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Love songs: why are they so popular?

In the opening verse of ‘Silly Love Songs’ by Paul McCartney and The Wings, McCartney sings that “Some people want to fill the world with silly love songs / Well what’s wrong with that / I’d like to know”. Whilst this line can be taken as simply part of the wider love song it is also a slight retort to John Lennon who believed that Paul McCartney was only capable of writing “silly love songs”. In this line, McCartney highlights the importance of love songs – the place they have and the wider importance they hold. It’s something too impactful to reduce to a childish thing. If Lennon’s argument held merit then the prevalence of love songs would have undoubtfully dwindled but this is not the case. Artists like Taylor Swift and Drake have blurred their public and private lives to discuss love through their music whilst artists like Bon Iver, Clairo, The 1975 and even Blur have detailed the different stages of love and heartbreak through their work.

We have all been deeply confused about the people that we love

When songs discuss love within their work, what is found to be so compelling is never really the specifics, but the underlying features. Whilst the tumultuous relationships that lay at the centre of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours are interesting to learn about and listen to, it is not these features that make their music have such longevity. Countless songs have been written by band members who are using music to explore the complicated love they have for their bandmates and have not had the same legacy as Fleetwood Mac’s. What has made these songs compared stand out compared to others is the raw human emotion that underlines them. Whilst not everyone has experienced being in a famous band going into meltdown over failed relationships and members all falling into fighting despite once loving each other, there is a human sentiment that underlines the album. We have all been deeply confused about the people that we love, wanting them to stay in your life and yet hating them simultaneously.

However, whilst there is a power behind Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, I highly doubt that it is what many people will be spending their time listening to when they seek out love songs with the exception of ‘Songbird’, a gentle ballad Christine McVie wrote about the self-sacrifices of love. The majority of people will be listening to songs about the different stages of love – the tentative nature of a crush, slowly realising that you’re falling in love with someone, the feeling of being entirely infatuated with the mundane or extraordinary features of a person, planning to spend the rest of your life with someone. Even people who find themselves single will have a plethora of songs to soundtrack their time, likely trading the upbeat love songs of Carley Rae Jepsen for the tender ballads of Joji or Phoebe Bridgers. Regardless of your current position in relation to your love life, there will undoubtedly be a song to address these feelings, another person who has taken to convey those emotions through music. 

Love songs will always be incredibly popular

This knowledge that someone else has taken your own experiences whether positive or negative and rendered them in song is what makes love songs so incredibly popular. As a universal feeling, love is something that everyone will experience in some form whether it be when they are young or old, whether they have fallen in love a million times or just once. There is an inescapable nature to it. This is why we turn to love songs-artists creating them so they can express these universal feelings and how they have such a personal impact upon them and the listeners turn to them to know that they are not alone, that someone else is experiencing the same stuff as you.

So whilst, especially around Valentine’s Day, it is entirely possible to take the cynical route regarding love songs and write them off as cash grabs to play on our emotions, that is not the case. To create music is to speak to the experiences of yourself as an individual, rendering them in art and all their beauty and torment. This is why an emotion as universal as love has been sung about in all of its forms, and why it has become so popular. These songs speak to a deep feeling that exists within us and as people find new ways of articulating their views on love and our way of experiencing love within our society keeps changing these songs will change too. However, it is certain that whether were discussing Taylor Swift or The Beach Boys, love songs will always be incredibly popular and show no sign of going away anytime soon.


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