Ah, Valentine’s Day. For some people’ tis a day filled with heady romance; frolicking around the park with bae, while feeding each other overpriced truffles and exchanging cutesy greetings cards (giggling optional). However, for the uncoupled - consciously or otherwise - the day of cupid’s arrow is less a bouquet of Interflora roses, and more an unwanted envelope of dog poo through the letterbox. In the above picture, Lana Del Rey represents single people everywhere, gunning Valentine’s Day right out of the sky.
Luckily, many of our favourite musicians have had rocky romances of their own. A world where every single song is about drama-free Netflix and chill sessions would be a boring one indeed, after all. On this bittersweet holiday, Alex Taylor brings you a playlist filled with decidedly anti-romantic sentiments. If you’re looking for music to angstily brood to, or songs to pointedly blast at an unsavoury ex, look no further than our Alternative Valentine’s truffle selection. There’s not a single heart-shaped chocolate to be seen.
Foals - My Number
Foals’ stadium ascension record, ‘Holy Fire’, was confident and bold in many ways. Not only did Yannis Philippakis stick up two fingers at sound levels and his vocal chords on ‘Inhaler’, he also made it very clear to potential suitors that he was not, under any circumstances, to be contacted by mobile phone.
Ever up front, ‘My Number’ sees our favourite Greek-born rock singer bluntly state “You don’t have my number, we don’t need each other now”. No news on how he feels about Facebook friend requests.
Chvrches - Lies
Newsflash. Sometimes people use each other because they know they can, and enjoy what they get. As Lauren Mayberry puts it “I can call you up, if I feel alone, I can feed your dirty mind, like I know, like I know what you want” Love? It’s just a word to unlock doors my friends.
Unless you really do love someone, that is - but let’s face it you’re probably not reading this if you’re in a happy relationship. Or maybe you are, and only here to guffaw smugly. In which case, beware, it will happen to you too. Let’s see how strong your relationship is when Netflix goes down, hey!?
Years & Years - King
Liberation, it’s great. And ‘I was a king under your control’ is one of the best statements of self-worth written this decade.
In the words of Years and Years colour blast Olly Alexander, speaking to Shazam: “It was written at two different stages in my life. First of all, when I was in a relationship and I was really frustrated [because] I went out with the same types of person all the time and I really wanted that to stop. And then I had to rewrite it again later, because I was in a relationship that I wanted to end”.
We’ve all been there. “Let go, let go of everything,” ya hear? Next time you see that nasty ex, stand tall and drop a dance beat on them.
Savages - Husbands
On the surface, ‘Husbands’ is the soundtrack to one too many regrettable one night stands. The kind with someone who, under normal non-drunken circumstances, you wouldn’t touch with a barge pole.
But there’s also deeper vulnerability, with Savages Jehnny Beth questioning herself over the man beside her making her feel “ill at ease”. “Does he know me very well? Will he talk in the dark, will I see him again?”. All very valid questions, to which the answer is probably, no. It’s not true love, but it’s even more real - happening every day, to men and women. Still, life is like a box of chocolates?
Lana Del Rey - The Blackest Day
Lana Del Rey really wants everyone to know she’s very sad. When not promoting albums by proclaiming “I wish I was dead already” in infamous Guardian interviews (and rightfully getting sounded out for it by Frances Bean Cobain), she releases songs like ‘The Blackest Day’.
Something this calculated, right down to the Marilyn Monroe 1950s tragi-vibe, shouldn’t work. But somehow Lana still sucks you in, so that lyrics like “It’s been the blackest day, all I hear is Billie Holiday, it’s all that I play” sound less laughable than they are. “I’m going deeper and deeper,” she warns, as you reach for a deeper scoop of that bought-for-comfort Haagen Dazs ice-cream.
Dilly Dally - Know Yourself (Drake Cover)
Drake pretty much owned 2015 with the phrase “running through the six with my woes”. But fellow Canadians Dilly Dally have given the track a wonderfully loud rock twist for the new year, adding another layer of anguished pain through Katie Monks’ devilish vocal.
This is definitely one to belt out at the top of your voice, through tears, as you get that demon out of your life. All together now “…runnin’ through the six with my….”
Justin Bieber - Where Are Ü Now
There are rare times where we doubt ourselves at DIY HQ. This is one such moment of bemusement. If you had told anyone five years ago that we’d be including the then tween, helium-filled, soon to be law breaking motormouth in a playlist, the staff would’ve been sacked in disgrace. But the unbelievable has happened.
After apologising non-stop for about a year, Bieber’s return - flanked by Skrillex and Diplo on their Jack U project - is a masterpiece. Refreshed and repackaged by some genius PR shtick, the 21st century’s unlikely Donny Osmond sounds genuinely soulful, vulnerable and hurt, in a young-gun, 20-something “you broke my soul but I hate loving you” kind of way. There’s such a fine line between love and hate.
Hinds - And I Will Send Your Flowers Back
Sometimes you want to make that person hurt, in a childish game of pain ping pong. “I haven’t counted to five” sing Carlotta Cosials and Ana Perrote, “..I will send your flowers back, what goes around comes around” – their bitterness beautifully contrasted against lazy summer guitars.
The Weeknd - The Knowing
Abel Tesfaye goes to some pretty dark places with his music. He’s been that way long before winning Teen Choice Awards for songs about how great cocaine makes him feel. ‘The Knowing’ - taken from his original, game-changing ‘House of Balloons’ mixtape - closes the opening saga of pained excess inheart-breaking fashion.
A bittersweet final night with a girlfriend, he knows she has cheated, but he carries on regardless. “You probably thought that you’d make me cry”, he sings, but resignedly concludes “baby it’s okay”. Denial is easier than the truth.
Jamie T - Don’t You Find
There were times when we wondered if we’d seen the last of Jamie Treays, but thankfully, after five years off the grid, he returned with ‘Carry On The Grudge’. A much more solemn, melancholic record than those made in younger, carefree days; it proved equally affecting.
The lead single, ‘Don’t You Find’, barked with post-teen discontent and heartbreak. Its defeatist guitar and morose drumbeat reflecting the anguish, when looking back on that lost love you just can’t forget. They’re always indeed on your mind, even if they shouldn’t be at all.
David Bowie - Breaking Glass
A short, sharp bullet to the drug-fuelled, death-baiting years of Bowie’s time in Los Angeles, ‘Breaking Glass’ is a clear statement of defiance. Taking heavy inspiration from the fragmented beats of Kraftwerk to build a disorientating, schizophrenic feel, the track is a ball of furious angst: “Baby I’ve been breaking glass in your room again” sung menacingly against jagged riffs.
It’s not entirely clear whether the song was directed at the Thin White Duke’s first wife Angie, (written around the time of their relationship breakdown), or his former self, but the sarcastic sentiment remains.“You’re a wonderful person, but you’ve got problems, I’ll never touch you”. Say how you feel, Dave!
Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart
Quite simply the best summary of love failing ever recorded. So much so, that even being made the theme to Big Breakfast couldn’t destroy it. Blazingly honest, written as Ian Curtis grappled with the breakdown of his marriage to wife Deborah at the hands of an affair with journalist Annik Honre, it is a timeless classic.
After something more soppy? Read our definitive guide to The DIY Ultimate Indie Dreamboat, Ezra Koenig.
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