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Valentines Day 2020 music playlist

23 musicians select the songs to break some hearts to this Valentine’s Day

Fuck love: artists including 100 gecs, Liz Phair, Girl in Red, and Jehnny Beth select their heartbreaker anthems

It’s over. Your bond is broken. Your last argument has ended. Your Instagram has been wiped clean. Now, the complex process of disentangling your heart starts: falling out of love. You scan your room. Stamped concert tickets, scribbled notebooks, the half-empty water glass on the nightstand, all call to a former self you’ve just left behind. But that doesn’t mean you’re reduced to a heartbroken puddle of muddle. Ends can propel you into hyperdrive, a sudden force to shed the past. What does life look like when you free yourself from the heartbreak and become the heartbreaker?

When your heart is healing, there’s always that one song you can rely on, the track for when you’re done with all the drama of romance. That ‘fuck love!’ song can get you through the fractured world of dating apps, isolation, oversaturation, anxiety, and depression. It’s the song for when you’re sick and tired of longing for the gooey stuff and just ready to burn it all down.

Last Valentine’s Day, we asked musicians to show their perspective on self-love. The year before, we asked them to share the love songs that are now too painful for them to listen to. And a year before that, we asked them to contribute songs of independence. This year, we’re bringing together a panel of artists to share their ‘fuck love’ song – because love is a damn battlefield, and we all need our song armour.

100 gecs’ Dylan Brady picks Evanescence, “My Immortal”

When you cried, I’d wipe away all of your tears / When you’d scream, I’d fight away all of your fears / And I held your hand through all of these years / But you still have all of me.”

Dylan Brady: This song is so sad. It makes me feel like I am not alone.

100 gecs’ Laura Les picks Cyberbully Mom Club, “Better Than That”

“Holy fuck, how was I wrong.”

Laura Les: It’s just such a raw “fuck you” that you can bang your head to while you cry. 

Audrey picks Little Mix, “Shout Out to My Ex”

“Here’s to my ex, hey, look at me now / Well, I’m, I’m all the way up / I swear you’ll never bring me down.”

Audrey: This song reminds me to not let toxic relationships bring me down. It’s basically saying, “I’m done with you, I deserve better than this, and without you in my life I’m now on top of the world.” I love this song because it’s very empowering: instead of feeling sad about the end of a relationship, it’s focusing on how much better my life is without that person in it. Listening to this song has helped me both get out of and move on from bad relationships. The best revenge for being mistreated in the past is to show your ex that you’re thriving without him.

Banoffee picks Fiona Apple, “Extraordinary Machine”

“If there was a better way to go then it would find me / I can’t help that the road just rolls out behind me / Be kind to me / Or treat me mean / I’ll make the most of it, I’m an extraordinary machine.”

Banoffee: Touring alone and working so goddamn hard means I’m often spending Valentine’s Day alone. And I’m not someone who doesn’t believe. I love any holiday; I would want the roses, the chocolates, the whole shazaaam. Fiona Apple’s lyrics are always twisting narratives; they begin lonely or upset, and then they turn the plot on its head. I’m the youngest in my family, and this song empowers the underdog that continuously gets knocked down. I’m not someone to wallow in aloneness – in fact, it’s my most comfortable state of being – but this song reinforces my sense of independence in a way that makes me feel content being a badass single bitch on Valentine’s Day.

Desire Marea picks Kelsey Lu, “I’m Not in Love”

“I keep your picture / Upon the wall / It hides a nasty stain that’s lying there / So don’t you ask me / To give it back / I know you know it doesn’t mean that much to me / I’m not in love, no no, it’s because.”

Desire Marea: This entire part really gets me. She interpreted an old song very well and revealed how eternally contemporary the themes are. I also relate to it because it is my style of loving to be so closed off yet so romantic, so even a breakup would live on that periphery.

Earthgang’s WowGr8 picks Marvin Gaye, “Just to Keep You Satisfied”

“Ooh, we stop the hands of time / You set my soul on fire / My one desire was to love you / And think of you with pride / And keep you satisfied / Oh baby, oh baby / We could not bear the mental strain / Leave you, I never meant to / Now you see how much you hurt me.”

