16 Unique Love Songs That Understand The Great Complexities Of The Heart
Love is a great and wonderful thing, but it's also totally complicated. Some of the best love songs of all time would have you believe that love only exists in three basic forms — pining for it, having it, or mourning the loss of it. But in reality, romantic relationships take on far more complex forms and have ups, downs, twists, turns, and a vast array of emotions which your standard radio-friendly jam can't always express. But thankfully, there happens to be a wide assortment of songs that express those very things. If you're looking for a playlist of unique love songs, which may in some ways understand the complications of your heart, then these 16 songs may be able to do just that.
While some of these songs take a different songwriting approach to talk about the basics of love — the heartaches, the butterflies, and the unions, others discuss subjects not often commanded by your standard love song. From delving into the mundane nuances of loneliness, the power of emotional agency, or the anxiety of feeling fearful of falling for someone, these songs highlight some of the more uncharted musical territories of the heart in a special way.
1. The Postal Service - "Such Great Heights"
Since its release in 2003, "Such Great Heights" remains an indie love classic. And it also remains impossible to hear the opening lyric, "I am thinking it's a sign / That the freckles in our eyes / Are mirror images and when/ We kiss they're perfectly aligned," without turning to absolute Jell-O inside.
2. Lykke Li - "Little Bit"
Whimsical, upbeat, and sorrowful all at once, this alt-pop triumph from 2007 is simultaneously perfect for every single intense phase of love — the ups and the downs. It's absolutely gorgeous.
3. Speedy Ortiz - "Curling"
Taken from their 2012 Sports EP, "Curling" might not be the happiest of love songs, but it's certainly one of the most empowering. Perfect for playing at those times in a relationship when you're totally over it, the song proudly celebrates discovering the perspective and strength necessary to finally move the hell on from someone.
4. Elliott Smith - "Say Yes"
Smith wasn't exactly known for his love songs, but "Say Yes" stands out from the rest of his back catalogue as being his most uplifting and romantic track. But that's not to say it isn't still full of Smith's notorious self-deprecation, with lines like "Crooked spin can't come to rest / I'm damaged bad at best / She'll decide what she wants" bounding out between some adorable blasts of optimism.
5. Echo & The Bunnymen - "The Killing Moon"
Admittedly the '80s were so stacked with unique love songs that the era probably deserves its own playlist, but "The Killing Moon" is easily the best of its kind from back then. Mystical, majestic, and almost unbearably poetic in its dark romanticism, the song is savage yet seductive.
6. Jeff Buckley - "So Real"
Unique for its sweeping, down-tuned melodies juxtaposed with Buckley's ethereal, high voice, "So Real" is a loved up daydream of a song which dissolves into an anxious, frenzied breakdown right before the finale. It's truly haunting.
7. Micachu & The Shapes - "Curly Teeth"
There are few words that could ever do this deeply unusual song justice, so I recommend that you just let you ears discover it on their own. "Curly Teeth" pairs dark and unsettling lyrics which tell the story of a truly terrible, one-sided love affair, paired with a stunning, jagged melody.
8. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - "Henry Lee"
Featuring the supreme vocal talents of PJ Harvey, "Henry Lee" is a murder ballad (of which Cave is well-known) telling the story of a desire gone truly foul. Despite the violent subject matter, the song still manages to sound sumptuous, sincere, and heartfelt in its aggressive attempts at seduction.
9. Elvis Perkins - "All The Night Without Love"
Addressing the spaces and moments in which there is no one to pine for or give love to, "All The Night Without Love" is a breathtaking song about the true depths that loneliness can take.
10. De La Soul - "Eye Know"
So deliriously upbeat, full of boss rhymes, and pure in its sentiment, "Eye Know" is by far the greatest hip-hop love song ever written. Share an earbud with your honey and listen to it while holding hands, it's the best.
11. Portishead - "Glory Box"
From the '90s, I challenge anyone to find a love song as genuinely chilling or challenging as this trip-hop classic. It has an edge, sure, but it's also bursting full of feeling.
12. The Smashing Pumpkins - "Set The Ray To Jerry"
As a band, The Smashing Pumpkins were the '90s champions of the alternative, dark love song, but "Set The Ray To Jerry" — a lesser heard b-side — is likely their best. Featuring a sparkling guitar against a rugged bass line, it's full of all the usual angst you'd expect from the band, but with some genuine romance thrown there in too.
13. Daniel Johnston - "True Love Will Find You In The End"
By far one of the most earnest and heart soaring songs you're ever likely to hear, "True Love Will Find You In The End" is a raw, lo-fi gem worth cherishing.
14. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Maps"
The enduring influence of "Maps" can be heard across the pop spectrum in songs like Kelly Clarkson's "Since You've Been Gone" and Beyoncé's "Hold Up," but that doesn't lessen its unique impact. Strange in its simplicity and powerful in its sincerity, it remains one of the greatest contemporary alternative love songs ever written.
15. Angel Olsen - "Shut Up Kiss Me"
The perfect song for listening to after enduring a breakup that maybe shouldn't have happened, or a lovers' quarrel which was beyond stupid, "Shut Up Kiss Me" is full of female dominance and emotional agency, clawing back at the remnants of a relationship for some scant moments of happiness.
16. Biz Markie - "Just A Friend"
Uplifting and endearing, "Just A Friend" is full of wonderful imperfections and well-phrased personality that make it a musical marvel. Telling tales of romantic woe and acting as a warning against getting involved with deceivers who tell you their lover is "just a friend," this song never fails to make me smile.
Whether you're currently in or out of love, or stumbling somewhere in-between those two pillars, there's bound to be at least one song in the list above which will perfectly define exactly how you're feeling. Happy listening, lovers.