When we're teenagers, and the closest thing we've come to experiencing real romance is silent, sweaty hand-holding (or, alternately, a fevered masturbatory fantasy about someone from a CW show), we look anywhere we can to find lessons about how love really works — and often, we find the most dramatic lessons in pop songs we find romantic at the time. It makes a lot of sense — I mean, who else were we going to ask about the nature of true love? Our parents?
Plus, who knows more about how to successfully execute a satisfying long-lasting romantic commitment than a pop star? According to the many VH1 Behind the Music episodes I watched in high school, the answer is "almost anyone."Of course, not all these songs (or their supposed messages about love) age that well once we get old enough to forget algebra. In retrospect, some of these songs weren't actually about love at all (will we ever get over the bait-and-switch that was finding out that Semisonic's "Closing Time" was actually about childbirth?).
But as embarrassing as it can feel to remember them now, these songs are a part of our personal development. So come with us as we revisit 20 songs that we have determined, through our thoroughly scientific surveys, gave us our doofiest ideas about love.
20. Savage Garden, "Truly Madly Deeply"
Lesson: People who are really in love are always running all over mountains and the sea and stuff to show how truly (and madly, and deeply) in love they are. So of course I haven't found anyone to date! We don't have any mountains in this town; the closest thing we have is the hill at the golf course.
19. Dave Matthews Band, "Crash Into Me"
Lesson: Being with someone who can't clearly express their thoughts or feelings is very, very sexy (also, that one hippie in my Bio class who always looks sleepy and wears pajama pants to school might be better cuter than I thought?)
18. Boyz II Men, "End Of The Road"
Lesson: Real adult love is mostly about constantly breaking up, even though you still seem to really like each other (a lesson that The OC 's Seth and Summer seemed to truly take to heart).
17. Dashboard Confessional, "Vindicated"
Lesson: Love hurts, amiright, dude?
16. Death Cab For Cutie, "Transatlanticism"
Lesson: Love is even more romantic when there's something keeping you apart/Six Feet Under was a great TV show.
15. Gavin DeGraw, "Belief"
Lesson: OK, high school was bullsh*t — but the people you date in college are probably all going to be this romantic, right?
14. Bright Eyes, "First Day Of My Life"
Lesson: I can't wait to actually fall in real love. Wait, real love is just about uncomplicated adoration 24/7, right?
13. My Chemical Romance, "Cemetery Drive"
Lesson: No one can love me the way Gerard Way could love me. They probably shouldn't even bother.
12. Semisonic, "Closing Time"
Lesson: I can't wait to be an adult and go to bars and then find love in said bars! Ooh, maybe someone attractive will try to teach me how to play pool and I'll do something clumsy and we'll fall instantly in love. It'll feel just like a Drew Barrymore movie!
11. O-Town, "All Or Nothing"
Lesson: If you really loved me, you'd DO IT (or at least stop making goo-goo eyes at Beth from Drama Club all the time, GOD, do you think I don't see you doing that?)
10. Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, "Home"
Lesson: When I fall in love, we'll probably go buy an RV and travel around, reading Kerouac aloud to each other and discovering the real America.
9. Goo Goo Dolls, "Iris"
Lesson: It's true, they wouldn't understand! THE WORLD NEVER UNDERSTANDS!...I am going to play this as the first dance at my wedding to Joshua Jackson.
8. Jason Mraz, "I'm Yours"
Lesson: There are two kinds of women in the world — ones who find the word "bestest" to be charmingly freewheeling, and those who think it's idiot garbage nonsense — and by the time this song is over, you know which one you are.
7. Third Eye Blind, "How It's Going To Be"
Lesson: I know you're breaking up with me because you really want to be single while you work as a counselor at sleep away camp this summer, but you'll get sick of those meaningless handjobs, and eventually miss me, your true love.
6. Hoobastank, "The Reason"
Lesson: I am SORRY that I dumped you so that I could get handjobs all summer while I worked at sleep away camp. I've had a lot of time to think and grow as a person, and I really think you should consider taking me back.
5. Jimmy Eat World, "For Me This Is Heaven"
Lesson: One of the most important parts of being in love is constantly flip-flopping about whether you're actually in love, and just really jerking the other person around. It builds character!
4. Aerosmith, "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing"
Lesson: Love means never having to go into space to blow up an asteroid for someone. Or, wait, does love mean always having to go into space to blow up an asteroid for someone?
3. Shawn Mullins, "Lullaby"
Lesson: OMG, I can't wait to be super-jaded and have sensitive men try to comfort me while I push them away because I have been hurt too many times before. It sounds super-fun!
2. 98 Degrees, "My Everything"
Lesson: I wish I could find a relationship like Nick and Jessica, the most enduring love story of our era.
1. K-Ci & JoJo, "All My Life"
Lesson: I have waited my whole life to meet you — 16 agonizing years of being alone! — and now that I've got you, here, in my arms, at this winter formal, I am never going to let you go.