I recently received a friend request on Facebook from a cousin. I haven’t seen her in ages, as she lives in Mexico and it’s been well over 10 years since I’ve made a trip down there. We are one year apart and I have vivid memories of us doing girl things during the summer when I would visit as a teen. One summer, in particular, was particularly memorable. It was right after 7th or 8th grade and I had just discovered boys. I should say, I had just discovered that boys weren’t just stinky, dumb and annoying beings put on this earth to frustrate and bother me.
Can you tell where this is going?
I developed a crush on the son of one of my aunt’s neighbors. I thought it was true love. Whatever it was, it felt super intense and prompted many late nights at my cousin’s house, talking, giggling and listening to spanish love songs by the then-popular boy bands. We would listen to them over and over and belt them out, not caring who heard. I hadn’t thought of those days in so long.
After I accepted my cousin’s friend request, she commented on a picture and included the chorus from one of our favorite love songs from that summer. It made me giggle and reminisce on that summer. I immediately hopped onto Spotify and prayed that they had spanish songs in their catalog. I was in luck and quickly made a playlist of all the songs I could remember from that time. And I’ve basically had it on repeat all week. It’s been awesome!
It made me think, though, about the experience of teens today. There aren’t really any love songs anymore. You know, the songs that make you pine for someone, or that make you cry when you hear them because you just had a bad break up and the lyrics seem to fit your situation almost exactly. What’s up with that? What are teens of America doing now when they’re in “love” or have a broken heart??? There aren’t any songs like “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield or “I Need Love” by LL Cool J anymore. Or like “Careless Whisper”, by George Michael and “Every Rose has it’s Thorn” by Poison. And one of my all time favorites (because I can remember getting butterflies in my stomach when I’d sing it), “How Will I Know” by Whitney Houston. Who are The Jets (hello, “Crush on You”) of this new generation? Is there an equivalent to New Edition (“Can you Stand the Rain”)? I know Taylor Swift has some love songs, as does Kelly Clarkson. But the majority of them are of the angry/bitter variety. Are we really that scared to sing a song that talks about the crazy, intoxicating, VULNERABLE feelings we have when we find a new love? Is it wrong nowadays to say we are heartbroken and so very sad, and maybe a little depressed because someone dumped us? Do we always have to be so flippant, saying “There’ll be another you in a minute” like Beyonce? What happened to those love songs that made you cry even harder when they came on because they made you realize, “I Can’t Live, With or Without You”???
I realize this all makes me sound old, but I don’t care. Maybe I’m making WAY more of this than is necessary (sorry, that’s the sociology major in me). But I couldn’t help thinking about all this as I was listening to the love songs of my youth. I’d love to hear about the love songs of your youth and what you think about the current state of “love” songs. Just humor me, ok? If you want to go down memory lane with me, click on the videos below. You know you want to…