seemingly carries on in ignorance.
Are We In Trouble Now by Mark Knopfler is about a love that maybe should have remained unrequited, but doesn’t; Just About Glad by Elvis Costello is the same scenario, but with the outcome going the other way by a hair’s breadth.
Here’s another one I can’t believe I missed, or rather two: notorious “teen” hit It’s My Party by Lesley Gore, and its sequel, Judy’s Turn To Cry, in which the protagonist wins Johnny back, and which features a chorus somewhat superior to the original.