WowGr8: To me, this is a perfect song to be a player, to smoke and reflect to. While reflecting on the relationship, this song takes you on a journey from the pain and confusion of heartbreak, and by the end of the record you’re gently caressed into the subsequent ‘ho phase’ that a good breakup can cause.

Earthgang’s Olu picks Whitney Houston, “I Will Always Love You”

“Bittersweet memories, that’s all I’m taking with me / And I wish you so much joy and happiness but of all this I wish you love…”

Olu: One of the best songs ever. You’re lucky if I play this after we break up – it means the love was really real, proves you can love people after that chapter is over. And her live version from South Africa is godly. Love you Whitney! 

Girl in Red picks Adam Melchor, “I Choose You”

“I choose you.”

Girl in Red: This is the song I listen to when I walk around and feel sorry for myself and think about all the things I wish I said, but didn’t. I love the simple line in the chorus: “I choose you.” It sums up what I felt/still feel. IDK, I’m confused.

Girl Ultra picks George Michael, “Careless Whisper”

Girl Ultra: My ‘heartbreaker song’ will always be “Careless Whisper” by George Michael, because I feel like that particular 80s nostalgia is the epitome of passion and despair. My ‘fuck love’ song is “En Lea” by Muddy Monk, because it has this beautiful slow pace that carries throughout the song and it’s about to be cheesy but it doesn’t quite get there. When I’m fed up with drama or romance, I just go for something darker and more introspective, like the full Cocteau Twins album Heaven or Las Vegas. My all-time ‘night out’ song is this 1985 Spanish italo-disco hit by Carlos Pérez, “Las Manos Quietas”. I feel myself more than usual when I play this on the speakers or DJ sets.

Jehnny Beth picks Lesley Gore, “You Don’t Own Me”

“You don’t own me, I’m not just one of your many toys / You don’t own me, don’t tell me I can’t go with other boys.”

Jehnny Beth: I choose “You Don’t Own Me” as my ‘fuck love’ song because it's a jewel of post-romantic love. Recorded in 1963, Lesley Gore was 17 when she sang these words: “You don’t own me, I’m not just one of your many toys. You don’t own me, don’t tell me I can’t go with other boys.” It was later covered by Dusty Springfield, Joan Jett, Grace Jones… We can’t underestimate the importance of this song. It’s incredibly liberating to hear it, especially as a young person, and I’m pretty sure it has saved many lives. This song was a reminder that love is not the only thing women are fit for; talent, mind, and independence are qualities as important as the ability to love. In our societies, we still define relationships by the ancestral codes of romanticism. We think possessiveness, jealousy, and monogamy are what a relationship requires and what makes them normal and valuable. We fall in love, and yet we are unhappy. This song is the first step on the journey to redefine what it means to love and be loved, and to start imagining love as something we can learn to shape for ourselves. What a gift.

Jockstrap’s Georgia Ellery picks Sunn O))), “Kannon1”

Georgia Ellery: Doom, recommended by a friend, sorted me right out. It just drowns everything. Constant drones become constant reassurance. It’s very cathartic.

Jockstrap’s Taylor Skye picks Skrillex, “Ruffneck Full Flex”

“Are you ready for the ruffneck bass?”

Taylor Skye: I used to make this sort of music, and at the time, I wasn’t interested in girls in the slightest. Listening back to this always reminds me that sitting alone in your room making dubstep with a can of Monster Energy is OK.

Kaina picks Emily King, “Can’t Hold Me”

“In a t-shirt, in my satin lingerie / A little lower, little higher, change pace / Used to wait here, but you’d always be too late / Now I can go there, and I never have to fake / You can’t hold me now, only I can do that.”

Kaina: This song just radiates not needing anybody! I love Emily King and I think this was my most listened-to song in 2019. Besides it being a bop you can get ready to, the lyrics are so on point – it’s about being able to hold yourself down, whether sexually or just feeling cute for yourself in your t-shirt or Fenty lingerie. 

Kamaiyah picks Mariah Carey, “Breakdown”

“You called yesterday to basically say that you care for me, but that you’re just not in love.”

Kamaiyah: I feel that song. You have to think about how that makes you feel when you’re going through a breakup and someone says you care about me, but you don’t love me… like, damn! Also my new single “Set it Up” lets dudes know I’m not to be played with.

