Hot Disc: Unrequited love songs

There’s a certain sound and fury that belongs to women scorned: the bitter, yearning, whisper-and-shout chorus all barbed with deceptively sweet melodies. It’s the unrequited love song, the crown jewel in any grown-up pop star’s tiara. Who would Toni Braxton be (er, have been?) without “Un-Break My Heart”? Could we forgive Kelly Clarkson’s baseball-mom style if it weren’t for “Since U Been Gone”?

There’s been a good string of these gems lately—as Passion Pit would have it, “tears like diamonds”—and I should’ve started blogging them weeks ago. But the merit of such heart-strung-out ballads is their repeatability. The unrequited love song takes time. Here, three recent favourites:

“Why R U,” Amerie, from In Love & War (Def Jam). If you want to like this cymbal-shimmery single, don’t watch the music video (if Forever 21 made commercials, they’d look like this). Ugh. Just keep singing, “Loving you is like a battle”—sure, she’s brazenly stealing from Lauryn Hill, but we all know the line about great (pop) artists.

“He Keeps Me Alive,” Sally Shapiro, from My Guilty Pleasure (Permanent Vacation). Seems ice princesses can suffer too. But wait. Wasn’t this song on her first album, Disco Romance, too? Who cares? It’s stunning. Turn off that Lykke Li and hear this now (or again).

“Love Long Distance,” Gossip, from Music for Men (Columbia Records). The only thing that rings false about Ditto’s distrust is the number of times she calls her suspect lover: “I call your number twice?” Just twice? Really? You’re a bigger woman than I am, Ditto. Um… You know what I mean.

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