Pop music just might be ruining your love life. It’s not your fault. Those beats are incredibly catchy. We’re helpless against their sonic charms. But as Lorde recently pointed out with regard to Selena Gomez’s “Come and Get It,” the lyrics are often where we get in trouble.
There’s a distinct sensation most people feel the first time they fall in love and the first time they experience heartbreak: suddenly almost every pop song ever makes infinite sense. There’s a reason Bruno Mars makes a living off the musical equivalent of a Disney prince – a lofty ideal of the romantic potential in our regular Joe lives. On some level, we get what’s being said – we’re just not totally willing to assess these songs the same way we’d assess a story from a tearful best friend. It’s time we gave ourselves a stern talking to: the following pop songs are for fun, not love advice (or justification of our own unhealthy relationship habits).
Life as a Sex Pet in “Come and Get It” by Selena Gomez
Do not be this girl (or guy, really). Despite the semblance of the strength in the sonic quality of the song, Lorde had the right idea. This song makes the lover in question a sexual pet. Don’t be the lady sitting and waiting all not for a man, no matter how sexy it seems. “You ain’t gotta worry, it’s an open invitation/ I’ll be sittin’ right here, real patient/ All day, all night, I’ll be waitin’ standby.” Oh hell no. We have much better things to do.
An Eternity of Pining in “You Belong With Me” by Taylor Swift
Pro tip: If you’re pining after someone who’s with “the wrong person” – especially after you’ve left high school – stop it. The only time that works out is on CW shows and in movies released on Valentine’s Day. This dump-the-bad-girl/guy narrative is all over pop culture and it only proliferates one thing: wasting time imagining a future with someone who’s too stupid to see how great you are. Don’t be like Taylor Swift. Let that loser stay stupid and find someone worth your time – and your creepy fangirl window signs if that’s your thing.
Torturous Love in “Clarity” by Zedd Featuring Foxes
Remember when I said Scandal heroine Olivia Pope’s declaration that love should be “painful” was absolutely insane? Well, this song is the perfect musical compliment for that sentiment. Yes, love that feels like “frozen waves where the past comes back to life” is beautiful imagery, but it’s not exactly the place where a solid relationship blooms. If your love is tragedy, there is no clarity, my dear.
Backhanded Compliments in “Little Things” by One Direction
It’s never a great idea to fall for someone who’s painfully aware that they’re “out of your league” – which is an asinine concept as it is. It’s an even worse idea to date someone who’s willing to name all the things you hate about yourself, say they’re cool with them, and expect that to work as some sort of declaration of love. “You never want to know how much you weigh/ You still have to squeeze into your jeans/ But you’re perfect to me.” Yeah, please bring up all the things that make me question myself so that when you finally get to the part where you still like me anyway, I can’t even hear it over the fact that my jeans might be getting a little tight around the waistband. This is a perfect reason to go in a very new direction.
The Stage 5 Clinger in “Always Be My Baby” by Mariah Carey
Today’s pop music has its issues, but looking back to this classic Mariah Carey song – and one which I will continue to sing at the top of my lungs every time I’m three ciders in at karaoke – it’s clear this issue is not a recent one. Despite the sweetness of the song, Carey sings lyrics that could earn you a restraining order in most states: “Boy don’t you know you can’t escape me” and “No way you’re never gonna shake me” aren’t measures of devotion. They’re reason enough for drastic measures. Like strait jackets. And home security systems.