Liz Phair picks Fiona Apple, “Dull Tool”

Liz Phair: I was standing in the Capitol Records executive offices, having a meeting about my career prospects. I hadn’t had such a good experience at that label in the past. Now there was a new president. To show his understanding of my aesthetic, he played me something he was really excited about: Fiona Apple’s freshly mastered track, “Dull Tool”. On the big speakers. I’ll never forget staring out at that sublime view of the Hollywood Hills on a perfect, sunny day as Fiona's words triggered emotional explosions inside of me. I was awe-struck by her elegant and composed vocal performance as she basically burned the whole rotten town down. It was glorious.

MHYSA picks Rihanna, “Needed Me”

“I was good on my own, that’s the way it was / You was good on the low for a faded fuck / On some faded love. Didn’t they tell you that I was a savage / Fuck your white horse and a carriage / Bet you never could imagine / Never told you you could have it.”

MHYSA: The first time I heard “Needed Me”, I felt like Rihanna had written me an anthem of retreat, an armour from heartache. I needed this song when I was 19, but didn’t get it until I was 25 – but it reminded me of breakups past. That line, “Didn’t I tell you that I was a savage?” The space to say I always promised I’d break your heart and mean it. I’ve been there. Sometimes heartache makes you give up on love and you revel in being inaccessible, close, even touching, but never possessed. That’s what this song makes me feel: like I can be out of reach whenever I want. If I was over it on Valentine’s Day, this is the song I’d play on my way to the club. 

Moses Boyd picks Jeff Buckley, “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over”

“Broken down and hungry for your love / With no way to feed it / Where are you tonight? Child, you know how much I need it.”

Moses Boyd: For me, this is the song I wish I wrote. How can it be so sweetboy casanova and dark at the same time? It’s the perfect way to soundtrack the complexity of love. This is my vibe.

Nasty Cherry picks Nasty Cherry, “Fuck Modern Love”

“I always thought good things came in three’s, but two’s bad enough for me.”

Nasty Cherry: “Fuck Modern Love” by us, because we wrote it about heartbreak.  

Neoma picks Kali Uchis, “Solita”

“Bailando aquí sola es mejor que con el diablo.”

Neoma: I chose the song “Solita” from Kali Uchis, a Spanglish song with a lot of power and Latin rhythms. I listen to this song and it feels like she is talking about this strong, independent woman who is gonna miss her man, who then realises she’s better off being alone instead of continuing to suffer with him. She says, “bailando aquí sola es mejor que con el diablo”, which means dancing all alone is better than with the devil. When you break up with someone, you can’t lie to yourself. It will definitely hurt at the time, but deep down you know it’s way better being alone than with someone who hurts you constantly. “Serpiente venenosa.” This person is toxic. Not worth it.

Oompa picks Lizzo, “Good as Hell”

“If he don’t love you anymore, then walk your fine ass out that door.”

Oompa: This song’s on Oompa’s perpetual ‘fuck love’ radar. I love everything Lizzo represents. This song is not even just about the break-up alone, it’s about the bad bitch energy that follows her. It’s about remembering the self-worth and dignity we sometimes forget to tend to after a breakup or after an unworthy lover crosses us. “If he don’t love you anymore, then walk your fine ass out that door.” It’s like, “You're right Lizzo. Shorty, I’m gonna take my fine self, get cute for me, and resume being the baddie I was destined to be.”

Sega Bodega picks The Chainsmokers, “Closer”

“Hey!”

Sega Bodega: It just lifts my mood up to a ridiculous level and gives me the confidence I need to get through or excited about a new prospect.

Sorry’s Louis O’Bryen picks Capital Steez, “Emotionless Thoughts”

True love is so hard to find / And they say that once you found it you lost your mind.”

Louis O’Bryen: Best love song ever written. Also has a fat beat, and saucy lyrics.

Sonikku picks Róisín Murphy, “Incapable”

“Never had a broken heart / Am I incapable of love?”

Sonikku: Róisín is completely indifferent and unfazed by love and heartbreak as shown by her icy, stone-cold, and detached vocal delivery. It’s liberating and self-indulgent to reject the concept of love and redefine it. The genius here is that the lyrics dance around a thumping disco track like an ice-cold breeze, resonating with the numb-hearted.

Listen to these songs as a Spotify playlist below.